The first thing I liked about baseball was playing it.
That shouldn’t be much of a revelation, but reading an article in The Comeback about what some of its staff writers like about baseball actually made me think about it.
Not in the sense of “Yeah, why DO I like baseball?” but more in that it was never something I thought about because I just always have.
Most of my best times as a kid were at the local Little League field. I even liked practices … my brother’s practices. I knew his coach liked to have older kids hanging around and would sometimes let them help out, so I always went, glove in tow.
I played through high school — in case you’re wondering, I’m the second from the left in the bottom row of the picture, taken when I was in 11th grade — and the last time I played softball several years ago, I spend the whole game with blood running down my leg after diving on a gravel infield after the first batter hit a ground ball my way.
Yeah, I’m that guy.
Every Sunday night, after I talk to my parents, I give my grandmother a call.
It’s something I started doing before my grandfather died, and I’ve kept it up since then. Last night, she made sure to tell me that she was able to watch two Yankees games this weekend, but was not happy they lost both.
Stupid Chasen Shreve. (And that stadium in Tampa needs to be blown up immediately if not sooner.)
Young and old — with the exception of a cousin who married a Red Sox fan when clearly no one was minding the store (but her husband is nice, so we’ll let it go) — we’re a Yankees family.
I just hope my uncle is over his Clint Frazier thing by the time this year’s family reunion rolls around in August.
I’ll probably see a game in Lowell, Massachusetts, in the next month or so, and if everything goes right, my maiden voyage to Wrigley Field will be happening in September.
From a middle school field on Cape Cod to Freddy Garcia pitching in Fort Mill, South Carolina, in front of a few thousand fingers and toes to Los Angeles, Seattle and San Francisco, if there’s a game near where I am, I want to be there.
I don’t think this requires further explanation.
West Coast games are like an after-party.
I can’t stay very long because I have to be somewhere in the morning, but I’ll drop in and say hello once the Yankees game (usually) is over. If it looks like a really good time, maybe I’ll hang out just a little later and deal with the consequences in the morning.
There’s a lot of baseball writing online — you’re reading some now — but thanks to Twitter, I learned about a woman named Rachel McDaniel.
I’m a 46-year-old guy from Massachusetts who’s a Yankees fan, and she’s a 20-, maybe 21-year-old Blue Jays fan from Vancouver.
We’ve never met, and chances are good we never will, but we have baseball in common, and I think she’s an absolutely wonderful writer. Her style is her own, it’s personal and I’m a huge fan.
So first, read this story on Doug Ault. (Who? Don’t ask questions; just read it.)
Then follow her on Twitter.
Thank me later.
Every at-bat is its own story, with any number of possible endings.
Most are routine, forgettable. But sometimes, something you really wanted to see happen … happens. (And you time the record button on your phone just right.)
And sometimes Chasen Shreve gives up a walkoff homer on the only pitch he throws, proving you can be terrible, but as long as you’re terrible with your left arm, you can keep a job pitching in the majors. (I should have tried it.)
All of those at-bats — routine, exciting, stuff you’ve never seen, stuff no one has ever seen — make up the story of a game. That’s one of the things I used to love about Vin Scully’s announcing; he approached the game as a nine-inning journey that we were all going to take together.
And all those games, all of those individual stories made up of individual at-bats, make up the story of a season. It starts in early April (or late March) and continues through late September and early October.
Then the postseason starts, which is a story all its own.