Why Baseball?

This is, I hope, the first of a series of writings I will do on baseball, and most of the ones I have intended to do will be much more an analysis of the game itself than this, which is supposed to be an explanation of my interest and an exploration on the formation of interest in Sport.

When ever I am asked why it is I am so into baseball, and spend the time I do on it I give the simple answer, that was the sport I most enjoyed playing as a child, and therefore why I still display a love for it today. This is not the full story, there are in fact a smattering of factors all of which contribute to the development of it to the point of my favorite hobby.

The first baseball related thing I remember is my grandfather watching it when I would visit. He was a Mets fan, and most of my memories of him are watching with him, not really sure what was happening, but feeling the tension nonetheless of every hit ball, or swinging strikeout. My most vivid memory is of the score being something like 5 or 6 to 4 or so, with two men on base and someone I did not know at bat. It was a later stage, maybe the top of the seventh, and I watch with glee and awe as this nameless, faceless human being laced a ball into the outfield, except that wasn’t the ball, that was a piece of the bat, the ball had actually bobbled out of the infield and into the right fielder’s mitt for a 2 rbi single. This was hit that tied up the score, and had me amazed for how crazy the game could be, a bat could be broken but the ball could still wriggle it’s way into a hit somehow.

When I was 6 or 7 I got a book written by some guy called Jorge Posada who I guess was a baseball player that was about baseball. As a child I loved it, and it only compounded my growing interest in baseball, as I found out you could bat lefty or righty, and about this team called the Yankee’s who piqued my attention. Now I should use this moment to explain that, yes, somehow with a grandfather who was a Mets fan I became a Yankee fan, despite only ever watching the Mets and the only other real baseball influence me being a fan of the Mets. Then again just watching the Mets is probably enough to push away an impressionable young fan, still finding out their options.

Then, as a 6/7 year old I joined my first proper team, around where I lived, with a bunch of the kids in my school, and to my shock this was a rare sport that I, perhaps not excelled, but certainly did well, slotting into the 3 spot and getting moved around the infield and outfield as the coach tried to find the best positions for some kids who were better at booting the ball in the air than actually catching. Perhaps even more important than my own ability at the sport though, was the fact our team went unbeaten for the season, and that I played all but one of the games. It was ridiculous fun smashing the ball and running the bases, and mucking around with friends when we were supposed to be ‘fielding’.

My interest sadly waned as I moved to England, where there was no reporting of baseball and for a long time I had not baseball influence. It started to creep back into my life at age 11 or 12 when a girl joined our school who was a Giant’s fan, really hard to talk to after their second WS by the way though. I then also found out about and joined a baseball league in London which was when most my knowledge about the actual game of baseball was developed, and allowed me to build up more and more of an enjoyment and slow dependency on the game. This for the longest time though was the extent of my baseball interest until about 3 years ago, where I followed, confused, the end of the Yankee’s 2014 season. I found out that that guy who had written that book was actually Jorge Posada, the long time Yankee Catcher and DH, who also could mash a few HR. As well as that I discovered the stat side of baseball. That discovery is why I spend so much time obsessing over baseball, as I learn more and more about the stats and sabermetrical developments going on in the game. I am now avidly waiting for the new season in 2017, and more importantly, really enjoying the WBC, although sad now the Netherlands have left.

So, this I hope has made it a bit clearer sport interest and jubilation comes from.

On Fatherhood

I had to wait outside, outside alone, while she was coming. I had to be outside, alone with my thoughts, while she was fighting out. I won’t be outside, while she performs her miracles.

She stands on those minuscule baby feet, with miniature baby toes and a cheeky smile engulfing her face. An oversized bear is being dragged behind her as she stomps around, it too practicing it’s discovery of the joy of walking. She laughs, strange hiccupy laughs as she wobbles around, the eyes, which were her mothers, glint with the euphoria of discovery, of successful curiosity.

She lies in the snow, failing miserably at creating an angel. Her rapidly growing hair swiftly blinding her vision for brief seconds before being shifted out of the way. Her hands, covered in red mittens, clutch at the white fluff, combining it, creating a new, far larger compound of resources which she morphs into a crude ball. She briefly throws it away, before returning her attention to the hole that is supposed to be an angel.

She looks up at me, sweet button nose sniffing the air to check there are no goodies being hidden from her. Her recently cut hair straddling the pillow, stopping just before her shoulders. Her eyes slowly close, bored and done with listening to whatever garbage story I was reading. She lay completely calm, not quite still, but rested, peaceful and cosy in her vastly oversized bed.

