My father once sat me down before a synagogue service, I think it was Yom Kippur. I wasn’t religious and I was starting to show it. I was 18 at the time.
He said, “I don’t go to services because of religion. I go because when I go, I feel close to my brother.”
His brother, my uncle, died when I was 9, after a five-year battle with cancer. They were close. They were best friends and business partners. They were Dodger fans together.
I never felt what he did at temple. I’ve lost more than half my family in the last seven years and I never felt it at all sitting in those uncomfy non-folding chairs with the high backs in the last row, listening to a rabbi talk about being a good son or daughter to your parents. In fact, it was the opposite. I felt further from them, because I knew my heart wasn’t in it and the only person I was fooling was myself. The holidays only made me wish they were still around so they could chide me for not having faith.
I felt them at Dodger Stadium, though. I felt them–I heard them talking again–looking through baseball archives and watching games from the ’80s and ’70s and ’60s. I felt their presence watching the 1960 World Series clips and watching Hank Aaron hit no. 715. I could hear my grandpa talk about Ron Cey and Tommy Lasorda and my dad calling for a pinch hitter any time Todd Hundley came to the plate (he hated Hundley).
I hate this time of year now. I hate Passover and I hate opening day.
I hate it because it represents the inverse of what it once was. It’s a reminder that my family has split apart. It’s a reminder that my dad has died and I’ll never get to talk to him again and I have no one I can talk to about baseball. It’s a reminder that my brother doesn’t live here anymore and probably never will be again. It’s a reminder that my sister has been able to move on with her life while my mom and I haven’t.
After my father’s death, in my grief, I started looking up baseball stuff, just all sorts of shit. Heck, you can find it in the archives of this very blog. And I sat in front of this very computer and rationalized all of the shit that I was going through and all of the heartbreak and all of the pain and suffering and tried to give it reason.
In the process of symbolically trying to reconnect with a dad I would never speak to again, I alienated the rest of my family. I grew further from them. I lost myself in the ether.
The sport is no longer rewarding. With 30 teams, 29 will not win it all. If we’re watching baseball because it’s rewarding in that casual sense, then that’s just plain old idiotic.
And godforbid it ever does become rewarding. If I’m being completely honest with myself, any victory will taste like ash. It’ll be spent without the one person who made it matter and after hearing for YEARS how awesome it was to watch 1959, 63, 65, 81 and 88 together as a family, I can’t have that now? That’s some bullshit.
Jon Weisman once said this time of year is the start of summer. He opens up his lawnchair and gets a glass of lemonade and takes in a big breath of fresh green hot air and he relaxes and he’s happy. For me it’s the opposite. It’s a source of anxiety and pain. it’s a bitter pill I have to swallow every year.
I find no more joy in this time of year. I thought one day that might change and it hasn’t. I don’t know if it ever will.
It felt good to say that.
As I started this blog up some years ago, I did it with the expressed intention of finding what drove me to this sport–what was compelling me to still watch this sport and why. I thought the answer would be family, but it’s not. It’s because I enjoy the play. I enjoy watching the tension. It’s Shakespearean on some level. I enjoy it because it’s the most beautiful artform of modern society and it’s rife with gorgeous history.
My family got me into it, though. That’s why it’s painful right now, but, and this is the weird part, only the Dodgers. I love watching other games, I just have no interest in watching the Dodgers right now. I can’t tell if that’s just something for this moment or something that’ll be forever. I hope not forever.
For now, though, I can’t write anymore about baseball. Maybe someday I can pick it up again, just not now. I’ll keep writing movie and TV reviews here, though.
I need to start experiencing shit. I need to get out of my house and go do things and spend time with my niece and sister and brother-in-law and I need to travel. I need to go have fun. I can’t remember when that last was. It feels like forever ago.
It’s time for me to move on now.
Thank you for reading. Thank you for linking and supporting and being excellent people. I appreciate everything you’ve done, even when you challenged me and asked questions. You never really know the quality of a person’s character until you’ve challenged them and I learned I’m a much stronger person than I’ve ever thought.
I cannot tell you how much I’ve appreciated having this and how helpful it was in some pretty awful times.
Take care and thank you again.