Once upon a time, I absolutely loved baseball.
I’d watch it on TV as often as I could, but the real thrill was seeing a game live.
Growing up in Birmingham, that meant I had the Southern League Birmingham A’s and then Barons to root for, and I was in the stands frequently when they called Rickwood Field home. During the Barons’ championship season of 1983, they set a Southern League record for most home wins (57), and I saw the vast majority of them.
There were lots of beers, lots of hot dogs, and lots of fun.
Of course if you wanted to see big league ball, all you had to do was hop on I-20 and head to Atlanta.
Back in the old days the Braves mostly sucked, so you could get great tickets at face value (or less) and sit pretty much anywhere you liked at Fulton County Stadium.
A buddy and I used to go every season when the Braves would host the Chicago Cubs, catching the Friday and Saturday night games and then the Sunday matinee.
I’ll never be able to explain it, but there was something life-affirming about watching a couple of losing teams battle it out.
It didn’t really matter who won or lost, it was just a chance to soak in the National Pastime.
But that was a long, long time ago.
The Barons left Rickwood Field for Hoover Metropolitan Stadium, and then returned to the city limits when Regions Field was built on the hip side of town.
The Braves stopped sucking, and moved from Fulton County Stadium to Turner Field to Sun Trust Park in Cobb County.
Sadly, I’ve moved, too – away from baseball. At some point, we broke up and I started seeing other sports.
I’m not sure who’s at fault or why it happened.
When I retired from working at newspapers, one of the things I vowed to do was to become a real sports fan again – someone who was free to simply enjoy the games without having to worry about chronicling those games for other people.
And I had every intention of reigniting my passion for baseball.
Although the Cubs have been my favorite National League team since I was a little boy, the New York Yankees are my favorite team overall.
Before the Braves came along they were my dad’s faves, too, and he used to tell me about the days when the Southern Association Barons were the affiliates of the Yankees back in the 1950s.
I had fully intended to rock my Yankees dad cap and Mickey Mantle replica jersey and take a deep dive in Major League Baseball this past spring and summer.
I also planned to pop over to see the Braves and go back home to watch the Barons since I haven’t been to their new digs yet.
But … it never happened.
Oh, I wore my Yankees cap plenty of times, but I was usually watching soccer or rugby when I did.
I spent the first two months of the 2018 season trying to get interested, and spent the past five months coming to grips with the fact that – for whatever reason – the game simply doesn’t appeal to me right now.
I wish there was some tangible reason, because then it would make more sense. But even though I don’t like interleague play, the designated hitter rule or games that run past three hours, none of those are deal breakers.
MLB has great pitchers, great hitters, great teams, and there have been exciting story lines throughout the 2018 campaign.
All I know about any of it, though, is what I’ve read.
During the Yankees’ winner-take-all wildcard game against the Athletics, I fell asleep in the third inning.
Worse, I never made it through an entire division series game and have yet to watch a league championship series matchup in its entirety.
I’ll put the game on TV, but I wind up playing on my iPhone or watching United States Football League videos on YouTube.
And that’s kinda sad.
I’m not going to claim that baseball was ever my favorite sport, because it wasn’t. But it was a favored sport, and one that I took great joy in for so many years.
I wish I could find that feeling again, because I really want to be a baseball fan. Yet just as people drift apart, I guess people can drift apart from sports, too.
Love is fickle, ain’t it?