I have an online friend named Alison. Alison is smart, witty, and quite attractive. Unfortunately, Alison is also dealing with a pancreas from hell, this manifesting itself in numerous hospitalizations including one at the present time. Prayers for her healing are requested.

Alison recently moved to Las Vegas. No, not because she wants to be a showgirl and no, not because she’s all that stoked for 115° “at least it’s a dry heat” days during summer. I believe it was a combo career/fresh start move. I teased her the real reason she moved to Vegas is because she wanted a nice new shiny hockey team for which to cheer. And oh, what a team it is turning out to be; more on that in a bit.

Hockey is, of course, a sport quite native to Nevada, where every fall as soon as the leaves stop spontaneously combusting from the heat and start turning colors eager players grab their skates, sticks, and pucks as they head out to the nearest casino and wait for the craps tables to freeze over so they can lace ‘em up. At least the National Hockey League believes so, as a couple years back when it came time to select a location for a new team the NHL chose Vegas over those hockey know-nothing rubes in Quebec City. Most Montreal residents would argue Quebec City is the destination location for know-nothing rubes period; however, this is a debate best left for French-preferring Canadians. But I digress.

The Vegas team’s owner is a proud West Point graduate, this manifesting itself in his preferred name for his new team being Black Knights after Army’s West Point sporting teams. Alas, Army said we’d rather you didn’t, hence the Golden Knights came to be.

The Golden Knights are Vegas’ first major league sports team. Thus, despite the admittedly limited experience local sports fans have with hockey save for the select few who in years past attended a minor league or NHL exhibition game there, excitement ran high. Season tickets? Sold out. Good seats still available? Um, not really. Locals snapping up anything and everything bearing the Golden Knights logo? Oh, you betcha. Despite the not baseless assumption that as an expansion team it was a ripe lock certainty the team would be mediocre at best and most likely downright awful, enthusiasm ran high for the season’s beginning …

… right up until a few nights before, when a madman fired on a crowd of Vegas concertgoers, murdering more than fifty and wounding hundreds.

What to do?

Refer back to Alison. She is good friends with a married couple in Vegas. Said couple has taken shifts to be with her around the clock during her current hospital stay. Because that is the kind of people they are.

Now, an expansion team’s home opener is invariably loaded with flash and splash, a massive celebration for one and all. However, it was unimaginable for the Golden Knights to hold such an event. Their situation was not unlike one the Oakland A’s faced in 1989 after winning the World Series, sweeping cross-Bay rivals the San Francisco Giants. Said Series had a lengthy unscheduled break, as shortly before Game Three a massive earthquake struck the San Francisco Bay Area, leveling buildings and freeways, breaking bridges, killing and injuring many. In lieu of the usual championship parade, the A’s opted for a modest public ceremony. Obviously even this would be far too much for Vegas. And so all eyes were on T-Mobile Arena, the Golden Knights home, to see what if anything could be done to both acknowledge what had happened and facilitate the desperately needed escapism sports provide.

The Golden Knights delivered on both counts.

First, it introduced one at a time some of the first responders – law enforcement, paramedics, doctors, nurses, firefighters – whose heroism and work in the face of nearly incomprehensible horror saved numerous lives; each accompanied onto the ice by a player. The team then played roadrunner to the Arizona Coyotes en route to a 5-2 win.

Although I am a San Francisco Bay Area native, hence a Sharks and long before Los Tiburones swam into San Jose an Oakland Seals/California Golden Seals fan, the Golden Knights hold a place in my heart. My Dad and oldest brother were both career Army. The last time I saw my brother before he passed away a few years ago, one evening we watched an Army football game on television. So, when I watch the Golden Knights (I’ve caught every game thus far this season on either online television or radio) it reminds me of my brother, the one with whom I was the closest and most alike. I miss him terribly. Connecting with the Golden Knights brings a sense of him always being with me. It’ll do until that great and glorious day when by Jesus’ grace we will be together in His presence.

Alison’s friends staying with her day and night; the Golden Knights proving a healing focal point for a reeling community trying to make it through a satanic assault. Such actions are love in action, or love on ice skates if you prefer. These are actions we should all strive to emulate. Perhaps we can’t stay with a sick friend 24/7 or play hockey. That’s okay. We can do what we can, which is usually far more than what we believe we can do. When we do what we can, good things happen. That will do. Very nicely.

Oh, and that obligatorily bad expansion team?

They’re currently 7-1-0. Hottest team and the best record in the NHL.

So much for that obligation.

In lieu of throwing any more fuel onto the fine fabulous furry freakout fire that is social media today )DACA! WALL! TRUMP! SCHUMER! PELOSI! ANTIDISESTABLISHMENTARIANISM! Okay, I might have thrown that last one in there) let’s talk sports in a way even the asporting, this being to athletic competition what apolitical is for those not giving a hoot about government machinations, can appreciate. Or at least tolerate.

Yesterday, the Oakland Athletics, better known as the Oakland A’s, announced the selection of a preferred location for their much-needed new ballpark. If all goes according to plan, construction will begin in 2021 with occupancy in 2023. This might seem like an inordinately lengthy timespan, but given the need to buy and clear the property, deal with the NIMBYs living nearby plus the ninnys in local government – pardon the redundancy – plus all the usual California ridiculousness, it’s a decent plan.

