I am halfway through a study abroad program in Moscow - 5 weeks down, 5 weeks to go. This trip, along with an assortment of online courses, marks the end of my extended undergraduate career. Aristotle said that it was rational for man to strive for knowledge. After flirting with a degree for the last 7 (good lord, what have I done with my life?) years, Aristotle can shut the hell up for a little while.
Now, it just so happens that the Cincinnati Reds are in the middle of a window of opportunity. What a depressing phrase, "window of opportunity." If Moscow has taught me anything, it's that windows are not to be trusted. They close without any help and swiftly. The feeling afterward can only be described as uncomfortable.
So I wake up every morning, prepare for a days worth of listening to a Russian professor, and check the scores to the previous day's games. This provides something to do in class because while I am trying to learn this language, school is almost over. This is a foreign language requirement, after all, and I simply want the diploma. So far, I only know the word for baseball. That's probably because it's pronounced "base-ball."
I haven't felt homesick, really, except for when I think what I'm missing out on. Family and friends, of course, take up the majority of my thoughts. But third on that list, somewhat surprising to me, is baseball. I never realized how much baseball permeates who I am. When I read that Homer Bailey threw his second no-hitter, I felt a mix of happiness for the accomplishment, guilt for missing the event for some stupid piece of paper, and anger.
How could I feel angry? It probably didn't help being so close to the Fourth of July. I've never considered myself patriotic, but I am a patriot and a historian. Being in a place with as much antagonistic history with the US as Russia dredges up some interesting feelings. But surely that wasn't the sum of my anger.
It took a few days of self examination, but I think I've figured it out. I'm angry because the sport that I love goes on without me. I can be thousands of miles away, but the game doesn't care. I don't think that I'm so selfish as to have expected differently. I hope to whatever deity is in fashion that I'm not that conceited. But baseball is summer, and summer is life. A summer without baseball is something I don't know how to describe.
When I was younger, I was convinced that every game needed to be broadcast in HD. Now, though, I yearn to hear Marty's smug, conceited voice. I miss seeing Badroyo blow a game in the 3rd inning. I remember, with equal clarity, a dozen GIBP's as well as Jay Bruce's walk-off shot in 2010. There is no grass so green as the outfield during a day game. There is no grass so green as on the other side.
They use weed-eaters here as opposed to mowers. I assume that this is due to the fact that most grassy areas are fairly small. So the grass grows tall and thick, less dense than if it were carefully trimmed and manicured. The blades turn into stalks and kill their smaller brethren. There is competition for survival on the same ground that I love for a game. Instead of the smell of freshly cut grass, there are fumes, tics, and an uninviting field. As beautiful the architecture, as kind the population, and as motivating as my reward, there is something missing. I now know what that is.
This game, man, this game...