I would sit and read a book, maybe a magazine article, while my boyfriend religiously watched the team he’s followed since he was a kid. I began to ask questions. I was interested in the lives of the baseball players, learning that Gomes came from Petaluma, thinking about kids cereal when watching Coco Crisp hit one out of the ballpark and empathizing with one of the players after returning to the game only a day after his wife lost a baby after giving birth. Real life married with the game.
Although most of the players looked like they were 12-years old, I loved that Bob knew so many little factoids, aside from their baseball stats, which made watching the players more interesting.
Bob would laugh at me when I would ask why the “buck stop” made that play? He informed me, there was no “buck stop.” (there was one when I played girls’ softball.) There were many times like this where I would provide great humor like this… like when I referred to home plate as home “base.” He leaned into me and pointed at each base, “See that one? That’s first base. That one over there, second. And that one, third. Now the one you’re referring to, that’s home plate.” Gotcha.
Yet, I was familiar with baseball, more familiar maybe than he realized, having grown up with avid baseball fans – my dad and two brothers – and later marrying my high school sweetheart, who was not only a big baseball fan but played baseball in high school, college, and even played on a semi-pro team for awhile as his dream was to become a professional baseball player.
I lived, ate, and breathed baseball for many, many years during the time my “first love” and I embarked on what we thought would be a lifetime of love. Yet, I discovered that baseball was often a primary obstacle to living the life I imagined – things were scheduled around games and tournaments that often took us away from the “home” and “family” I longed for and sometimes it was tough to live with moods that depended on the win or loss. I began to resent the game and the time it took away from engaging in my image of a fairytale romance. And after my divorce, although my ex and I remained “friends,” I couldn’t walk, or run away from the game fast enough.
So here I am again… years later… right back at the ballpark. Not only as an observer but as a mom of boys that play the game as well. So, I know the basics of the game but still make the occasional error by making the “buck stop” comment and calling home plate, home “base.” Simple errors to a baseball nut like Bob would clearly mean I had a long way to go before “talkin’ baseball.”
So I admit, before this last season, I never really had the “fever.”
I find it ironic that years later, I am in a relationship with another man that seems to have a crazier love affair for the “A’s” than I recall my ex having with any team, including his own. It’s one of those weird humanistic reminders that knock on the door of my heart, reminding me that life’s lessons will be repeated until they are learned. I suppose the learning comes from compromise until, before you know it, a cloud of acceptance rains down a little love for the game in your own heart – that place where you start to allow yourself to imagine, to feel, and to finally begin to understand why someone else loves something so much.
For the first time, I get it. I’m far from claiming to be an “expert” but it all makes a little more sense after being involved with this season and “The A’s.”
I listened about – and watched – these young puppies persevere, regardless of what the critics said – they continued to play with heart and finished with a 43-43 first half of a season, before ascending to the finish line, with 94-68 bragging rights, not to mention an American League West division crown they won against the Rangers on the last day of the baseball season.
As Bob so eloquently states all the time, “Baseball is the perfect metaphor for life. Never give up.” He goes on and passionately adds, “it’s a great example of believing in oneself and not focusing on or paying attention to the predictions and opinions of others.” And he’s right. Not too many reporters and baseball critics had a lot of faith in this young team in the beginning.
Oakland A’s player Brandon Moss said, “We have nothing to hang our heads about,” “Do we wish we were still playing? Absolutely. But what we did throughout the course of the season, where we ended up, how everyone contributed, we have a lot to be proud of.”
Boy, do they.
The synopsis of this season for the Athletics is a reminder that sometimes, we too, need to know it’s not always about where we came from but where we are going. Or like Bob says, “Life is like a game of baseball and you play it every day, it isn’t just about the breaks you get, it’s the kind of game you play.”