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Opening Day [2019]: When Life Imitates Norman Rockwell

As long as we have Opening Day every Spring and the World Series every Autumn, I will continue to believe to the adamantine rock bottom of my soul that God blesses America and has an exceptional plan for this nation.

Look at the moment above captured in Game 1 of the 2009 World Series. It could be hung in the Norman Rockwell Museum and not be a tittle of a jot out of place. In every face (except Swisher’s) is an expression of pure joy as they all realize that on its way to them, at that very moment, is every baseball fan’s most cherished dream from childhood: The chance in the stands to catch a fly ball in a World Series game.

In another few instants only one fan will come up with it, but in this moment all have a chance at it and all are transported at the opportunity to transcend themselves and enter into something bigger, brighter, and finer than their lives would otherwise be. In this instant, preserved now forever, they are all in The Show.

And that’s the way it is in America. That’s why we see many footprints leading in and few coming out. For with all our quarrels, our disagreements, our struggles, and our incessant bickering, this remains a land where you can always get another turn at bat, where you can always, right up until six months after death, get another chance to swing for the bleachers. And where, even if you aren’t a player in “The Show,” you can buy a seat out on the right field line and wait there for the crack of the bat, the rise of the ball against the sky, and… it’s coming, it’s coming…. and whap, you got it. You’re in “The Show.”

And in that moment life, the universe, and everything else comes down to one great roar of joy from yourself and the rest of the crowd.

Baseball, from a hot grounder on Opening Day to a high fly ball in an Autumn sky is the arc of the essential America. Nothing like us ever was.

“I got it!”

“No, I got it!”

“No, WE got it!”

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Sam L. March 28, 2018, 9:14 AM

    Rockwell was great. His critics were not.

  • Roy Lofquist March 28, 2018, 9:48 AM

    There is no better example of pure unabashed snobbery than those who denigrate Norman Rockwell. “He wasn’t an artist, he was an illustrator”. Rockwell was simply the greatest portraitist to have ever walked this earth.

    These are for snobs: https://tinyurl.com/yajj3ctr – Famous portraits.
    These or for you, and me. https://www.wikiart.org/en/norman-rockwell

  • BillH March 28, 2018, 9:49 AM

    My wife gives baseball and family finances the TLC they need. I keep an eye on them from a distance.

  • ghostsniper March 28, 2018, 11:29 AM

    All then white males in one place like that.
    There’s gonna be trouble.

  • HKBill March 28, 2018, 3:25 PM

    ” where you can always, right up until six months after death, get another chance to swing for the bleachers”

    I must not have my thinking cap on, what does this sentence mean?

    Otherwise the article was pure brilliance. Well done.

  • Howard Nelson March 28, 2018, 6:21 PM

    HKBill, perhaps the true fan’s spirit hovers at home plate yearning for a chance at bat. After six months it’s the next spirit’s turn at bat.

  • Howard Nelson March 28, 2018, 6:44 PM

    The bat and the ball were made for each other. The ball loves to be battered far and high or smacked to the wall outracing lunging outfielders.
    And the glove? The glove is the great comforter, the caressing mother mitt, catching, or watching the ball sail into the stands or out of the park to spark some kid’s dreams.
    Hey you! Were you that kid?

  • Howard Nelson March 28, 2018, 7:37 PM

    The hole in the ballpark’s wall of wood was a knot that’s not, but is now for the peeker’s good.
    So, thank you tree for your broad plank board and your free viewport so nicely bored.

  • Mary Ann March 29, 2018, 5:04 AM

    Baseball is about getting home safe.

  • Vanderleun March 29, 2018, 8:28 AM

    JUST poetic hyperbole, HKBill, to underscore that you really do always get another swing.

  • Casey Klahn March 29, 2018, 10:23 AM

    N Rockwell took illustration to the highest level. But skill is the damndest thing.

    Let me illustrate this concept for you. The root of “artillery” is “art.” Surely you understand this, don’t you? The basis of artillery is the skill set to lob projectiles at angles with the goal of hitting a specific target. The higher form of artillery is when you abuse your enemy of his very life; you have bent him to your will and this by dint of targeted mayhem and utter violence.

