OPENING DAY! LET BASEBALL COMMENCE…FOR SIX MONTHS!

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What is it about Opening Day for Major League Baseball that’s so exciting? I’m a Cubs fan so it’s clearly not “The Prospect of Winning.”  No, the best I can hope for this season is a better record than the White Sox, which doesn’t look promising. Maybe it’s the start of spring and impending days of summer; maybe it’s the thought of hot dogs and cheeseburgers and watered down beer; maybe it’s the promise of snagging good tickets to Wrigley Field with my son on a Saturday afternoon, only to find out one of the seats is directly behind one of those posts that help hold the upper deck up and I’ll have to sit behind it because I’m a nice guy like that.

Whatever the reason, I love baseball. In fact, I’m sitting here in the office watching the afternoon opener versus the Pirates instead of working, which probably isn’t the smartest idea, but hey, they wouldn’t let us have ESPN on the television, only cable news channels like Bloomberg because we’re in the financial industry.  Well, the opener is on WGN and they couldn’t suppress that channel.  Take that upper management! The Cubs offense is off to a hot start.  We’ll see about the pitching.

Anyway, baseball is a great game. It’s great not because it’s really boring (that’s what you were thinking, right?), but because it trickles down to the ordinary Joe. All you need is an open field, a baseball bat, and some baseballs and you can have a good time, even it’s just some batting practice. I’ll spend all summer playing ball with my kiddo and he’ll love every minute of it.  He can hit pretty well for an eight year old, but he can’t catch the ball in his glove very well yet.

Oddly enough, I don’t actually take him to too many MLB games here in Chicago.  See, at his age, he can watch for about two innings before he’d rather play himself. Why watch when you can do, right? I have to placate him with food and lemonade to stretch it out to three or four innings, but then he gets bored.  I can’t blame him.  I used to think baseball was silly.  Then I moved to Chicago and started going to live games.  Once I started to understand the nuances of the game, it became much more interesting. But when you’re a dad, you make sacrifices like leaving the baseball game early.  Then you complain about it in a blog. But then I’ll spend the rest of the afternoon with my son throwing the ball around and chasing down his flares into right field and I’ll forget there was even a professional ball game going on.

The movie “Field of Dreams” would have you believe that baseball is somehow ingrained in American DNA as some kind of temporal connection between fathers and sons. Maybe. But the main character in the movie, Ray Kinsella, is visited by old White Sox players, which kind of ruins it. There does, however, seem to be some kind of connection between baseball, heck, sport in general, and fathers and sons.  Maybe it’s the fact that baseball doesn’t change much. A man might get older and see technology pass him by or his job skills become obsolete, but baseball remains an old friend that is easily visited and easily shared with others.

I’m not breaking any new ground here, so I won’t drone on. I’ll cut to the chase and tell you what I really think baseball is all about.

I enjoyed the thrilling process of divorce when my son was very young, but old enough to understand something was happening that didn’t seem right (no matter what parents might think, divorce never seems right to the kids). It hasn’t always been easy to make sure he understands that he still has loving family and that I’ll always be there for him. It hasn’t always been easy to find a way to do the things you can normally do when your children actually live under your roof. In short, it’s been a tough job to be a parent in this situation.

I think baseball is God’s gift to fathers everywhere.

Why?

Because during that time that you spend with your son at the ballpark or out in the field knocking the cover off the ball on a lazy weekend afternoon, it’s really, really easy to be a dad.

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