Home Run

Million Dollar Arm, Field of Dreams, The Natural, Bull Durham, MoneyBall, 61*, A League of Their Own, The Rookie, 42.  Every time I watch another baseball movie, I am so moved that I think I really love baseball.

I have tried.

I’ve gone to Spokane Indians Baseball games many summers with my dad, and family in tow.

I listened to hours of the Mariners drone on, I mean broadcast as background to my summers growing up.  I even watched some games on our pre-cable TV in the 90’s with my dad.  I know who Ken Griffey Jr. is.  And the tall guy.  Randy something? This is how much I retain stats my friends.

I tried.  I really tried.

This August, I caught a post on FaceBook from a Whitworth grad friend of ours, who works at SafeCo field in his spare time, hawking refreshments with the best of them.  He had some tickets for a Tuesday game hosting the Texas Rangers.  For some reason, this called to me.

Probably because it was in Seattle.  And Seattle in August, it’s pretty sweet.

I came up with a plan to take my oldest son Haden.  Just to get out of town before school started and we didn’t have time nor energy to travel.  I’d hoped to have my dad come along.  He was moving that weekend.  Nice excuse.  My brother-in-law really would have liked to come along, but he had to work.  Again, nice one.  My (math teacher) husband was full into his week before school starts schedule, which meant he was a no-go.

I asked my husband’s brother, who lives in Seattle, and actually likes baseball, if he’d want to go.  He said yes. And then, surprisingly, when I asked my eight year old, Liam, he said he’d be up for it.  (Okay, full disclosure, I am so not above bribing my children to achieve my goals. I said that we would go to the Chihuly Glass House by the Space Needle.  It was the one place he and I really wanted to get to in July but had been overruled.)

So, we had four of us.  I briefly considered bringing all three boys along, but Haden and Liam wisely counseled me against such foolishness.  “Mom, No!  Finn (5) won’t be able to walk at all, or sit through the game.  You’ll be carrying him the whole time.”  Thank you Aunt Angela for hosting Finn for three days-so glad that he and Hudson (my nephew, 2) were able to bond, and not send you to bed with a migraine!!

So, since we had five tickets, I offered it to various friends I thought might be free, and who actually like baseball, but barring an addition, I wouldn’t mind an empty seat for my stuff.

I’ve always wondered, “what is it that makes baseball writers so eloquent?”  Does the sport lend itself to metaphors and the meaning of life?  Or does the game itself just draw a crowd of intellectual and artistic people? And if anyone could have drawn me to baseball by now, surely it would have been Mike Salk and his musings on the game.

Sports writing is endlessly fascinating to me.  In my house, I am the lone consumer of ESPN magazine, Sports Illustrated, and any sports biography.  Currently, I am pivoting between John Wooden and The Inner Game of Tennis.  And when the mood strikes, I enjoy jumping from source to site online.  I’ll read pretty much anything on any sport.

Watching any sports however?  That’s a harder sell.

I had the best time with my two boys in Seattle during those three short days.  I scored us a killer hotel (it got #2 all-over lifetime hotel ranking from the boys), we got to see the Glass House (a hit with Liam and I, not so much with Haden.  Ok, not at all with Haden. Wish I would’ve left him outside and saved the money for some ice cream-it was hot!) and we visited SafeCo Field, not once, but twice.

I figured if we’d toured Centurylink next door, home to the SuperBowl Champion Seahawks!! earlier in the summer, then we might as well tour the other stadium.  I liked the gift shop; we got our Mariner’s swag and some for the folks back home.  And the tour was super interesting. Like in an intellectual way.

I tried.  No, I really did.

I even took notes, hoping to get some stirring quote from our tour guide, who was as big a fan as I can imagine, and like I said before, eloquent.

Here’s what I wrote.

-Are all baseball lovers/writers poets, lyricists? Is it the pace?

-Take Me Out To The Ballgame.

-The Space Needle is 605 feet tall; Safeco’s roof is 50 feet higher.

-Home Field Advantage.

And last but certainly the most interesting:

-Where do you want to sit behind to see the pitch?  Home Plate.  (I had guessed wrong. Makes sense though.)

And at the end of my doodle notes, I wrote, equally as eloquently, “I tried.”  I do, though, have two pages of thoughts and notes from the Chilhuly house.

So how is it that I can seriously eat up a baseball movie, but not a game in real-time?

Well, first, the easy one; the movie, the whole entire story, plot, beginning to end, and credits, is usually shorter than a real game.

Second, I love stories.  I love people.  I love history.  And there’s the pitch!

When my sister asked me how the game was, I said, “The boys really liked it.  And they loved Safeco Field, I even let them roam around on their own.  Greg liked it too, and he gave us a ride back up to Capitol Hill so we didn’t have to walk.  I found a fro-yo spot, and had to spend a lot of time by an outlet, charging my I-Phone.  I tried to like it.  But it was so hard.”  She understood and said that she too, has tried.

For some reason, I really, really want to like baseball.  I want to be engaged in watching it, understand the nuances of whatever goes on.  I want to cheer with everyone else instead of looking around and trying to ask why everyone is suddenly cheering?  I’ve struck out. Like every time.

So here is what I like about baseball. (This is for summer games only.)

-The ambient noise of the crowd, usually chill, chatty, and relaxed.

-The voice of the announcer calling a play, or sharing some stats.

-Take Me Out To The Ballgame.  Also The National Anthem.  (Good, solid, America’s Pastime feelings).

-The sun setting and the lights switching on.

-The food vendors and their unique styles.  And the food.  Drinks, too.

-The crack of the bat and the swish of the ball.

Ok, so most people would likely name the same things.

I think I’m over-thinking this.  I love the sports I love-(football, and usually basketball).

Is it enough that I try?

I think if you asked my dad, or my boys, the answer would be yes.

And for me, that’s as satisfying as an over the fence, bases loaded home run.


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