Safe at Home

Baseball's sunshine still peeks out among the clouds.

"You could have canned the sunshine on their faces. Now, that was hope. That was belief. Unjustified, sure. But what hope. The hope that everything would be fine. The whole world would regain its balance, and justice would finally be done. Well, I never told you, never told Dana, either, or anybody. But in Vietnam, I thought about that Opening Day at Wrigley, too, about the way Banks's homer lifted everyone in the place up onto a cloud, and sometimes it would get confused with the acres of green grass at the Polo Grounds and my father and that first Opening Day way back in New York. Let me tell you, I remember -- and this is very specific, very clear -- I remember thinking about Ernie Banks when we were in one godawful shitstorm of a firefight and guys were going down all over the place. Ernie Banks! Man, it's funny how the mind works. So. Jesus. I guess it is still in there, all that feeling for the past and for the game. It's really strange how baseball can kind of bind everything together."

Of course, there are always louder, more belligerent sports on the planet. Consider demolition derbies. Or pro wrestling. Or this: the National Intercollegiate Shotgun Championships, which were contested last week at the National Gun Club in San Antonio, Texas.

Mark Andresen

Now, when most college students think "shots," they're standing at the brass rail trying to flag down a bartender. When the National Rifle Association and something called the Association of College Unions International -- the event's sponsors -- say the word, they mean skeet and trap and marksmanship and smoke and noise. The folks at the NRA, bless their high-caliber hearts, have been naming All-American shooters since 1936, and this is the 35th year that college shooting teams from across the nation (including, this time, Colorado State and the Air Force Academy) have tested themselves in the annual clay-bird events. No word from the organizers about whose faces pranksters may have painted on the targets in San Antone, but you couldn't go wrong guessing Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden, Jacques Chirac and Michael Moore.

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