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The Bell Curve: Mistakes on the field, and in schools

September 08, 2010|Joseph N. Bell

Two socially important things happen every year in late September: The baseball season ends for teams that don't make the playoffs and back-to-school nights inevitably take place.

In the first instance, the players representing our home team, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, have been sleepwalking ever since they hosted the All-Star game in mid-July.

They've been wandering off base without a compass. Failing to keep track of the outs. Throwing to the wrong base.

But most of all, leaving hosts of base runners stranded in scoring position. Faced with such a sad galaxy, about my only good baseball news is that I won't get tapped for playoff tickets, thereby saving enough money for a down payment on a house — or maybe just a car.

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Admittedly, we're badly spoiled. Since 2002, the Angels have reached the post-season six times, coming off once with World Series rings. So we don't know how to behave when faced with this year's early collapse. That's why season ticket holders — like my daughter, Patt, and myself — find lots of empty seats and strange faces surrounding us when there is no ring to be had.

Over a six-month baseball season, we get accustomed to the peculiarities of our neighbors. There is the expert behind us who explains every play, mostly incorrectly, to his female companion. And the loud mouth carrying on a conversation that has nothing to do with baseball. And the young mother who tells her 5-year-old in a tone that's too gentle to be effective to stop kicking the back of my seat. And the guy in the middle of the row who climbs over us a half-dozen times during the game either to go to the men's room or to get another beer, or both.

But mostly our neighbors are baseball savvy, and the talk — if any — has to do with what is taking place on the field. And when your team is out of the running, those meaningless games serve mostly as reminders that the curtain is about to fall locally, and it will be four months before the first stirrings of spring training that denote a new season, both of baseball and life, itself.

And if that sounds pompous, you shouldn't be reading this.

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