The Day the Home Run Died: ‘Mmmerican Waterloo0 (formerly “‘Mmmerican Waterlooo”), Chapter 11

atlas

by Richard Oxman

An awful lot of people wouldn’t be playing ball anymore — even if they wanted (to) — if they were…able. But Matilda’s table didn’t anticipate that.

The way the cards fell compelled our Great(ly Rejected) One to board the Royal Air Maroc jet, totally ignorant of Big Al’s presence in the North African nation. She didn’t like the way he ended the relationship, but she certainly wasn’t the type to track unrequited love.

Tracking what came up with the Tarot, however, was a different matter. *Journey, journey, journey*.

And then there were all the tidbits lying around the communal room of the flophouse she had landed in, following her (rebuff) binge: a) the glossy coffee table book — so out of place — on *Casablanca*, a movie never allowed to be shown in the long, narrow land at Africa’s northwest corner; she had once worked in that largest and most spectacular brothel in the world, Bousbir (and the memories began to flow like a Rabatian flashflood), b) the repeated television shots one morning of Rockefeller Center’s Atlas-like sculpture, coupled with the inordinate number of atlases strewn around the room (all bringing to mind Morocco’s monumental Atlas mountains), and c) the sudden fascination among leftists — festooning the alternative media — respecting recent discoveries documenting Nelson Mandela’s refusal to recognize/decade delay in recognizing (as he had promised to do) Western Saharan political claims; one couldn’t get away from the controversy if one were politically-minded, let alone Polisario-inclined.

It all added up to a fixation on Morocco, a solo flight across the Atlantic. Unlike “Big Al,” Matilda hadn’t lost interest in the “M” monstrosities, hadn’t turned away from *engagement*. And was trusting the intuition that had never failed her…to hook her up with clues abroad.

This, without a clue, of course, that — when she boarded the 707 –Good Al was in Mauritania, headed back for Marrakech, and Bad Al was swimming in Fez, finding reasons to make a foray into renting a riad by the Berber city’s Menara Gardens…with the help of an outfit named Marrakech-Medina; in the new town laid out by Marshal Lyautey he was slated to meet a nefarious soul on Avenue Mohammed V. One, Moses.

And without a clue that — stateside — August opened up with all MLB airplanes ferrying National and American League leaders (including the main Wild Card contenders) — all flying that Sun(down)day — all…all…going down.

The Yankees were the first to go, the Indians were the second to blow, the Rangers the third to (not) know, the Angels the fourth to sow what they had reaped, the Braves and the Nationals both taking the fifth…slot/shot about the same time, the Pirates *sixth* in a row, and the Giants — having escaped the fate of midair explosion — succumbing last of all…coming in for a landing, landing on the very type of landmines that Princess Diana had tried so hard to get politicians to outlaw…for so long.

“So long,” said Matilda to everything seen and unseen, squished into her little window seat, none of Morocco’s unbearable heat or the heat of the heavens coming apart a part of her movement, her mental state.

At the moment she lifted off, the last thing that could have been on her mind was America’s National Pastime. Even though it was ending, stolen bases and all, homefield advantage a thing of the past.

Matilda learned about the demise of our Grand Diversion, however, as soon as she set foot on African soil. Authorities hadn’t wanted to spoil airline fantasies on the way to Morocco, but the shimmering heat of history hurdled through, curdling blood when an obese *blood* in a straw hat tore off his Walkman, and asked three questions…loud enough to echo from Erfoud to the Erie Canal: “Didn’t you think they had finished with sports…at least baseball, when they killed those All Stars? Why do they hate baseball? Why are they going *back*?