    You see Mr. Rockwell’s skill. Can you see his intentions? Probably, yes. But with a snobbier eye, Roy, I’ll bet you’d enjoy them even more. His Thanksgiving painting is not great because of the wrinkles on each face, but because of the layout and sacred geometry.

  • Roy Lofquist March 30, 2018, 5:35 PM

    Casey, I’m not to sure I get what you’re getting at. Art is personal, intimate. In my view Rockwell brought life to the human condition like no other. His works stimulate, in me, far more thoughts and emotions than others’ efforts.

  • Casey Klahn March 30, 2018, 8:46 PM

    Mr Roy: the next thing that happens in art will be visually incomprehensible to you: your eyes will not even see it. This in no way impugns the great Norman Rockwell: I love his work. I also love Andrew Wyeth’s great American paintings.

    Let’s not be Luddites as we go forward as conservatives. Let’s be the best culture – have the most energy, the greatest edge and the most dynamism. I admire the culture of the Old West, but keep in mind they were pioneering new places and things.

  • Roy Lofquist March 30, 2018, 9:42 PM

    Casey, if I don’t see it it ain’t art.

  • ghostsniper March 31, 2018, 4:48 AM

    @Roy, Casey is painting a broader picture.
    A scene in which eyes alone are not privy.

    Your words (speaking of Rockwells work): “His works stimulate, in me, far more thoughts and emotions than others’ efforts.”

    See the diff?

    Seeing with the eyes is only part of the picture, as it were.
    Though, I do understand your point, especially when viewing some of the most common abstract art of late.

    True, visual art must first stimulate the eyes, but after that it is up to the viewer to provide everything else. Rockwell stimulates my emotions, primarily I think, because I have actually lived many of the ideas he portrays.

    But if I don’t relate to any given artists work does that mean the art doesn’t exist, or doesn’t work? Is the short coming in this misunderstanding mine alone? I don’t know. Hence the notion that art is in the eyes of the beholder. What works for you might not work for me.

    In light of what I consider “common trash”, most of today’s modern art does nothing for me. Call me lazy. Call me cheap. I can meet any artist halfway, maybe a little more, but if I have to alter my world view to make room for their effort I’m not really interested. Maybe I’m just too simple a man for the complexities of the modern world.

  • Casey Klahn March 31, 2018, 8:05 AM

    The universe of what is visual is not zero sum. It expands.

    The tendency of a lot of people is to want olds. What they want is not news, but olds.

    NR wasn’t satisfied with being technically accurate. He was interested in the things being done in the fever pit of new art, and he was also an illustrator. Great artist.

    Back on topic: in America, we ought to reflect our dynamism in every part of our culture. We certainly do with big film, Rock & Roll and Country music, and Jazz. We lead in high tech, and I think we still groove it with manufacturing. Oil. Space. Info. Military.

    But, fuck art. Who needs that shit?

    I say we walk down there, and lead all of the culture.

  • ghostsniper March 31, 2018, 9:55 AM

    Hate it when that happens, and it seems to be happening more and more.
    Gonna hafta get a handle on it some how.
    The problem is I’m trying to remember something that I have on another computer in the house and don’t wanna walk all the way in there and fire it up just for that. So I guess I’m gonna hafta fudge it.

    The part that anchors the barrel to the upper receiver on an AR has a specific name, which I can’t remember right now. It requires a special tool to disassemble, unless you are very lucky, which I have but there is an easier way but it’ll cost ya. They make a quick detachment connection for those 2 things. Throw a small lever, twist the barrel and pull backwards. Ta-Daa! That connector costs about $300 depending.

    The bigger picture is the whole method in which the AR uses the ammunition explosive gas to cycle the bolt carrier group (BCG). The gas comes down the barrel toward the muzzle and some of it is siphoned off into a small hole in the wall of the barrel, through a gasblock and then down a stainless steel tube where that tube is inserted into another tube at the front of the BCG. Can you visualize? Good.

