Sunday, August 13, 2006

But enough about me.

Well folks, I don't know how many of you follow baseball, or once played it, or still play it--I'd imagine there are less of you in each successive category. And I know that none of you woke up thinking, "Gee, I really hope Steve posts something about his ongoing baseball exploits...." But it so happens that today is the final game of the hardball league in which I play, and I'm feeling melancholy. (I'm in the "over-38s," a division for which I qualify with almost two decades to spare, it pains me to admit). It's at this point of every season that I'm reminded of that timeless bit of poesy from the late baseball commissioner Bart Giamatti (father of today's nonpareil character actor, Paul, pictured above*): "It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in the spring--when everything else begins again--and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone..."

Also at this point in the season--speaking of "selves"--I can't help but recognize how much I've always defined myself via baseball. I once wrote a long, searching piece about my lifelong love affair with the batting cages, which through the passing decades have served as my rabbi and my refuge. (SHAMblog regulars will have no trouble believing that I've led a solitary, largely friendless life.) I've also written on the way my father and I bonded through baseball, and how I later attempted to reproduce that bond with my son. Of course that effort failed, as almost all such attempts at generational rebirth inevitably do. In fact, my story on the experience for Sports Illustrated generated a ton of mail from equally defeated fathers who'd thought they were alone in the world. So I guess you could say that was my first "self-help piece"...

In any case, I've long been fascinated by the process by which something that starts off outside of you gets inside of you and becomes intrinsically part of you--no less so than an arm or an eye. (What is the biological mechanism of that?) Baseball is such a thing for me. It is more of who I am than writing or jazz--and if you knew me well, you'd know what a monumental statement that is. Baseball is, in fact, such a part of me that, when it ends--for good--I might seriously consider "doing a Hemingway." (No need to schedule a mental-health intervention just yet. I expect to be playing for years to come.)

All of which leaves me wondering what sorts of things--other than, say, (y)our children and/or significant others--fall into that extrinsic-but-now-intrinsic category for any of you?

* Although perhaps best known for his mesmerizing work in Sideways and Cinderella Man, Paul Giamatti is most memorable to me for all but stealing the show as the "Pig Vomit" character in Howard Stern's uproarious biopic, Private Parts.

1 comment:

RevRon's Rants said...

I guess I'd have to say that touring on a motorcycle qualifies as my exo/endo activity. There's just something about being out on the road, fully immersed in the environment, sans the insulating properties of an automobile, that has wormed its way into my psyche. When I feel really put upon by life's stresses, spending a few days in the saddle without a fixed route or destination always seems to bring me back to sanity.

Unfortunately, many factors seem to conspire to limit (if not eliminate) my chances to exercise this pastime. I once thought that, should I become too feeble to hold my machine upright, I would attach a sidecar, and if I became so infirm as to not even be capable of that, I had hoped that I would find the strength for one final ride. I guess we shall just have to wait and see what my mindset is, if and when that time comes.