I’m at a real crossroads in my life. My son just turned seven and I love that he loves the things I love. He has a very kind heart and he wants to make me proud. I know, most sons are probably the exact same way, but it’s heartwarming beyond words when it’s your own son.
This is such a complicated thing …see …my son, 7, still believes that wins and losses by sports teams are the results of the efforts of the players on the field. For example, the Tigers playing down in Texas in the ALCS. My son loves sitting next to me and enjoys the drama of sport. He doesn’t understand that, in fact, the players have very little to do with the outcome of the game and it’s actually we fans, specifically me, who must wear the proper “lucky hat” while sitting in my “lucky chair”. And if my “not watching” the Tigers means they’ll win, then I can’t watch.
This Tiger season it’s been proven time and time again. I haven’t seen a single good thing the Tigers have done. I missed Verlander’s no-hitter. I almost missed his second no-hitter, which he took into the 8th inning, and then I put the game on TV and immediately, he allowed a hit. I didn’t watch a single game during their 12-game win streak. I watched the thirteenth game – they lost. I attended two Tigers games. Both were losses. Oh, and last year I turned on Galarraga’s “perfect game” in the 8th inning and one inning later, an umpire made a horrific call and there was no perfect game. So now it appears the only way the Tigers are getting to the World Series is if I don’t watch.
Still don’t believe me? Try this on for “crazy.” Last Thursday night was Game 5 v. the Yankees. It was my bowling night. The bowling alley is full of TVs and everyone was watching and cheering. Me? I was doodling on some paper and constantly checking Facebook and I dared not lay eyes on any of the TVs. I even forced my teammates to not give me updates, but instead ask me hypothetical questions that secretly revealed what was happening in the game. And the Tigers won.
Many fathers look forward to explaining baseball to their sons. They look forward to teaching them what a “double play” is, and explaining what RBI, ERA, and RISP mean. But I have the added responsibility of explaining the importance of a lucky shirt, the rally cap, and why I hold my breath during pop flies, why I hold a bat in my left hand when runners are on base, and why I never hang a flag supporting my sports teams on the front of my house – I’m 0-13 when a flag is flying on my house. I have a hat I wear when the Spartans are playing defense. I have a hat I switch to when they play offense. They went 11-2 last season …you can’t argue with logic and fact. The alternating hats work.
Some will think all this superstition is absurd. Some won’t.
I have a confession …
Last night, the Tigers and Rangers went into extra innings and my wife and son were watching the game on the big screen in HD and cheering and groaning along with all the magical sports moments while I, instead, pretended to make myself busy in the kitchen doing something silly, but really only trying to avoid the game, the stress, and jinxing them. But then something happened that made me feel like the Grinch when he heard the Who’s singing down in Whoville …my son came up and asked, “Dad, why won’t you come watch the game? It’s a really good game and I want to watch it with you.”
And the Who’s down in Superstition-ville say, that Don’s paranoid heart broke in three places that day.
So, seeing his face and thinking about how ridiculous most people think I might be, I said, “yes …let’s go watch.” And I walked with him, hand in hand, and plunked down on the couch knowing full well I was bringing doom to the Tigers, but I wouldn’t trade it for the smile I brought to my sons face.
Let the record show, less than 15 minutes later, Tiger reliever Brad Penny loaded the bases with three straight runners and then some dude hit a walk-off Grand Slam (and I got to explain to my son what a “grand slam” is), but my son wasn’t hardly bothered in the slightest. He said, “well, there’s three games back in Detroit, right? It’s OK.”
Again …dumb kid, but he has a point.
With apologies to all the Tiger fans I know, to Leyland and his spunky cats, and to all Tigers fans everywhere … I’m going to watch the games …with my son. I’m going to enjoy the moments and pop popcorn and I’m going to buy him a Tigers hat – lucky or otherwise.
Even if secretly I’ll be trying to figure out which spot on the couch is lucky and if there’s a lucky snack I should be eating, I’m done with superstition, or so my Magic 8 Ball said.
Thanks for reading.