My boss brought in a leftover barbecued hot dog last week. Mustard, chopped onions, he sat there and said “doesn’t that make you think about baseball?” and he was right.
There are a thousand things I miss about baseball: The crack of the bat, the runner off with the pitch. Trout’s greatness, Buttrey’s fastball, and Fletcher’s all out love for the game.
But then there are the things I really miss about baseball: a few hours away from life’s madness with my family and friends, eating a hot dog, sharing a helmet sundae with my son. (For an otherwise pretty healthy guy, I do some damage at ballgame.) The rhythm of a game on TV, in the background but not requiring my rapt attention.
“Music is the space between notes” was said by the great Claude Debussy. Same thing with baseball. And it is that space that I miss most.
The physical space of the ballpark, being outside, seeing the sunset. Yes, that is nice. But the space between pitches, between innings, even between meaningful action. That space, where you talk to the people in your life, maybe take a lap around the concourse to stretch out a bit. That space, it is relaxing in a way little else in life is, on TV or at the yard.
When my parents visit during the season, we generally catch a game. Without fail, my mom will say “there’s nothing better than cracking peanuts, drinking a beer, and eating a hot dog at a ballgame.” (You can see where I get it from, ha ha). And she’s right.
We had planned on doing just that at the Freeway Series game on March 22nd. Three generations at the ballpark enjoying a night out. My mom giving my son just a little more junk food than I’d want, me pretending to really care, and the family bonding. I miss that.
Over the holidays I learned that somehow my grandmother has never been to Opening Day. That was going to change this year. Another great memory with a her is now postponed indefinitely. You just can’t have enough great memories with Nana.
Baseball is a very small part of this global pandemic, a distraction, and that is obvious. There are a lot of reasons fans are missing baseball. Parents are missing their kids play, coaches are missing opportunities to impact young lives. But ultimately, for me, the thing I miss most about baseball is the thing I miss most in general: time with family.
Like a lot of fans, baseball is something that just runs through my family. You learn your aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents favorite teams not long after you learn their names. In my family, Easter is spent with the Dodgers fans and Giants fans ribbing each other, them both ribbing me, and talk of the upcoming season or games of old. I missed that talk this year.
Fortunately I did get to go to Spring Training this year. My dad and a very close cousin joined my family out there for a few games. I had my hot dog (Chicago style one night, bacon wrapped Sonoran another) and talked to my dad (Giants) and cousin (Dodgers). My son (Angels, ha ha) had a blast .
That trip was everything I love about baseball. And everything I miss.