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May 23, 2013

Out of Left Field

Watching Baseball with a 4-Year-Old

by Matthew Kory


Woman: I’m so bored.
Man: Me too. I wish there was some way we could derive significance from our meaningless sex-filled lives.
Spokesman: [appears] Now you can! With “Children!”
Man and Woman together: [confused] Children?
Spokesman: That’s right! Children! Children are you, but smaller, slower, and almost impossibly incompetent! Act now and you’ll experience the miracle of life on a daily basis! With “Children” it won’t take long before you’re asking yourself, “Hey! Where’d my meaningless life go? And can I have it back?”

 * * *

There are times when I want to be left alone. That probably doesn’t make me a crazy freak. Over roughly three decades I grew accustomed to watching baseball games in a certain way. I scrutinize the pitcher, dissect the hitter’s swing, over-criticize the announcers, generally over-do every little aspect, all without saying a word, or I just sit back and viscerally root for my team. Now I have two 4-year-olds, so all that is generally impossible.

At their shortest, baseball games take two-plus hours, which isn’t long in theory, but when young children are concerned, two minutes of quiet uninterrupted time can be too much to ask for. That doesn’t mean watching baseball is over for me though. In a way, fatherhood is like sabermetrics. It forces you to look at previously static things in a new way. Now baseball is a new experience, of course for my son, but also for me.

One of my sons has taken an interest in the game. He wears a slightly oversized baseball hat I bought for him and sits next to me for up to a half inning at a time. That might not seem like much, but unless toy trains are involved, my kids have short attention spans. Being 4, he has to ask questions and ask questions and ask questions about those questions. A typical conversation between he and I will follow a “statement,” “agreement,” “why statement?” format. For example:

Him: That truck is black, daddy.
Me: Yes, it is.
Him: Why is it black, daddy?

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