April 8th, 2010

Change of Season

I more or less boycotted the baseball regular season two years ago, in quixotic protest against what I took to be massive asymmetry in the treatment of stars tainted by the performance-enhancing drug scandal. But seeing my childhood love, the Phillies, in the post-season overwhelmed my resolve and I grudgingly started to pay attention again. Last year I still wasn't spending nearly as much time thinking about baseball as I had in the early 2000s, but I felt like my relationship with the game was healing quickly.

Now I find myself fully engrossed already, in the first week of the season. The reason is clear. I'm talking to my father far more regularly -- my mother remains in a long-term rehab facility, unlikely to make it home anytime soon -- and need a topic of conversation that can temporarily lighten the family burden. Until college basketball season ended, that served as our primary distraction. I was worried that we wouldn't find a comparable substitute. But then I remembered that Opening Day overlapped with the men's NCAA Championship game and, what is more, featured my father's Yankees taking on the Red Sox.

Because the Yankees are his first and deepest sporting love -- a devotion that haters should be able to excuse simply because it began fwhen Joe DiMaggio was their young star and continued unabated through the lean years of the late 1960s and early 1970s -- I know he will always be willing to talk about them. And I also know that he loves the sport enough to follow my favorite team, the San Francisco Giants, as well, just so we have more to talk about. Not to mention that the first game he attended in person was to see the Giants in the Polo Grounds. In his mind they are still the New York Giants, in a sense, despite the move to the West Coast.

Anyway, I was delighted that baseball season arrived right when we needed it. I'm thinking about following more games on the computer or maybe even heading down to the local sports bar to catch the odd contest. There are plenty of other things that I could and should be doing, of course. Yet the connection with my father in this time of trial feels more important.