The Padres didn’t quite take a shellacking (as the phrase goes, I think), but it was close enough. Six to two at the hands of the Cardinals. Ehhh.
It was the first major-league game for my kid. He’ll be eight soon enough. I never benefitted from an introduction to sports when I was a young. My dad was many things, but a sports fan he definitely wasn’t. Other kids got to go to sporting events with their dads. I got to hang out in nightclubs. Honestly. As an eight-year-old.
But anyway, my aim in raising my boy is to see to it that he’s at least familiar with the great socializing forces of American life, and sports are one of those. I don’t want him to be in his 30s at a hockey game and have to ask when 4th period starts, or ask when the kickoff is at a baseball game. I’ve done both.
As we bought the tickets he asked me which team we’d be rooting for, and I told him San Diego. It’s closer to us both physically and culturally than St. Louis. It took him only an hour or so at the game to become a rabid Padres fan. He adapts quickly. He’s needed to.
There came a time in the 6th inning when it seemed that his new-found favorite team would suffer a great humiliation. The Padres allowed hit after hit. The bases were loaded, and they even walked a run in for St. Louis. Thankfully, the next batter struck out–thus preventing a career-ender for the pitcher. As it was, he allowed one more run before being changed out for another guy who wasn’t doing that well, either.
So for the last couple days my kid’s been complimenting San Diego on their play. I don’t want to put a damper on his new enthusiasm, but I feel a need to point out that San Diego lost fair and square. There were no bad calls or other distractions. They were just having a bad day in an iffy season, I tell him.
Then today, he lets loose with this, in a voice that sounded almost adult:
“What I’m saying is this: San Diego could have let in a lot more runs, but they didn’t. They lost well!”
My mind raced back to that dramatic inning with the bases loaded. And I started to see that how it looked to him. It was a group of guys fighting to hold back an almost overwhelming tide, and doing whatever they could to stem it with whatever they had at hand. To my son, they were like Leonidas and the Spartans. How DARE I insist on pointing out the tyranny of a mere score? It was the few, the happy few, against the Dauphin and the rest at Agincourt.
And I was a bit proud of that. There’s a certain whiff of leadership about it–something that transcends the jockstrap-slinging of ESPN or talk radio. It’s something that sounds a little bit more like life, which usually does resemble a chaotic preschool class than a stark wasteland of social Darwinism.
Maybe it’s something that carries with it just a little bit more wisdom, I hope.