Thursday, April 22, 2010

baseball, from the mouth of a literati

I have this obsessive need to indulge in baseball. When I was little and we'd visit family in San Jose, car rides to and from various places were accompanied by sports radio coverage of games (normally the Giants or the A's). I don't remember how old I was when Dad finally took us to the Coliseum as he'd promised he would for months and months. We'd taken many trips to San Francisco and the Bay Area since before I could remember, and even more after we started seeing the herbalist, but going out to Oakland was going to be a special trip. No more small, static-filled TV coverages for us, at least not for that day. We would finally be seeing the team in-person, and nothing could truly mask that excitement.

Plus it was a free giveaway at the entrance that morning for the Pokemon movie. Every kid got a free Pikachu baseball cap. You can't really argue with that addition to the equation.

Watching baseball was different for me than any other sport. I still don't understand the attraction of football nor do I care much for the aggressive nature of hockey. Other sports were enjoyable to watch, but rarely held my attention for long. I was--and still am--a basketball fan (and my deep hatred for the Lakers will probably never really go away) but that's almost a given growing up in Sacramento during the height of Kings Fever.

Baseball was different, though. Minor league and college games were one thing, but the pros were a league of their own (literally). It wasn't a fast, action-packed game like basketball was, nor was it slow to the point of excruciating boredom (golf, I'm looking at you). Maybe it had to do with the numerous baseball movies, or maybe it was that scene from Full House when Stephanie struck out the little boy she had a crush on in order to win the game that did it for me. I couldn't quite explain the appeal of baseball to my grade school girlfriends, but the guys seemed to understand. They couldn't explain it either though.

I distinctly remember drizzly weekends when the fickle weather would keep us indoors. Dad would be at work, as he normally was, and occasionally we'd have a baseball game on in the living room. Channel 36 was the best because it showed every A's game. Why did we like the A's so much? I can barely even remember the draw. I just always remembered the stark white A's cap sitting atop my Dad's bookshelves in his study. Mom liked that they beat the Giants in the '89 Series, sandwiched in between two losses in '88 and '90. Then they stopped doing so well, but we've always been one to root for the underdogs, because everything comes full circle and we knew they'd make a comeback soon. From 2000 to 2003, we held out hope they'd reprise a win, but things never went our way.

Reading Moneyball causes me to wish my love of baseball didn't slowly fade away. Like most things in my life, baseball got put on hold as visits to doctors and specialists became from frequent. The only way I found to truly distract myself growing up was with work and other things I could control. Sports were too often games of chance; I couldn't pin my hopes on a team, only to be let down. I had enough letdown early on in my life.

But now that I've grown up (I think) I find myself fleeing backwards in hopes of being reacquainted with the world of sports, to recapture a slice of my youth that I had put aside. I'm not too interested in the NBA play-offs this year (die in a fire, Lakers) so it's more baseball for me...

Dear A's: Please stop losing to the Yankees.

No comments:

Post a Comment