The Long Nights
The only thing worse than being all alone all day is being alone all night. Not that part. The part where you finish work and make a sad dinner for one and watch some tv so that there are other voices around and work on your knitting and read a book and text the same meme to 16 different friends so you feel like you are talking to someone and scroll through TikTok and share TikToks with the same friends already ignoring that awesome meme you sent and shower and brush your teeth and put off flossing for one more night and turn off the lights and lock the doors and crawl into bed and think "What did I do today? Well I worked and then I mainlined a season of New Girl. I definitely have purpose in this world."
I've talked about my hobbies many times on here, and by hobbies I mean obsessions. Of course there is always some internet drama to follow, a Taylor Swift release to clown over, or a movie to go too. And I am very lucky to have the option to go out to eat or to the theater or to the ballet. Which I do frequently.
But even subtracting Shabbos and Yom Tov and vacation days there are still about 200 nights I need to fill and I don't have the kind of bank account (or frankly, energy level) that lets me go out every single night.
Luckily, I have fallen into a new obsession.
When I fall into an obsession it is quick and furious and usually linked to a major emotional event. Let's not unpack that. I fell into Harry Potter and the Toy Story movies and Twilight and the Oscar race and gymnastics and Taylor Swift and forums on the internet that create friendship bracelet patterns. Also I watch every TV show. Still not enough.
But then, as COVID rampaged in 2020, the only new content appearing on TV became sports. Sports were the first to be saved from quarantine because we cannot live without them. They serve the double function of entertaining us and teaching us all about erectile dysfunction medications.
So, I watched baseball. I had dabbled in sports here and there-some football in high school until a tragic Superbowl broke my spirit, following the basketball finals-but I had never really sunk all of the way in.
The sport of which I had greatest knowledge was baseball. The baseball stadium in my hometown used to have $2 tickets because my team used to suck. This meant that throughout high school I would fill my car with fellow students, we would sing Demi Lovato on the tops of our lungs, we'd pull up to the game and for $2 a person we would enjoy the stadium entertainment, getting a good tan, enjoy each other's company and buying the Dip and Dots ice cream for more than all of our tickets combined.
I would use the bathroom during the innings themselves because I was there for the entertainment part of the game. Baseball, after all, was a ball sport, made for the neanderthals (men) of the species. The ball was hit, people ran, people caught and threw. Not for me.
But, in late 2020, there was only baseball to watch and I watched nearly every night.
I learned a few things:
My team was good now? Even though they had some really bad moments they seemed to be like in the top four?
There are endless amounts of rules in this game so just knowing 50% puts you in a pretty good place.
They make up records constantly. They're like "That was the first double hit by a man with double letters in his last name on the eleventh or twenty second of the month of August in a year when an All Star Game was played." and you're sitting at home texting your friends like"Guys! That was a historic double by Manny McGonagall!" Like it matters in the slightest.
There is a lot of technique and strategy in this game and honestly a well done play can be beautiful. Not quite like a pak salto on the uneven bars but almost there.
Baseball players are the hottest men alive. Me watching baseball and me watching Magic Mike are the same except the sweat in baseball is real and the anger is real and the intensity is real and basically baseball should advertise itself as a strip club but for women. Sometimes the players spit and as Taylor Swift once said "that made me want to die" but in a good way.
Baseball's regular season is (and prepare yourself because this number is insane): One hundred and sixty two games plus minimum twelve playoff games if your team makes it. Usually there are more like 15-25 playoff games. And that's just if you follow one team. If you follow two teams-especially from separate leagues-you get even more. Plus a home run derby and an all star game and trade news and spring training.
So, during that late 2020 season a confluence of events happened: I realized that a starting pitcher for my team literally turns me into the last trappings of my id (and my id is usually yelling SIT ON HIS FACE), I realized that I could have a baseball game on every night from March until November, and I realized that I had a real team to root for.
During those 2020 playoffs I walked to a bar on Shabbos, stood outside and watched playoffs through the window on their TV. I mean, I was passing the bar anyway. Last year, I took several different children to the playground on Shabbos so I could ask random goyish men who had won. During the World Series on Shabbos I ran in front of a car which stopped so it didn't hit me and then I asked them for the score.
And so the hobby became an obsession.
Also I have what to do teshuvah for this Yom Kippur.
This year I've followed nearly every game and was highly interested in the trade deadline. I've followed our biggest rivals closely and I text three different group chats every night (sorry to everyone on my group chats. I know you didn't know what you were in for.) And it is 162 (100 when you remove Shabbos and Yom Tov) nights of having something to care about. And then I turn off the game and go to sleep and I still didn't do anything real and I know that crushing my face into the couch and going "Please G-D make this a double" isn't a substitution for actual prayer.
But it was quite nice to look at and to dream that we would make it to the highest echelons. And to imagine myself as part of a we. I'm a we at work. My team is a we. We want Taylor Swift to go on tour but also to live her best life. That's about all of the 'We's' I get.
Football is a maximum of 25 games per team and I don't quite get fantasy yet, plus my hometown football team sucks. Basketball and hockey are boring and the guys don't do it for me the way that baseball guys do. Gymnastics is great but there are about 12 meets a year I follow, plus 20 college weekends, which are great, but it isn't enough.
Nothing ever is.
Is another World Series enough? What if I attend in person this year? What if I go to the parade? What if I go to the Gymnastics World Championships? What about the Olympics? The Superbowl? The FolkLoverMidMore Tour featuring Red and Fearless? What can I see or love that will fill me enough that my tiny apartment doesn't feel very, very empty?
I'm still looking for that.
But thanks to baseball, I have 100 nights where I can turn off that monologue for nine glorious innings.