Once in a Lifetime? Not.

Posted by mwallach on August 24, 2012 in Crazy Follows Me Everywhere |

Dear That’s Life,

It is official: the summer is over.

It might sound harsh, and you may not have wanted to hear it, but it is the truth. Do not let the humidity or the heat fool you. All the plans I had for my summer are over and each conversation I have about the months to come simply prove I am this close to breaking out my leggings and sweaters. Recently speaking to someone in the garment industry, he explained how they were working feverishly on their spring line. “Spring?” I said, disbelief in my voice. Forget the summer being over, it seemed the winter was as well.

Like many people, my summer is not complete without baseball. While unable to watch most of the Olympics, limited to catching only brief highlights, I made sure to attend as many Brooklyn Cyclone games as possible. Their minor league rating should not fool you – games are great, the event is fun and a good time is had by all. With a park of that size and every seat having a great view, it is hard not to enjoy yourself. Most importantly, you can bring your family without breaking the bank.

It is also the perfect opportunity to teach kids about baseball and condition them for a major league game, where the stadiums are often intimidating and everything costs more than it should. Taking our kids to a Yankees or Mets game comes only after they have graduated from the minors. Of course, it is pretty hard not to make it through a game with flying colors when we bring enough entertainment with us to occupy them through all nine innings.

For some reason, the baseball game itself is not enough to keep them interested. Because I know a number of adults who have likened the excitement of watching a baseball game to watching grass grow, I understand how some of my kids may not find it as interesting as I do. With video games in hand, therefore, we settle into our seats and enjoy the game while they pay minimal attention to the on-field activities. We engage them in discussion, point out exciting plays and teach them the rules as we go along, though we cannot compete with Angry Birds. It seems striking a batter out with a full count and loaded bases is not nearly as enthralling as shooting virtual birds with a slingshot.

At one point during the most recent game to which we brought our children, my youngest son hardly looked up from his game to watch the live excitement in front of him. “Are you having a good time?” I asked him, to which he responded that he was. “Do you even know there’s a game going on?” I asked incredulously. Without looking up, he uttered a “Very funny, Ma,” keeping his eyes fixated on the screen before him. I rolled my eyes.

Regardless, it seemed to have been a very exciting week for baseball lovers in my life, as strange things kept on happening. A friend of mine was given front row seats to a Mets game and brought two of his sons. During the game, the first major league game of their lives, they each caught fly balls. His post on Facebook wondered how he could convince his kids that this experience was one in a million, and that every game did not come with front row seats and fly balls. There was no way they would believe him.

Twice this summer I had the privilege (yes: that is the right word) of taking a few people to their first Yankee games. When I brought my friend into the stadium, he just looked around at the multitude of lights, the massive screens and the hustle and bustle of the crowd. “It’s like Vegas,” he said, a tinge of disbelief in his voice. I laughed.

Most recently, I went with my cousin and his two eldest daughters who were visiting from Israel. They had just been to Dodgers Stadium where they saw their first major league game and were now in New York, about to watch their second. Their first game had been unique, specifically because there was a grand-slam. My cousin tried to impress upon them how rare it is to see a grand-slam and how they should not think it happens at every game. He actually made a very big deal about it. The girls were just about to believe him – and then Nick Swisher hit a grand-slam, blowing our game wide open.

They turned to their father in disbelief, but there was nothing to say. He had no credibility whatsoever, as the evidence seemed to show that he was wrong. To them, it must happen at every game. Two major league games and two grand-slams. If that’s not a “Welcome to Major League Baseball,” I do not know what is. But here’s an idea: How about seeing a grand-slam and then being on the jumbo-tron in left field?

Right before the Yankees went to bat in the bottom of the 8th, a camera man arrived right in front of our seats. Within minutes, our smiling faces and waving hands were up on the larger than life screen. After he walked away, I turned to the girls and tried to convince them this did not happen at every game. “I have sat in these seats a bunch of times,” I said with untold excitement “and have been to countless games in my lifetime and have never been on the jumbo-tron. This is better than being on FOX!”

“It’s really cool,” said his eldest daughter in semi-agreement, though I was still much more excited than she was. I could not help thinking that she did not get this was a really big deal. But to be fair, after all she had already seen and had been promised was literally once in a lifetime, I could not blame her. The most unlikely things had already happened right before her eyes.

The good news is that winter is almost over, too. Knowing these kids, however, they’ll see a the tooth-fairy, the Abominable Snowman, Elvis and a hat-trick – all before May.

As Seen in the South Shore Standard Aug ’12

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