Baseball: a game of jubilance

I went to an Astros game Saturday. They haven’t had the best of seasons, but I rarely turn down an opportunity to go to a game. I used to be more of a sports fan. As a child, I cheered on the Houston Oilers. But then Bud Adams packed up his team under cover of night and set up shop in Nashville.

Bud Adams: a class act

That pretty much ruined me for professional football. All I have left is hating the Cowboys, and that’s not even much fun anymore.

The good old days

In the late 80s and early 90s, I was a huge Rockets fan. I watched Hakeem Abdul Olajuwon lead his team to their first franchise championship. I even named my cat after their head coach, Rudy Tomjanovich. (The cat’s registered name is Rudy T. Rocket.) A few years later, the soft spoken and humble hero of Rockets Basketball was summarily traded to the Toronto Raptors. The man who brought in countless fans and millions of dollars to the city should have retired in Houston, but there is little loyalty in professional sports. Add to this disappointment of my beloved team, basketball players began to look and act more like street thugs than professional athletes, and their antics on and off the court left a foul taste in my mouth. (Pun intended.)

Being a fan of Houston professional sports teams has proved a painful experience. You may recall the Houston Astros, in what is quite possibly the most bone-headed PR disaster in modern sports history, the Astros chose not to renew pitching legend Nolan Ryan’s contract and allowed him to go to the Texas Rangers.

Ryan still maintains god-like status to Houston Astros fans

But despite my distaste for the former Astros owner (I have high hopes for the new one) for me, the only professional sport still worth supporting is major league baseball.

A thinking man’s game, but also a boy’s game. According to the Associated Press, the average salary for a MLB player in 2012 is $3,440,000. Granted, they’re factoring in the enormous salaries of superstars like Albert Pujols who will make 12 million this season or Alex Rodriguez who will pull in a cool 30 million, but even the minimum salary of $480,000 is nothing to sneeze at. Just shy of half a million dollars a year for what must be one of the greatest jobs on earth: playing baseball.

Oh, sure. It’s not all sunshine and roses–time away from family, concerns about being traded or your latest hitting or pitching slump–but all things considered, it’s a pretty sweet deal. And what’s more, what you will most likely realize if you ever happen to get to a game early enough to watch the guys warming up, is that the vast majority of the players know just how lucky they are. They seem, in a word, jubilant.

Minute Maid Field is a beautiful place to watch baseball.

We weren’t there early enough to see the Astros warm up, but we watched the Indian players from the balcony for several minutes.

Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words. Other times, not so much. You can blame the photographer (me) for this. Because while I did manage to capture these three players waiting around to field a ball,

what I failed to capture was what they did once the balls began flying in their direction. From left to right, we’ll call them Player 1, Player 2 and Player 3. It didn’t take long for me to determine that Players 1 and 3 were veterans. Player 2? Most likely a rookie.

For most of the time I observed them, the rookie stood several feet in front of the other two players. He chased after every ball and caught the vast majority of them while Player 1 and Player 3 carried on a conversation. It wasn’t until the rookie had chased after and caught a ball that was coming straight at the other two players that Player 3 decided to the rookie needed to be taken down a couple of notches.

The next ball was hit high, its downward trajectory within three feet of the rookie. He stretched out his glove and waited for the ball to fall in. But it didn’t. Because Player 3 ran out in front of him at the last minute and stole the catch. School was in session.

I spent the next twenty minutes watching Player 3 do everything within his power to keep the rookie from catching another ball, including a couple of times where he removed his glove and threw it at the incoming baseball just so Rookie wouldn’t make the play.

Professional baseball may be big business, but it’s also a game played by grown up boys. And watching ball players serves as a reminder not to take life too seriously.

***

This post is part of the One Word at a Time Blog Carnival: Jubilant, hosted by my friend Peter Pollock. For more jubilant posts, please visit him at PeterPollock.com.

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8 Responses to “Baseball: a game of jubilance”

  1. SimplyDarlene June 27, 2012 at 9:22 am #

    Boys will be boys, aye?

    (One of my all-time fav movies is “The Rookie”)

    Blessings.

  2. okiewife June 27, 2012 at 11:26 am #

    Best part of summer—Baseball. We played with small town friends and church friends when we were younger, now we are on the sidelines watching. Mostly on TV. I always know where to find the husband..haha.

  3. Cris Ferreira June 27, 2012 at 5:33 pm #

    In my trips to the USA, I was able to watch one baseball game, and although it was not a MLB game, it was a lot of fun. I hope I get the chance to catch a MLB someday.
    Here in Brazil our national sport is soccer (we call it football), and I love it too. Actually, I love all sports (except the ones that involve boats, I find them boring).
    Summer Olympics is coming up, and it is a lot of fun for me: a lot of different sport competitions all day long. Yeah!

  4. Frank June 27, 2012 at 6:24 pm #

    I love me some baseball and couldn’t bear to listen to the Cubs lose to the Mets 17-1 this afternoon. I share your pain (and I’m hoping for at least a couple of wins against the “disAstros” this weekend) As much as I love baseball though, I have yet to go to a game this year and a Minor League park (‘Stros high-A) is within walking distance of my house. Your posted reminded me I need to do something about that.

  5. Sandra Heska King June 29, 2012 at 9:27 am #

    Big-time Tigers fan here. But I think you knew that. I used to dream about being called out of the stands after they’d wiped out all their players and making a game-winning play. Sigh. Now I sit in my chair or stand at the sink and play baseball vicariously with guys young enough to be my grandsons. And sometimes I go see them in person. I hate when the season ends.

    Oh, and the other day, one of our larger players collided with the other team’s first basemen. Our guy caught their guy around the waist and pulled him down on top of him to keep him (their guy) from being injured. Love that kind of stuff.

  6. floyd July 1, 2012 at 10:05 am #

    I guess all of us really are just older kids at heart, men and women alike I think, which is kinda cool that God gave us that type of heart.

    I haven’t been to a Diamondbacks game this year, I usually go once or twice a year. It is a magical place.

    I recommend you watch Money Ball with Brad Pitt if you haven’t already seen it. The game is changing and I believe for the better… The team concept has slowly eroded from sports, proof of that is the Yankees. Team and symmetry is what beats talent and ego 80% of the time.

    • katdish July 1, 2012 at 9:43 pm #

      Loved Money Ball, and honestly–I was completely prepared to hate it. The Astros are supposed to adopt that system next year when they move to the AL. I’m not expecting any miracles, however. They are, after all, the Astros.

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