Saturday, December 27, 2014

Baseball and Bucket Lists

At some point, I made the decision that I wanted to see every sport Australia had to offer. I wanted to see them all live. I've been to NRL (National Rugby League), Rugby Union, Super Rugby (yes, that's a thing), Tennis, V8 Supercars, Basketball (NBL), AFL (Australian Football League - the ballet of rugby), Cricket (T20), I recently won tickets to Soccer, which I will see in 2015. Tonight, I was lucky enough to go to Baseball. 

Baseball was a bit of a passion of mine when I lived in the Bay Area. I was a huge Oakland A's fan, but have been a baseball fan since before I can remember. I played in little league, collected baseball cards from a very young age...I remember going to a St Louis Cardinals vs Baltimore Orioles game when I was about 8-years-old. I believe it was my first live game. I dug up my Cal Ripken Jr card and brought a pen just in case I could get his autograph. We were sitting in the second deck, so no autographs were given out that day, but my dad bought me a baseball with all the player's signatures on it. I'd stare at the Ozzie Smith signature for hours - trying not to handle the ball and smear the names. For my whole life, I dreamed of catching a home run ball, or a foul ball. When I was in my 20's, and could tell you every stat, every personal detail about each Oakland A's player, my boss at work had season tickets in the 2nd row by 3rd base at The Colosseum. I was gifted or purchased off him at least 20 games in those seats. Ron Washington, who was the 3rd base coach at the time, tossed me a foul ball one day. I couldn't have been happier.

I digress.

Tonight, I was given a ticket to see the Sydney Blue Sox. I was lucky enough to spend about 1/2 the game talking to a bit of a sports legend, and chief advisor for the team. I learned that the ABL (Australian Baseball League) are actually owned (75%) by MLB (Major League Baseball). And most of the players on the team are signed players, who play or have played in the big leagues. They'll play in Australia during the MBL's off season and be tracked by the scouts to see if they should move up or down in the grades (AA, AAA or The Bigs). One of the relievers played for the New York Mets ten years ago - he's 45-years-old and still has heat. It's a quality team with past and future MBL stars. But the field reminds me of AAA in the states. First of all, its so far outside of Sydney, it doesn't even feel like the suburbs. It's a regulation field, but the stands are small. There are no outfield seats. It honestly feels like watching Field of Dreams. Even if the stadium were sold out, the players would be able to hear anyone yell "Watch out for in the ear!". 

The Blue Sox won tonight. It was a pitchers duel for about 6 innings. And there was everything you could want in a game (except for a home run. Sydney has this problem because center field is like 410ft and left/right are still 390ft or something...hard to get out there). There were bases loaded, a pickle, stolen bases, getting picked off trying to steal, pop-ups, blocked balls (great catcher, really), wild pitches....I'll stop, but I loved every minute of it. I'm going back tomorrow. And the next day. 

But let me get back to my original point, which was my decision to see all possible sports in Australia. I'd consider it a bucket list item, if I had such a list.

I've tried to write a bucket list several times in my life, but it always turns into a page of notes and scribbles that eventually ends up in the trash. Don't get me wrong, there are things that I set as goals and chase like the dickens. Getting my Australian Permanent Residency and then Citizenship, for example. I've also been skydiving, walked on hot coals, been married with (step)children (but that's a story for another time). I've done a lot of things that I can be proud of and consider bucket list worthy, but I've never had a written down/posted/check box bucket list. And this bothers me.

My ex-brother-in-law was the king of bucket lists and planning. He had spreadsheets of what he wanted to accomplish in his life and when and how. It was an impressive thing to see. And, by God, it works for him and his family. They've done more, seen more than most.

Then there's Danny Dover, who I only know about because of I've mentioned it before, but seriously, go check it out.  He decided not to make a bucket list in the traditional sense. He'd make his lists of things he'd like to do (start a business, have six-pack abs), see (every continent) and experience (learn to fly a plane) but he also set a timeline. Why not accomplish everything while he was young enough to enjoy it? So, he picked May 25th 2017 arbitrarily and has been nailing it ever since.

I want to do that. I want to figure out what I want and go get it. So, maybe I'll put some serious thought into it over the next couple of days and come back to you with a checkable list. 

It's funny. I've been planning this travelventure (yeah, I just made that up) with no bucket list in mind. I've done most of the "cool" things in my life without planning for them, but I believe that I can see/do/accomplish so much more WITH a plan than without one. Just look at my sports thing. 

I have seen/done/learned so much about the Australian sports culture because I made that decision. I've immersed myself in all sorts of different crowds (tennis vs rugby...very different). Somehow it's fulfilling to me. I love knowing how a crowd feels, getting swept up (or away) by their reactions, hearing the different accents (or languages in the case of AUS vs FRA Rugby Union). It is the most connected to a people that I can get. Maybe this is the way I choose to experience the world. Through large crowds rather than trying to understand a culture one person at a time. 

I wonder which other bucket list items could have such an impact on me.