For the most of this summer, my 11-year-old son has had the unique pleasure of living in a city with a winning baseball team. This has coincided with his own desire to play the sport a little more seriously. So almost every night for the past number of weeks, he has parked himself in front of the television, swinging a bat at the screen. Half the time he also wears his baseball uniform.
As far as I’m concerned, there is simply nothing cuter than an 11-year-old boy in a baseball uniform.
We’re in the final, nail-biting games before the end of the season, with our young team still with the best record in baseball, but nervous about actually making it to the big time. It’s kind of like this year’s presidential election – you know in your heart that the best candidate has the edge, but you just don’t want to jinx it by thinking it is so.
What is it about baseball that makes someone like me, who doesn’t know a hockey puck from a lacrosse stick from a touchdown from a free throw, actually like it? I went to a few games as a kid, saw the Mets at Shea and the Yankees at Yankee Stadium. I always liked the Mets because they were the underdogs, and I lived in New York in ’86 and felt the love.
But it certainly wasn’t enough to make me a true fan of the game. And for years I have lived in a house where basketball has been king, and all of my male children (including the one I married) are glued to the set during the entire NBA season. Not to mention football season, hockey season, and of course, now, baseball season.
I have tried to show vague interest in some of these sports, simply so that I could maintain a presence in the house. But honestly, when you don’t grow up with sports as mantra, it’s really, really hard to even feign interest. Why watch basketball when there are movies to see, museums to visit, walks to take, books to read?
But I have to admit, even though I’m not exactly hooked, I am definitely getting swept up in baseball fever this season. It’s fun to have a winning team. It’s fun to get a little nervous. It’s fun to score yet another unexpected victory. And it’s fun to watch my son have his team affiliation cemented for his lifetime.
My husband said recently that our son will never forget this season. He will remember every player’s name, even if they only play for a season or two. He will remember the thrill of victory, the agony of defeat. He will remember attending at least two games, sitting in the summer heat, watching his team scale new heights. He will remember that Teddy has never won a President’s race. He will remember his baseball cards.
It’s an amazing thing to watch your child develop a passion. It’s even more fun to watch him connect with his dad over this team, and this season. And it's adorable to watch him practice swinging a bat almost every waking moment.
So for now, we’re a Nats family. We’re all eager to hear the scores in the morning if we haven’t stayed up to watch the game. My son knows box scores like the back of his hand. We’re all praying for the playoffs, maybe even, gulp, the World Series.
Baseball brought me the only on-the-spot pun I’ve ever made. When we were outside in the mountains earlier in the summer, and we were being swarmed by gnats, my husband swiped at them and growled, “what do these gnats want?!”
Without missing a beat, I replied, “To win the World Series!”
My kids think I’ve milked the joke a little too much (and maybe I have.) But I was so proud to come back with something to which everyone could relate.
So take me out to the ball game. I want it all – the peanuts, the Crackerjacks, the Wave, the national anthem, the seventh inning stretch, the mid-game mascot race, and the mingling of sweat, nerves and chewing tobacco in the air. The true romance of it all.
I want to be Annie Savoy and need my Crash Davis (see: Bull Durham.) I want to watch my boy learn how to hit a home run. I want a great end to a great season.
And I really, really, really want the Nationals to go all the way to the top. Curly W’s, unite!
Photo by sinksanctity via Flickr