Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Baseball and the Canaanites

As I was writing a blog piece on what amounts to the end of chapters of happiness in our lives, I began to think about the changing seasons, which naturally led to thoughts of baseball seasons.

My 2010 was a good one, a protracted one which ended not on December 31, 2010, as is the convention, but a whole season later on March 31, 2011. The year began with me being shipped to Beirut for four months from January to May. I watched the Reds on Opening Day from a four-star hotel in Nicosia, Cyprus, and I was able to catch the day games form a a hotel bar in my neighborhood in Beirut until I went home for the summer. Lebanon actually had a government that year and there was some semblance of stability, so there were reasons to be more hopeful than usual.

At the risk of making conflict sound trivial, I held a similar kind of hope for the baseball season. The young Reds prospects had a few seasons under their belts, we had just won the bidding war for Aroldis Chapman, and the shouting heads in sports media often picked the Reds to win the division. I sublet an apartment that summer and MLB Extra Innings came with it, which is how I watched most of the Reds games that season.

I had reached a point in my life when I could afford to take vacations, and in September I took on to Paris and Beirut, which I had planned much earlier in the year. I watched the Bruce homer make those media predictions a reality in that same hotel bar in Beirut. Our decade-long nightmare was over. Life seemed nearly perfect. When I returned, my life started to crumble. The Reds being swept out of the first round of the playoffs was a precursor of things to come. My organization lost its funding that week; I was out of a job soon after that. It seemed as if as the Reds go, so goes my life.

Rather than mope, I made the decision to go back to Beirut to continue the work I had started and to find new consulting opportunities. It was winter, anyway, the off season of both baseball and mental contentment, and why live in winter when you can have the Mediterranean sun instead? I didn't miss the snow and cold, that's for sure. My return flight was set for March 30, 2011. I could have stayed a few weeks longer on my visa, but I chose the date for a reason: Opening Day was April 1, and the Lebanese internet had deteriorated enough that I could no longer stream games, so I HAD to go home to see it!

When the time came, my flight had been pushed back a day, and I wouldn't get back to the US until April 1. It would be close, but I thought I could make it on time for first pitch. I ended up having a 19 hour layover in London, so I spent a melancholic day wandering its streets rather than sitting in the hell that is Heathrow.

As I was flying to Denver on April 2, I chose a hotel near National Airport from where I'd leave rather than Dulles where I'd be landing. Dulles is truly a pain in the ass. I know how to slyly push my way past all the people with more money than I have who sit in front of me on the planes. I know to stand in the front of the transport car to the terminal no matter how many times we are asked to move to the back, because the customs line can be forever long. I know how to dodge people in the airport to get to the Washington Flyer bus back to Washington like I'm a pro-Bowl running back. But you can't predict the Flyer schedule, and you can't predict the Metro schedule (!), and you can't predict the accuracy of the hotel statements that say "Near Metro" on their websites, and you can't predict there will be taxis at the Huntington Metro Station, and so by the time I connected to the Reds game, I had missed the first inning.

But it was only one inning.

In the span of 48 hours I had stepped foot in three capital cities on three continents, and there I sat in a Ramada Inn in a suburb of Virginia, watching a baseball game, with no job or no place to live. The absurdity of it all.

That week, I experienced my first snowout at a baseball game at Coors Field as well as a seventy degree Rockies game TWO DAYS LATER. I spent the summer in Ohio and attended several Reds games at home, but the season was a bust. So, too, was the new job I got that August. But that's a story for another day.

If you enjoyed this post, please head over to From Beirut to Jupiter to read a reflection on the changing seasons of our lives.

*The land of Canaan in the Bible is present day southern Lebanon. The Canaanites were know as the Phoenicians in Greek, the civilization that invented the alphabet.

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