Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Happy Bastille Day!

Fete de la Federation and the National League

Although the French are often lampooned by Americans for their perceived cowardice and easy conquerability, today is a big day for the Friends of Francoeur. It is Bastille Day. Which is their Independence Day. So, just think "Fourth of July" except with wine instead of beer, crepes instead of burgers and insouciance rather than jingoism. Bastille Day commerates the storming of a fortress-prison on July 14, 1790. This was widely considered the tide-turning act that signaled the people's intent to overthrow the Ancien Regime and create modern France. It was a big deal.

Originally a fortress intended to defend the east end of Paris, the Bastille was a prison in the later years of the eighteenth century. When several thousand french persons showed up there on July 14, 1790 they wanted access to the arms and gunpowder that were stored within its walls. Because they were angry. And hungry. Freeing the handful of prisoners was not the point. It was about the guns. Because at this point in time, the French were not really to be trifled with. They were about to wear out the guillotine over the next few years, beheading up to 40,000 rich folk. In an attempt by the fourth estate, the regular folk, to determine the fate of their land after centuries of rule by monarchs.

The French Revolution that began with the storming of the Bastille was bloody. It was violent. I mean, they were cutting heads off all over the place. It would have a bit that has since been referred to as "The Terror." In other words, it was many things that Americans today consider very un-French. But what was is not always what still is. And vice versa.

Sort of like the Major League All-Star Game. Our current understanding of its dynamics doesn't totally jive with the way things used to be. The weak were once strong.

Even though the American League has dominated the quaint National League for more than a decade in the All-Star Game (11-0-1 in the last 12 games), there was once a time when the Senior Circuit pwned the Junior Loop in the Midsummer Classic. They even reeled off 11 straights wins of their own at a stretch. This bygone era of NL dominance was the 1970s and 1980s.

Today's NLers find themselves looking to topple their own Ancien Regime tonight in St. Louis. Vive le revolucion!

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