I don’t love baseball. And I feel bad about that. Some of the finest people I know — people who are undeniably more advanced human beings than I am — are wild for the game. They love that it’s not timed, but rather over when it’s over; that it lets players of every shape and size be superstars; and that the object is more complicated than just putting a ball into a net, over a line, or through a hoop.
The closest I ever come to loving baseball was a brief tenderness I had for its distinctive snacks. It was 1981, and Fernando Valenzuela was pitching for Los Angeles, Steve Garvey was playing first base, and I was mowing Dodger Dogs, Cracker Jacks, and ice cream on the blistering Loge level.
Back then, I was a kid watching grown-ups play baseball. Recently I’ve revisited the sport as a grown-up watching kids play it, in Little League. But the new perspective hasn’t deepened my appreciation for our national pastime. In fact, it’s made me dread it.
Each time a kid gets up to bat and strikes out — my son or someone else’s, on our team or the opposing one, doesn’t matter — it positively guts me. Hollows out my stomach like an inverted baseball cap or a stadium peanut being popped from its salty shell.
Swing, miss! … Adjust stance. … Swing, miss! … Adjust grip. … Swing, miss! … Adjust self-image.
Continue reading The Sting of the Strikeout