It’s been a baseball weekend. Which helps explain the lack of updates of late. I had today off, which was not officially an Opening Day holiday, but it should have been. Might as well have been. Cesar Chavez is important too, but this is baseball.
I managed to attend not one, but two games that didn’t count this weekend. Well, if you count Thursday as part of the weekend. Both games were at AT&T Park (the most recent appellation for the SF Giants’ ballpark), both were 7-2 road team victories, and only one was the most glorious game I may have ever attended.
You see the ball in the picture up top of this post? Coming screaming off Raul Ibanez’ bat? It ended up in my hands. And then on my knee, and then on the floor in front of me, and then in my hands again. A foul ball. Stamped Official Major League Baseball. From an exhibition game, yes, but off the bat of a Seattle Mariner. And not just a Spring Training guy trying to make the team, but off our three-hole hitter in the starting lineup. My first ever foul ball.
The convergence of events that led to this Thursday catch (“catch” – it wasn’t exactly clean, but I also didn’t have a glove) were pretty remarkable. Em & I were at the game with Gris, Gris’ Dad, Gris’ Dad’s wife, Gris’ half-brother, and some friends of Gris’ Dad. We all sort of showed up in that order, with Emily being last. But it turned out that through some sort of will-call mis-timing, the friends had bought tickets down at the lower level of the park (we were in our standard nosebleed seats). So we decided to sneak down, since approximately 471 people and at least twice that number of seagulls were in attendance. We went down in about the fifth inning.
Off-handedly upon arrival, I remarked “Hey, we could get a ball here.” It seemed pretty optimistic at best, given that we were three rows under and overhanging deck, and we were lined up with shallow left field on the third base side. Not exactly behind the dugout. After discussing these odds with Gris, I admitted that it would have to be some sort of line drive.
Within two innings, Raul Ibanez stepped to the plate in the midst of a major Mariner rally. After collecting two strikes, he stayed alive with a swing that sent a liner sailing vaguely towards us. It kept hooking in our general direction (we stood up immediately, as fans hoping for foul balls tend to if anything’s looking to land within a half-mile of one’s seat), but it looked sure to catch the overhang. I was pretty resigned to it bouncing off the overhang above me when I realized that the pain in my hand was from a collision with the ball. I had not moved my feet at all. I had been perfectly aligned with the trajectory of the ball, in the precise seat we’d snuck down to.
It was all over in seconds. There was basically no time between being sure that it would hit the overhang and coming up with the ball off the ground in front of me after it had ricocheted from my hand to my knee to the floor. And it was so automatic that I was surprised when people were high-fiving me and congratulating me and asking to see the ball. I almost said “what ball?” while holding it aloft. I was in such autopilot that it took me maybe ten minutes to really come down to Earth and realize I’d finally caught a foul ball after so many years of yearning for just that at baseball games.
The subsequent weekend has gone down in a similar burst of speedy autopilot. It’s been mostly good, especially on the front of making major progress on a vital project that I’m doing for another website (details to follow, hopefully in a matter of weeks or perhaps even days). Played some of the best tennis we’ve played yet. And yes, there was baseball. Joined Gris to watch a depressing 7-2 drubbing of the Giants by the A’s. Then was at home for Opening Day for the Mariners, playing for keeps finally, taking down the Rangers 5-2.
It’s hard to say just how much time and energy baseball are going to take up of the next few months. While still working a day job, I’ve promised myself that I’m going to lay off myself a little. Not be quite as harsh about time for recreation and demanding more writing from myself. The way I feel I’ve lived the last five years of my life has been a lot like constantly yelling at oneself for not being able to perfectly juggle while trying to waltz on a conveyor belt. Really, honestly, waltzing on a conveyor belt should take most of one’s focal time and energy if one’s to do it at all well. And juggling while doing so, while maintaining perfect balance and waltz form, is just about impossible. And even if one can manage to get in a few tosses, it really pales in comparison to how well one can juggle when one is neither on a conveyor belt nor attempting to waltz. Seriously. You just wouldn’t believe how poor that juggling is compared to any authentic objectively good juggling.
I don’t know if that makes sense to you or not, but realizing that this is a good metaphor for my life, I’m going to try (note: TRY) to take it easy on myself about the imperfect juggling. And maybe even take a dance or two off from attempting juggling along the way. Because really stellar juggling is to come. When I’m on solid, danceless ground.
Yes, that had to do with baseball – baseball is just baseball, somewhat on the side from juggling, conveyor belts, and waltzes. But it takes time, just like those things. And the fact that I still get tempted by things like Facebook offers to give one the opportunity to blog full-time about one’s favorite team (with probably no compensation and maybe not even readership) indicates where baseball ends up falling. I love baseball. It gets my heart palpitating. And a year where the Mariners are good and MLB.tv exists? It’s just scary how much fun this could be.
I can leave the baseball-blogging to people who know what they’re doing on that front. Or at least have more time for it and more of a following already. Why do something if one isn’t going to be either the best or unique? That’s just a good standard question to ask about any expenditure of time.
Except rooting for baseball teams. Because I’m not the best and I’m certainly not unique. But not doing that would be like not breathing.
Which is very different than not waltzing on a conveyor belt.