Sunday, April 02, 2006

What it was, was baseball

Opening day of baseball season 2006 has arrived, and here I sit, thousands of miles away from the closest baseball game. We have somewhere around nine sports channels on our satellite service – none of which are airing, or planning to air, any baseball. You could spend your whole life in Greece never knowing that baseball even existed. Τι κρίμα.

I was born in the shadow of the defeat of the Baltimore Orioles to the New York Mets in the legendary 1969 World Series. I should have known that being born into an O’s loving family in the wake of that loss would prove ominous for my life – if only I had seen my first days at the same time a year later, success would have been mine. All the same, I learned to love baseball, and growing up I knew the names Brooks Robinson, Jim Palmer, Cal Ripkin, and Earl Weaver as readily as I knew the names of crooked and clumsy Presidents. The year the O’s met my favorite National League team in the World Series was the zenith of my baseball fandom. My newly acquired hero, Rick Dempsey, helped win the show in 1983, and my used-to-be hero, Pete Rose, would take a dive a few years later, banished from baseball forever (eh, so he had already retired, anyway). 1983 was the year I got to meet Rick Dempsey, and I saw Eddie Murray’s ass in the O’s locker room. By the time ol’ easy out Cal beat the consecutive games record in 1995, baseball was all but over for me. Strikes had left a stale taste in my mouth, and interleague play in 1997 left me cold. I watched a handful of baseball games before I moved out of the U.S. in 2002, and I haven’t seen one since.

Still, I can’t help but feel a gentle stirring in my heart when spring days grow warm. In the distance I imagine the crack of the bat, the cheer of the crowd, the excitement of a player sliding into home. I can smell the hotdogs, the spilled beer, and Boog Powell’s barbecue. If I close my eyes I can see Camden Yards opening up before me, the Bromoseltzer clock tower poised ahead. One breath and I can feel the excitement as the game begins. Baseball has a mystical, ethereal quality that is inexplicable. No other sport has had so many legends and myths surrounding it. No other sport feels the way baseball feels – the sounds, the smells, the aura. I do miss baseball, although it will never feel the same as it did on a cool summer evening in 1983.


Emily said...

I agree with you Mel. Soccer is a game I like to play, but I like watching baseball much more. The atmosphere, the drama, the heightened tension for hours on end...of course, some people think that's boring, but I disagree. I miss baseball.
In the vein of non-Greek things you miss, I want to tell you that there's a deli called Kosmas Delicatessen, on a street below Egnatia near the market by Aristotelous, and it has tons and tons of chinese food ingredients. (and Indian food, and thai food, and British grocery store brand food, and pumpkin for pumpkin pie making.....) It's worth checking out, and sometime I will actually find the address.

Tracie B. said...

you know, i existed in texas not even CARING that baseball existed!! it is interesting to hear what other people like about it, because as hard as i tried in high school to like baseball ('cuz all the cuties played ;), the only enjoyment i found was the pants.

BUT, i do love me some football...and the barbecue, definitely be bbq.

i hope you find something on skye! i'll keep my fingers crossed for you:)

St. Caffeine said...

Damn you, Mel. You've scooped me on baseball again. Still, I acknowledged you today. You can enjoy the season vicariously through me, as long as you don't mind rooting for the Cards rather than the O's (still a bird team).

traveller one said...

We love baseball too! P subscribes to MLB online and listens to games that way. He's also set up a fantasy baseball team online so it means we discuss the game every evening for hours.

OTRgirl said...

Stopping by via here in Korea. I'm living in Baltimore and enjoying the baseball culture that's here. There've been lots of stories on the radio about Elrod Hendricks in the last couple days. I'm not specifically a baseball fan, but I married a Yankees guy and we really enjoy Camden yards when the Yankees come. (I know it's sacreligious to mention the 'Y' word to an O's fan! Sorry)

I do enjoy the myths, the legends, and the fans. Thanks for the post.

Anonymous said...

I like to watch grass grow because baseball is too slow.