IS BASEBALL CALLING MY NAME By Ellen Donker
I’m learning to read the signals
It’s baseball season and I think this may be the year to throw myself into the sport. That’s what happens when summer’s warm breezes tempt me into thinking a good way to spend my Sunday afternoon would be rooting for the New York Mets at CitiField. As a family we’ve enjoyed our fair share of games.
To be honest, though, the real baseball fans in my house are my husband, Rob, and our sons, Christian and Timothy. Madeline and I are along for the food and family camaraderie. (CitiField does boast a Shake Shack!) But I feel like I could really get on board with following baseball because it’s a sport that I get. I understand the rules. I like the action and it’s fun to keep up with the players.
A little bit of baseball knowledge is also good for small talk. Rob says I have a knack for picking up sound bites that make it seem like I’m a fan. My trick is to listen to WCBS radio while I’m cooking dinner, pick up a snippet of baseball news and casually drop it into our dinner conversation. And it gets him every time. A flash of satisfaction crosses Rob’s face and he expands on the teaser just before realizing the tidbit for what it is: his wife is still a baseball rookie.
But maybe this year I will become a fan. I think the timing is right with stadiums opening up and spectators able to attend games maskless. And if I think about it, I have the genes of fandom: My grandmother rooted for the Chicago Cubs her entire life and my mother does the same despite only one World Series win during her 88 years. My father also loved baseball, but he was known to switch teams when the going got tough. Suddenly I feel the burden of being a role model for Madeline.
The only thing holding me back from being all in is figuring out how to make room for baseball in my life. Truthfully, my mind can only focus on so many things in any given day. I’d have to download the MLB app, check the standings every day, memorize the team’s lineup and watch games on TV…for hours.
Something would have to give, and this is the problem. I’m not sure I can abandon watching Jeopardy, devote less time to reading books, or step back from the care of my 200+ houseplants. It would be a sacrifice, but I can only imagine how it would boost my familial bliss.
Rob and I could have deep conversations about why the Mets took out their ace pitcher Jacob DeGrom in the eighth inning only to have their bullpen blow yet another game in the ninth; the boys and I could laugh about the escapades of sports announcer Keith Hernandez’ cat Hadji; and we’d all lament the possibility of the National League allowing the designated hitter.
We’d change our travel aspirations and instead set the goal of seeing the Mets play in every ballpark in the country. I would even help Rob complete his scorebook at each game – the same one he has used for decades.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. I think I need to launch my new fan status by attending my first game of the year. If the Shake Shack gets my order right, I’ll take that as a signal that baseball wants me. Let’s go Mets…and I’ll take some fries with that burger.