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That Moment is All There Is

March 3, 2014
Pete 1984_0001

With VPH in summer of 1984, wearing the Cubs jacket he located for me in Chicago when I couldn’t find one in San Francisco.

Baseball fans rejoice!  Spring training has started and the teams will head north for the season openers in a few short weeks. Two of them will first go to Australia for a short series of all places. Just one more reminder, as if we needed it, that the game we watch is a business.

I am looking forward to good years from both of our Bay Area teams. The Oakland A’s figure it out with the long ball, timely hitting and excellent pitching. They came so, so close to upsetting the Detroit Tigers in the American League Playoffs last year and are well-positioned to make another run this year. Their bullpen is especially impressive and will be stronger this year after Billy Beane made some more improvements during the off-season. Manager Bob Melvin is a master with platoons and managing the match-ups, and has a strong roster with which he can work his magic. We can count on good things from Green and Gold, in spite of their very tough division.

IMG_1613

With VPH during his visit to SF last month alongside the Willie Mays statue in front of the Giants’ yard.

The Giants are coming off an awful 2013 season, just one year after they won the World Series. There wasn’t very much of defending that 2012 title in fact; they were chasing the rest of the division for most of the year.  Nonetheless, we have high hopes. As long as the players stay healthy, the team should be able to compete. The starting rotation could be very good from start to finish if they all recovered during the winter and can once again pitch as they have in the past. The team’s hitters will also need to “move the line,” as Manager Bruce Bochy likes to say, if they expect to compete with their division rivals Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks. We saw nice streaks from everyone in the lineup last year, but it was inconsistent and there were long stretches when all the bats were quiet. That’s not going to get us very far.

Mays

Willie Mays is still known as the “Say-Hey Kid” out at the yard.

But this is just a fan’s unbridled enthusiasm. Preseason predictions are meaningless in the end. Anything can happen once the games are played.

I’ve enjoyed this game since I was a child. We played it out on the schoolyards and ballparks, in the street, and in yards throughout the neighborhood. Any sphere would do – hard balls, rubber balls,  soft balls and whiffle balls. Fresh from the store, water-logged and misshaped, torn, or cracked. We made do with what we could find. We also spent hours playing a game that we devised with dice and baseball cards. The Cubs and Sox were on the radios and TVs whenever possible.  All childhood memories that remain intact today.  Just like the friendships.

I’m looking forward to the rhythm of the season, and to riding all the surprises and enduring the disappointments that will surely come. The commutes are better with the soothing sounds of the radio broadcasts of the games on our local stations. At the end of a long day, the soft green chair is ever more inviting when the A’s or Giants are on the tube. Why even the morning coffee tastes better reading the box scores from the night before. It’s only a game, but summer wouldn’t be the same without it.

Child’s Play, by Dan Liberthson

I play the World Series with marbles
on our vine-laced Persian carpet:
its palaces are bases,
its bowers become dugouts
where my heroes’ cards wait
for their manager’s hand.
I play both sides, home and away,
hitter and fielder—as always
no one on my team but me.

Adult shapes, fat and crooked,
bald and creased or worn thin,
edge around me,
pass through the house smiling
down as if to say dear child
you know nothing outside
your magic carpet, which
one day you’ll find is only a rug
that will take you no place at all.

But I have just jumped
an impossible height, caught
Roger Maris’ hot line drive to right
and brought it back over the fence.
The roar of the crowd
puts any doubt to rest:
in that moment I am blessed
and that moment is all there is.

11 Comments
  1. Hope you still have that jacket!

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  2. it’s kind of cold around here to think seriously about baseball, but your post reminds us that the season is not far off. I live with a displaced Cubs fan myself and I know what a loyal breed you are. I don’t have a cool Cubs jacket, but I do have my own golf ball with the Cubs insignia on it to roll around the apartment. It’s too big to get caught under the wall heaters, but not the couch. As for the poem, priceless. Got us rather chocked up, actually. We’re copying it and pasting it and sending it to our pub’s son. It is him to a T, xo LMA

    p.s. you are tall!
    p.s.s. you probably know that already. LMA

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    • The golf ball under the couch can stop the fun on a dime – sort of like the baseball getting lost in the ivy out at Wrigley Field.

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  3. Looking forward to baseball again and as a Twins fan, that’s difficult to process.

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    • Those rebuilding years are all part of the fun. I think the Twins have something to look forward to in the very near future. Good winter moves and some young players who will make an impact.

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  4. Bruce, I have several friends who are avid baseball lovers (fanatics, life long devotees) and they’d love the way you describe your love of the game. The commute, the green chair, and the better morning coffee 🙂

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  5. Mick permalink

    Really.. you still have the jacket? Where do you keep all that stuff? Dice Baseball and keeping stats on the players… Bunch of fun. Quicker than the Strato-matic game you got. That was complicated

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    • The dice baseball games went quickly and had a rhythm. We had a lot of fun with dice, cards and a plenty of imagination. Believe it or not, some of those scorecards are still in a box.

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  6. There’s that Cubs fan looking good!! Must be hard to get that out of your system. I know it is for me and I grew up in the suburbs of Milwaukee, but no rotten vegetables to my face for loving the Cubs.They were a safe passion back then, still far away in the National League. I love that 1984. That was a great year to be on the Cubs caravan, way better than Orwell doomsdayed.

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