    The BCG has 3 or 4 small holes on each side which exhausts the gases after they are used and this causes what I believe to be unnecessary fouling of the internals which then leads to misfiring if not maintained properly.

    What I want to try is the gas “piston” variable but I do not want to give up on the gas port option I have now. I want my cake and I want to eat it too, of course. But it’s expensive and time consuming.

    Removing the barrel from the receiver after it has been properly installed and indexed, with shims if necessary, is a PITA and there’s always the chance you’ll mess it up. Remember, mechanics have built in fatigue limitations. ie., the more time you thread a nut onto a bolt the more they wear out.

    What I am aspiring to do it to install a quick change adapter to the front of my current upper receiver and the matched adapter receivers on 2 barrels, my current one with the adjustable gas block, and another on the new barrel I am going to buy that will have the gas piston arrangement. I will also need to buy a new BCG that plays well with the new gas piston process.

    I have spent the past few weeks running down prices and comparing specs and all that, and showing preference for the good companies I have dealt with before, and now my list is complete. I am ready to start ordering stuff.

    Early last year when I started this project I naively ASSumed this whole thing was going to run around 600-800 but I blew past that number before I was even halfway done. The final tally as it sits right now is well over 2k. Seriously, if I’d a know this before I started I might not have started at all. But I’m all into it so I have to keep going.

    This next phase will cost around 1k, bringing the grand total to about 3k, and I hope my estimating abilities have improved.

    The adjustable gas block (AGB) that is on the current barrel has a small allen screw on the front that is manipulated with a 1/8″ allen wrench. Turning this screw adjusts the amount of gas that is fed to the BCG. In stock form 100% of the gas in the pipe is fed to the BCG and the allen screw on the AGB acts like a faucet and can turn down the amount of gas delivered to the BCG. 100% of the gas going into the BCG results in a certain amount of recoil felt by the shooter. My AR also has an adjustable buffer (AB) that absorbs a lot of the recoil. Adjusting the AGB properly causes less recoil. So between the 2, the AGB and AB the recoil is almost non-existent.

    What all of that AGB, AB, BCG stuff means is that when any gun is fired down time occurs as the shooter gathers his wits about him to get the sights back on target. We’re talking seconds here. And involuntary flinch. These things effect the accuracy of the follow up shots. With a little practice anyone can learn to make a head shot at 100 yards with an AR but to make say 8 head shots in 8 seconds is a feat most cannot do because of the reasons above. That is with a stock gun.

    I think, with the improvements I have outlined, that this gun will be able to put 30 rds of lead into the head of a full size silhouette at 100 yds in less than 30 seconds. At least that’s the goal.

    Hobbies always start off cheap, inexpensive, such is the long range lure, for it is the accessories that always make the gargantuan profits for the manufacturers.

  • Chris April 1, 2019, 10:21 AM

    I also thought of such an AR project,with equally realized costs. At that point after more research and cost inclusions, settled on an HCAR. Everything you speak of is already there. Only downside for most IS the cost, but it’s the whole package I sought in the original AR build. At 52 Yrs old it’s a heavy rifle but still Well worth the $$, and that’s a round I’ve shot for 35+ years. YMMV.

  • Jack April 1, 2019, 12:01 PM

    My bet is on the guy in the hoodie with the open mouth. By the looks of him this ain’t his first baseball game.

  • ghostsniper April 1, 2019, 2:17 PM

    Chris, I had to look that up. I’ve seen the word but never knew what it meant. Quite a gun all the way around. But that total cost is beyond my grasp. I had to do my AR piece meal, as disposable coin rolled in, and I needed to know intricately how the thing worked so that if it breaks I can fix it right away. I have lots of spare parts for it. None of the major stuff like barrels and bolts though. At 12lbs that HCAR is almost twice the weight on my AR, both unloaded. With glass and bipod they both get heavier. We ain’t getting any younger and these guns are getting heavier. My next build, which I have already started, is an AR10 in .308 and I’m keeping it as “stock” as possible. That is, it will visually look like the M16 I carried decades ago. I already have thousands of rounds for it that I currently use in my Rem 700’s, so why not.

