The Best Baseball Moment of The Summer

September, 2014.

No dice, kid. But outside? Any time you want.

He really likes falling down. Digs flopping around on the “big bed.” He likes fire trucks and ambulances and school buses and vans and choo choo trains.

And yes, he’s starting to like baseball. Not in the viewing or aesthetic sense, but he’s realized that hitting a ball with a bat is seriously pleasing. His first batting coach, mom, did an excellent job directing his stance and swing while kneeling behind him. Daddy pitched, trying to target that Eddie Gaedel-sized strike zone.

We have a friendly boy, who loves to say hi to anyone and everyone. If kids are playing, he’ll join. Baseball is great social lubricant for all of us.

MJ is 6, runs like a deer, and pounds the whiffle ball with power. My boy sees him often, plays with him, and aspires to be older and wiser. MJ’s father, Irving, and I have talked about Jackie Robinson West, the Sox bullpen and principally the obvious happiness of our spawn. We talk about how to make it last as long as possible.

My boy swats and misses the ball chaotically. Once it has slowed to a stop on the ground, that’s when he gets in his best swings. Pounding away at it looks deeply satisfying.

It’s been a good baseball summer for us. We’ve been to multiple games on both sides of town. His interest level rises a bit each time.

For him, and for me on those days, the win-loss record means nothing. The popcorn better not be stale.

You may remember me writing in this space about how I’d decided to not imprint any particular fandom onto him. That mandate holds. I thank the Cubs for their generous gift of an official youth glove on the occasion of his first game, but it made its way to Goodwill. I thank the White Sox for the cuddly Pillow Pet, but a lucky parent has hopefully found that donation.

When he asks for an item with a logo from either team, it’s his immediately. But that decision is not mine.

If I were laying odds, the White Sox are the favorites. The atmosphere of that ballpark is incredibly conducive to a child’s good time. Play areas, endless food varieties, air-conditioned concourses and more. A toddler can’t wrap his brain around why Wrigley is special right now. The beauty of the ivy and other optics only holds for so long.

For now, I’m just glad he likes to play. It’s a good game. Baseball is an endless cerebral challenge, and for a boy his age, it’s also a dexterity, patience and attention-span challenge.

He is my son, and it’s the great pleasure of this life to help him discover and repeat things he enjoys, whatever they may be.

These past few weeks in the NFL have made all of us need sports to be an escape more than ever. It can be found by diving into the growth of Cubs prospects, the majesty of Chris Sale or the farewell to Paul Konerko. It can be found by marveling at the A’s collapse, rooting for it to be the Royals’ year or never missing a Clayton Kershaw pitch.

In his cousins’ front yard, he held out his glove hand flatly. Daddy threw the ball from 30 feet away or so, with plenty of arc. It landed in the open mitt. His first real catch.

The crowd went wild on the front steps.

Best moment of the baseball summer.

Written by Matt Spiegel