The A’s have for years done everything wrong while trying to get a new ballpark: begging for government funding, looking to move elsewhere in the San Francisco Bay Area, and crying poor with ownership that had more money than Bill Gates’ piggy bank. Recently, changes have been made, with a new point man Dave Kaval put in charge. And oh, what a difference a Dave makes: major community outreach, major dressing up the perilously close to crumbling Oakland Coliseum, and a promise to the A’s longsuffering fan base that yes, we’ll stop always trading in lieu of resigning our young talent when they hit their stride. The Bat Pack, as A’s 110% made of awesome beat reporter Susan Slusser has dubbed the freshfaced crop of kids led by developing superstud third baseman Matt Chapman, will be breaking pitchers hearts and blasting homers for years to come. In new digs.

The veteran Christian arena rock band Petra once sang, “Good things come to those who wait / Not to those who hesitate / So hurry up and wait upon the Lord.” While baseball, its most fervent fans notwithstanding, is not comparable with faith in Christ on the importance list, there is a valuable lesson here. Put simply, it is this: in so many areas of life, momentary matters far too often are subjected to urgent tyranny rather than patient, encompassing thought.

Yes, it has taken a painfully long time to get to yesterday’s announcement regarding a new ballpark. Yes, it will seem like an eternity sweating out every step until construction starts. But it will happen. Baseball, the great American constant, will continue in Oakland as it has for forty-nine years.

The memories of victories and defeats, the last game I attended with my beloved beyond words late father; these will carry on. The empty feeling of sitting in the Coliseum stands after what turned out to be the 1994 season’s last game before the strike, when the A’s were for sale and their future in Oakland anything but certain, wondering if this would be the last time I would ever see my team … that feeling I will cheerfully forever banish.

Really, people who live on the eternal ragged edge, forever frothing and foaming at the mouth at every turn of the political wind. Will you relax? Very, very little is decided in an instant in politics or anywhere else. Breathe. Relax. Let it slide. Far more often than not, it will end up sliding in safe at home. So let it be.

And let’s play ball.

Chances are I wouldn’t recognize Susan Slusser if she passed me by on the street. I’ve seen her photo online and her on local sports television a few times, but given how I’m the living embodiment of jokingly stating the reason retail workers wear nametags is so we can remember our own, it should come as no surprise I’d most likely miss her if she was tap dancing in front of me. In a duet with Stomper.

Ms. Slusser is a superb sports reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle. Her main assignment since 1999 has been my beloved (albeit sometimes bedraggled) Oakland A’s. She writes with crisp, clean accuracy, covering the team’s ups and downs while drawing little if any attention to herself. It’s said the best referees and umpires are the ones you never notice due to their calling the game correctly. Similarly, in today’s world where reporting and opinion are far too often mixed in an unwieldy, unsatisfactory in both areas whole, Ms. Slusser is admirable in keeping the two separate, never tipping her hand or interjecting herself into the story. She is informative, in depth, and invisible.

Like most every media person in any field these days, Ms. Slusser has a social media presence. Unlike most every media person in any field these days, using said social media as something other than sheer self-promotion she engages with her readers, or at least the ones with a few synapses firing in coordinated fashion. I’ve exchanged a few tweets with her in recent months, and she has been unfailingly polite and informative. In like fashion, I have always addressed her with completely deserved compliments, respect, and consideration, often looking for a way to insert something she hopefully finds chuckle-worthy into the conversation. I gotta be me, after all.

I’m quite certain that Ms. Slusser and I voted for different Presidential candidates last November. Which is fine. Politics aren’t everything; I’d much rather chat about what the A’s are doing to address their defensive deficiencies or my beloved classic Christian rock artists. I don’t need to debate every policy and platform with everyone. Sometimes – most all of the time, in fact – I’d rather find common ground and not mix politics with everything else. I’d rather enjoy a ballgame. I also figured out quite some time ago that no one in Washington DC was refreshing any given blog site where I write fifty times a day, trembling with anticipation of my next great pronouncement so they’d know which policies and platforms to pursue. Something others, given their predilection for incessant self-righteous babble, have apparently yet to learn. But I digress.

There are many on my side of the political aisle who live for open combat with one and all in mainstream media. It works for them. It generates heat; it creates a scenario in which the fearless flamethrower, backed by gallant retweeters and such, speaks truth to power hiding behind corporate walls. Makes for great spectacle. Hail the conquering snarknado master!

If someone isn’t doing their job properly because of implied or overt bias, fine. Call them out. They deserve it. But with this duly noted, is it impossible to praise, and treat the same way you and I wish to be treated, reporters who regardless of their political beliefs do work of the highest quality? Or for that matter, members of any given profession?

Certainly engaging people as, well, people is far less exciting and attention-drawing than treating others as raw meat designated for tossing to your wolfpack fan club. But does the latter genuinely accomplish anything? Sure, you look like the tough guy or mucha macha chica on Twitter et al. You’ve also alienated, probably permanently, a whole lot of people you’re supposed to be trying to reach for your cause who, astonishing as it may seem, aren’t that interested in your totem pole positioning within their echo chamber. Why not for once try being respectful to another human being possessing the same dignity and worth as you? If it doesn’t work, you did the right thing. But if it does …

… you too can exchange tweets with the Susan Slussers of this world.