Friday, Apr 20, 2018
One of America's Great Newspapers ~ Toledo, Ohio


Hens turned Toledo into a big winner

So what are you writing about for Saturday's column?

The Mud Hens, of course! Is there anything else?

I'll grant you, this whole playoff business is big. But isn't it kinda risky, writing about the Hens on Friday morning, before you know the score of that night's game in Durham?

Yeah, there's that possibility the Hens will be out of the running by the time folks pick up the Saturday morning paper. Then again, there's a possibility that they won't. Either way, I figure, so what.

“So what?” I thought you were a baseball fan. How could you just shrug and say “so what” if they lose?

Because this year, even losing is winning.

Um, do you often drink adult beverages for breakfast? Because that's gotta explain why you're not making any sense this morning.

Oh, I dunno about that. I think I'm making a lot of sense. Even if the Hens don't go all the way, won't you still be proud?

Well, yeah, sure. But still, I want 'em to win!

So do I! But my point is, even if the Hens lose, Toledo doesn't lose. The last time the Hens had playoff potential, the human species wasn't even at the biped stage yet. I mean, if they weren't already the Hens, you could call 'em the Cubs!

Aw, come on. Now you're really exaggerating.

Maybe a little. But you can't deny the buoyant effect the Hens have had on the entire city. I even let my child stay up to watch them on TV (hey, the stadium sold out) until the middle of the 11th - waaay past her bedtime - because you just never know when a chance like this will come around again.

So if your daughter blows that social studies quiz, at least she'll have an excuse, eh? I mean, even if her teachers aren't baseball fans, they'd know just what she was talking about when she says “playoffs.”

Which, by the way, is exactly my point: Even people who don't follow the game are following the Hens into September.

You're convinced it's that widespread?

Definitely! See, this isn't really just about sports anymore. This is about us. About Toledo. About a city that finally has to look up to see where it's going.

Ohhh, I get it. You're talking about that whole business where a local team can embody civic hopes in a way that transcends the minutiae of the playing field. Am I right?

Hey, Shakespeare, your words, not mine. But in essence, yes. This is a town that's done its share of psychological limping, but now look at us - we're running bases as if we'd been this fleet-footed all along!

Wow, pretty lofty thoughts.

Well, baseball has long carried the added burden of being a metaphor for life. Aw, you know: The hero leaves home for that long and risky odyssey which then delivers him back home. Which is great for the people in the stands, because the odyssey allows ample time to wave down the beer guy, thus increasing the epic poetry of the game with each passing inning and/or beer vendor.

Hmmm. I see your point. Still, tell me this: What are you going to say if the Hens lose that Friday night game, and here you've gone and written a whole column anyway?

That's easy. I'd say the same thing I'd say if they won. “Thank you, Hens! It's been a l-o-t of fun!”

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