For Love of the Game

My dad and I at Muir Woods National Monument in Marin County, CA - the day after the Detroit Tigers lost in Game 6 of the 201A American League Championship Series.

My dad and I at Muir Woods National Monument in Marin County, CA – the day after the Detroit Tigers lost in Game 6 of the 2012 American League Championship Series. I must have taken my Tigers hat off in a rage – my dad, ever the stalwart, kept his on.

When the Detroit Tigers’ season ended yesterday, I kept looking to my phone for texts that were never going to arrive.

It’s probably no surprise that my dad and I liked the same sports teams and, given the way that fathers and sons can bond over such things, it probably shouldn’t surprise me that this fall, with Detroit Tigers baseball and Ohio State Buckeyes football, has felt less than complete now that my dad’s gone.

But the size of the hole he left in my fall schedule has surprised me, frankly.

It started only about 10 days after he passed away. As any good baseball fan knows, July 31 is the trade deadline and immediately after hearing about a fairly big move by our beloved Detroit Tigers, I reached for my phone to text my dad for his thoughts. Those thoughts, of course, would not be forthcoming.

Later, as the weather cooled, the baseball games got more important and the Buckeyes began their season, that Dad-shaped hole continued to grow. My best friend, another person with whom I constantly commiserate over the ebbs and flows of our preferred teams, has filled in admirably, but I still find myself reaching for my phone to text my dad about who did what wrong and how they could have done better.

But there’s a something of a silver lining. Much like my relationship with his motorcycle has helped me connect with my dad’s memory in new ways, so too has watching sports without him. I find myself watching for things that he watched for, saying things that he might have said and, as I became very aware of during a certain baseball team’s loss in Game Two of a five-game playoff series, throwing a fit that would have made the old man smile.

Because that’s how we supported each other through the all-too common ups and downs of sports fandom. One of us was always the voice of reason, and that was a fluid role in itself. One would get angry, the other would calm the angry one down – and then, later in the contest, that role would reverse. Back and forth, up and down – and surely I’m not the first person to note this, but sports became not only a microcosm of our relationship, but perhaps even father/son relationships the world over.




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