|The boys in blue.|
As a writer, I know the key to making any sports story come alive is to focus on a PERSON. And that’s why I became a baseball fan. Because my youth pastor hubby knows a young man who has been moving around in the majors, and this year he happened to get picked up by our home team.
So suddenly we KNEW somebody on the team, and what’s more, we like him. (And I’m not going to give you his name because . . . well, because it feels wrong.) So we began to devoutly follow the Rays, and I think I watched more baseball games than even my husband did. I watched during the day, I watched at night. I even got an iPad program that allowed me to “watch” when I was traveling.
|Loved this kid’s enthusiasm.|
And I asked my hubby so many questions I think I drove him crazy: Why doesn’t it count as a hit if the batter hits the ball? Why do Little League teams and soccer teams shake their opponents’ hands after a game and professional teams don’t? How can a runner get to first base if he never even hits the ball, but just sends it rolling around? And why is it fair for a pitcher to intentionally walk a hitter? Shouldn’t he get a chance to hit the darn thing?
|The Trop was rockin’.|
And through it all I learned a lot more about baseball than I ever thought I’d know. And all of it, of course, is grist for the writer’s mill, though the idea of writing a baseball book seems pretty far out for me.
|This guy–in a manta ray suit–yelled, “Put me on Facebook; I don’t care!” To which I replied, “Obviously.”|
Anyway, if you didn’t see the game that put us in the playoffs–Rays versus Yankees, who dominated 7-0 throughout the first seven innings–you missed a miracle. We got into the playoffs and had high hopes–after all, miracles can happen more than once–but our dreams came to an end yesterday. But hubby and I were in the stadium, sitting right beneath the huge video screen, and saw it all come down to a final inning, a final out.
And as I watched the Rays players manfully consoling each other in the dugout, I realized that these demigods of the athletic world will now feel like chess pieces being moved around. Managers trade players; they move people; they shift players for reasons that have to do more with skill and salary than with team loyalty. So some of the young men who formed this Rays team may never play together again–at least not wearing the same team jersey.
So this ending is bittersweet. I assume the Rays will field a team next year, and so will the other MLB franchises, but I’ve come to know and appreciate each face under those caps and helmets. So thanks, guys, for a great year and a terrific learning experience. Hope to see you again in the Spring.