Osceola County Stadium, Kissimmee, FL: Braves 6, Astros 4
Moreso than any other sport, baseball is an iterative game.
If you have not yet had the chance to wake up, drive an hour to a ballpark, watch two teams play a ball game, drive 130 miles to another ballpark half a state away and watch two different teams play a similar game in a similar stadium in front of similar fans, I recommend you do so some day. And then (even better) get up and do it all again the next day!
It’s an odd, warm feeling, that sense of sameness blended with delightful difference. Here the grounds keepers come out in the 6th inning instead of the 5th. There the national anthem is sung by a massive, soulful black man, but here it is played on violins and cellos by an orchestra of little children. In that town “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” is played by a quartet of saxaphonists, in this town it blares over loudspeakers, sung by a choir over some sort of techno beat.
And yet always there are the balls and strikes, the lockstep rythms of batting practice and taking infield, the way the umpire waddles around to the front of home plate and bends over to brush it off. Timeless forms, ageless motions, circumscribed by habit and tradition, imitation and basic human psychology. Done slowly. No clock. By a thousand thousand umpires and players on a hundred thousand thousand ballfields across America (and now the world).
It’s that familiarity that makes going to the ballpark like coming home to your mother’s kitchen.
And it’s that same familiarity which makes the great plays and the unusual occurances stand out all the more in mind and memory, like blazing stars.
Let’s take today. Today, I saw Carlos Lee misplay two routine fly balls into doubles in the span of three innings (worst $100 million contract ever?). Today I saw Shawn Green make a fabulous catch diving toward the rightfield line as the Dodgers bullpen scattered like sparrows. Today I said “hi” to Tommy Lasorda.
Who can say what tomorrow will bring?
Tradition Field, Port St. Lucie, FL: Mets 6, Dodgers 5