We have families. We have health and financial concerns to keep us up at night. We have jobs, but not always.
We have priorities to manage and real challenges to confront, and somewhere in that equation is a little corner carved out for sports, at least for those of us who choose to make time in our daily routine to watch the games and more, and maybe also to read about it all, or to write.
We fret over the tipping point of what we’d give up to make Justin Upton a player on our team. We feel bad that Mike Napoli may only earn $5 million this year – just five million dollars – playing for someone else. We have differing opinions on whether Derek Holland spending March pitching for Team USA is a good thing, even with Greg Maddux along for the ride to keep him on track.
We bro-hug over Matt Harrison’s 5/55, especially when Anibal Sanchez got 5/80 and Edwin Jackson got 4/52 and Ryan Dempster got $13.25 million for each of the next two years. We recognize why including incentives in Neftali Feliz’s 2013 deal, when he’s out for half the year at a minimum, might amount to one of those red flags.
We believe in the dimension of Leury, we pay attention to how many options Engel has left, we offer daily supplication in hopes that Jorge arrives intact in a few years and shuts this catcher carousel down.
We do these things, most of us at least, because sports is an awesome distraction. It’s steady. It’s dramatic. It gives our emotions a routine workout. It doesn’t really matter, and you know what I mean by that.
It’s an escape from the stress points that threaten to define our day-to-day, and maybe that’s why I get so beaten down when my Twitter feed is dominated by Lance Armstrong or by Manti Te’o or by the impact of suspected substance abuse on a given year’s Hall of Fame vote. I depend on sports for the wins and losses and the context of the decisions designed to tilt the scales in the better direction. Not for scandals, or who should win sportswriters’ awards or earn enshrinement.
Texas against Houston on March 31 – that’s what I care about. Where Javier Vazquez wants to pitch, and whether he makes better sense than Kyle Lohse. How Mike Olt fits the big picture, which leads me to think about David Price vs. Giancarlo Stanton, but not necessarily.
That’s why I watch and care and write and lose sleep.
But from time to time, sports and real life collide.
I wouldn’t know most of you if it weren’t for this baseball thing we share. We don’t necessarily claim the same politics, or religion, or music, and that’s not only cool but it’s irrelevant. We’re fans of a game, loyal to the Texas Rangers in most cases, and that commonness sheds the rest, even if it leaves room for difference of opinion on scouting vs. stats, or on what happens long-term with Elvis Andrus and Jurickson Profar.
I wouldn’t know who Robbie Parker was if not for what happened in Newtown, Connecticut on December 14. As it turns out, he’s one of us, as are Alissa and Madeline and Samantha, and as was Emilie.
While we have this thing that ties you and me and everyone else in this group of ours, there are plenty of things outside of baseball we’re not going to agree on, and some within the game. But we also have some things in common that have nothing to do with the Great Game or the Texas Rangers, things that rise to the surface in dark and uncomfortable and incomprehensible times.
I feel pretty certain that I’ve never been more proud to be part of this community as I have the last five weeks.
If you weren’t one of the hundreds of Rangers fans who joined us at Sherlock’s in Arlington on December 19 or the Dallas location on Monday (the one-month anniversary of the Sandy Hook tragedy), you can read about this week’s event here, or listen to Emilie’s uncle Jeremie, a middle school teacher in Irving, talk about it by opening this file.
Would a group of Cowboys fans have come together and rallied like this? Would Stars fans have mobilized that way? TCU fans? Every single Rotary Club and Lions Club in town, every campus in the Metroplex, just about any group you can imagine?
But we don’t need to guess about this group.
We’re electricians and lawyers and students and doctors. Teachers and executives and auctioneers and firemen and IT guys. Mom’s and Dad’s, and sons and daughters. And a third baseman from Connecticut making minor league wages who bid $1,000 Monday night for a baseball signed by his 2012 big league teammates – think about that – before one of you outbid him in the end.
We’re baseball fans, and more. We share a distraction, and sometimes we find it within us to set aside the distraction, together, and to embrace something bigger.
We’re Texas Rangers fans, and that means something more than caring about wins and losses and trades and trophies.
It’s my great honor to share that bond with the Parker family, and with you.