It’s been a long, strange week. Most of them are.
I’ve spent a good part of the week angry at the Phillies, as I imagine anyone in my position would be. When they’re winning the wildcard for the first time in a damn long time, I let my hopes grow. And of course, when the Phils drop three to Houston, and are suddenly in third place for both the wildcard and the division, with a two and a half game gap in September, it concerns me. They’re breaking my heart, and I knew they were going to break my heart (they haven’t been in the playoffs since ’93) and I let them in anyway, and now they’re breaking it. So of course I’m going to call them heartless bastards when they give up a two-run single in the seventh. (I’m telling you, they’re playing the bullpen too hard — why the hell can’t we get some starters who can play more than 5 innings in September? And now we’ve lost Padilla for God-knows-how-long…It’s been a long September and there was reason to believe maybe this year would be better than the last.)
I watched them play while cooking dinner tonight, cursed a bit, then we flipped through the channels for a while, and landed on AMC, about a minute and a half in to Field of Dreams. Now I’ve seen The Natural more times than I can count, and though I’ve never seen all of Bull Durham, in order and complete, I know enough to mutter “eight and sixteen… how did we ever win eight?” under my breath when the going gets tough. But somehow I’d never seen Field of Dreams for more than ten minutes even once.
I won’t tell you about the movie. You’ve either seen it, and know how it makes you feel the grass between your toes, or you haven’t and there’s no way I could describe it any more than I could describe how ghosts in a corn field turn into a baseball movie. Watching it is playing wiffle ball in every yard we’ve ever owned. It’s learning how to score at my brother’s little league games. It’s standing on the mound – any mound – and listening to the air crackle around you. The smell of the leather, the rough feel of the bat, the sound of the dirt and the taste of the air. Doesn’t matter who’s playing, or at what level, or what time. The choice between a fastball and a curve, between a pitch and a throw to first, between an all-out run and a head-first slide. I breathe baseball.
And it took a movie about a corn field in Iowa to remind me of that feeling you get when the sting of the Eagles’ season end is still fading, and the grass is green for the first time. The sky is so blue that sometimes, it doesn’t have to be about the pennant. Sometimes, it’s about the curve of the blue plastic seats at the park, and the hot smell of suntan lotion on my husband’s neck, and the sound of Harry Kalas calling a long fly ball.
Boys, I forgive you. Even if you manage to come back this season and make it to the playoffs only to break my heart again… I’ll still forgive you.
Try to win a few more next year, huh?