Friday, September 08, 2006

Why we love baseball

I am what you might call a lapsed baseball fan -- or, to express it another way, an inactive member of what Susan Sarandon referred to, in that memorable line from "Bull Durham," as the Church of Baseball. I followed the game passionately until we moved away from Ohio in 1997, but have paid very little attention to it since then. There are many reasons for the lapse, including the steroid scandals in general, Barry Bonds in particular, the addition of a new level of playoffs, and interleague play, among others. But mostly it has nothing to do with baseball itself, but rather with the fact that family and personal issues, by now very familiar to the people closest to me, are well-nigh consuming me at this point in my life, with no end to them anywhere in sight. Apart from baseball, I have gradually been losing interest in other things that used to be important to me, such as my Spanish, in which I have hardly read anything since I left court interpreting a couple of years ago. As for baseball, my wife has expressed concern about why I almost never watch the games anymore, and I don't really know what to tell her. I suppose my life has pretty much ceased to be fun, its burdens by now far outweighing its joys, and I really don't expect that to change much in the future.

But she may have a point in her concern, and I know that my enthusiasm for baseball still lurks somewhere beneath the surface, and that the right combination of circumstances could bring it back again. Perhaps I should look for something that will do just that. If I had been watching the Diamondbacks game on TV two nights ago, for instance, I would have seen the Marlins' rookie pitcher Anibal Sanchez throw a no-hitter, a rare enough happening that I never have seen one myself. (The closest I came to the experience was in September, 1995, when I listened to a Cubs game on WGN radio, working myself up to a near-frenzy as Frank Castillo came within one strike of hurling a no-no against the Cardinals. As it turned out, he did end up with a one-hitter, giving up a triple to Bernard Gilkey.) And as tough as life is for me right now, there are some situations in which, in spite of everything else I am going through at the moment, all can be well in my world, for a few moments at least. One is when I am adjusting my camera settings to take a picture of a sunset, or a flower, or whatever else is there to tickle my fancy; and another is when I am within the confines of a ballpark, watching a game. But the last time I attended one was four years ago this very month, and two of those intervening years have been the most difficult of my entire life.

Today's musings were prompted by columnist Paul Greenberg, who wrote this column, published today in Jewish World Review.

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