Today is Opening Day for the San Francisco Giants. They open on the road, of course. I can’t even remember the last time they opened at home. The only time I’ve ever been to an Opening Day game was in 1998. The Giants were still at Candlestick and I had two weeks before my first child’s due date. My doctor made me go in the day before to get checked for any signs of impending labor before she’d give the okay. I was secretly hoping I would go into labor at the game. I thought it would have been a great story. And they have medical staff at the ballpark.
This is the first year in eleven years I haven’t been to Opening Day of Little League. My oldest son is in high school. He’s moved on to other sports, football, skiing, golf, and he’s also been recruited to participate in track. Oh, and he’s driving now. Talk about an extreme sport.
I miss Little League. The early years were all about just learning the fundamentals of the game and of being a part of a team. It’s hard for five year olds to wait their turn, but I think kids who play baseball are better at it. They learn how to stand out in right field and watch the other kids get the action. They learn how to sit in the dugout and pay attention to the game and cheer their teammates on. When they get older, and face real pitching, they learn that they’re going to strike out. A lot. But they also learn how to get back out there and try again.
They learn about perseverance. They can be down by several runs in the first inning only to come back and win in the last inning. Or they can come back and end up losing by one run. They learn how to deal with rain delays. Pitching changes. And bad calls.
They learn how to tune out the crowd. How to focus on the next pitch. The next at bat.
They learn how to eat sunflower seeds. And hot dogs after the game. My oldest son even learned how to umpire, talk about learning how to handle himself in a tough situation.
Since I no longer have kids of my own in baseball, I’m just going to have to adopt Hunter Pence. And Tim Lincecum, Madison Bumgarner, Matt Cain, Brandon Crawford, Buster Posey, Pablo Sandoval, Brandon Belt, Ryan Vogelsong, Javier Lopez, Sergio Romo, Michael Morse, and Tim Hudson.
Let’s go Giants!