For the Love of the Game

Ok, I do realize that I am writing two posts about baseball all in the same night, but I don’t care. It’s one of the only happy things I can find myself thinking about at this moment so that is what I am doing. Deal with it! :p

So obviously, I love baseball. LOVE it. I live, breathe, sleep, and whatever else can be done with this sport. For me, life without baseball is dreary. Seriously, I have no idea what I would do if I didn’t have the game in my life.  It represents the time I get to vacation from the stress in my life to cheer on my team, the Rockies. It’s where all of my bottled up emotions come out. I scream at the tv when the umpire makes a terrible call and I jump for joy when the Rockies gets a win. I cry when they don’t make it to post season and I cry when they do. I literally count the days until spring training as well as Opening Day. Yes, I might be a little crazy, but that’s alright with me. I love the game. It’s one of my passions.

I know a lot of people don’t see what I see in baseball and that is ok. Everyone has their own tastes in life. It is what makes us different. But I am going to try to explain to you why I love this game so much. Here goes….

For me, baseball was the only sport my dad ever really taught me how to play. Sure, I played soccer and I did ballet, but those I learned on my own. Baseball is one memory with my dad that I really value from my childhood. I can still remember the first baseball game he took me to and all the games we used to play in our cul-de-sac when I was little. Of course, my brother was not happy that I got to play, but I am sure I showed him up a time or two. My dad never taught me about football either (probably why I don’t like it) so baseball is the one sport I have vivid memories about with my dad.

Now, a lot of what I am going to say from here on out could probably be applied to other sports too, but just remember that for me, baseball is the one I relate to and the one I have a passion for.

I love that in baseball it doesn’t matter what team you like (unless you are a Yankees or Red Sox fan depending on who you talk to). We all as fans share a common love for the game. Sure we each have our personal favorite teams, but when it really comes down to it, the real fans share a bond for the sport. Fans can wear any team’s hat to a game and no one thinks twice about it. We all just love the game. Sometimes I feel like I am sharing a memory, a moment with my closest 500,000 friends. We are all there for the same reason. It’s great.

I love the history of the game. I love that fans still eat cracker jacks and peanuts. I love that parents still collect and pass down their old baseball cards to their children. I love that we treasure the old baseball fields as much as the new ones and we try to preserve their uniqueness as much as we can. I also love that  with baseball, it never matters what team a great player was on but rather what he did. We all can be proud of players like Jackie Robinson, Cy Young, Willie Mays, Roberto Clemente, and even now players like Todd Helton and Troy Tulowitzki today who do amazing things on an off the field. We know them because of their records and the inspiration we got from watching them play, but we also know them for the great things they tried to do for the people watching them.

One thing I really love about baseball is how intertwined it can be with the hearts of the citizens of the US and how it can help heal the hurt after catastrophes. One example of this that I can recall is the Mets vs Braves game at Shea stadium in Queens, New York only 10 days after September 11, 2001. With the Braves winning the game 2-1 in the bottom of the 8th inning and one man already on base, Mike Piazza stepped up to the plate. He took a swing to try to heal a wound, to try to return America to normality, to try to bring hope back to a broken city. A swing that sent a tiny little ball over the centerfield wall. You can imagine what followed that home run. The Mets won the game and with that win, they gave a tiny sliver of hope back to the American people. The Mets didn’t end up going to the playoffs, but they had made a difference, however tiny it was, in the lives of the citizens around them. And that type of experience isn’t just unique to the Mets and 9/11.

The game of baseball runs almost parallel to our experiences in life. Through both life and baseball we learn the importance of not giving up. Yes, we all fail or hit a bad slump sometimes, but it can’t stop us from staying in the game. It’s all about perseverance. I know if it doesn’t go just right, there is always tomorrow and the prospect of better things. I can handle defeat because I know it is only an opportunity for success later. And an opportunity for me to learn along this road called life.

I love baseball for the memories I have made because of it. Baseball has become one thing I can share with my family. We all love the game. I get excited every chance I get to spend with them at a baseball game. Those games will be something I always remember. It’s something I have passed on to my younger brother. He is becoming quite the Rockies fan let me tell you. I love that I not only get to take him to games, but I get to watch him learn to understand and love the game as well. I love that we have created a bond between us through the game and can enjoy it together. 

I love baseball because I live everyday with my team. I grind through slumps with my hitters, feel the agony of errors, argue balls and strikes, and labor pitch after pitch. I identify with players over the course of the season, root for the new kid, and say goodbye to the old veterans who were once my heroes (probably crying as I watch them go). I understand the beauty in pitching inside, brushing back the hitter, only to set him up the next time sp he comes up with the backdoor cutter. I understand the difference between a 6-4-3, and a 5-4-3 double play, and I appreciate it every time. I second guess my manager (although not often) to a fault, and question why they didn’t stretch the starter another inning or batter, or why didn’t he go to the bullpen earlier. It can be such a slow, and boring game for many, but to me, it is one of the most beautiful displays of strategy and gamesmanship. I would rather see a pitcher duel than a game filled with home-runs.

I still feel the hair raise on my arms every time I order tickets and then walk through the dark tunnels of Coors Field before coming out onto the field. The moment the threshold is passed, the chatter from the tunnel turns into an echo, and the smell of grass and flash of light hits the body like a resuscitating breath. The smells and sounds of the game intoxicate me. I know any day has limitless potential to turn into a Summer classic. Every pitch may connect me to part of Baseball lore spanning the generations of fans. My excitement is often uncontrollable. The game is played outside, during the best time of year. The nature of the game allows you to talk to your friend, or neighbor without worrying about missing the game, while enjoying another beautiful day (although you won’t catch me doing that very often). Unlike most other sports, baseball has no time limit. Nine innings can last a lifetime. But, on a beautiful summer day, I always hope it will last forever.

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