The smell of the grass, the chatter of fans, and the ivy covered wall; this is what I believe. Living in Chicago, observing winning baseball games has never been a regular event. With one team failing to win a World Series in 99 years, and another waiting 88 years to win one; actually having a World Series trophy brought to Chicago in my lifetime is something to be proud of. I could be frustrated with the Cubs’ struggles throughout the season but for some reason I never am. Baseball has given me a lot more than an enjoyable summer afternoon. Baseball gives one many things, a sense of identity, a unity with others, something to hope for, and an escape from the surrounding tragedies of the world that can sometimes overwhelm the senses. For me, nothing beats going out to a ball game.
Coming to a University 800 miles away from home, has been a fantastic experience; however it has also had its stressors. Home, the world I have known is not exactly around the corner. The Cubs bring a morsel of Chicago to me whenever I may need it. Checking scores every time I am at a computer, or watching the highlights on nightly SportsCenter broadcast fills me with a sense of my Chicagoan identity. Not only does baseball provide a link between my home, and myself but it also unifies people no matter how different they may be.
Attending a baseball game is one of the most unique experiences I have ever had. The fans come together for those three hours to enjoy each other’s company and the events on the field. In the time frame of a baseball game everyone is hoping for the same thing: that the softly hit pop-up will fall just fast enough to drop between the short-stop and left-fielder; and that the runner from second base can score the go ahead run. They all think, “Maybe we won’t have to wait till next year.” In these moments I have never felt more connected to those around me, whether it be the drunk 40-year-old business men behind me, or the elderly women next to me who has seen two world wars but still not a world series championship on Chicago’s North Side. And as the ball lands softly on the outfield grass and the runner slides head first across home plate, the entire stadium erupts. High-fives are thrown from row to row, father to son, friend-to-friend, and stranger-to-stranger; and while they may not know each other in the world outside the confines of the stadium, within the stadium they are family. This moment of unifications releases all from the onslaught of news and cynicism that the world throws at us everyday.
Baseball helps people escape the pessimism that seems to float these days around conversation regarding the War in Iraq or the failing social security program. Instead of swimming through the darkness, look up towards the bright lights on the summer eve, that illuminate the homerun now falling in the bleacher seats.
I believe in baseball, because baseball will never let me down; it will fill me with a new sense of excitement, hope, unity, and identity every time I put on a glove, or board the red line L to head to a game.
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