A quick confession. Despite moving to the Mac, I’m still using Microsoft Word to type up my posts. Apple Works just isn’t fun to use, plus this way I can shoot files back and forth between my laptop and the eMac. Just so you know. I feel better now.
I watched very little of the All-Star game last night. By the time we got home from our belated anniversary dinner, it was already 3-0 AL and we were focused on getting our infant car seat bases installed in both of our vehicles. But the All-Star game really doesn’t mean to me what it used to. A year ago, we watched a few innings from St. Lucia before the sun fatigue and wine from dinner knocked us out. I watched much of the tie two years ago from a hotel in Colorado Springs. Other than that, the games of the past ten years are kind of a blur.
That’s quite sad, since like most young baseball fans, the All-Star game was always a highlight of the summer when I was growing up. My first gambling experience was the nickel I put on the AL against my uncle in 1979. While everyone else was in awe of Dave Parker’s epic throw from the right field wall to save the game, I sat in a corner and pouted about dropping five valuable cents. Back then, not only were the Royals good, but they routinely sent 3-4 players to the game. George Brett and Frank White were givens. Willie Wilson often went along with a pitcher or two. I still generally want the American League to win, but it’s out of tradition rather than any real preference for the players on that side. Another fun thing about the All-Star game was seeing what players would sport white shoes for the occasion. For some reason, when I was playing ball, I insisted that white shoes were the way to go. I always thought it was super cool when Frank White would take the field in his baby blue Royals uniform and some bright, white spikes. I noticed at least Alex Rodriguez was rocking white shoes last night as well. Of course, he probably did it more out of marketing than as a celebration of the freedom of the venue.
Probably 70% of the changes in my feelings towards the game can be attributed to changes in my life. I’m older and have less time to spend anticipating a single sporting event, fewer free hours to sit and watch what is supposed to be an exhibition for three plus hours. Basketball long ago became my favorite sport, although there’s still a primal draw back to baseball. My boycott of the game after the 1994 strike put a two-year hole in my baseball knowledge base, and in many ways I’ve never recovered from that. I can’t read box scores or follow the standings the way I could just ten years ago. The stupidity of the game’s management structure that I’ve documented elsewhere is more fuel to the fire. Most of all, summer is no longer a time period that’s unique in my day-to-day life. The All-Star game served as a midway milestone when you had three months to do whatever you wanted between academic years. The event was a chance to catch your breath from the first six weeks of summer, and evaluate what still needed to be done before the back to school rush. “Let’s see, I need to reorganize my baseball cards by standings, go to the pool four times a week instead of three, make sure my bike is nice and shiny, and continue to try to memorize the Pac-Man patterns.” Today, I work the day before the game, the day of the game, and the day after the game. It’s just another summer night, albeit one on which you can avoid bad reruns (sadly, we still watched Law & Order for awhile).
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the meaning of sports in my life and how that will pass onto my kids. I hope my kids share my love for sports in general, and would be thrilled if they spend hours with daddy in the basement all winter watching basketball. But I keep coming back to the idea that there’s something special about a dad and his kids at a baseball game. The relaxed nature of being at the ballpark. The gentle rhythm of the game. The ability to explain what just happened to young ones struggling to grasp new concepts. It bums me out that I won’t have anything approaching the passion I had for the sport when I was a kid when it’s time to start that education process with my kids.
By the way, I’ve not read the paper, ESPN, etc yet. Is anyone wondering aloud if Roger Clemons served up all that slop so A) his old buddies in New York get the home field in the World Series or B) if he’s traded back to the Yankees, Boston, or some other AL contender and he’s actually playing in October, his team can have games six and seven at home instead of Houston’s rivals the Cardinals and Cubs? Can I go ahead and start that rumor if it’s not already out there?