Well it’s that magical day that only happens once every spring: Opening Day for the Cincinnati Reds 2013
Rain or shine, there is a special kind of beauty about today… The thought of baseball being played again makes the winter seem to be officially over, and the thousands of people downtown today will be a gentle reminder: America still loves baseball.
I thought Dives without Wives should write something to commemorate the day, but I think the best we could ever do is to repost something from last fall… While last October turned out to be quite a bust for the Redlegs, we have renewed hope once again on this day in Cincinnati… Below is a repost of our story from last fall. It is one of my favorites.
October in Cincinnati: Why we love baseball
Baseball season in Cincinnati
Within the next few weeks, the Cincinnati Reds will be fighting for one of the most elusive prizes in sports: a World Series championship. While I am no sporting expert (just ask my friends), I can’t help but feel a hint of euphoria when I think about baseball.
For many children, soccer is now the first organized sport they learn to play. Of course, if you live in a mud hut in the middle of nowhere, kicking a ball for hours is a more probable sport to learn than baseball. I get it. But for me, the first of many sports I would suck at was baseball. I can still remember wearing my glove all night before my first t-ball game. Growing up in Indiana, you typically root for the Reds or Cubs (and the occasional jerk will like the Cardinals), all depending on who your father liked. My dad just liked cars, so I decided to like the first team I saw on TV, the Atlanta Braves. Part of me will always be a Braves fan, but after living in southwest Ohio for a few years, I couldn’t help but be a Reds fan. I will be a Reds fan the rest of my life. Reflecting on this year of baseball, you must admit there is something special about this game and this team.
In a post-steroids era, we may think our heroes don’t seem so great anymore. The Reds, however, have restored my faith. I’m sure if we were to pull back the curtain and meet the wizard, our view of all pro sports would be forever tarnished, but this year I have reasons to believe the world isn’t so bad. I have reasons to believe people still have a lot of love in their hearts.
A good head shaving
For starters, many of you saw the picture circulated of Marty Brennaman kissing the forehead of a little girl battling cancer. A simple dare to shave his head if the team won ten consecutive games turned into something so much more. Marty used the dare to raise over $50,000 for the Reds Community Fund, a large portion coming from Charlie Sheen. While Sheen’s donation was impressive, let’s not forget that much of the money came from people like us- everyday people with jobs and bills and a little kindness in our hearts. And to really make the head shaving a tear jerker, three little kids with personal battles as intense as imaginable were down on the field to share in the festivities. Just read what the Red’s article about the event had to say:
“Afterward, wearing a T-shirt that read ‘I’m Still Me,’ Brennaman welcomed three young cancer patients from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center onto the field with him.
‘My friend John was at the Children’s Hospital the other day and a young lady said to him, a patient, ‘On Friday night, Marty Brennaman will look like us,’’ Brennaman said before kissing the children’s heads: ‘And I can’t begin to tell you how much that touched my heart and how thrilled I am to be a part of your world.’”
Of course, the cynic in me wanted to discount Brennman’s heart. I’ve heard all sorts of rumors about him, and I started to think, “But he still may be a jerk.” Then it hit me: I’m a jerk. I’m no different than Marty. I have a lifetime of experience in hurting those around me and not living like a real man in my daily life. I hope, probably a lot like Marty does, I have a few moments of kindness mixed in my daily failures as a man. And like all guys aspiring to be real men, I hope my future days have more of the kind moments and less of the selfish, prideful ones. Marty reminded me that we are all about the same- imperfect creatures continually thinking the world revolves around us, but with plenty of moments to do something special.
Life is a lot like baseball. Every at bat is a chance to turn it around- bring a friend in to home or make your own rounding of the bases, bringing the same opportunity to the next man in line. Most of the time, we will strikeout, but how beautiful when we don’t.
If Marty’s head shaving wasn’t enough to call this baseball season a success, enter Ted. I highly suggest everyone read the article, but I’ll give you the highlights. Teddy has Down Syndrome, and his parents won a charity auction item which allowed Teddy to be the batboy for the Reds on August 17th. What transpired was truly beautiful. Everyone felt joy that night. Players smiled more, Teddy had a night he will never forget, and his parents saw the power and joy their son offers to so many people. In a world where we measure our impact by our output, Teddy reminded us that our only impact worth mentioning comes from the amount of joy we bring those around us. In the end, nothing else really matters.
What a great way to spend your birthday.
I only made it to a few games this season, but I’m always amazed by how wonderful a trip to the baseball stadium is. To look around and see kids with gloves on, grandpas teaching their family about the game, and awkward couples kissing on the kiss cam, you would think you’re about as close to heaven as you can get. You’d be right. I had the pleasure of being a tagalong to a one year old’s birthday party which included his first Reds game, complete with a Reds issued certificate to prove it. If you’ve never taken in a game with three children under the age of four, you haven’t lived. A kid doesn’t keep interest in a baseball game, but somehow, it is still a magical experience. The sights, the smells, the hot dogs… they all create a memory. When we played a little game of baseball in a park a few weeks later, I was amazed when his older brother somehow knew how to wind up like a pitcher, something he was never taught, but rather absorbed it from the magic of the game.
I don’t know what October has in store for the Redlegs. I don’t know if I’ll be sitting here in a few weeks watching them win the World Series. This I know: we’re told that if we do anything well, but do it without love than it is worthless. One thing is for certain, if the Reds win this year, they will have done it with love, and for that it will be of much importance to all of us. Even if the playoff run ends abruptly, I’ll think of all the joy this season brought to people like you and I, countless children battling cancer, Teddy, and all the people in between.
Of course, I hope it doesn’t. (As we all know, it ended quickly. It was a real bummer. Hoping for better things this year)