Baseball Is a Family Affair


Photo by David Watson, licensed under Creative Commons

Dear Oliver,

Last weekend was tough. Really tough. Three baseball games in three days might just be my limit. I never expected watching my two favorite baseball teams play would be just so darn hard. I wanted everyone to play well. I hoped your improving Pirates would win at least one out of three with my Red Sox. Most of all, I wanted every one of us, including the visiting extended family, to have some fun.

I’d say we batted about .500. The Pirates played well, the Red Sox made some mistakes, and the series ended with the Pirates winning two of the three games. Just thinking about the details of the games brings back the pit in my stomach. If you could read the national media you would discover the Pirates didn’t win so much as the Red Sox lost, but no matter how you slice it, the Pirates added two more to the win column. As Bucs manager Clint Hurdle has become famous for saying, it was a Meatloaf series. Two out of three ain’t bad. I know you think Meatloaf is something evil I might serve for dinner, but the way the Bucs have played in recent years, I think you can agree two out of three is spectacular, right?

At some point during the weekend you inexplicably decided to hate the Red Sox and announced you will now root for the Toronto Blue Jays. Someday you must explain this allegiance. Having Jose Bautista on your fantasy team, selected when you only knew his team and number, just isn’t enough. Perhaps you really are some sort of six year old fantasy baseball savant. Then again, the Pirates went up to Toronto this week and took two out of three from them, too.

Anyway, we had some fun and there was some pain, which I will blame at least in part on taking you to a Saturday night game with fireworks, followed a mere fifteen hours later with an afternoon game. You were tired and grumpy on Sunday. I think we all were. Family can be stressful and much to my surprise, baseball can be stressful too.

What I loved most about the weekend was watching your dad, so totally unconflicted in his allegiance to the Pirates. When I met him, nearly fourteen years ago, I never could have predicted he would become a baseball fan. I hoped, of course, but it didn’t seem likely. He didn’t grow up with baseball. Soccer, rugby, cricket, sure. Baseball? It isn’t exactly popular in his native England, but here he is, hooked. I find him watching baseball by choice. (He has absolute command of the remote control, after all.) He keeps his feelings to himself always but when he’s watching baseball you can get a good idea of what is happening just by watching his face.

And it’s not just baseball. It’s the Pirates that have Daddy’s attention and his allegiance. This is one of the ways I know we are staying in Pittsburgh forever (or until his employer decides otherwise). You, dear Oliver, are a little Yinzer in the very best sense of that word, and this is what parents do. We love what you love, sometimes just because you love it. I couldn’t make your dad a baseball fan. Only you could do that. Well done. High five. And thank you.

Your sister isn’t immune to your contagious love of baseball either. She told me this morning that her name is really “Eleanor McCutchen.”



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