  • Snakepit Kansas April 1, 2019, 7:37 PM

    Over the past decade plus, improvements in manufacturing processes through machining, better materials and precision mass produced rifles has made consumer grade rifles often capable of MOA accuracy. God bless the invisible hand of the free market! The final element to make this happen is precision hand loaded cartridges. When great care is made of brass separation, matching for weight, trimming, processing etc. etc. and putting that together with exact powder weights behind match grade bullets, you can make a used Savage shoot about like a custom gun. I’ll state what you already know. Precision ammunition run through a good barrel creates sub MOA accuracy. Install a 2.5lb Timney trigger, a Leupold 6.5X20X40 VariX III and a talented operator, and you now have a dangerous element to anyone threatening at 300+ yards. Shooting much beyond that starts requiring additional training, as you, Casey and others already know.

    Some years ago and at an uncle’s request, I put together a handful of used field grade rifles for his sons to hunt with. With hand loads, all four rifles shot MOA or better.

  • ghostsniper April 2, 2019, 9:18 AM

    Snake, I know a guy that does custom reloads and he did all of the 308’s for my 700’s back before the 1000yd property was sold where we used to shoot. He’s currently building 200 rds of .348 silvertips for my Win model .348. All of the components for those cartridges are on the moon and even worse if I buy them pre-made. They are difficult to find and are usually in the 5-9 dollar EACH range. I have about 2000 of the custom 308’s and twice that in store bought stuff. I only have about 400rds for the .348 and I start to get nervous when any category gets below 1000. Have you been following the argument over at WRSA between MOA and MILS? I gravitate toward the simplistic method – if I can hit a milk jug at 1000yds I’m OK. heh

  • Snakepit Kansas April 3, 2019, 4:15 AM

    The gun range I work has my buddies all debating the difference between MOA and MILS. Blah. We have an instructor that does a two day weekend class on shooting out to 1,000 yards. The first day is all book work. Day two is all trigger time behind some exotic looking 15 pound rifle shooting 6.something cartridges. I’d like to take this course, but fundamentally I would like to have some training, a range finder and dope table that I can slap on my WIN70 in .308 to be able to shoot out to 1K yards. I’ve shot on 400 yard ranges and know bullet drop starts to get loco after 300. Poking a milk jug at 1K would be a hell of a good shot!

  • ghostsniper April 3, 2019, 6:38 AM

    Snake, I spoke of this stuff extensively several years ago. At the range I used to frequent we would shoot across a valley between to tall hills. The valley was almost uncrossable at that point so we had people on the otherside setting up targets and giving feedback via handheld CB radios. All the gimmicks in the world won’t help you when shooting vast distances. To be clear, there isn’t much of a tangible reason to shoot more than say, 400-600 yards because the accuracy is always in question, as you will see. It’s more about being a hobby, though an expensive one, a test of one’s potential abilities. As Josey Wales said, “A man has to know his limits.”

    1000 yards is more than 1/2 a mile and in the scenario I was experienced with there is climate change between where the shooter is and where the target is. On flat land this is lessened a little bit. A couple variables: the breeze may be 2mph where the shooter is but 6mph where the target is. Clouds have temperature differences in the air under them. Various ground surfaces reflect heat differently. Your target guy on the otherside can help with radio’d readings of the climate over there but the climate between A and B will always be questionable. So shooting at a distance will always have a degree of guesswork involved, trial and error. You can have everything right, by the book, and still miss. Or, you can hit the target on your first shot, but your 2nd shot 2 minutes later will miss even though the gun was not moved. Climate. The thing is, for me I would have probably left the long range shooting idea eventually anyway because I was becoming bored with it. It wasn’t fun any more. The learning was great, and I’ll never lose that, but I had maxxed it out and there wasn’t any challenge any more. I haven’t fired any of my 3 custom Rem 700’s in almost 4 years.