Nine innings of Monday night memories and melancholy
The Brewers played for nothing Monday night, and I'm glad I was there to see it.
I had a rare weeknight off--my daughter snagged free baseball tickets at work and invited the parents to join her and her husband at Miller Park. We'd hoped Milwaukee would still be in the thick of it's unexpected playoff chase, but the baseball gods conspired against us as the postseason flame flickered out the night before.
My wife and daughter talked about work and the kid's new house--their bid got accepted just last week--while my son in law and I talked sports. Big kids talking about big things.
Behind us sat a dad and his two young children. I'm guessing they were no more than six and three, tops. Father was trying his best to teach his kids the basics of the game. The children were busy eating pastries the size of their heads.
It doesn't seem that long ago that I was that guy: the dad with two young kids in two at County Stadium, spending a young fortune of ballpark eats in hopes of keeping my charges interested in the game for another inning or two. The ball park became an event, a bonding moment, and a teaching opportunity: my children actually took to the game early on and no arms had to be twisted if the old man ever scored tickets. My son and I would start doing our annual summer road trips, but there's always time for father/daughter tilts at Miller Park, and she ALWAYS gets a birthday game. Always.
And now, she's grown up with a husband and a house to furnish and a job that occasionally offers her some free Brewers tickets. And, she's cool enough to share such occasions with her parents.
Sure, we talked about big-kid matters, but we got silly, too. Mom and daughter chair-danced. All conversation ceased when the sausage race began. I think there were times when the kids behind us were wondering why the adults in front of them were giggling like children.
The Brewers' victory over the Padres Monday night assures them of a winning record, but the season is almost over and Miller Park will soon go into winter dormancy. As I sat there, my mind wandered about all that will happen before we next grab a brat and a beer and head for a seat: we'll have chosen and inaugurated a President. Thanksgiving and Christmas traditions will be renewed. We'll know if the Bucks are playoff worthy. We might even know if they'll have a new place to play (maybe). My son will be on the cusp of college graduation and might have a job (hopefully).
So much. So far away.
No matter when a game falls on the schedule, every trip to the ballpark renews my love for baseball and rekindles memories. Good times with friends. Unforgettable moments with my late mom. Quality time with my kids.
The Brewers played for nothing Monday night, and I'm glad they did. The fact they won was great, but years from now I won't remember the score--at my age, it's a safe bet it'll be gone from my short-term memory bank by lunchtime. I'll recall the rest, though: the laughs, the talks, the good times, and the sight of that young dad and his kids behind us, a reminder that fans are part of a baseball circle of life. Those who love the game belong. Monday night just reminded me of the different stages.
It's a great note to end a season on, and a fabulous picture to keep in the mind's eye as we wait for 2013.