Posts Tagged baseball
Image courtesy of jimbouton.com
I suppose I could take the easy way out with today’s Saturday Debate, since Father’s Day is tomorrow and all. If you’ll recall, last month for Mother’s Day, I stooped so low as to offer you this silly thing.
But, as I am a father and also, not coincidentally, have a father, it seemed wrong somehow to concoct any sort of debate on the matter. The idea seemed a little self-congratulatory to me.
Luckily, though, today was game day for the Puddin Pop’s baseball team, so I had 3 long, sunbaked hours to consider selecting a topic. Of course, instead of doing that, I seem to recall spending most of the game talking to a purple spotted giraffe named Austin about the nature of Man vs. his darker half.
Then again, Austin might have been a hallucination based on the sun and heat. If he was, he’s not talking about it now.
Regardless, I did actually spend a little time, the seemingly interminable 3rd inning, to be precise, considering something that is absolutely fundamental to something like baseball that I hadn’t given much thought since I was, oh, 10 or so. Which brings me to that topic of the day:
Chewing Gum: A imperative for a full life or positively pointless?
I for one, am a proponent, and believe Big League Chew (Wild Grape flavor, of course) to be the pinnacle of mankind’s evolution in the vein of candy goods with recreational ties.
I suspect opinions will vary. Why not share yours?
As always, I encourage you to enjoy a related poll:
It’s a miracle, I tell ya, a datgummed miracle! I never thought I would see the day dawn, but here we are: tonight, after my rush-hour traffic commute, I get to stay home.
Let’s all say that again, together. I. Get. To. Stay. Home.
No baseball games.
No dance classes.
No Scout meetings.
No Hunger Games-style Reaping to attend.
Nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch. Tonight I get to enjoy dinner with my family and then afterward, go absolutely no where for any reason.
I might even put on my slippers and my smoking jacket.
One might think my enthusiasm for doing, well, nothing might be a tad misplaced, or at the very least overzealous. Oh, it’s not, I tell you, it’s so very not.
For some reason, I thought that when school let out, the nearly daily requirement that our evening be directed at some sort of external endeavor might be replaced with some sort of pleasant summer ritual. Like, enjoying a cold beer on my porch while listing to the Cincinnati Reds on the radio while the sun crept toward the horizon.
Yes, I realize I have neither a sittin’ porch at the moment nor an outdoor radio, but, just…hush. I’d have worked around that somehow.
Instead, it seems that just about every evening of early summer, the part I like to consider the Firefly Nights, will instead be dedicated to taxiing (not, by the way, at all the same thing as “taxing”, which is what I wrote first) children to and from various and sundry activities.
That’s not to suggest, though, that I begrudge them their fun. What would a life be without childhood memories of little league baseball in June, etc? I’m pretty sure that’s how you get evil, crazy dudes like Dexter, Charles Manson, and Simon Cowell. You need summertime stuff as a kid.
Image via Wikipedia.org
Especially the baseball. Baseball makes everything better.
Don’t believe me? Seriously, think about this: how much better would The Phantom Menace have been if it had dropped all that Trade Federation nonsense and played out like Mighty Anakin at the Bat? And yes, even overlooking the fact that the poor kid playing young Luke’s father was slightly more wooden than Howdy Doody. Hell, and even if Lucas still really had to have Jar Jar, he could have been the opposing team’s error-prone outfielder that trips over his remarkably big ears in the bottom of the ninth, allowing Qui-Gon, Obi-Wan, and the kid to score for the big unlikely, come-from-behind win.
Darth Los Muerte or whatever his name was – you know, with the horns and the devil face paint – clearly would have been the opposing (losing) pitcher. And then, instead of shaking hands after the game, everyone (of course) would pick up a bat and you’d have light saber duels with them just like the kids have always done to the consternation of coaches everywhere.
Ahem. Anyway, even as awesome as baseball is, especially to a kid, my point is that tonight, nothing and/or no one is going to ruin my leisurely staying-at-home.
Not even Darth La Mancha.
Image via Wikipedia
Just a scrimmage, the coach’s email said. Saturday morning at 11 o’clock.
How bad could it be? A small spot of time in the sun on a crisp, spring morning watching the Puddinpop play a lil’ of the ole national pastime would be a pleasant way to start my Easter weekend, right? Maybe I could even do a little reading or plotting (and that’s book plotting, not caper scheming) from the bleachers.
And it’s just a scrimmage right? So…that means, what, like an hour? Hour and a half? Maybe three innings or everybody bats once? We’d be home just in time for lunch, I figured.
Oh, no. No, no, no. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
I was treated instead to a full game scrimmage. That means five innings and nearly three hours of kid-pitched little league baseball.
Did I mention that at 10:30 on a cool Saturday morning in early April, some form of protection for my increasingly sparsely-covered head (face too, for that matter) was the furthest thing from my mind? Yeah, it might have been a wise choice, because I’m an awe-inspiring shade of pink right now.
Personally, I think I’m French Rose, but the Puddinette leans more towards cerise.
