Tuesday, July 31, 2018

On Osuna

I have tried to start this post a dozen different times over the past day. When the news came out that the Astros had traded for Roberto Osuna, I, like many of you, were shocked, saddened, angry, and hurt. I didn't know what to do or how to feel. I still don't know what to do or how to feel and I'm not sure I ever will.

The world increasingly feels darker and bifurcated but baseball for many of us is a place where we can forget the anguish around us. When waters rose throughout Houston, the Astros were there to serve as a small distraction while we worked to rebuild our homes, our lives, and our city.

That's the way it's supposed to work. Sports serve the purpose of teaching us team building and passion and unwavering support and how to stand arm-in-arm with people we may not agree with on everything and cheer on our hometown team just the same. We all know this is a made up game and none of it has real-world consequences and in 100 years no one will remember "Ground ball, right side, could do it" just like they won't remember you or me.

When Jeff Luhnow made the call to outbid other teams and willingly trade for Osuna, he took away the luxury of the Astros being a respite from moral quandaries. No matter who you are or what you believe, an Astros uniform represents something different than it did just a few hours ago.

For those of us who have been fortunate enough to escape the horrors of domestic violence thus far, we are given the chance to sedately process our feelings and make a choice as to how we want to react. For those of you who are irrevocably scarred, every tinge of blue and orange could force back memories and feelings that you work every day to tame. My heart breaks for you.

If I'm being honest, my first reaction is vengeful anger towards Osuna and hope that he suffers tenfold what he is accused of doing. And while that is cathartic in the short-term, I know it is not healthy for me or for anyone else long-term.

I have been thinking a lot about this quote from C.S. Lewis.

"Suppose one reads a story of filthy atrocities in the paper. Then suppose that something turns up suggesting that the story might not be quite true, or not quite so bad as it was made out. Is one's first feeling, 'Thank God, even they aren't quite so bad as that,' or is it a feeling of disappointment, and even a determination to cling to the first story for the sheer pleasure of thinking your enemies are as bad as possible? If it is the second then it is, I am afraid, the first step in a process which, if followed to the end, will make us into devils. You see, one is beginning to wish that black was a little blacker. If we give that wish its head, later on we shall wish to see grey as black, and then to see white itself as black. Finally we shall insist on seeing everything -- God and our friends and ourselves included -- as bad, and not be able to stop doing it: we shall be fixed for ever in a universe of pure hatred."

What I should say is I hope and pray that the accusations against Osuna are not true. Not because I wish to call his girlfriend a liar and certainly not because I hope this allows me a clearer conscience as I turn on a baseball game, but because I truly hope this did not happen.

But getting to this emotional state is tough, nearly impossible and I am not nearly as close as I want to be. I want to clench to anger because it feels right. It feels like the only true thing I know anymore. If I cannot seethe with rage against someone who broke the trust of a loving relationship and harmed a defenseless person, what can I do?

I don't know. I don't think any of us do. All I know for certain is the mere act of watching an Astros game will overload me with thoughts and feelings that I have not come to expect from a sporting event. I can't turn a blind eye and I wouldn't want to even if I could.

There are a thousand different things that I wish would have gone any number of other directions. I wish Osuna's girlfriend would have never had to experience the hurt she felt on that night. I hope, and frankly expect that she never has to again. I wish that Osuna did not have the capacity to feel the depths of anger it takes to commit such an act. I wish law enforcement had a stricter and more efficient policy in place for handling cases of domestic violence. I wish the same for Major League Baseball. I wish the Astros had not chosen to trade for him. I wish that I could feel grace and forgiveness instead of hate. I wish those who are hurting were not being forced to relive their pain.

I don't have a solution to any of those wishes. But that does not mean I am hopeless. First and foremost, I can take this as an opportunity to be reminded to love and care for the people around me. Our families and friends and neighbors are all going through untold struggles and I believe our primary job as human beings is to do our best to improve the lives of those we come in contact with. I will be the first to admit that I fail miserably in that capacity more than I care to think about.

Another thing that I can and will be doing is donating to two local charities, Aid to Victims of Domestic Abuse and Houston Area Women's Center. It shouldn't take a public act of violence to remind me to support charities who are dedicated to help with such a great cause, but it has. I would strongly encourage you to do the same if you can.

My final wish would be for some sort of definite closure, but I know that can never and will never happen. No court ruling is going to erase the damage caused that night and no 75-game suspension served could ever numb the misery so many of you have experienced.

Our only hope is that we can take this pain and anger and sadness and guilt and turn it into positive change in the world.