Tuesday, October 4, 2016

300: Doesn't that mean something in baseball?*

I think my uncle is playing catcher but is really far away.
Most of my baseball memories involve my older brother, Scott. He's a baseball fan from way back and is the type of person who keeps score and can tell you the intricacies of the game if you ask. He knows the players, has been to most of the major league stadiums in the US (he has to get out west more), and is cool with having a variety of snacks at games. My brother also got the short end of the stick when we were younger because I was a whiny brat sometimes (most times...probably) and didn't want to stay for doubleheaders when we visited Atlanta for the first time and probably several games in Detroit that were "important" at the time. Scott is a really great brother; seriously, he's the best. I hope he would agree that I've become a better baseball fan. I credit him with this transformation entirely.

I generally like baseball but only in person. I can't watch it on television; it's like watching paint dry and doing my taxes at the same time. Nothing interesting is happening there. Part of what I love about going to games is the community feel and the people watching opportunities. I always, and I do mean always, have to comment on the trust people have in one another when passing money down the row to buy a beer or hotdog. That trust immediately evaporates as soon as people leave the stadium but I'll take what I can get. I like listening to people have super random conversations in line for concessions or for the bathroom. I've learned way more about strangers' marriages than I needed or cared to know. I'm not sure what inspires people in an outdoor setting to spill all their secrets but they always do. And, of course, I have a hard time not listening. It's virtually impossible. If you don't want me to know, don't talk loudly about it in line for the restroom. Among my favorite things about going to Nationals games during the week is people who come from work but don't change out of their suits. There's something so weird and so very DC about a dude in a suit and bow tie watching baseball.

Of course there are the snacks. One of my earlier trips to Nats Park this season inspired a short story about nachos and I've recently discovered the deliciousness of beer and donuts as a combo. Who knew? Inevitably, and this only happens when my brother is with me, we sit behind a family or group who eats everything you can order at the concession stands. I can't even imagine how much money they spend. I also assume that when it's little kids at least one of them pukes on the way home. You're welcome fellow Metro riders!

When I started writing this blog 300 posts ago (this is the 300th post), I did it because I was looking for a way to stay connected to my friends and family when I moved very far away from them. What I didn't expect was the adventures I would go on or the experiences I would have once I started writing. A joke amongst my friends is that whenever we do something it's going to end up here; there's a bit (a lot) of truth to that. What I've come to enjoy most about writing this blog is that I get out and to things that I might not normally do, partially because I'll have something to write about and partially because I never know where inspiration will come from. I've chronicled adventures in California, France, the DC area, and everywhere in between. I've covered concerts, playing tourist, and baking recipes favored by Sylvia Plath. I've talked about weight, fitness, and living while also being female.

Back in May, I started taking yoga classes. I wanted to add some variety to my fitness regime and focus on strength in a way that didn't require me to go to a traditional gyms. I've had negative experiences at traditional gyms and figured a yoga studio would be a more welcoming place. That has absolutely been true of my experiences this summer. I feel like I'm getting better, able to hold poses longer, stretch more, and do certain poses I wouldn't have thought I could do. I'm nowhere near doing inversions but I have started the steps to get there. It's a practice which means there's process and I love process. And yoga has led me to something I have never done before.

I have never been anyone's baseball sherpa.

My brother plays this role, initiating new people into the wonderful world of baseball. He knows all of the things and I know enough to be dangerous and possibly win at pub trivia. But Scott was not with me last Sunday when I attended the last Nats home game of the regular season. It also happened to be yoga day at the stadium. My friend, Emily, was and she has never been to a baseball game before. Emily got me into yoga and I've started her journey into baseball. In addition to getting to watch a great game, we also had the opportunity to take a yoga class on the outfield following the game. I've never been on the field at any major league stadium so yoga has given me yet another new experience.

All in all it was a great day for baseball. My seat mate other than Emily was a little girl, Piper, who is a Nats fan and season ticket holder. When she sat down just before the game started, she turned to me and said, "I just want to warn you: I cheer loudly and shout a lot when the game gets good." I knew we would become fast friends after that. Piper did not disappoint in the cheering department. She and I chatted on and off throughout the game; she reminded me of a my brother except female, younger, and less jaded about life. Her mom was keeping score the whole time so I know this girl will grow up to be a young woman who appreciates baseball because she enjoys it not because there are boys. She also told me about meeting Jayson Werth (our favorite player) and Bryce Harper.

We got to teach Emily the traditions of baseball like the 7th inning stretch and throwing peanut shells under your seat and very Washington baseball traditions like the Presidents' Race. We also made it onto the scoreboard during the dance section; Piper and her mom were dancing and we were on the screen by default. We discussed one of my favorite topics to discuss at games - what would your walk up music be? My dad, who was not present, won a signed jersey from the jersey auction and we got to see his name up on the scoreboard too. For her first game, Emily experienced 100% more things than most people do in their entire lives of going to games. The only things left for her to experience would be catching a ball or throwing out the first pitch. I'm convinced I may have done my baseball sherpa job too well and have now set the bar way too high for future games.

The yoga class was definitely not the beginner class we thought it would be. Had I not started yoga over the summer I probably would have quit five minutes in but I didn't. I focused my practice and did what I could, following the jumbled instructions of the instructor. I tried a new pose, flamingo pose (a standing balance pose) I enjoyed very much. My balance is getting is definitely an area I see improving in and out of class. Outfield grass is wonderful; the smell is all the best parts of mowed grass and it's soft and fluffy. It's not great for yoga but I could have napped out there and been perfectly content. Being on the field was a great experience and I hope to be able to do this again.

(PS - did you know there is a pose called a Garland pose? It's a hip-opening posed and is said to come from the traditional flower garlands used in religious ceremonies.)

I can honestly say that 299 posts ago, I would have never, ever considered the idea of doing yoga at baseball stadium with a large group of strangers just for fun. Hell, I wouldn't have even worn my yoga clothes in public for that long before questioning my life choices. Athleisure wear is not a trend I'm hugely fond of most of the time. If I've learned one thing writing this blog it's that you just have to put yourself out there and do things. There's a lot of really cool stuff out there and I look forward to another 300 posts finding those things and sharing them with you.

Emily took this picture and I believe called me "sweet."

*300 does have something to do with baseball: a batting average of .300 or higher is considered to be excellent (anything over .400 is perfect). There's also "the 300 wins club" - a group of 24 major league pitchers who have won 300 games. The Baseball Almanac website has an easy to read version of the list along with some fun facts about some of the pitchers have earned this distinction. Only four pitchers have been added to the list since 1990. I also read that many sports commentators today don't believe there will be an addition to the club in the foreseeable future.

Photos by Emily and I

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad your baseball yoga was so enjoyable! Looking forward to 300 more adventures!