Periwinkle and the paint cup
Sunday, April 27, 2014 12:00 AM
There are some people out there, perhaps even reading this column, who don’t like the great game of baseball.
These people are known as communists. Or, at the very least, communist sympathizers.
I loved playing baseball when I was child (Abbeville Dixie Youth Razorbacks forever), and I love watching the game today.
While I do enjoy watching baseball on TV (and would watch more if *ahem* Northland Cable would pick up the MLB Network), there is still nothing quite like actually going to a big league game. The sights, the sounds, the smells, the pageantry.
Attending a baseball game simplify is a different experience than going to see one of the other major sports.
Football games -- especially SEC games -- can be next-level intense. Every play builds to a crescendo. Going to a big game can be a daylong affair, fights break out inside and outside the stadium, some people drink before during and after and folks basically act crazy.
Meanwhile, basketball typically is played indoors, in a climate-controlled environment. The action is fast paced, back-and-forth, and the whole thing is usually finished in a couple hours.
Baseball is another story altogether. It’s slower, and that’s OK. You can sit and talk with your friends while you watch.
There’s no clock, and it’s the only sport I know where the defense actually has the ball. It moves at its own pace. A game today could take two and a half hours, a game tomorrow might last three and a half hours.
Football is full of violence and fury and it’s very of-the-moment. It’s kind of who we are in America right now.
Meanwhile, basketball has been, and remains, the cool cousin in the sports world. From Dr. J to Air Jordan to Lebron James, basketball is where athletics, entertainment and pop culture intersect.
But baseball is the only game where, as you are sitting in the grandstands on a sun-splashed afternoon, you actually feel like history is happening in front of you.
Major League teams play 162 times each season, starting in the spring and stretching into the fall. If you are a fan, the day-to-day fortunes of your favorite team are a part of the fabric of your summer.
From April to October, baseball happens every day. It’s a part of life.
LIKE MANY KIDS ACROSS the Lakelands, my daughter, Charley, was on spring break from preschool last week. Knowing she would be out for the week, I made sure to check the Atlanta Braves’ schedule.
I wanted to take her to her first big league game.
On Wednesday, the Braves played the Miami Marlins. It was a noon game, which I thought would be perfect for my five-year-old, seeing as how we could take in the game and still be home before dark.
I picked us up a couple of tickets for $6 apiece. That’s less than what it costs to go to a high school football game around here.
Tickets to Braves games, especially mid-week games, have always been very affordable. Sure, once you get inside Turner Field a slice of pizza and a beer might cost you $2,497, but you can get tickets for cheap.
Now, as you might imagine, going to a Major League game with a 5-year-old girl isn’t like going to the game with your buddies.
On the trek down to the ATL, I wanted to listen to sports talk on the radio, maybe a little pregame analysis on Braves vs. Marlins. Instead, we listened to the “Frozen” soundtrack on a loop. That will get you charged up for some hardball.
Many fans, especially little boys, take their baseball gloves into the stadium with them, in hopes of catching a foul ball. Charley decided to take a different type of item into the game: A Periwinkle doll.
Periwinkle is a fairy, by the way. She’s Tinkerbell’s best friend. And, yes, I ended up carrying Periwinkle around Turner Field for a good part of the day.
It takes a real man to carry a Periwinkle doll around inside a stadium.
Periwinkle aside, we had a great day at the ballpark. I knew it was going to be a good day when we stood for the National Anthem and it was performed by the Greenwood High School chorus. (The chorus did a great job with it, by the way).
Charley and I had lemonade and cotton candy and she got a tomahawk tattoo airbrushed on her arm. The Braves even pulled out a 3-1 win, courtesy of an eighth inning two-run double from Evan Gattis.
Despite the baseball action on the field, Charley’s favorite contest of the day was the Home Depot Tool Race, in which people dressed like various home improvement items raced around the field.
She was pulling for the paint can (she called it the “paint cup”) and she howled with laughter when the “paint cup” actually won the race.
There was a picture of Jackie Robinson in our game program. Charley asked me “Dad, who is that?” I didn’t go into the deeper, social reasons that made Robinson so important. I thought that would be little heavy for a 5-year-old.
So, I simply said “Sweetie, that’s Jackie Robinson. He was one of the fastest and toughest ballplayers who ever lived. He played this game exactly how it’s supposed to be played.” She was good with that.
This is what makes going to a baseball game great. A father and daughter can sit and laugh and be silly. They can watch the game and talk about the past, and about life.
And they can cheer loudest of all when the paint cup beats the hammer and the drill in the tool race.
It’s still a grand game.
Trainor is the senior staff writer at the Index-Journal. Contact him at 864-943-5650; email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow him on Twitter @IJCHRISTRAINOR. Views expressed in this column are those of the writer only and do not represent the newspaper’s opinion.