Baseball is America’s favorite pastime. Some of my earliest memories are of being at the ball field where my dad coached Little League. For years I played softball and was pretty good, even hitting a homerun with a cast on my broken foot. After I graduated from college I moved to Boston, where if the Red Sox were playing in town, you could find me at Fenway Park. If the Yankees were mentioned, it caused a small riot in the box seats. I love the smell of the grass. The sound of the peanut vendor. There is nothing like the sound of a wooden bat hitting the ball and the loud, boisterous fans that sat around us. I even scored cool points with my kids when I told them how one year I dated a guy who played for the Dodgers. I visited him at Spring Training and had a chance to meet Oral Heirscheiser and Mike Piazza. So no one can ever accuse me of not enjoying baseball.
NEWS FLASH: Fast forward 17 years and I am still sitting at the baseball field again. I have moved from cheering on the Red Sox at Fenway to cheering on some smaller players at our city parks. Next week is the beginning of baseball and softball season for the kids. It’s a time of great excitement and enthusiasm for so many people! My kids, included. Keep in mind I have enough children to field two-thirds of a baseball team. You supply the designated hitter, the catcher and a second baseman, and together we could have a full team. All we need are some matching t-shirts and a bag of bubble gum. This season all six, that’s right 6, of my kids will be playing baseball or softball. That means that from now until Memorial Day (eternity) the only place you will find me is at the ball field. You think it’s a long season? It’s only twelve weeks. But it cramps your calendar? Let me give you a few numbers to ponder. Six kids playing baseball/softball means that this season I will attend 108 games, sit through over 540 innings, and see over 3,000 outs. Keep in mind, if they only threw strikes (which is NOT going to happen) I would see 9,000 STRIKES thrown. If those were airlines miles I would qualify for a first class trip to Hawaii. I used to be able to spew out statistics of certain major league teams and players. This season I will be happy if I can just remember which one of my kids plays for which team! Someone asked me what team did my kids play for and I couldn’t remember the name of each ones team. I only know that three wear purple, one wears dark blue, one wear grey, and one wears burgundy. So, to make it easy for parents, instead of the Cubs, Dodgers and Tigers, let’s call the teams the Greys, Dark Blues, and Burgundies. I like the simplification.
Last night I found myself thinking about the words to "Take me out to the ball game“ and it got me thinking about how I can’t relate to the words anymore! “Take me out to the ball game, take me out with the crowd.” Don’t worry about taking me there because that is where I will be living for the next few months. I am thinking about lobbying for games to only last three innings. I am changing the words to ‘Take me out to 100 games….’ Truthfully, aren’t you tired of the same old crowd, two nights a week, yelling “Wait for your pitch, honey…” or “Thatta boy!” We need some new baseball jargon. Like street smack for little league. I will work on that.
“Buy me some peanuts and cracker jack,” No need to buy me either one, because when your kids play little league when you are home team, you don’t get to watch the game. Oh no. You “get” to work the concession stand. So I will be able to get my own! Besides, kids don’t know what cracker jack is. Let’s make it “Buy me a snow cone and Do-Ritos….” Then we would be cool parents. “I don’t care if I never get back,” By the way, you should always remember to come back to pick your kid up. You know what you do, you drop them off and head to the Dairy Queen, scarf down a Peanut Buster parfait then bring them Capri Suns and a granola bar so they will be healthy. Besides, I have to get home and get on all all the laundry. And how do those sox turn orange? And for the record, I am boycotting the whole ‘lucky socks’ legend this year. You can strike out just as easily wearing another pair of socks. Moms judge each other on our kids sox. And we all know that the superstar kids have permanent orange dirt stains on the thigh of their pants because they are so cool and slide headfirst.
“Let me root, root, root for the home team,” I can’t ever figure out if we are home or visitors. I just sit on whichever side the team is on. Someone told me the home team sits on the first base side. All I know is one of my kids runs to third instead of first. Last week he rounded the bases and un-scored a run. “If they don’t win it’s a shame.” Not really. Life is about winning and losing, you need to experience both so you learn to handle both. Sometimes I think baseball is meant to teach you how to lose. After all, I am a Red Sox fan. For years we were close. For a century we were disappointed. Then finally, we won the World Series. The good news is that if the Sox win 20 more World Series they will be tied with the Yankees. “
For it’s one, two, three strikes, you’re out,” Or in my case it’s “8,998 then 8,999, 9,000 strikes…” “At the old ball game“….The game isn‘t nearly as old as I am going to look after sitting in the sun through so many innings. They need sunscreen and Advil at the Concession Stand! So here is to a great season! Play ball!