06 April 2016

On Baseball

Wrigley Field...hallowed ground
As a child, I wasn't much of an athlete. Let's be honest, I've never been much of an athlete in the true sense of the word at any point in my life. I'm fine with that. Athletics just didn't come naturally to me, except water skiing, which I was pretty adept at, but that's hardly a team sport. The only sport, team or otherwise, that I really tried as a kid was baseball.

Ah...baseball. I can still remember my three seasons of Little League spent in the furthest reaches of right field. My playing position should tell you something about my skill level. I remember the excitement / fear of stepping into the batter's box. The anticipation of that moment could be overwhelming. My memories of hearing the crack of my bat as it connected with the ball are a bit fuzzy. That is not because of my solid middle age, but the reality that my bat connecting with a pitch was a rarity. It was clear I was never going to the big leagues and I'm not talking about the MLB. I wasn't going anywhere beyond Little League.

My lack of baseball aptitude never quelled my love of the game. Am I a numbers-mad fan? Can I quote a player's stats, chapter and verse? No and no. Does that diminish my love of the game? Absolutely not. It's a game I get. It's a game I really like watching, whether it be at a minor league field, a Spring Training Mecca, a big league stadium, or on my TV, I'm happy to take in a game.

That said, there is something wonderful about taking in a game live. Over the years, I've been fortunate enough to see games in several pro stadiums across the country. I've been in the cheap seats (you haven't lived until you've watched the Cubs play from the general admission seats above the ivy at Wrigley) and in more than a few suites (the sushi at Yankees Stadium absolutely does not suck). Regardless of the seat, there is something uniquely American about a baseball game. Around the world, we Americans are known for our arguable inflated sense of exceptionalism and that sense translates to hope in the baseball field. There's always hope there. Even when your team has yet another terrible season, you go away saying, "There's always next season." Believe me, as someone who proudly adopted Chicago as his hometown and hence the Cubs as his team, I know of where I speak when it comes to hope for the next season.

I've really liked that as a family, we've shared this love of baseball. Seeing my kids hanging out with Manny Mota on the field at Dodgers Stadium was a highlight. Watching my daughters ask Ron Cey for his autograph when they had no idea who he was was a lot of fun. Taking in a Texas Rangers game in Arlington last year with CAL was a memory I'll forever cherish.

Opening Day was just three days ago. Baseball is back. Some people complain it's a boring game. I'm not one of them. Baseball, to me, is good memories. It is fun. It is family. It is hope. Yeah, I'm a fan.

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