The rest of this title could have two endings. I posted about one of them not too long ago -- apple pie (I have since found some cinnamon and made a second pie -- it was scrumptious). Today's post is about the other possible ending of the title -- baseball.
I don't consider myself a sports fanatic. A fan, yes. But not a fanatic. Even though the short form of the word comes from the long one, the length of the word also seems to denote just how insanely one follows the team they love. When in the U.S., I watch most of the New England and Philly teams as often as I can (all but basketball). I even have the ESPN app on my iPhone that sends me updates as the games progress. But since leaving the U.S. over eight months ago, I have seen exactly one game -- a Patriots football game. That's it. Not much of a fanatic.
But that doesn't mean that I don't miss it. In fact, sports is one of the things that I miss the most. Granted, I am not on a complete sports drought. The males of my household are soccer fanatics (yes, full-word fanatics). One of the TVs in the house is usually tuned to whatever soccer game is being broadcast. I often peek at the screen to see who is playing and what the score is, but only once have I watched an entire game -- the Georgian national team was playing the Russian team in Russia. Georgia was the underdog in the game. The game was scoreless going into overtime, and in the last minute of the game, Georgia scored. It was very exciting! The kitchen erupted into cheers and hollering and hugs. But it is not the same as watching the Red Sox or Phillies or Pats or Eagles or Bruins or Flyers..... There are moments when I dream about hanging out with my friends and family watching a football, hockey, or baseball game. With summer on the way, I'm pretty sure that baseball will be the first sport I watch.
In my excitement to watch baseball again, I decided to read a baseball book. At the American Corner in the Zugdidi library, I found W.P. Kinsella's Shoeless Joe. I saw the movie adaptation of the story years ago, but I don't remember much about it -- only that Kevin Costner was in it and that he's cute. I don't remember whether or not I enjoyed the movie. I am, however, enjoying the book. The descriptions of the game -- the sounds, the smells, the sights, the feelings -- are so accurate and poignant, I often feel as though I am sitting in the stands at a game instead of just reading about one.
Sports are a huge part of culture, and in American culture, although football may be more popular, baseball is still considered to be the national pastime. I can remember playing the game every day in the summers when I was in middle school in Florida; that is, until an unsolvable argument broke out over some disputed play that ended with someone leaving in a huff taking with them the only bat or ball or pitcher that we had. I'm pretty sure that we never once finished an entire nine innings. But it didn't matter. The next day, we were all out there again, starting at the bottom of the first.
I don't play too often anymore, but I have learned to love watching the game. The camaraderie of fellow-team supporters, the food and drink, the tailgating, the suspense, the annoying commercial breaks, the bad calls, the instant replays, the triumphal victories or crushing defeats -- it is all a part of the culture that I know and love and miss. So, until sometime in a couple of months, I'll have to be satisfied with the book I am reading, looking at scores online, and reading the facebook posts of my friends and family. Before I know it, I'll be standing for the seventh-inning stretch and singing, "Take me out to the ball game...."