That day, on the third floor of Mother of Mercy High School, Ms. Hawthorne spoke about the importance and value of poop.
Our intrepid World Cultures teacher was talking about her participation in an archaeological dig (she was the type of teacher, not uncommon in Mercy, who participated in archaeological digs, snorkeled and traveled to India, and rollerblading on stage at the school’s all-talent show.) She described how everyone was quietly digging and sweeping in their assigned boxes, when suddenly a big ruckus broke out at the site. People threw down their trowels and brushes and started running.
Excitement erupted in the team. A discovery ! Mrs. Hawthorne joined the group of scholars with great anticipation. Was it jewelry? Pottery? The Ark of the Covenant?
“Ladies,” she said, “that was shit.”
Ancient droppings, Ms Hawthorne explained, are more valuable to researchers than jewelry, arrowheads or bone shards. Indeed, by analyzing a turd, archaeologists gather information about diet, environment and potential migration patterns. What did the people who lived here eat and where? And why? The turd will tell.
Ladies and gentlemen, what the Cincinnati Reds have presented to us right now is crap. But we are not archaeologists (well, the vast majority of us, anyway) and we do not need a microscope to examine this production. It has long been petrified by underspending, disrespect and divisive ideological interference. Yet it is impressive in its instructive value.
The long-taken-for-granted fanbase has yet to sell out our great ethnological festival, Opening Day. Yesterday the Reds announced that our big boy-king, Joe Burrow, would accept the crown of our greatest honour: the first pitch in Game 1. (Twitter’s best take on the subject: “Don’t let Castellini anywhere near Burrow. I don’t want him going to Seattle.”)
We could read the spring presentation of our autumn monarch as a great gift to the people, a cultural celebration of a tremendous victory that transcends the boundaries of sport. Or, we could see it as a game for profit, a panicked alliance with a neighboring kingdom that somehow fought its way to discover the Northwest Passage.
How do we approach our shit? There are nutrients in poop, but only as a remnant of having served another purpose. The academic value of shit is in what remains, in what has gone through the system and is no longer useful. So we are left to find value in the traces of what was once whole.
The value, for baseball fans, of everyday comforts (at least they’re on the field!) and the occasional sweet berry we encounter (at least Votto is on the field!) Whoever left that old shit behind had no concept that living his life would result in a great celebration of doctorates in about seven thousand years. He or she was simply taking care of a basic bodily function. There was no thought behind the case. There was no plan. There was only squat.
So we’re going to have to celebrate turd, Reds 2022 fans. We’re going to have to learn what he has to teach us, or we’ll have yet another one. There may be plenty of gold on the other side of the site, but are you still going to stick with your trowel and brush if there is?