I have driven on I-75 between Chattanooga and Atlanta numerous times. Most of the time when I am driving south bound I am in a great mood because I’m headed to Turner Field to watch the Braves play.
As the years have gone by I have gone from attending games with only my family, to taking a friend or two with me to a game, to now going only with friends. Thankfully my Dad and I are able to catch a game every now and then but for the past 8 years my friend Scott and I have gone to many games together.
When we first started driving to Atlanta the conversations were filled with excitement about the future. When we were seniors in high school we knew more than we do now. Similar to a young player who gets a hit in his first at bat and becomes overconfident. We thought we knew it all.
As is often the case with young players in baseball, reality sets in and they begin to struggle. Through our early college years we would head to Atlanta and talk about normal topics for our age…mainly parties and girls. More than talking about parties or whatever female was occupying our mind, I remember having lengthy discussions about growing up. It was not what we expected it to be and although some weekends we were having the time of our life, it was a struggle.
Driving through Atlanta there is plenty of time to talk. Although it is a short drive the constant Atlanta traffic allows for plenty of time to talk.
As we have gotten older we have the trip down to a science. We know exactly where to park. We know exactly what time to get to the ballpark, and we know never to get all you can eat seats again or we will have to go directly to the hospital.
As we pulled up this past Saturday and strolled into the ballpark right as the Braves started batting practice we changed from seasoned veterans to kids. Hanging out in the outfield stands hoping a home run ball would come our way we were not concerned about anything but catching a ball. Baseball is beautiful in that way. It has a way of peeling back the layers of supposed maturity to revealing your true desires. I don’t ever want to walk into a ballpark and not get that feeling.
A lot has changed over the years. I live in Nashville, Tennessee, and Scott lives in Hangzhou, China. Technology allows us to trade texts on a daily basis about what we would do if we were the Braves manager and who we need to sign in the off-season. However, it is completely different being at the game. No matter how old we are we turn into kids. Both of us get upset over a perceived bad call. Both of us laugh at the juvenile between innings entertainment. It is fun. There is no other way to put it.
As we drove back after a close loss to the Phillies last Saturday we didn’t talk much about baseball. We talked about bills, mortgages, and other boring grown up stuff. Although I love baseball, especially the Braves, I was not greatly upset about the loss Saturday night. Sure I would have loved to see a win, but I found myself simply being thankful. I’m glad baseball allows Scott and I to spend a few hours letting our maturity fade and getting caught up in a game. It’s fun to go down there and be a kid. No matter how old I get I don’t want to lose that. I’m also thankful for the drives to and from Atlanta. It has led to some great conversations and I know it will lead to many more in the future.
Baseball is great and to me it is definitely more than just a game.