Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Baseball Ends and Winter is Coming

So last Wednesday, they played the last game of the World Series.  It went as long as it could, right to the seventh game, but the end was inevitable.  The Kansas City Royals, the team I was rooting for, came up one game short in the end, but it was none the less a good series.

The Boy and I had a lot of fun during the Series, calling each other over the best plays, texting trivia back and forth. Like many parents with a child away at school, there is a certain pleasure in knowing that we are both watching something at the same time.  Moreover, I missed baseball this spring, the first time since he was 5 that the boy wasn't playing ball anywhere. Although pro ball is enjoyable to watch, there is nothing quite like sitting on an aluminum bench, baked hot in the summer sun, watching kids chase balls down.

And our Indians made a run for it this year, not getting eliminated till the last weekend of the season.  When I was a kid the Indians were usually out of it by July, so I learned to follow other teams as well.  Being a masochist I became a Red Sox fan.  When the Boy came along he followed both teams with me, though he took up with other teams as well. I took pride in teaching him the fine art of hating the New York Yankees, useful in both Cleveland and Boston. He has seen both the Tribe and the Sox prosper more than the teams of my youth.

The first World Series I remember was in 1969 and the Miracle Mets.  It was a good place to begin for someone who likes to believe that anything can happen in a baseball game. Without a doubt the most pleasure I ever took from the playoffs and the Series was 2004, when the Red Sox made happen what had never happened before, coming back from 3 games down in the playoffs to win 4 straight (against those dang Yankees no less) and then sweeping the World Series. The most heartbreaking Series I ever witnessed was 1997, when the Indians lost the 7th game in a heart-breaker.

But no matter who plays, no matter how invested I am in the Series, no matter how exciting the games are, there is a little let down when it's all over.

Baseball you see, means summer, and the end of the Series means the end of summer.

This is true even though baseball now lasts nearly till Halloween.  Even though the leaves are dropping, even though I turned the heat on last week, even though they call it the Fall Classic; as long as baseball lasts, there's a little bit of summer left to us.

But once the last out takes place, and the champagne is uncorked, our last little bit of summer is gone.

The late Bart Giamatti said it better than I ever could:

It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in the spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone. You count on it, rely on it to buffer the passage of time, to keep the memory of sunshine and high skies alive, and then just when the days are all twilight, when you need it most, it stops.

There is one hopeful thought however. Pitchers and Catchers report to spring training in less than 120 days.

Photo by Joel Dinda CC 2.0

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