Sunburn aside, for those of you who’ve never had the privilege, third graders pitching to third graders (many of whom are pitching and/or batting for the first time) is an exhilaration experience. And by exhilarating, I mean, “Holy lord, is it only the 2nd inning!?”
In fact, let it be written that I truly wondered for the first time in my entire life if I am, in fact, a terrible, evil human when I caught myself thinking, “Good night, that kid’s like 2-foot nothing. His strike zone is shorter than my attention span; he’ll walk for sure. Curse this interminable game!”
There may have been sobbing. I’m not saying.
Really, though, it wasn’t that bad. And all my kvetching-for-effect aside, at the end of the top half of the fourth inning, it got even better when I realized that little league baseball is the perfect metaphor for everyday life.
The Puddinpop’s team was in the field with two outs, and facing runners on second and third. The pitcher toed the rubber, went through his motion, and delivered. And like 80% of the other pitches thrown Saturday, it glanced off the catcher’s mitt and rolled to the backstop.
The runner on third broke for home, never looking back.
The catcher popped out of his crouch and dashed for the ball. He snagged it and charged back to the plate. Dropping to his knees and skidding forward slightly, his mitt hit to dirt in front of the plate.
The runner’s foot kicked up a cloud of dust sliding towards it.
Foot met mitt. The umpire shouted, for the first time all day. “He’s OUT!”
The crowd – can you call 12 people a crowd? – erupted in applause and woops of delight.
It was a perfect play, made that much better by the fact that it was probably the fourth such passed-ball attempt to steal home in the game. Each time before, the runner scored because the catcher was still learning how to play the game. And with every instance he got a little coaching and a few words of support about what to do and think about during the game.
And the lessons all came together in a few heartbeats at home plate.
That’s life, to a tee. The entire world around us is fraught with mistakes, critical thinking errors, and foolhardy plans, and we all make plenty of missteps of our own. In the real word, it seems like 90% of the time nothing goes the way it’s supposed to, at least the first time around. But when something goes wrong, you don’t give up, can’t give up; you pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and get ready for the next pitch, the next plan, the next big moment in your life.
Because one of these times, you’ll get it just right. One of these times, you’ll keep everything in mind and make all the right moves. And that one time, just like when our first-time catcher blocked that runner, you’ll suddenly remember exactly why you put up with all the crap and the screwing up and trying again.
Because every now and then, it comes out perfect. And when it does, the crowd goes wild.
And that’s why we play the game.
Yes, the weather has already been discussed, covered, hammered into the ground, and beaten to death for a season just a handful of days old. We all agree: it’s oddly warm for this time of year. That’s that, then and now you can relax. I’m not going to ramble on and on and on and on and on again about how it really probably shouldn’t have been 80 degrees every day this week. You know, being March and all.
Indeed, this post isn’t about the changing of that season, it’s about the changing of the sports season. Put me in, coach, I’m ready to play.
I suppose some of you might take exception here, since we’re still smack dab in the middle of the NCAA tournament, Opening Day is still a couple weeks off, and the NBA and NHL haven’t even started their respective playoffs yet. Come to think of it, both of those leagues better get started the that regard pretty darned soon; if I recall correctly, diamonds are formed faster than either gets to a championship series. Not that I’m complaining, mind you, I heart me some hockey playoffs.
Still…wait, what was my point? Oh yeah, the sports seasons. Yeah, I realize it doesn’t yet seem like we’ve reached The Change, but believe you me, we have.
How do I know? Because I’m at this very moment writing this post on my phone—which, by the way, given the size of my fingers compared to my phone keys is like stabbing at a 19th century typewriter with a wheel of Parmigiano Reggiano—seated precariously in an aging, rickety set of bleachers watching the Puddinpop practice fielding grounders with his new knothole team.
Of course, it hasn’t even hinted at rain all week, let alone have the audacity to threaten precipitation. But as I wait here, contemplating the possibility that whatever unholy metal these bleachers are forged from may actually be the hardest substance on the planet (perhaps that same stuff that went into the One Ring), dark clouds are rolling overhead and the wind is picking up. I mean, nothing like flying monkeys, ruby slippers, or “I’m going to get you, my pretty” kind of windy, but the cooling gusty more-than-a-breeze type of thing that seems to be a harbinger of stormy weather.
Last week’s practice was already rained out, so it’d be nice if the team could get through at least one session early in the year. It’s always a plus when the coach knows the kids’ names before the first game. Last year, I seem to recall that easily half of the season’s practices were canceled and the list of postponed games ending up as long as my To-Do list after the Puddinette’s had a few days alone in the house.
Come to think of it, with early spring being when kids should do most of the learning part of playing baseball, its astounding any of them ever actually manage to figure out which end of the bat you put on the ball.
I guess that’s why for the first few years, a kids’ game can last even longer than the NBA playoffs.
And just think for all that time, I’ll be riding these same bleachers, which are undoubtedly a more notorious torture device than anything designed in the dark ages.