Curiosity can masquerade as a sneaky byproduct of procrastination. Inertia can then be intellectually rationalized.
I have not written about the baseball season of two years ago nearly as much as I wish I had. Sometimes I think that’s holding me back from being truly present and productive. A life long deep-seated need to document all good experiences and capture them forever has met its match.
2016 is the greatest year in which I have ever been close to baseball.
That was a difficult sentence to phrase, because the feelings and experiences I desperately need to package and file away are about the year. The whole thing. And like a young hitter’s progress, they’re not necessarily linear.
For starters, I am not “in” baseball. I have been “around” baseball, and therefore “close to” baseball a great deal. I have spent time in the dugouts and press boxes of Fenway, Wrigley, Comiskey 2, Dodger, and several more.
I have seen games in all of those, plus old Yankee, old Shea, Baltimore’s old Memorial Stadium, Milwaukee’s old County Stadium, The Vet in Philly, and others….19 in all. I recently wrote about ballpark collecting.
Funny. Here I am, trying to write about 2016 in so completist and perfect a fashion that I have started with the history of my baseball everything. Such is the power of that season.
The history of my baseball everything begins with Dad. And he was part of 2016. It continued with brother Bob. And he was part of 2016. It is felt deeply in my son, and he was there. It is revitalized by my fiery Latina, and she was there.
The history of my baseball everything was dominated by a love of the Red Sox for my first 21 years, then control was wrestled slowly, achingly away via new long-lasting proximity to the intense character and history of the Chicago Cubs and White Sox. For 26 years I have worked here, lived with these teams, covered them, and felt the fans’ roller coaster with as much sports empathy as I could muster.
The Red Sox finally broke their curse 12 years into my Chicago immersion, and I felt an odd, wistful distance from that title in 2004. 7 years later, the Red Sox’ mastermind came to me.
Theo Epstein brought hope and credibility to Wrigley, and an inconceivable 5 years culminated with a title in 2016.
My baseball everything had found me and smacked me in the present, bringing levels of satisfaction, understanding, and access that will never be topped. I was on the field after the Cubs beat the Dodgers to go their first World Series since 1945. I went to 4 games of that Fall Classic as media, and 3 as a fan. I have stories of postgame interactions I can never tell.
It’s not going to get better. I have to admit that.
This, I think, is my fear of the writing; that the writing will be letting it go.
But I have to trust that by writing it, I am doing the opposite of letting it go. I am strengthening the experience. I am setting myself up for the kind of legible refresher I’ll need for however long I live. And this is me sharing stories that my son will need in order to truly know his dad. These are stories maybe you will someday need. They might be stories we need right now.
You’ve been there with me, as I’ve tried to write the truth.
I took you to Mesa, as the future started to take shape.
I took you to the playoffs, when they vanquished the cardinals in 2015.
I took you to “the big bed” in my home during the Giants series in 2016, when my son so obviously cemented himself as a Cubs fan that all I could do was lean back and grin.
I took you to Game 7.
So, where else have we not gone?