June 24, 2018

Summer Solstice, Summer Game

It’s officially Midsummer. The summer solstice means one of the Earth's poles has its maximum tilt toward the sun. Warm weather = baseball in full swing = happiness galore. This short prelude aside, I have been lucky to see several Braves, Reds and Cubs games on TV when I can elbow the Rising Daughters™ off the remote. 
Alas, there is no regular Blue Jays coverage available in the South. Atlanta Braves fans of a certain age do remember the rivalry with the Jays in the early 1990s, though.


I was also present at a Hiroshima Carp/Nippon Ham Fighters game in Hiroshima in early June. It involved copious amounts of beer; a long bullshitting session with Merklinski to catch up on a year of life; kibitzing about our jobs, rugrats, and married life all while watching the game from exceptionally good seats. We were 13 rows behind home plate! Sometimes you could hear the thwup of the ball hitting the catcher's mitt.
Later in June I took in a Nashville Sounds game with my boss and his son. The Sounds (Nashville is country music central—get it?) are the AAA affiliate of the Oakland A's.

This is the first minor league game that I have seen since a fandango to see the Durham Bulls in Raleigh, North Carolina, before I left for Japan in the mid-nineties. And yeah it is great to be able to enjoy see some southern style baseball. Nashville’s First Tennessee Park seats about 10,000 people and has terrific sight lines. 
One novelty is a mid-inning “Country Legends” race with giant figures of George Jones, Johnny Cash, Reba McIntyre and Dolly Parton entertaining the fans.  They trot from the periphery of the outfield down the first baseline to home. Watching the giant, ungainly bobblehead-like figures haul ass during the “race” is funny to say the least.
The seats were even better at this game—maybe eight rows behind home plate. Rickey Henderson was guest coaching at first base and we caught his attention at one point during the game with shouts of “Rickey.” I sang take me out to the ballgame. I turned out to be a fine evening in the summer heat. My cup runneth over. I will conspire to have M. join me at a game here in the future!
Lastly, one of the things I adore about the national pastime is the literature it inspires. Decades ago, after I saw "Field of Dreams", I devoured W.P. Kinsella's short story that inspired the Costner film of the same name. I read a few of his novels, relishing the creativity and whacko magical realism around the rituals and personalities that gravitate to the game. I am currently reading The Essential W.P. Kinsella, a prototypical midsummer book if there ever was that genre.

In other words, taking it as easy as I can. With some iced sweet tea, only half sugar.

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