Hearty congratulations are in order for Todd Tichenor, Holcomb resident and Garden City High School graduate, who was behind home plate for a recent World Series game.


Tichenor is only the third Kansan to be on the World Series crew. While our state might not have a team in play — or even any team remotely adjacent to play — he’s another reason to enjoy a bit of baseball amid the onrush of political and pandemic news. Sure, it might seem unusual to cheer on an umpire, but why not try something new?


It’s not that politics or COVID-19 are unimportant. Goodness knows, we spend more than enough time on these pages writing about both. But we could all use an opportunity, now and then, to relax and detach.


One of the biggest effects of the pandemic on many people’s lives, after all, was the cancellation or postponement of sports seasons. For those who aren’t devotees, this must have seemed peculiar. Why would anyone care?


Fans and followers understand. Sports aren’t just about a game. They’re about a communal experience, an experience shared by individuals watching a game on an old bunny-ears TV set and those watching on the latest high-definition plasma model. They’re about stories, about the rise and fall of teams and dynasties of players and coaches, and about the raw thrill of athletic accomplishment in the face of incredible odds.


The path back to live sports has been complicated and difficult. Some leagues and sports have navigated it masterfully, while others have struggled. But they have persisted in trying to find a way to return — for all of us.


We appreciate Tichenor’s role in making this happen. Without umpires, after all, these games don't work (although we appreciate that sometimes it depends on what side you’re cheering for). Without the combined efforts of hundreds upon hundreds of people off the field or court or gridiron, sports couldn’t return in the first place.


Yes, they’re a diversion. But they’re a diversion that allows us to make sense of the world around us, to imagine a place without the familiar and oppressive cares of everyday life. Thanks to everyone who makes it happen, who helps create this alternate reality, who brings these moments of competition to blazing life.


Now, let’s play ball.