Today I’ll be at Camden Yards watching the Orioles play their division rival, the Tampa Bay Rays, with first place on the line. Lucky me, I foresaw this showdown coming a month ago and purchased tickets for the whole family.
By happy coincidence, it’s my twin granddaughters’ 15th birthday. One is a huge fan. The other isn’t. One wears orange-and-black socks. The other doesn’t.
This game is just not her thing. But she’s a good sport. She didn’t choose her quirky family. No one does. But it’s where we learn tolerance and compromise. She’s not thrilled. But she’s here.
A friend with connections has arranged for The Bird to visit us in the stands. Years ago that high-strutting, chest-pounding, tail-flapping mascot gaily wended its way to our seats when the twins were eight. They beamed from ear to ear, cheered, and clapped.
Take our picture! Take our picture!
This time one will offer a nod, a grin, and a wave. The other will hide under the seat.
(Go away! Please. I’m 15 years old, for cryin’ out loud.)
Our seats are in the lower level on the third base side, close enough to see the players’ faces, hear the crack of the bat, and smell the pitcher’s sweat. Tickets cost an arm and leg. Beer, hotdogs, peanuts, and Cracker Jack, a small fortune.
This is no time to fret about a couple hundred dollars. I mean, when it comes to giving your grandchildren a thrill of a lifetime, a taste of tradition (and a precious memory to share at your memorial service), you’d refinance your house, if you had to.
My dad took me to the ball game. I took my children. Now here I am with their children—two teenage granddaughters, two preteen grandsons (who will probably high-five, if not hug, The Bird).
Like democracy, baseball is a great American tradition. I want my grandchildren to appreciate it. It’s governed by rules. The rules are not self-evident. They must be learned.
Lines mark fair and foul. An umpire calls balls and strikes. Three strikes, you’re out. You respect the call. You don’t stomp up and down on home plate screaming, “LIAR!” and refuse to leave. No, that’s not how the game is played. You go back to the dugout and sit down.
Without lines, an umpire, or enforcement of rules, there’d be no game.
My grandchildren get that.