Monday, April 8, 2013

For Love of the Game

This week the boys and I are in Texas for Spring Break.  Our break is late...really late.  But the nice thing about that is that we're the only ones here that are on break now, so no crowds anywhere.  Looking forward to a fun week with family and friends...missing B and wishing he was here with us. 

It's been awhile since I've really felt stirred up about anything.  Since I felt that I had anything to write about.  But being back in our home state this weekend, surrounded by the near-constant news stories about opening day of baseball and all the Hamilton drama...well, let's just say I'm feeling inspired. ;)  Typically I'm itching to be at Opening Day for my beloved Texas Rangers.  This year I was okay with not being there.  Not to say I liked missing the game...I love every chance to be at the stadium.  It's magical. But this time was different.
Baseball.  It's in our blood.  Both sides of my family~ my Dandy (who, if I could brag about him for a minute, was asked to come to the St. Louis Cardinal's spring training to pitch. His father's negative reaction led him to join the Army instead...which was a blessing b/c it led him to meet my Momo, marry her, and start a family....but seriously.  How cool is that?!?) grew up playing with his brothers on their farm.  My dad? Amazing.  My cousins on both sides? Studs. :) Brian's dad played on a championship team, and it was B's favorite sport to play growing up (and still is now)....he's greatness too.  I have many happy memories of backyard ball games with my family, and played softball growing up.  So's in our blood.  And while we have never forced our boys to love or play it, I think it's just "in" them too.  They can't help it. ;)

When Hunter (pictured here at age 2) heard the news that his favorite player (Josh Hamilton) had accepted the offer to play for the Angels, he was heartbroken.  Yes, my 6-yr-old sobbed.  For him, it was personal. At first he was angry at him, but after a few days to process the news, he came to me and said he was going to be ok with it. Then a couple weeks later he asked if he could have an Angels shirt (with Hamilton's name and number on the back) and hat for his birthday.  It was the only thing he asked for.  As his parents, and fellow fans, we too were sad. We wanted Hamilton to stay with the Rangers.  And buying that shirt for Hunter felt weird.  And wrong. What were we supposed to do?  Tell him no, that he wasn't allowed to be a fan anymore?  That would be ridiculous.  So...a couple clicks later on Amazon, and his gift was on its way.  When Hunter opened the shirt and hat on his birthday, he lit up. He wanted to wear it right away.  And I watched him, the one who had so passionately mourned the loss of his baseball hero to another team, make a complete turnaround.  

And something clicked with me.

 As a mom, it's my job to teach the boys a never-ending list of things.  How to choose right from wrong. The importance of loving and accepting others. How to share, to be hard workers, to be kind to everyone, to always do your best. To forgive when others say or do something wrong or hurt us. To be patient. And the list goes on and on. And on. 

What blows me away is how very much they continue to teach me.
 Tonight we were watching the 3rd game in the Rangers/Angels series.  Hunter was sitting front and center,and I was just a few feet away from him. I watched as he saw Hamilton come up to bat.  Hunter sat up straight, his face lit up as Hamilton squared up to the plate.  And then I watched that same little face fall as he started to listen to the (ridiculously loud) booing come from the television. He didn't understand what in the world was going on, and you could see the hurt and confusion on his face.  He just wanted to watch his favorite player hit the ball.  That was it. He has no idea what is being said in the papers, online, on Facebook....he just wanted to watch a ballgame. And as his mom, I wanted to protect him from the ugliness he was watching on tv. I wanted to help him understand why it was happening....but I found it hard to put the right words together.  How exactly do you explain to a kindergartner that a bunch of grownups are saying a bunch of dumb, mean stuff to each other, and the fans at the game wanted to make sure Hamilton knew that he was unwelcome there?  I wasn't sure, so I smiled at him and told him it was okay to cheer for Josh and hope he crushed the ball. 
 My personal feelings? They go something like this: It's tough to be a Josh Hamilton fan right now. He has said some stupid stuff in the past several weeks. His filter needs some work, and my honest opinion is that he needs to close his mouth, because it's just making it worse.  And while I agree with some of what he said, it doesn't mean he should have said it.  That whole "if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all" saying? That one's important to remember, no matter what. At the same time,  I'm embarrassed to be a Ranger fan...more embarrassed of that if I'm being honest. The words that were being shouted at him, the signs in the stands that I read...they were brutal. My hope for these games was that the fans would be inspired to cheer as loud as they could for the Rangers.  Not that they would throw the very things Josh Hamilton probably hates the most about himself right back in his face. Not that they would show more passion than I've ever seen at any other game, in effort to make the guy they've turned against feel unwanted.  He got the message, I promise.   What bothers me the most was the example that was set for my boys tonight as they watched the game.  

Do you know what inspired me tonight though? It was after Hamilton hit a double and later was standing at 2nd base, talking to Elvis Andrus.  It was obvious that all of this nonsense hadn't impacted their relationship.  That to them it was all part of the game...part of their job. I know I couldn't hear what they were saying, but it was clear that they were having a moment.  Something I hope encouraged Josh's heart. And Elvis' too...I'm sure it was distracting and disheartening for all of the players to have to focus on the game with that going on.

And watching that took me back to what Hunter had taught me back in January. 
Change is inevitable. Unfortunately, so is disappointment. How we handle that disappointment?  That's huge.  Learning to let things roll is something I'm striving for.  Passion is important.  Being passionate about a sport, a hobby, a team...that can be fun. But being passionate about giving grace and kindness and love?  Even when it's hard and it doesn't seem deserving?  That's what it's all about.

Yes, I love this game.

And yes, I'm somehow managing to be a Texas Rangers fan while at the same time being a Josh Hamilton fan.  

Even if it is a confusing feeling right

 Because he's a great ball player.  One of the greatest of all time.  He's not perfect, and there have been times he's choked when we've really needed him to pull through.  There are so many more great moments though, and I'm choosing to remember all he did to help make his time with the Rangers incredible. But it's his story of grace and forgiveness that made me a fan 5+ years ago, and I'm not about to jump off the bandwagon because things have gotten complicated.  It's my hope that he turns things around and uses that for good again, no matter what uniform he's wearing.

But no matter what, at the end of the day....'s just baseball, right? 


And to quote the great Ron Washington, "That's how baseball go."
So let's all take a deep breath and move on.  It's time.

For love of the game.  Yes.

1 comment:

  1. well said, friend....well said. what a legacy of balance you're teaching those boys.