There’s a saying that men marry women hoping they won’t change and that women marry men hoping they will. Maybe this is true in some cases, but people are individuals and the only rule that has no exceptions is the rule that there are exceptions to every rule. And we live in an enlightened world where people of the same gender can marry which raises the question, if two men or two women marry who’s expecting whom to change or not change? And it doesn’t always happen, but ideally everybody who gets married goes in with some idea of what to expect. As an old friend of mine once said, “I wouldn’t buy a car without at least taking it for a test drive.” I agreed with her but added that ideally there’d be a lease with an option to buy, and that a cross-country road trip wouldn’t be a bad idea. Besides everybody changes over time. I’m not the same person I was when I was twenty in more ways than I can count, and in spite of barely passing the last math class I ever had when I was twenty I can count pretty high.
I didn’t marry a baseball fan. In fact I wasn’t really a baseball fan myself when I got married. I’d watch baseball once in a while, but my interest really grew over time. Part of it was movies like Pride of the Yankees, which made the history of baseball and some of the personalities interesting to me, and Bull Durham, which made the structure of the game and how the personalities of the players could mesh to bring about a win, a loss, or the best idea for a wedding gift intrigued me. And there are some really cool people, people I admire who had a passion for baseball, like Stephen Jay Gould and Carl Sagan. I think they were both Mets fans, but nobody’s perfect. Over time baseball became one of three sports I’d watch. One of the others is soccer, because I played soccer as a kid, and I like to think of myself as a citizen of the world, and you can’t get more international than soccer, even if the rest of the world calls it football. We Americans already had a game called “football” where the players throw the ball. With their hands. American football also has no respect for the clock. A football match played anywhere else in the world is ninety minutes. A game of American football is divided into two halves of thirty minutes each but every ten seconds the referees have to stop play to move giant exclamation points down the field to show how many inches one team or the other has advanced, which is why the average game lasts four and a half days, but that’s another story.
The only other sport I watch is billiards. And, yes, that is a sport. It’s shown on the sports channels, and if you think golf is a sport then keep in mind that billiards is just like golf, except it’s indoors and you don’t have to hit the ball nearly as far.
For a long time I didn’t watch baseball very often, but then a few summers ago I started tuning in to games, mainly to see how badly the Chicago Cubs were losing. Honestly I think the Cubs are great and Wrigley Field is a really cool historic monument, and one of these days the Cubs are going to make it to the World Series and half the country is going to be Cubs fans. I’m just trying to score a place close to the front of the line.
And my wife who had complained that baseball was boring started watching too. And now if there’s a Braves game on we’re tuned in. Actually most of the time she’s tuned in. Sometimes I watch and sometimes I take advantage of the fact that there are a lot of lulls in baseball where not much happens. That’s really one of the cool things about baseball: it’s the athletic equivalent of Dali’s melting clocks. Time in baseball is a fluid concept because as long as one team keeps hitting they keep going and the seventh inning stretch can be over in less time than it takes to watch the deleted scene from Field of Dreams where Ty Cobb comes out of the cornfield just to hit Timothy Busfield in the back of the head with a bat. Sometimes I come in late and have no idea what’s going on.
“What’s the score?”
“Zero to zero.”
Sometimes I think I’m a bad influence because I got my wife interested in baseball. Most of the time I don’t mind, but it can make for some interesting conversations when she’s focused on the game and I’m thinking about something less important, like what we should have for dinner.
“Hey, what would you say to a sandwich?”
“SON OF A BITCH!”
At first I was slightly taken aback since the worst thing I’ve ever said to my food was ” Je préfèrerais cruddite” when offered steak au poivre, but then I realized she was talking about a strikeout in the bottom of the sixth.
And then there was the time I was in another part of the room folding laundry and had a mild heart attack when she yelled “DAMMIT CHRIS DON’T SWING AT SHIT IN THE DIRT!”
That was made up for by the time we were at a game and she turned to me and said, “You look like I need another beer.”
And the funny thing is I didn’t even like beer when I met her. It’s incredible how much I’ve changed.
Update: men yelling at the television during sports games reminded me of this. Skip to 2:20 for the relevant moment.