Baseball. It has been my best friend, my worst enemy and everything in between. I used to love it. I used to hate it. But thanks to being a dad and those dang Toronto Blue Jays, as Jay Z would say, I think I got my swagger back.
Baseball has once again become a big part of my life. I even have my first glove since I was a teen.
For those who knew me as a kid, you would remember my sticker collections, building mini stadiums in my room and of course knowing every single
baseball stat there was (BEFORE THE INTERNET).
I grew up as a Detroit Tigers fan and that meant despising the Toronto Blue Jays. Yes I f’in hated George Bell, Dave Stieb and every dude associated with them.
I never played organized baseball, but I played and played often with neighbourhood buddies. I saw myself as the Canadian Mark McGwire before there was a Mark McGwire.
I dug the long ball before I even knew about the chicks.
Just sitting here now, if I really try hard, my first memory of watching MLB was the World Series when the Cardinals and Brewers squared off in 1982. I remember Robin Yount, Cecil Cooper and just have friggen fast those Cardinals were.
Have I proved to you how much I loved baseball yet?
I went to several live games at the old Tiger Stadium. To this day, I still think it was a beautiful place even though it was in the middle of the scariest place a young kid should go. Sorry Detroit.
I watched my team go 104-58 and win it all in 1984. Kirk Gibson was a God. Sweet Lou was a hero. I wore that D better than Magnum PI.
Man I loved baseball. I was not an outgoing kid. I had a vivid imagination and it did not take much to entertain me. I loved baseball cards, stickers and even the shitty gum that used to come in each pack. The stats would be in the paper once a week and it was like Christmas each time.
I remember listening to games on the radio when camping. I remember having to WAIT until the paper came at 4:00pm to see who won the night before! Again, there was no Bleacher Report.
While I would soon get into the NHL and NBA, MLB was my summer time treat. April to October. It was amazing.
As I got older, I still enjoyed the sport and still knew all the stats but as I said, new sports took my attention. The NBA mostly.
Baseball was starting to drift. The Bash Brothers of the late 9o’s was the last time I really, really lived and died on the game.
Side note: Again, I despised the Jays and yes I did go right past their two World Series. I was actually cheering against them. I was pro tomahawk chop and pro Wild Thing. Yes hate me all you want.
As for the Joe Carter moment? I was at a family wedding and missed the whole thing. I walked away from the TV. Why did I do that!
End side note.
My baseball enjoyment came crashing down in 1994. Like for so many, it was the last straw. That was the year the league went on strike and stripped the Montreal Expos of what was looking like a banner year for the franchise. They were the best team. They probably would have won it all. CAN’T HAVE CANADA WIN AGAIN. Let’s shut it down so millionaires can get richer.
I was done. That was it. I stopped caring. I even lost touch with stats and who played where. It was only because I worked at TSN from 99-02 that I knew the game. Still hated it. But I knew it enough to talk to others about it.
I even worked on games live as part of my internship at school. I got to help the camera guy behind home plate for a Roger Clemons game. My job was to make sure no ball got through the little hole in the net for the camera. Glamorous. But I SAW ROGER CLEMONS FASTBALL like few have. It was scary and amazing. I have touched turf. I have been in the dugout. I saw all the shit under the bleachers. Again, glamourous.
I did watch the McGwire-Sosa duel in there somewhere as well. But that was it. Screw you baseball, you broke my heart and I am not the type to forgive.
Fast forward to 2010. It was at our wedding and a friend gave our son a Blue Jays hat as part of our wedding gift. A Blue Jays hat. For our at the time not-even-one son. It sparked something in me. I was going to see baseball again through someone else’s eyes.
The Toronto Blue Jays would be our team. I could teach him everything I know. Okay baseball, you were back on my radar.
For the next few years, the hat went everywhere. Our son wore it to the point of not being blue anymore. I also kept up on the Jays so I could have small talk with my mother in law. Yes, yes I am not saying I needed it, but it was nice to have in my pocket. Better than questions about kid 2 or life stuff. But there was not much to talk about. The Jays were awesome from April to June and then would turn to shit. The city was tired.
Then in 2014 it was determined we were moving back to Toronto. The home of the Jays. With two boys now, this seemed like the best time to get my Blue on. While the Tigers were the better team, those days were over.
That summer I got to take Harry to his first real baseball game. It was more of a special day for me than him I think. Every father can’t wait to have peanuts and cracker jack at the old ball game with his kids.
Harry, he loved the popcorn and the big screen. The game? Kind of boring and we left around the 7th. Ah the 7th inning. Spoiler alert, more on the 7th inning later.
Harry had a mild interest in the sport. That was it.
This past summer via being an influential blogger, I got to take Harry to another game. This time it was in a Rogers box for Father’s Day. Again. Bucket list stuff. This time Harry was into it. Cheering, yelling, booing and of course the popcorn.
I have to say, watching the Jays play the Orioles in June, I could not have predicted what would happen over the summer and up to now. We did see a Jose Bautista homer and got a taste of the horn. Amazing.
I am sure it had a lot to do with my added interest but once the mega deals were done at the end of July, the Jays and baseball took over. Katie and I watched almost every game since. Harry is in LOVE with Josh Donaldson.
Blue Jay fever had hit outbreak status. MLB was back in my life just like when I was a kid. It felt great to get my baseball groove back. It felt great to love the sport again.
All thanks to my kid and these dang Toronto Blue Jays. This group of talented ball players who amaze me every day.
Full on fandom hit last night just before 7pm EST when the homer heard around the world was hit. Only minutes before Harry was almost crying because Texas scored a run that no 6-year old could understand.
The home run left the bat. Harry was up. BOOOOO YEAH he yelled. It was my moment. They won and that moment is what I will take from it. He was not just doing what dad did. He beat me to it. He was officially in love with baseball. Just like I was at his age. He has no idea how lucky he is to be seeing his team winning. It’s not something many of us can say. My Tigers just won the once in 84 while I was a fan. It’s special.
For Harry, he gets to see more games. He gets to learn where Kansas City is on a map. He gets to dream a little more about having hair like Josh Donaldson.
Off days we play catch in the alley. We have BP in the alley. We look at cards and talk about stats. Even Charlie is into it (kind of). I think he just likes saying Tulowitzki.
Next year we are going to register Harry into baseball. I think it could be his sport. He is already good at it, and he is a thinker/strategizer. Perfect for baseball.
I will never, ever, get tired of watching him do the Edwing run in the alley and the pure joy on his face for playing the wonderful game of baseball.
Let’s get ‘er done Blue Jays. I am truly enjoying the ride.