Today is 29 days, which is one day and four weeks of the omer: hesed she’b’hod.
Intra-state rivalries are real in Texas: UT vs. A&M, Rockets vs. Spurs, Texans vs. Cowboys (actually not sure about that last). But even now that the Astros are in the AL, I just don’t care about the Rangers. Never have. Even though the Express decamped to Texas from Houston. Maybe it’s because Dubya was the managing partner of the investment group that bought the franchise in 1989. (And it was under his stewardship that the club used eminent domain to build Globe Life Park — but, yay small government!, or whatever.) Perhaps if the team had done a little better, Shrub would have thought he was a baseball genius and not run for governor and then not run for president and then maybe hundreds of thousands of people wouldn’t have died needlessly in a baseless, endless, immoral, and illegal war. OK, maybe I do care about the Rangers. Just not as a baseball team.
I do, however, loooooove third baseman Adrián Beltré. (And he’s not responsible for the Rangers’ mediocrity 1989-1994.) I like him for innocently correcting his slimy agent (I’m sorry, but Scott Boras is the devil) about his age, even though that led to the revelation that the Dodgers had illegally signed signed him at age 15. (By the way, on that team he would later regularly take batting practice with teammate Shawn Green, a proximity that is definitely #goodforthejews.)
I like him for his acrobatic defensive moves, à la Ozzie Smith, and for his tendency to drop to one knee after a deep swing, looking for all the world like he’s proposing marriage to the ball as it flies out of the park.
I like him for going from being considered the league’s biggest disappointment in the mid-2000s to four-time All Star, five-time Golden Glove winner, and four-time Silver Slugger winner in the 2010s whose number was retired by the Rangers upon his retirement.
But mostly I like him for the joy he evinces. As Joe Posnanski says,
[H]e put on that Rangers uniform and it was like donning a superhero cape. Everything about him just lit up. He was fun. He was hilarious. He was quirky and weird and silly and so happy every day. You would go to games just to see what he might do. You can only guess that he had this exuberance inside him all along, but it was only the last few years that he let it out for everyone to see.
MLB put together this highlight reel of Beltré’s funniest antics (which include zig-zagging out of the base path to avoid a tag by José Altuve and later pretending to push the short-statured second baseman off of the base after a standup triple).
You may notice in the video that people love to touch Beltré’s head. That’s because Beltré really doesn’t love for people to touch his head. For a reason he won’t disclose. Which, he acknowledges, is, among the man-children that are professional athletes, as good as asking his teammates to touch his head as much as possible.
As a free agent in 2010, Beltré signed a one-year contract with the Red Sox, grateful for the chance to prove that the best was yet to come. (But seriously, only in professional sports is $10 million for a year’s work considered low risk for an employer.) And the best did indeed come.
I can’t think of a more perfect fit for Day 29, “gratitude that manifests as love.”
featured image: Louis DeLuca/The Dallas Morning News