This I Believe

Caleb - Dearborn, Michigan
Entered on March 26, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: integrity, sports
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Why We Love Baseball

Why do you have to love baseball? Because you just can’t help it! Because you love summer. Because it’s not a sport but it’s life, it’s a pulse, and it’s time. Because baseball can be everything. Baseball is real, and it’s as real as you or me.

What is in baseball is what’s in all of us. Something that binds us, connects us, grounds us. Baseball is strong smells and textures and deep deep truths. The feel of the ball; the ridge of every stitch, the raw weave of the pants, and the childishness in the caps. Baseball isn’t a sport, it’s a game. Those aren’t athletes on the grass, they’re real people, the way it used to be. Baseball’s a game made to be played by drunks and overweight old men, and young kids. As easy as the dust gets caught in you nostrils, or the way the setting sun just stops when those painfully red rays hit the mound and you can see the smoky spirit of the game moving in the energy about everyone’s feet, baseball gets caught in your veins. It’s not a sport, it’s a game, and it’s life.

What happened to the good old days, when porn was smut and liquor was good for you? Back when baseball was American pie and the mitts were big and bulky and always broken in? What happened to the afternoons of fathers and brothers? What happened to the days when kids looked up to drunks for all the right reasons? And what happened to the days of Terrance Mann? You know? You know.

Baseball used to be played by gods, not titans. Real men, who were true Adonis’, with fat solid figures that’d drank deep of life. Today, you look across the polished diamonds, through jumbo eyes, and see Frankensteins. And, it’s not these monsters, these inhuman muscles and drug fueled creatures that are baseball. No, it’s the real guys, the guys like you and me. That’s what made baseball great, that’s what made it an American game, because those men that were out on the field weren’t much different from the two of us. So take back your Hercules’ and Goliaths, and give me those ghosts of Christmas present and young John the Baptists. Baseball was played by someone like your father, or your uncle, or your neighbor; someone who’d been in the same towns and parks and mini-marts and watched the same games as you. And, that’s what made them great; that’s what made them gods, and the game a game of legends. When those men stepped out onto the field, when they crossed the wild green grasses and kicked at the dry dirts there was an energy in the air like that from the dawn of time, and, pulled up from sleep baseball lived. Those men, those boys, those true articles would hit and run and throw and in there legs and arms and honest frames a game greater than good and evil was played by people more honest to life than any angel or demon. They played a real game: they played baseball.

I’m not a sports-man, but I am a man, and I can’t help but love baseball. Sometimes I’ll watch the games on TV, and if someone’s offering I’ll go to stadium for a nice afternoon, but I can’t tear myself away from what used to be. Baseball is meant to be an honest game, that’s why we play it in summer, and why it has to be done outside, and even the reason the batting cages always hurts so damn much in the palm of my hands. I can’t honestly watch baseball without thinking about who should really be playing it; without thinking about all the old men who somebody should be looking up to, and about all the young guys who should be on the road, and all the dead guys that made so many opportunities possible for those creatures that get paid to play a sport and not a game.

Sometimes, in summer, when the sun is setting very late and night, and everyone winding down, I wish I could hear someone shouting in the orange light from the sun, and the kicked up dust. Before the streetlights turn on and everyone knows its night time and the fireflies come out, I like to listen for that honest sound of kids shouting and leather and wood and red string, because I swear to god I can hear everyone of those. And it makes me sad to think about it even now, because I know baseball is an honest game to be played at honest times by some honest people.

Like I said, I’m not a sports-man, and I’m not a Christian, but if you’ll look past both those you’ll see I can be honest too. And, if you remember, I mentioned young John the Baptist, which is another thing I can’t help but think about when I think of those kids playing baseball. I don’t know, something about a young kid, stuck in the wild, trying to prepare the word for what God’s told him will change everything, and being scared as hell of it just reminds me of childhood. And, I’ll tell you, though I’m not a sports-man, and I can’t see god, I’ll keep my eye on the ball, because I truly believe an honest game just might be able to save all of us.