18 April 2015

Neither Peanuts Nor Cracker Jacks, Thank You, A Trip to the Ballpark

My vantage point from view reserved.

The first bit was written on MUNI on the way to a baseball game Thursday night. The reset I scribbled here today. Just so ya know.

The misery of this long slow hot bus ride. Crowded and smelly as the Chinese have shopped with raw fish and chicken among their buys. And I deep into an all consuming depression of dark grasping inexplicable sorrow a heart aching despite a life rich in gifts and health and great love. Odors so strong breathing becomes a chore I dream of sitting by a cool mountain stream with fog dipping into my eyesight and happy birds providing the only sounds. Glum and irretrievably solemn I languish in the searing suffering of the melancholy unable to fathom relief. Solace in knowing my destination is the ballpark and a cool outdoor baseball game. Following I'll return home to that perfect wife who gives all and asks little. I remember to look forward and to at least feign a smile. Ode to joy.
I used to go to as many as 30 baseball games a season. Once I went to 39. Later it was down to about 20 and now its closer to ten. I've got other interests. Plus I get frustrated with how long games last now. Thankfully Major League Baseball is making efforts to speed up the game. In some respects I'm fully sated. My favorite team has won the World Series three times in the last five years. Prior to that they hadn't been champions since the year I was born. They were in New York then. They're in San Francisco now. My dad took me to games when I was a kid. Willie Mays was in centerfield. Growing up watching Mays play was an incredible treat. I've always said that my dad and Willie Mays are the only two people in the world who could tell me to do something and I'd do it without hesitation no matter what.

Another reason I go to fewer games is that I'm less comfortable around the people there. When the missus and I were in London two years ago we went to the theater and saw a play starring Helen Mirren. I felt at home with the people in the theater. Maybe I'm becoming a snob. Or have become. Thursday night behind me and to my right sat two young men in their early or mid twenties. They were not too dissimilar from what I was like at that age. Especially given the fact that they were sloshing down beer after beer and yakking non stop. However it was their constant and loud use of the word fuck or fucking or fucked that got to be annoying. I'm pretty liberal with my use of such words but tend not to use them loudly in public unless I've just had an anvil dropped on my foot.

Behind me and to my left I noticed a huge woman of about 30. Her belly was falling out of her shirt. She was wearing a half a ton of make up including some pretty thick eye liner. She was eating cotton candy. Later I happened to look back and noted that she was eating beef jerky. I intentionally took a third peek later on and she was working on some candy. Yikes.

Directly in front of me were a quartet that spent an inordinate amount of their time taking selfies. When they weren't taking pictures with their cell phones they were staring at their cell phones. They seemed oblivious to the fact that a baseball game was being played. A lot of people at sports events are only marginally interested in the sports part of the event. For a lot of people a baseball game is a golden opportunity to spend large portions of their paycheck eating overly priced unhealthy food. You see people making repeated trips to the concession stands missing several innings of play so that they can fatten up on junk. Of course the modern ballpark, like so many other places, is specifically designed to separate people from their money. Spending options are everywhere and are convenient and tempting. I always feel like spending too but realize there's little I want or need and everything is over priced.

There's a lot to do and see in modern stadiums. Plenty of distractions. Being an old geezer I go just to watch the game. Oldest daughter is my favorite person to go to the ballpark with. I started bringing her regularly when she was nine years old. She was not too interested in all the nonsense going on at the ballyard, even that designed for kids, she was there to watch the game and enjoyed doing so. As a young teen she began keeping score. One of my favorite memories is going to a game with my dad and daughter. Three generations.

The Giants fell behind, rallied to within one and tied the game with two out in the bottom of the 9th. Cheers and high fives and happy faces all around. But they blew a chance to win it after loading the bases. On to extra innings. They gave up a run and the earlier rally seemed wasted. But the Giants tied it again and loaded the bases again, this time with just one out. Again they failed to push across the winning run. On to the 11th and then the 12th the inning in which they fell behind by two. Again a rally, but this time only one run scored and it was over. Had they lost in in nine it would have saved me a lot of time and frustration. Sports will do that. They can get you dancing down the street and they can make you cranky and unhappy. Actually I've learned not to stay cranky or unhappy as the result of game for more than about 15 minutes after it ends. What's the point? Plus I have many years of experience suffering crushing defeats (I'm looking at you Cal football). I know from sports heartache and I know not to dwell on the pain. Wins on the other are worth going nuts over.

Sports is always to be put into perspective which can be pretty hard to do when you invest time, money, and most importantly, passion into it. The hardest part is the utter helplessness of it all. Sure you can cheer your lungs out, but really you have no influence over events. I love going to certain sports events but am weary of some of my fellow fans' behavior and their lack of appreciation for the efforts of participants. This is particularly noticeable among people who have never or rarely played a sport. They often complain and boo the loudest when an athlete making their best effort comes up short. When vitriol is directed at college athletes (remember these are very young adults who are not only not professional but are simultaneously studying at a university) I am particularly peeved.

Despite the failure of the hometown heroes my trip to the ballpark served its purpose to get me out and about and participating in a communal exercise. Depression was held at bay for awhile.  I'll be dragging my sorry ass out there again soon, I'm sure. You can't keep a good fan down.

(Shout out to my old friend Phil one of my favorite people to go to games with. He's living in the UK and rarely makes it to a baseball game but I'm keeping a seat warm for him.)

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