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XTimes 1.02-BallGame

My father was one heck of a baseball fan, much more than I. He remembered players’ names and stats, and understood the bones of the game at least as well as any seasoned major league scout. I love to watch the game, not because I understand very much of what I’m watching, but because I do not. I appreciate the mysterious rhythms and rituals, satisfied that the players and the coaches and many of the fans understand these like my father did. I’m more the gape-mouthed sort of fan.

I can be mistaken for a wizened watcher, especially now that my hair is turning mostly grey. I can sometimes see the difference between a fastball and a change-up, but I usually blink as the pitch passes over the plate. I doubt that I’ve ever seen a bat connect with a ball, startled awake instead by the resounding crack. I rather chase the game around the field, arriving just after every play, still deeply appreciative of the game.

I am expert at cracking peanuts, though I blanch at dropping the shells at my feet. I do not usually root for the home team, but try to appreciate the beauty of individual plays. I rarely leave any ballpark disappointed. I secretly hope both teams will win, and they usually do.

I hold a similar relationship to my professional life. I’m not half the confident expert my forebears were. I don’t really understand the deep down rules of engagement, but I compensate by appreciating that I do not. I am pretty much a gape-mouthed professional, too.

I almost never notice the details as they whiz by, certainly not like The Muse does. She’s a strategist. I’m a pattern catcher. This means I’m always behind on the infamous count, not all clogged up with anticipation. Tabula Rasa, over and over and over again. I have no name for what I see until I see it, and I’m not up late nights trying to memorize any encyclopedia of patterns. Patterns seem meaningful only in discovery. They are linkages, not knowledge. Imminently disposable.

I believe than an ounce of appreciation might be worth a pound of cure. I think it mostly doesn’t really matter who wins and who loses because the game never really ends. Each tally point serves as punctuation of the comma, semi-colon, or em-dash variety—not the end.

Last night, we watched a last week of the regular season game. Everyone on the field was playing hurt. Almost no one hustled. None of those kids out there moved like they were young anymore, and that didn’t matter to any of the fans in the stands. We were there for something other than simply watching a ball game. I told the guy sitting next to me that we would probably get to know each other pretty well by the ninth inning, and my prediction proved true. We were almost family when the first baseman caught that line drive and sent everybody home. I said, “Say hi to your little brother.” He said, “Try to keep the camp followers from following you home.”

©2013 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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