Living as we do in Northeast Ohio, we take our baseball seriously, and never more than this year. It was terrifically exciting, and made ever the more so when we received, just moments before game time, a selfie from my son overseas, at 3 am Israel time, wide-eyed, geared up, in high spirits, and ready for baseball! This son who, once upon a time, along with his older brother, used to spread the Plain Dealer on the driveway every morning to digest the baseball stats while they awaited the bus that would spirit them away to kindergarten and fourth grade.
Baseball stories abounded. One friend wore her lucky shirt every game day and, as expected after three Indians wins, declined to watch on a different television set on the off chance that it would break the spell. My coworkers celebrated by decorating work spaces with accumulating numbers of red banners. We loved hearing about the adorable, persistent four-year-old who simply would not take no for an answer, inviting his significantly older neighbors to come watch the game together at his house. Baseball is a glue that connects our days and years.
We prepared for every game by popping big bowls of popcorn for all, including older brother, who came with our new daughter-in-law. Everybody got into the act, our daughter texting from her cozy perch across town (Have fun. Go tribe!), and my mom and dad texting frequently from New Jersey: “Play ball popcorn ready.” When I replied to dad’s “Try something else might change your luck,” with “I’ll put pepper in the popcorn tonight!,” he texted back: “Lemon pepper is the way to go.” I also happen to love the taste of nutritional yeast in popcorn.
Our methods didn’t work, none of them, but I don’t regret a single minute of it. Not the exhausted faces of my co-workers, living as we do in Eastern Standard Time, not the rain, and not the final loss. Our team got to the World Series, and our players gave it their all. Plus Chicago broke their 108-year drought record, which counts for something, okay, a lot. We’re counting the days to next season.
Why am I writing about baseball today? Oh, I don’t know. It’s what’s on my mind this week. It’s hard to lose, but it’s much worse to be mean-spirited after the fact, or to behave in a way that you wish you hadn’t. I saw a video of a Cleveland fan punching a man wearing a Cubs shirt, and it upset me greatly. It’s so not about that. I did get to see LeBron James congratulate everyone on a job well done, and most especially the Cubs. That, on the other hand, was truly inspirational. What a guy!
As baseball personality Yogi Berra once said, “When you get to the fork in the road, take it.” Life is a series of choices, and growing up is what happens as we learn to live with the consequences — good, bad and neutral — of all those choices.