I have imagined this morning what it must be like to have superhuman hearing–but no control over what you hear. Imagine hearing everything that everyone within a mile thinks and says. The non-stop onslaught of ideas, notions, love, hate, content, discontent, requests and answers that hundreds–if not thousands–of people living in the world around you. This is (to an admittedly much lesser degree) how I’ve felt over the past 24 hours.
Another period of time where images surround me–Micah on the ice giving Alec (his goalie partner for parts of three of the past five seasons) a glove tap, memories of Micah smiling as he waits to perform at the ACE Festival with his choirmates, closing my eyes and seeing Micah lying in his coffin–the last time I would ever physically see Micah, seeing a quart bottle of Eggnog on the shelf–Micah’s favorite drink… But all the images haven’t all been of Micah…
We attended Friday night Shabbat services at our synagogue for the first time since Micah passed away. Maybe it was so long because being there made me think of the Shiva services after Micah’s funeral. Perhaps it was low-level anger at God for taking my son from me at such a young age. It was definitely, at least in part, due to just being busy, and by Friday night simply too exhausted physically and emotionally to dress up and head to services. Seeing old friends was nice, but talking to the Rabbi–the Rabbi that sat with us during Micah’s final breaths, was difficult. I know that he did nothing wrong–quite the opposite–but I can’t help but relate the two events…
Returning home from services and dinner, getting giddy tuning in to KTZR radio on Friday night to listen to the Tucson Roadrunners inaugural AHL game against the San Diego Gulls. Sharing a quick video of goalie Justin Peters leading his teammates out onto the ice to start the game, and feeling like this was a part of me…important to me. Hearing the call as Craig Cunningham punched home the first ever Roadrunners goal. Yes–I’m just the public address announcer for the Roadrunners, but I already feel like part of something special…and I haven’t even called a real Roadrunners game yet.
Yesterday evening, watching an amazing Javier Baez stretch a popup into a double, take third on a wild pitch, and then steal home on a busted suicide squeeze play–a stolen base not seen in Chicago during the playoffs since 1907. The highs of that run scoring and Aroldis Chapman coming in with the bases loaded and no one out in the eighth–and striking out the first two batters he faced. The low of watching Adrian Gonzalez smack a two-run single up the middle, tying Game 1 of the NLCS at 3-3. The high of watching a .216-hitting, sore back-carrying, backup catcher, Miguel Montero, come up with the bases loaded and two out, take one strike, swing feebly through the second strike…and then strike a grand slam deep into Wrigley Field’s right field bleachers to give the Cubs a lead they would not relinquish.
Last night was filled with tossing, turning and very little actual sleep. Tears again flooding my eyes in the morning, but no memory of what I dreamed. Today has been about getting through, getting things done (grocery shopping, cooking), and counting down to tonight;s Cubs-Dodgers matchup at Wrigley Field, Game 2 of the National League Championship Series. The Cubs are already one game better off than last year, when they were swept out of the NLCS by the Mets. This year? 1-0 to start, beating the Dodgers 8-4 last night. Tonight won’t be easy–Clayton Kershaw, the Dodgers ace left-hander and one of the top pitchers in all of Major League Baseball, against the Cubs low-key Cy Young Award candidate Kyle Hendricks. If the Cubs win tonight, there’s a chance the next game at Wrigley Field will be on Friday night, October 28th — Game 3 of the 2016 World Series.
As much as I talk about hockey, I did not see my first professional hockey game until 1992, at 21 years old. In contrast, I have been a Cubs fan since my brother dragged me to Wrigley Field in October 1984–the last game of the 1984 regular season. There I was, a 13-year old sports-ignorant kid, sitting in the left field bleachers with his 11-year old brother, the family athlete and, specifically, baseball player. I didn’t really know what I was watching (aside from watching my brother play his little league games, I had never really watched baseball before), but something that day touched me…and I have never looked back. 32 years later, I am a diehard Cubs fan. I am a student of the game. I love the strategy, the mechanics of the game, and the personalities that make the game so much fun to watch. I listen to Sirius/XM’s MLB Radio station–when I’m not listening to my hometown WSCR, The Score, Sports Radio 670 in Chicago. (Thank God for Tune In Radio!)
I always wonder–often aloud–how the heck I can ever relax. I get bored if I just sit, if I don’t check my phone or tablet for the latest news, if I don’t have something to do to keep my mind occupied. But the answer has been there for 30 years: baseball. I can sit down and watch the Cubs game tonight, breathe, and just take it all in. Winning certainly makes for a more relaxing time than losing, but just watching the game…hearing the announcers…seeing the ivy on the walls… The only thing better? Those evenings over the past 14 months when I’ve been able to sit at the ballpark in person, taking in the sights and sounds, breathing in the smells, the atmosphere. And then, after the games concluded, wandering down the street to Slugger’s to hear my long-time friend from high school, David, playing on the dueling pianos. Relaxation.
The countdown is almost over. The game is in 15 minutes. Go Cubs. #FlyTheW. #WeAreGood. #ICanFinallyRelax.