They Think It’s a Game


The St. Louis Cardinals lost in the National League Championship Series to the San Francisco Giants for the second time in three years. When it’s so ripe for the taking it’s easy to believe they could prevail and move on. There were no great teams in Major League Baseball in 2014. Ask Bruce Bochy. Ask Mike Matheny.

They think it’s a game. Heck, we in St. Louis know it’s more than a game. It’s a way of life, a tradition, a cultural touchstone. It’s first memories growing up; games are around which holidays are planned; how the Cardinals are doing starts many conversations. And we bleed red, metaphorically.

Racism, lack of equity, and police brutality are also St. Louis traditions. We tolerate it, or condone it, or bemoan it. A few have set themselves to fighting it. Many of us feel an absence of agency–that we can’t do anything about it, or are cynical about our chances to effectuate change. A torpor of gloom had set in, a rot that festered. There is a chasm, a gulf between races and classes here that feels ossified, primordial.

Then Mike Brown happened in my figurative front yard. Courageous young black adults, joined by people young, old, in the middle and from all walks of life said, Enough is enough. We can’t take this anymore. We want a different St. Louis that prizes all our people equally.

I’m one of those persons. I’m 50, divorced, and I live in Ferguson. My only child is the product of a marriage between a white man and a black woman. I have understood my own white privilege for decades. I have seen the mistreatment of those who don’t look like me for as long a time.

Standing up for change, expressing my First Amendment rights, showing solidarity with my black neighbors, publicly empathizing, working with others to move the police and municipal government in a different direction are things I felt compelled to do or enact. I’ve attended many meetings, marches, and rallies. I have provided food and rides. I do a lot of citizen journalism–interviewing actors and onlookers, recording videos, talking to people online. That’s what I’ve been doing. The movement calls on people to assign themselves the tasks they are good at/or for which they are available. It’s very empowering, and gratifying.

We think we have a good chance to change things where I live. I have 200 new friends whom I count on. Every day has been a revelation.

We take Cardinals baseball very seriously here. Ask the few who snarlingly asked us why we hate baseball when we chanted at Ballpark Village. Anyone who knows me knows how much I love baseball and the Cardinals.

Bill DeWitt III, president of the St. Louis Cardinals watched us both times I participated in protests in Ballpark Village. I don’t believe anyone else I was with recognized him. I called him yesterday to comment on our activities. I have not heard from Mr. DeWitt.

Some things are more important, like justice for Mike Brown, and ending poverty capitalism in North County. Do I have to say this?

They think it’s a game! They think it’s a joke! They couldn’t be more wrong.