Dear Baseball Season,
Listen, we need to take a break. It's just time. I'm not saying forever, but dude, it's November now. Stop telling me that we could just travel down 95 and find a warmer ballpark. I will not be swayed - even by the promise of a Sonic down south that sells a perfectly mixed fountain Cherry Vanilla Diet Coke with flawlessly crunchy ice. And really, Baseball, isn't that just running away from our problems? We both want better for each other, don't we?
I'm not liking the person I've become with you lately. She is grouchy and cold and shivering with her shoulders all scrunched up to her ears. She is huddling down, wrapping herself in a blanket and rolling into a ball in her Dick's Sporting Goods folding chair. She is a shadow of her former self. You see, one has to learn to love herself before she can love another. And this girl with her hood pulled tight around her head, her face chapped red and her teeth full of baseball dirt? She's starting to look like the Unabomber - not the fresh faced, smiling, pony-tailed fan you used to love.
And that's just when I'm actually at the physical ballpark. How about how I invested myself in the 2nd longest World Series game of all time? On a school night, no less? How about how I jumped on that Houston Astros/Cutie-Pie Jose Altuve bandwagon and had to hang in there until the wee hours of the morning. How about how I almost jumped out a window when the Dodgers tied it up 12-12 in the 9th? How about how I almost stepped on my dog and woke up the whole sleeping family (a family full of sleeping baseball players, mind you) when the walk off hit came at 1:38 am Eastern Standard Time? I had a baseball hangover Monday morning the likes of which frat boys across the nation have never experienced. It wasn't pretty.. And then I stayed up eating Halloween candy until almost midnight during Game 6 only to find that there's going to be a Game 7 and I gotta do this whole thing again. Are you trying to kill me, Baseball?
Listen, this is not new news. We've been through this before. There's no need to drag this out any longer. I need something different. It's just getting so routine, the whole, "Good eye, buddy", "Turn two, guys!", "Attaway to fire strikes, kid!" It's taking everything in my being not to shout, "For the love, somebody - ANYBODY - get the out! Is it the hundredth inning or what?"
When I find myself googling the nearest sporting goods store in whatever random town I find us in, so that I can buy longjohns and handwarmers for a game that is supposed to be played by the boys of summer, I think it's time to reevaluate our relationship. I've become an enabler, Baseball, and I simply cannot support your Oxi-Clean habit well into the winter months.
I need something new in my life. I need a little spark. Something like the urge to yell, "He's open under the basket!" or "Nice take, #15!" or "Weak side help!" (even though I have no idea what that means.). Something like a warm gym, the squeaking of overpriced shoes on the floor, the thump of a perfectly executed bounce pass. I need whistles and a man in a zebra shirt making the worst call I have ever seen in my entire life. I need to wince as my big-hearted, small-bodied kid draws a charge from a boy twice his size. I need the blessed sound of the buzzer as the ball swishes through the net signaling that there is a sure-fire time limit on this game and it is over.
In no time, I'll become myself again. I'll be charming and generous and smiling. See?
Don't cry, Baseball. 'Cause who are we kidding? You know good and well that I'll be back. Look, it's like when Kelly had to choose between Brandon and Dylan on Beverly Hills, 90210. She'd been going back and forth for years. And then there was that time she said something ridiculous like "I choose me." And all of us just rolled our eyes at her because we all knew that some day she'd go back to Dylan.
Just give me some time away for a bit. You'll draw me back in with sunny days again. With opening day parades and shiny new white pants. With the promise of the crack of the bat and a ball sailing into the green grass of the outfield. With the unmistakable pop of a strike thrown into the catcher's glove.
And if that doesn't make me come running, you will remind me of how much I love a freckle faced boy smearing black lines under his eyes. Of how blessed I feel that my boy can navigate adolescence with his squad - the buddies he's called teammates since he was six years old. Of how in awe I am as my boys continue to grow so tall and so strong that I can barely recognize them when they take the field. Of how I cannot resist that moment when my husband gives his son a high five and a hug after a game.
I will return to you, Baseball. I just need a little time, ok? I will find you. In April. Until we meet again. Gotta go now.
Jennifer P. Skinner