She releases the ball, hard, right at her mom. It performs a perfect arc and lands easy in her mothers hand. She giggles in delight and yells at her mother to throw it back. The catching is her favourite part. She watches the ball’s release intently, observes its curve, backing up slowly. Then, as it gets closer, she retreats suddenly and just as the ball looks beyond catching she dives down covering barely a foot, and snatches the ball just before it reaches the cool earth. The dive is pointless. But, she insists, it makes sure the ball is in her hands.

She lies next to me, snuggling between myself and her mother. I play with a strand of her hair, rolling it around in my fingers. She’s perfect, a trait purely from her mother. She snores lightly, her chest rising and collapsing in unison with the sound. Her hands clutch at the couch, her feet push up against her mom. Her face is cradled in my arms. Her angel face is cradled in my arms. Her face is cradled in my arms.

She’s cradled in my arms. Tiny miniature, perfectly asleep, just like her mother. I smile down at her. I promise her, I promise her I will never be outside again. I promise her, I promise her, I promise her I will make mistakes, but I will never be outside again.

Missed Connections

Allow me to preface by insisting this is not a story about missed chances at love. It is not intended to be, despite it’s appearance as one. Instead this is more of a case study, something to explore the tragedy of failed acquaintanceship.

The story starts at 5:20, normally an inconsequential time, but now somewhat important as I was not on a bus home as I should have been, now important as my tardiness would lead me to have to take an alternate route home, at a slightly later time. At 5:20, as opposed to being sat in a bus, whiling away the time I can afford to squander, I was stood in line for a different one, this one was significantly smaller, and it’s route significantly longer. It was until a minute or two later that I first saw her, quite cute, with tumbling red hair and with clear eyes staring down at the sidewalk. I looked away, not taking anymore glances as I assumed this was all I would ever think of her again, simply a pretty girl on the bus. I boarded the bus.

She chose to sit a few a seats ahead of me, such that I couldn’t really see her as she leaned into the seat. Then, surprisingly, she chose to move seats soon after sitting, she moved so that she was directly opposite me, so that we were in different rows, but right next to each other. This was the first thing that hinted to me perhaps she was interested in opening conversation with me. Then just a few seconds after she had sat down she was staring intently at me, which I responded to by meeting her gaze. After a few moments of two strangers peering at each other, she smiled shyly and turned away, facing the window. Once again I chose to ignore this as simply accidental.

As the bus began turning out of the station, I turned and looked at her, and soon once again we were meeting each others eyes and exploring what was hidden behind. I concluded she might be somewhat interested in at the very least getting to know me, but chose to leave it for a little bit, just so I could look back later and be certain that she was in fact looking at me. It wasn’t until after the next stop, as the bus started to fill up, that I chose to look over again. I really wanted to be certain that she was just as intrigued as me and hoped silently that she would meet my gaze. She did, and held it for the longer than the other times. My mind decided that I would try and move over to speak to her, I began to procrastinate over what to say and how I would be received. This is where my mistake was made, as opposed to being brave and speaking to her my nervousness and timid nature began giving my doubt of her interest, I went from certain to unsure swiftly, and soon was debating in my head how I would start the conversation. It was this procrastination that caused the missing of the connection, as I sat debating, we stopped again and a women got on, a women who chose to sit in the seat that I would have to in order to engage conversation. My chances of ever speaking to this girl had gone from decent to embarrassingly dismal.

To my dismay she did in fact get off the bus, casually looking back at me as she got out, only compounding my frustration. Now, I don’t want this to be looked on as a failed love story, or that I am pining after this girl, although there is a non-zero chance that is precisely what I am doing. I want to use this to explore human relations and their formations. It was so rare for me to be in such a situation that I somewhat panicked, and failed to achieve anything meaningful out of the events. It is intriguing to me that the majority of the people I know are either people who I have been to school with, worked with, or grown up alongside. In fact the only other meaningful relationship I have had with someone I met outside of school or work was with someone I met taking a sailing course. It is a tragedy of failed exploration or curiosity and my inability to simply engage with this girl haunts me. Not as much that she may have been a lover, but simply that she was another human being with a personality and interests that may have aligned or at the very least intersected occasionally with my own.

In my opinion it is a tragedy of human interaction that we have made up social norms and expectations that almost hinder social interaction. Or maybe this is all pointless drivel I have invented in my head to compensate for my immense timidity and fear of unprovoked interaction. Either way hopefully this story does in fact act as a case study towards the value of approaching people, and attempting interactions. Who knows what we could be missing out on.