Through Both Lenses: Baseball As Life

Posted: February 9, 2012 by Mauricio Rubio Jr. in Baseball, Columns, MLB, Through Both Lenses
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Football season is over. No More Games. No More Bombs. No More Walking. No More Fun. No More Swimming. 67. That is 17 years past 50. 17 more than I needed or wanted. Boring. I am always bitchy. No Fun — for anybody. 67. You are getting Greedy. Act your old age. Relax — This won’t hurt.

-Hunter S. Thompson’s suicide note.

by: Mauricio Rubio Jr.
email: mr@99sportsproblems.com
twitter: @MRubio52

My dreams always take place on a yellow tinged field of red dirt and healthy green grass. The patterns of the outfield criss-cross to give the impression that there are individual patches of field out there, plopped down by a dedicated landscaper with perhaps a little too much time on his hands.

My grandfather is there, we’re playing catch in the way that father and son or grandfather and grandson do. We are talking, he in a mix of Spanish and English, me in a mix of English and Spanish. It goes like this for some time, and in reality it never really ends. When the dream recurs, it’s a continuation of our conversations. I find peace in that.

Football is exciting, basketball became a passion in the 90’s, boxing will always have a special place in my heart, but baseball is pure love. It’s a conversational game that you can talk through without talking about, and that’s why I enjoy it so much. When my father and I watch baseball, we are talking about all things that aren’t related to the game we’re watching. This is fine.

For me, football is about becoming a mindless zombie, eyes glued to the TV set, reacting to a big hit, a big play, then resuming your consumption in quiet obedience. There’s some sort of strange exchange with football and it’s fans. It demands your full attention, and conversations during football aren’t exciting.

Football is death. it takes place as all around you begins to die, and the cold winter days take you to a place that is very far away from a warm diamond, where the sun shines brightly and the sounds and smells of life are all around you. Football is meant to be watched at home, baseball is meant to be experienced in real life.

Baseball is life. It’s born after a long bitter and blue winter that knocks you on your ass. Everything goes into hiding, the world becomes less interesting, people are less willing to explore during the winter. When spring hits Chicago comes to life, Bear Weather be damned. The city is something to enjoy as you walk around in the concrete and steel jungle we inhabit. Spring is when Baseball starts flirting with you again, casually dropping hints that it’ll be by your place soon, after it takes care of some things.

Baseball smells different. It has the aroma of cut grass, grilled onions, cold beer, personal pan pizza, wet dogs, sometimes a misting rain, amongst many other smells. It’s the olfactory stimuli that are most likely to trigger memory, and perhaps it’s fitting that the pastoral game is so closely tied to our sense of smell.

Even when it starts, even when you know your team isn’t any good, for one day you can topple a giant. Baseball is there everyday for you. It can be your daily companion through the summer, always there to let you think about something else, be mad at something else. It’s there to take your mind off the real world monotony that so many of use go through, and for one day, even as fleeting as it is, for one moment, the Royals can beat the Yankees, the Cubs can beat the Phillies, even the worst team in the league wins 60 games.

For me, baseball will always be about hope. Hope that today is your day, this series is your series, this year is your year. Hope in an idea, a way of thinking, hope that tomorrow won’t be as difficult or as bad as today was. Hope that something better will come along for you, if you work hard and you’re patient.

Baseball talk is different. It’s pastoral, relaxed, nostalgic. It’s alive with things that are suppossed to be dead (but remember, legends never die). You can compare Ruth to Pujols, Buck the younger to Buck the elder, Kasper to Brickhouse, everyone to Harry. I’ve connected with my father more through baseball than through anything. We never had much in common, but baseball brings us together. It always has, and it always will.

When baseball talks to me, it is with the baritone voice of a man who smoked every day for 50+ years. It talks like a man who is wise, learned, underestimated, but loved. The voice is something that never leaves me, deep in the doldrums of February, when Hunter S. offed himself because there was nothing left to look forward to, when all is dead and hope is tucked away in a dark place, the voice reminds me that it’ll be back soon.

And then I dream of playing catch, and catching up with a wise old man, who smoked every day for 50+ years and taught me more about life than anyone else.

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Comments
  1. captaingonzo says:

    Good work. That is what baseball sounds like.

  2. […] far beyond the constrains of simply enjoying baseball. For me, baseball is love and life, but I’ve said that already. No, I enjoy it all, the summer grilling season is by far my favorite cooking time of the year. […]

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