Take Me Out of the Ball Game

I’ve always been amused by men and sports.

The raw emotion they display when their teams are doing exceptionally well or abysmal. The animated expressions when points are scored or a bad play is made. The way they know the stats of the entire roster of a team as far back as each player’s pre-pro days. The way an injury affects them personally, and sends them scrambling to make sense of how the team will recover. The way they create “fantasy” teams. The way grown men actually cry when their team is eliminated from competition. The loyalty they show their favorite teams and players… even when they fail them…

It’s all fascinating to behold.

What’s even more intriguing is how they have all this wealth of information and feelings, but most of them reserve it for game time. When it comes to actual interactions and relationships with people, it turns into a different ball game.

The other day, one of my girlfriends took me to my first Yankee game. Admittedly, I’m not as diehard about baseball as I am about basketball, but I’ve always respected the Yankees, and an opportunity to visit the new stadium and view Derek Jeter and Robinson Cano’s butts up close and personal were an added bonus.

During the game, I witnessed so many men gesticulating and verbally expressing either displeasure with the pitcher’s performance or elation at a home run, I momentarily mistook it for a Jerry Springer episode. When one man proposed to his girlfriend in the middle of the sixth inning, my eyes darted to see where the cameras were rolling (they were actually right behind us).

The thrill of attending a sporting event suddenly took a turn into a world where men expressed themselves freely, honestly and occasionally in a bizarre fashion. They have their best girl by their sides in the stands, and they belt out tunes in unison and brotherhood — each of them understanding they are members of an exclusive club where the devoted are welcome, and rivals and fair-weather spectators get shunned and ostracized.

I marveled at the level of commitment and involvement it takes to be a sports fan. Not just because of the intensity and pageantry that is often associated with it (tailgaters and face and body painters — I’m looking at you), but because it indicates the amount of passion a man is capable of having for something that he truly loves. It’s probably the only time you’ll ever see genuine disappointment at the thought of a person being traded for someone new. But they adapt very quickly to change when the team performs better… something we can all appreciate. We can also appreciate when someone is cut for poor performance and unwilling to be coached.

It’s common knowledge that almost every team in every league has a marquee player. One particular athlete that stands out above the rest with exceptional skills, endorsement earning looks, and crowd pleasing bankability.  I’ve often considered that the best teams are the ones that have a culmination of good players who each have specific abilities that collectively make them unstoppable. They complement each other, and work together to achieve mutual victories as opposed to individual grandstanding.

It’s the difference between Kobe Bryant and the Dallas Mavericks. (There’s my basketball reference.)

…It also happens to be the foundation of a strong relationship. Ironic, since lots of athletes have commitment and fidelity difficulties — and women whose boyfriends or husbands are serious sports fans are often referred to as widows.

Clearly, there are different rules depending on the balls you play with.

Go figure.

 

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3 thoughts on “Take Me Out of the Ball Game

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