Sunday, July 12, 2009

On Holiday

I'm alive and well, my 11 friends who religiously follow my blog. I realize my week without blogging---I blog; therefore, I am---may have caused great distress in your life, but you can stop performing the self-flagellation rituals of Shiite men, knowing now that your imaginary sportswriter, your life-force, is back at work and has not seen an untimely and unholy demise. In fact, while you were checking my blog ten, maybe three hundred times a day, voracious, waiting for my next entry, I was on vacation.

I realize this is a baseball blog but, please, allow me to take you on a discursive sojourn while getting there. First, I want to talk about vacations, seeing they play such a prominent role in our lives. The Brits call them "holidays," which I believe is a better word. Holiday sounds--- phonetically, at least---much more fun and relaxing than "vacation," with its harsh and staccato v and hard-c sounds. So allow me to rephrase: for the last week I was on holiday.

Vacations. Holidays. Whatever. They've always conjured in me the image of a young Chevy Chase, playing a young Clark W. Griswold, speeding down the desert highway with his family in a station wagon, and pulling up alongside a simply delicious Christie Brinkley in a convertible, before she started slumming with Billy Joel's "Uptown Girl." Griswold is a man obsessed with vacations and having "a good time" on vacation, which was part of the reason I could never get into the idea of "going on" a vacation somewhere where you're supposed to have fun. To me, it seemed so contrived, so phony. I mean, you plan on having "a good time" months before you actually have the "good time." Isn't that antithetical to the whole spontaneity of fun? Are you supposed to arrive at the said destination, look around at the landscape, and say, "Damn, I'm having fun now." Do you see what I mean?

But I did have a nice time on my holiday, despite my neurosis about fun. My wife and I, her best friend Melissa, and our combined five kids, ages 4-10, rented a small cabin on a lake in Piermont, New Hampshire. Now, for many of you, I'm sure, the idea of being in an enclosed area with five kids probably more accurately describes incarceration than it does vacation, much less fun, but I was able to enjoy myself, mostly because I spent the entire week unplugged---no computer, no phone, no television. This meant---and pay attention, because here's how I'm looping back to baseball---I had listen to The Red Sox games on the radio and read my analysis in The Boston Globe the next day, and it was wonderful. For a week, that is.

There is something sweetly nostalgic about listening to baseball on the radio, reading about it the next day from the baseball beat writers, a.k.a. the lucky bastards who have my dream job. It evokes images of baseball back when the game was in its heyday, in 40s and 50s, back before it was despoiled of its integrity by money, steroids, and corporate America.

In fact, on a more personal level, it brought me back to a time when I was single, living alone, and the cable I was splicing off my neighbors was shut off for an entire season. It was 1999, and I listened to each game on the radio, sitting at my kitchen table and running down to the bar in seventh inning if the games were close then for the playoffs. While The Sox ended up beating the Indians in ALDS---remember Pedro coming out of the pen in Game 5?---and rocking Roger the Roid in Fenway before getting a good ole' fashioned an ass-whupping in ALCS by the Spankees, it was still a really memorable season for me.

Some of this nostalgia, I realized last week, was due to the merry frustration of listening to Joe Castaglione call a routine fly to left like it's Bobby Thompson's "Shot Heard Around the World," but it also had a lot to do with a feeling that baseball is better being followed either in the ballpark, with beer and hot dogs and peanuts, or listening to it on the radio, where the game plays out, inning by inning, out by out, in your imagination. Sure, I like watching Wakefield's knuckle ball dance in high-definition as much as the next guy, but in some ways, I'm a traditionalist, a modern Gatsby trying to recreate the past, and there's the irrefutable fact that I enjoy things seen through my mind's eye much more than I do those optical globes in my head.

Unless, of course, it's a young Christie Brinkley, and she's nekkid, in a swimming pool. On vacation.

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