Thursday, October 27, 2016
Full disclosure #1 --I stole the above image off someone's FB post. Disclosure #2 --only extreme circumstances would have me posting something about sports, let alone steal an image. And who would argue that the Cubs poised to beat 108-year curse is anything less than extreme?
I didn't grow up in a sports-oriented house; it just wasn't important. My father "skated a little." His way of saying he played ice hockey for Harvard. My parents' only encounter with professional sports was most likely the night at Ravinia when my 4'11" mother turned to the talkative man seated next to her and told him to shut up. Turns out the guy was Mike Ditka. (Ditka was football, right?)
But back to baseball, which along with ice hockey, are the only two games that make any sense to me. Of the two, baseball proved harder to grasp. My Dad taught me to skate and explained the basic rules of ice hockey when I was little, but no such lessons were offered for any other sport. Here's how I learned about baseball:
Second grade, a sunny spring day. We raced out to the playground for gym class, where we were divided into two teams, weighting girls and boys equally because everyone knew girls couldn't throw the ball. Or hit it. I'd never played baseball before, but being me, and being a know-it-all second-grader, I figured I could just watch, do what everyone else was doing, and that would be that. Easy-peasy. Our team was at bat first. Clearly, you were supposed to stand, knees bent, with the bat resting on your shoulders and, when the ball came, you hit it. No big deal. In those days, I was a tough little monkey, strong for my size and fast. My turn came. The ball barreled at me. I swung and hit that sucker high and far across the playground. According to my observations, I was then supposed to run to first base. No problem. Everyone was yelling, cheering, I thought. But while I was trying to figure out what they were saying, a couple of the boys retrieved the ball and threw it to the kid standing next to me on first base. He caught it easily and touched it to my shoulder.
Turns out, I had missed a couple of critical components of play: I was supposed to keep running if I could and, most importantly, I was supposed to have literally stepped on the canvas base. The learning curve was a little steeper than I had thought. In fact, if memory serves, by the time I was in high school, we actually had written exams in gym class testing our knowledge of the intricacies of line-ups, fair and foul flies, and the short hand used to fill out score cards. (Like when would I ever need to know that again?)
That day in second grade, I learned enough humility to still blush with shame at my ignorance and chutzpah, lo, these many decades later. And from the Cubs, I am seeing 108 years of perseverance. (Some days that feels like a great deal less than the length of time it will take me to get good at this writing stuff.) But the main take-away for me is that sticking with something despite disappointments and perceived failures is a pretty good lesson to learn from a game.
So here's to the Cubs! Go get that World Series.