"There is no joy in Mudbugville. For now," by Mike Scott in NOLA.com, conveys the all-too-recent grief of New Orleans Saints fans with a handsome tribute to the memory of The Mighty Casey. Ever since 1888 "Casey at the Bat" has lent his tragic template to the sorrow of an epic defeat.
Ernest Thayer's classmate George Santayana wrote in an 1894 essay ("Philosophy on the Bleachers") of the inherent drama (and potential tragedy) evoked by all athletic contests. Santayana noted (as did Thayer, in "Casey" ) "...the frenzy of joy of the thousands upon one side and the grim and pathetic silence of the thousands upon the other." Yet Santayana did not scorn this frenzy: "I cannot feel," he wrote, "that the passion is excessive."
Can Saints fans draw any consolation from the ancients? "Is there not some pent-up energy in us," asked Santayana, "some thirst for enjoyment and for self-expression, some inward rebellion against a sordid environment, which here finds inarticulate expression? Is not the same force ready to bring us into other arenas, in which, as in those of Greece, honour should come not only to strength, swiftness, and beauty, but to every high gift and inspiration?"
"Is there any better justification for modern sports, even if that force intuited by Santayana only rarely elevates its participants and its spectators to those other, higher arenas? And as Mike Scott's "The Heart of a Who Dat" concludes: "Just wait until next year."