Last night should’ve been pure, unadulterated joy. I haven’t been shy when it comes to the Texas Rangers and writing about my favorite baseball team. It swept the 101-win Orioles and advanced to the American League Championship Series for the first time in a dozen years. I was a sophomore in college the last time the team — then featuring Josh Hamilton, Nelson Cruz, and company —reached baseball’s final four. That feels like multiple lifetimes ago. It’s the first time for any of my favorite teams to reach a conference championship since the Washington Capitals achieved the feat in 2018 en route to a Stanley Cup victory. Sports have always been a huge part of my life. So why when I witnessed one of my beloved clearing that threshold for only the fifth time in my life was it not only happiness that surfaced? It’s the same pit in my stomach I’ve had since waking up on Saturday.
Israel was blindsided in an attack by terrorist group Hamas, an extremist organization that has made its core beliefs to rid the world of all Jewish people perfectly clear. The current conflict’s death toll is well into the thousands and will only grow in the coming days and weeks. Political disagreements and military aggression are nothing new in the Middle East. However, Saturday’s attacks affected every member of the Jewish diaspora in a heart-wrenching way that’s incomparable to anything in my lifetime. That’s for several reasons, not just the recency of the despicable events and the amount of Jewish people that were murdered, raped, kidnapped, and/or tortured simply because they were Jewish. It’s the domino effect Saturday has begun to unravel.
I’m nowhere near an expert on the geopolitical ramifications of these events and pretending to be is in bad faith. How the Israel Defense Forces’ security measures didn’t stop Saturday’s invasion from becoming as excruciating as it was is pertinent information that’s also unclear at the moment. What is clear is how inhumane Hamas’ actions were and are. Paragliding into a music festival and reportedly killing more than 250 Israelis, with more than 100 others being kidnapped or injured in the barrage, just because of their faith, is sickening. Around 40 babies being killed, with some being beheaded, is just as horrible, if not worse. Or how about one elderly woman’s murder being posted to her own Facebook and that’s how her family found out Hamas had killed her? In no way can you justify any of those acts.
Explaining the layers of this conflict are complex, not murky. I disagree politically with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and also wholeheartedly support the nation in its efforts to destroy terrorism. I also believe you can be pro-Palestine and that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re pro-terrorist. Hamas wants there to be large civilian casualties, no matter who suffers that wrath. There’s never an excuse for a loss of innocent civilian life and unfortunately, those numbers will disgustingly grow for Israelis and Palestinians alike.
So all of that filled my head as Jose Leclerc struck out Jordan Westburg to end the Orioles’ season? Not exactly, because it had already been there. Word of the attacks was first disseminated hours before Game 1’s first pitch and has been a constant on my social media feeds ever since. Even during Tuesday night’s game, Orioles’ starting pitcher Dean Kremer wore a Star of David necklace while becoming the first Israeli pitcher to start an MLB playoff game. Kremer told reporters before the game the conflict would be in the back of his head and that his family was doing OK. Despite not making it out of the second inning with Texas’ potent offense, Kremer taking the mound under these circumstances is inspiring.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m thrilled I’ll get at least four more Rangers games this season, and likely more. Our starting pitching has been solid and the bullpen hasn’t been a complete trainwreck. Texas’ defense and lineup are so good that the combination of those four factors should be enough to win a World Series. It’s just odd to be outright celebrating anything right now when people you’re connected to are going through such heartbreak. These aren’t just numbers of people who’ve passed away. These were human beings, with their funerals taking place as you read this. Even those of Jewish faith can forget how connected our world is, when it appears every Jewish person is mourning the loss of someone they knew, or knows of someone who is, myself included.
Sports is my ultimate escape and one of the most joyous fan experiences I’ve had in recent years couldn’t outlast feeling how trivial one baseball series is. It is a balance, and continuing with normal life is one way to peacefully rebel. Despite how Hamas and other hateful groups from the past and present want those who have my same faith to perish, we’re still here. I know there’s plenty of hurt right now, some feeling it much more than others, but I and many others empathize with that pain. As long as the Rangers advance in the playoffs, I’ll be in front of a television watching every inning. My sports fandom is in rarified territory. And yet, it’s just a game. Some things are more important.
Original source here
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