I recently attended a game with my 3 year old son. He doesn’t know the ins and outs of baseball, just that the guys in red are the good guys and those in blue (the Cubs for this particular game) are the bad guys. He doesn’t know any players besides Juuuuuunnnnniiiioooor as he loudly proclaims. His joys in the game are the sights and sounds, not the actions on the field. He doesn’t have any idea that some of these guys make more money than his old man will ever see. He only knows that the funny baseball head guy riding a four wheeler is funny and Gapper is a little creepy. Watching him get excited as smoke bellows from the Pepsi Power Stacks after a K and yelling, “Dad, more smoke, smoke,” I realize that this is what baseball is all about. Fathers and sons.
As sons we’re not interested in stats (at least not as much as we will be). We don’t care about arbitration or salary caps or the designated hitter. It’s about the game and the game only. Our favorite team, our favorite players and hanging out with our dad. It’s a couple of hours to hang out with the old man and have his full attention. Our favorite team will always win; our favorite players will always hit a home run. Hope springs eternal.
As dads we know (or think we know) more about the business of the game. We’ve become cynical due to our knowledge of salaries, personalities, and agents. We still root for our team and still may even love them, but we’re jaded. Stats are more important and we lose hope much more quickly than when we were kids. We call it realism. The time spent with our sons goes too quickly, but we try to enjoy every minute of it and spend most of it trying to pass on the “knowledge” of the game we’ve acquired over the years forgetting that kids should be kids and that we’ve lost the pure love that we once had for the game.
Sitting there with my young son, I realized something. Baseball isn’t about stats and wins and losses. It’s about fathers and sons. In the grown up world of message boards stats and success become what’s important, but in the real world it’s a boy playing catch with his dad, listening to Marty and Joe on the radio, or taking in a game from the cheap seats eating peanuts and laughing at Mr. Red. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if the good guys or the bad guys win. In its rawest form, it’s about bonding.
Here’s to a little less father and a little more son in all of us.