It started with a book.
Those of you who know me in Real Life will not be surprised that my love of a sport started with a book — so much of my life does. Growing up, I didn’t have much interest in sports. I was raised by a single mother who didn’t have any interest or money to invest in sports, and I have always been more of a reading/drawing/singing kid anyway. Also, I’m a girl, so not being interested in sports doesn’t really have any negative social impact.
I became an adult with a job and a mortgage and blah blah blah and in 2008, I did the boring adult thing of joining a book club. And one of the books we had to read was Moneyball by Michael Lewis.
I will spare you the actual story of Moneyball (although I will say that the book is better than the movie), but I was intrigued. Before the book, I was one of those people who only went to a baseball game when the tickets were free and the weather was good. I knew the bare basics and cheered for homeruns, but the only reason I liked baseball more than any other sport was because it was outdoors during the summer and there was ice cream.
But Moneyball showed me what was inside baseball. It turned every at bat into a narrative. It explained what the numbers on the jumbotron meant and how they fed into the game. It set up villains and heroes in every plate appearance, and made plain why something that looked like a mistake could be David’s slingshot against Goliath. It turned baseball into a story, and the English major in me could never resist a good story.
I started watching every game I could. I lived in Cleveland at the time, and not the Cleveland of the good Cleveland Indians, like now, but the Cleveland of the bad Cleveland Indians, more like Major League than Major League Baseball. (1) But the tickets were cheap, and I saw a ton of baseball that summer.
I figured that my fascination would go away in the off-season. I mean, why wouldn’t it? I had no personal history with the sport, I had no family that shared my interest, my friends were casual baseball fans for the most part…there was no reason why it wouldn’t fade out like my interest in a band or a television show.
But my interest didn’t go away. It just lay dormant under the Cleveland snow all winter, and then spring of 2009 rolled around and it burst back to life like the daffodils. It became clear to me at that point that I was going to be interested in baseball for a while, so I might as well get some season tickets and settle in. And, it turns out, that was the year I saw Tim Lincecum pitch for the first time and fell in love…but that’s a different story.
1. Remind me to tell you about how I’m in the movie Major League sometime.