Monday, April 13, 2009

Just Play Ball!

If you spend any time around myself and my Everlasting Soulmate this time of year, you will undoubtedly witness one of our shared passions in action.  No, not *THAT* passion!  Get your mind out of the gutter!

I'm talking about BASEBALL!!!

Now, ES and I are not some of those people who can quote baseball statistics as some people might quote the Bible.  We both have a reasonable understanding of the rules and statistics of the game and can read a box score, but memorizing facts like what years Mickey Mantle was the AL MVP really doesn't excite us (’56, ’57 & ’62 for those of you who care. [grin!]).

I have heard baseball described as a game of symmetry.  I can see that.  You have the symmetry of the infield, the exacting form and dimensions of the baselines, the geometrical positioning of the players.  But, then you also have the asymmetry of the outfield walls in different ballparks, the outfielders sometimes seemingly random shifting around to deal with particular hitters, the infield offset to cope with runners or anticipating the bunt, even the human foibles of all who have played the game.  I see it as both symmetry and asymmetry, coming together in a sort of weird, wonderful harmony.  Baseball definitely strikes a particular chord in me that no other form of human or mechanical contest does.  The game itself is simply beautiful.

I also treasure the chance to be out at the ballpark.  I relish (pun intended) the sights, sounds, and smells (hot dogs!) of being there.  Coming out of the concourse into the stands for the first game of the season and seeing the field laid out there in front of me, with its wide expanse of green grass glimmering in the sunlight and the clear blue sky holding court above…it fills me with an indescribable joy.  I am instantly a kid again, ready to go outside and play on a warm, spring day.

However, there are two things that will spoil my good baseball mood.  First are those people who go to a game seemingly for the singular purpose of disrupting the experience for others around them.  I hate these humans with a black, oily passion that cannot be truly expressed using the meager words of the English language.  If you’ve ever been to a game, you have surely seem them.  The ones who show up only to get drunk and be rowdy.  Or the ones who show up and spend nine-tenths of the game talking loudly on their cell phone, or to their idiotic companions for no particular reason other than to hear themselves talk.  Or my personal favorite…the fans of the visiting team that can’t seem to get it through their thick skulls that if they stand up and scream and dance around for their team in a loud, obnoxious manner, maybe the local fans are going to take exception to that.  And then there are those who are some combination of the above, plus still other atrocities which I have undoubtedly blocked out due to the pain.

Let me deal those three general types in order.

Drunkenness at a game is inexcusable.  I will enjoy an adult beverage at the game occasionally, but never to the excesses of some of these yokels.  You want to get drunk and be rowdy?  Go to a bar.  Guest associates/ushers, please, when you see them: warn them once, then throw them out.  Very simple.

Those who come to the game to yak...  I certainly do *not* sit stoic and silent, especially if my team is doing well!  I'll stand up and cheer just like baseball fans do!  However, if I desire to reflect on a particular play or thought with ES and/or others around me, I try to do so in a quick, courteous and friendly fashion while play is not going on.  If I have something to say while play is going on, I lean over and say it *quietly* so as not to disrupt others around me who are watching the game.  I learned that lesson very early as a child, going to double-A games with my father.  My parents did not tolerate such behavior in public from me, and I have a difficult time tolerating it now from grown adults who, IMHO, should know better.

Finally, I have been a visiting fan in another team’s ballpark.  I understand the feeling of isolation...still wanting to cheer on your team, regardless of the fact that you are surrounded by the home team crowd and definitely in the minority.  I do cheer my team on in those situations, but I am not obnoxious about it.  I try to keep my enthusiasm localized to my seat only.  It is possible to be very happy about a play and not have to scream or dance around to show it.  Just remember, to the home fans their team is the most important thing at that moment, just as your team is to you when you're in your home park.  You want to hoot and holler about your team no matter where they are?  Get a TV and watch at home.  The food and booze are less expensive there, too!

For the most part, these are all attributable to a systemic lack of personal responsibility in this country.  I remember getting the 'appropriate public behavior' lesson drilled into me very early in life, but it seems some folks have either forgotten or missed out on that while growing up.

For those of you who go to games and are responsible, do *not* fall into those categories and do not step on the enjoyment of the game for those around you...I thank you from the bottom of my white, cowhide with 216 red stitches heart.

Uh oh, I got up on my soap-box there for a bit...sorry. [climbs down]

Anyway, I am very thankful that ES and I share a love for the game because it can be so much better to experience it with a good friend.  I really do enjoy spending the time together at the ballpark...generally.

Easter Sunday was one of the rarer, second mood spoilers for me.

That afternoon was in the running for the top three coldest times I have spent in my life!  Cold (low 40s), windy, rainy...just generally yucky!  We went dressed and provisioned for the weather, but it was still miserable.  Now, I'm o.k. with sitting in the stands freezing my Easter eggs off *if* the team does well.  But when they have the lead from the beginning through the ninth inning and then give it away...that's not cool.  Then, to add insult to injury, as we were walking the two blocks back to where we parked, the sun came out...  I said words that even New York cabbies don't know or have rarely used.  ES then quipped to me that, as far as days go, it was better than working.  I guess working where she did for the last few years, I can understand her thinking.  I, however, might reserve judgment.

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