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Playing the children's game

3 min read

Every Thursday night, Felicia and Squish and I watch a movie together. We take turns selecting something to watch. Sometimes it's a legitimately great movie; other times it's pure adrenaline or silliness. At the start of each month, I'll doodle a fresh "schedule" for us, and we'll fill in what we watch as we go. Here's the one I doodled for April:

It's raining a lot here, see. We go for a lot of walks on a nearby trail, and the girls are always prepared: Raincoats, umbrellas. And I often forget those things, and get soaked. Which is why I'm the one drowning in the corner.

Anyway, each month we take turns filling in whatever movies we chose—none of us ever objects to anyone's choice, we'll watch anything—and at the end of the month I file away the completed schedule, and doodle a new one.

Last week, in honor of the fact that it was opening day for the 2023 MLB season, I selected a baseball movie. I love baseball movies, even the ones that aren't actually great. As a result, my family has seen a lot of baseball movies. But they hadn't seen 42, so we watched that one. (I'd seen it once before.)

I've got baseball on the brain lately. I was wild for it as a kid, as a teenager, in my twenties and thirties. Felicia's and my first date was to see a collegiate baseball game in San Luis Obispo. We've been to a few Hillsboro Hops games here in Oregon. None since the pandemic began, though. We've missed going to games.

We're AppleTV subscribers, and today's the debut of Friday Night Baseball. At 10:20 a.m. I'm putting on the Cubs-Rangers game. Felicia's a die-hard Cubs fan, so that's who we're going to follow. (It's a little weird to be watching Friday Night Baseball at 10 a.m., but I'll allow it.)

My fervor for the game took a hit in the last ten years, I have to confess. For one, all the players I rooted for as a kid and a young man, they're gone now. Several of them are managing ballclubs, but that's not the same. I don't know any of these young kids playing the game now. I don't connect to them in the same way I did my childhood heroes. I grew up watching the Astros, but since the garbage can scandal, there's a black cloud around the team for me; even though I haven't lived in Texas for ages now, I still felt a connection to the Astros. These days I feel a bit like a fan without a team to root for. (Which is why our whole family will adopt the Cubbies in solidarity with Felicia.) The game's a little different than it was in those days now, too, with pitch clocks and replays and inspecting pitchers' mullets for foreign substances.

I've got the day off, so perhaps when the Cubs game is over I'll throw on one of my favorite recent-ish baseball movies, Moneyball. I can watch that one over and over (and over) and it hasn't gotten tiring yet. "How can you not be romantic about baseball?" Billy Beane asks in the movie, and despite the bumps in the road, that's still how I feel about the game. Maybe today, for a few minutes, I'll see if I can remember that kid I once was, hanging out in the right-field seats of the Astrodome with my dad and granddad, dangling baseball cards on strings over the wall, hoping my favorite visiting Dodger, Darryl Strawberry, might scribble his name for me. Arguments with my grandmother about whether my favorite player (Darryl) was better than her favorite (Craig Biggio). (Pretty sure in the long run she won that battle.) Peanut shells underfoot. Hot dogs in the belly. Those rainbow-colored uniforms, echoed by the rainbow-colored upper deck seats.

It's baseball day in our house!



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