This won’t mean a lot to most of you out there, but this weekend the Detroit Tigers clinched their first division title since 1987, and their first American League Central title ever.
It’s kind of a big deal.
But don’t worry. This post isn’t going to be filled with statistics and names of men being (over)paid to play a boy’s sport or ridiculous metaphors about the game that I’ve loved all my life. If you don’t love baseball, you certainly won’t love my explanation of why I do. If you do love baseball, you don’t need it.
But for me, it’s more than a game.
It’s remembering summers by games that were played and the sensory clues I still find—the crack of the bat, the stitch on a ball, the smell of the grass in the field. It’s looking forward to spring training in the dead of winter when every other joy seems frozen beneath layers of ice and of snow.
It’s being able to identify players by their batting stance or jersey number and feeling an instant connection with a complete stranger when I see them wearing a shirt with the old English “D.”
It’s a simple game—a bat and a ball—but it can unite a city, a state, a family—with one swing of that bat or one pitch of that ball. It can make grown men cry, and sometimes, even a 30-year-old woman who usually one cries for road kill and good food spilled on the floor.
For me, it’s my escape.
Sports in general afford me the opportunity to forget about the mundane concerns of everyday life for a while and to spend an unpredictable amount of time with others who take pleasure in enjoying a similar break. It’s a reminder that I can still feel excited about something when a lot of the time I’m just numb.
For me, it’s family.
It’s a 90-year-old woman who can’t always remember who I am, but will tell me about a game in 1948 with a clarity time hasn’t stolen quite yet.
Some days the games are all foreign to her and she couldn’t care less if one’s on. Some days watching the game with her takes me right back to being sprawled on her living room floor as a kid, watching each game on mute while Ernie Harwell came through on the radio (but not lying underneath the ceiling fan, as I was warned the goddamn thing would inevitably fall on me and crush me to death. Fuzzy memories.)
Because while I joke about her and there are still good times, the bad days outnumber the good by a lot. But on those good days, baseball bridges a gap as we talk of the games and the team. It’s tradition and memories tied up with box scores and hopefulness mixed in with stats.
From this year’s Opening Day to where we are now, this season has felt somewhat special. And despite my promise not to wax eloquently with corny language, I guess I can’t help it. Sure, it’s a “pastime,” but it’s my favorite way to pass that time.
For me, it’s more than a game.
It’s my perfect game.
I have baseball and sports, but what’s your “thing,” so to speak? What are you unapologetically passionate about and have never grown tired of?