you must understand those are words i never thought i'd type. but, it's true.
i've never been one to like or understand sports. in theory, sure, but in person? like playing or watching? not so much. maybe it's my ADD (self diagnosed, which is the best kind of diagnoses in my opinion) or my lack of coordination, but sports just weren't ever my thing.
i especially never understood baseball. maybe it was the tempo of the game? slow and boooooorrrrrriiiiiinnnnngggg, like the golf i used to watch with my grandpa. and it may also have had something to do with all that math, statistics, averages, blah blah blah. slow and complicated. wow, fun. sounds like a former relationship i was only TOO HAPPY to ditch.
so imagine my surprise when the duke hit me with wanting to play baseball all those years ago. not that we aren't an active family, but sports? especially as organized and intense as little league baseball? he had tried soccer the year before and didn't seem especially into it. he tried basketball and the same was true. and to me, those were the exciting sports! but, baseball?
of course i signed him up and of course he took to it and lo these many years later he's still playing and enjoying it. (as an aside, wingman plays too, but i'm focusing on the duke for this one.)
and watching him play is one of my favorite things to do. i am proud of his dedication and commitment to being a good team mate. i am proud that he continues to improve, and that he continues to ignore the crap that can come about when a bunch of boys the same age hang out together.
oh i know, i have complained about the time commitment, the other parents, the coaches, the cold, the proximity some of the best cheeseburgers on earth and my battle to ignore them, mostly, about the mouthy kids, about the nepotism, and the politics, and joke about carrying and flask, and so on and so forth.
that's just me being my charming self.
what i love about baseball is watching a team develop. despite all the differences and the politics and the posturing and the popularity of some and the lack thereof of others, there becomes a moment on the field when you see this group of boys and they become a team. and for a moment, or a few strung together, life becomes simple again. a group of boys with a common goal, basic and slightly primal, working together. cohesive. communicating. because it doesn't happen if they don't. getting a job done. a bat, a ball, a base. and they will win or they will lose, but for awhile, it just becomes all about the journey.
a few years ago we were lucky enough to go to spring training in arizona. and while the boys trooped off for games i was happy to lie about at the hotel and do...nothing. but they forced me to go to one game. i groused, (silently) but i went. and, i LOVED it.
it was warm, the day was as fine and blue and soft as you could want, my kids were having the best time, and i got to drink beer and eat a ball park hot dog. and we were close enough for the game to be interesting. now this, i thought, this is nice. too bad it never happens like this at the duke's games.
but the other day it did. the first (mini) game of the season for the duke. oh sure, the sun only came out between gusts of icy wind and the occasional parting of overhead clouds, and there was no beer and no professional ball park hot dog. but there was a moment when the clouds parted and the sun was shining and i realized that i was doing something i really really love to do. after all these years. watching my boy grow right before my eyes on the field, watching a team come together, the rest of us in the stands. enjoying the game and the day.
baseball is as simple or complex as you want it to be. it's changed so much since it was first invented, and, yet, in the grand scheme of things, so very little. and that is its charm right there. it's just as you remember it. and that is such a comfort these days.
i wonder at the country and where we are headed. so much division and vitriol, a lack of a common focus. i worry for the youth with access to so much technology that basic communication skills are ignored in favor of the instant and right away. that cohesiveness for some lasts as long as a text, an IM, or a thread on facebook. and then that's it. on to something new. that because of all this technology you don't really have to 'maintain' an actual friendship any more. that the screen is enough to bond people.
and i worry that people don't journey together anymore towards a common goal. and even if they do, that those goals are ever changing based on what's being offered at.that.moment. that it's all about the end product. that it seems every person is out for themselves, and we are passing that along to every younger generation. that things are so instant there isn't time enough to develop real relationships anymore.
so yeah, i love baseball. it slows things down and brings the simple to focus. it's familiar and timeless. even if it's just for part of an afternoon. and especially so on those few days in may and june that are so sunny and perfect they just want to make you weep. especially baseball with my boy who all too soon will no longer be a boy. it is, and has been, a magnificent gift.
now if they only sold icy cold beer at the snack stand. because an icy cold beer would go PERFECTLY with those cheeseburgers. hey, it's a free country! (for now) and a girl can have any dream she wants, right?