“To me, baseball has always been a reflection of life. Like life, it adjusts. It survives everything. “(Willie Stargell)
For a man who usually obsesses only about winning and losing baseball scores and statistics daily, the March 2021 return of Major League baseball as a live spectator sport again in my life will no doubt serve as a major accomplishment of this road trip. For it’s been over a year since I saw my last game in person before the Corona shutdown exploded across the world. Yet as a consequence of this enduring pandemic, I seem to have adopted a fresh perspective to simply enjoy the present moment amid the live ballgame experience itself. So it did not really matter as it usually does for me about who won on this sunny Monday afternoon in Goodyear, Arizona. Nor did it matter to me which players stood out in hitting, pitching, or fielding performance. Neither did I seem to be bothered about wearing my mask the entire game or sitting in isolation from others. For I simply “tuned” in my senses to the sights, sounds, and smells of a live baseball game game again on our first Arizona stop of this road trip.
Notice then my random attention to some rituals beyond the game in progress that captured my enhanced attention skills this day. Dutiful ushers roamed the aisles between innings carrying large signs reminding people to wear their masks throughout the game. However, on occasion when the ushers left their positions during the inning action itself, masks disobediently came off in mass fashion. With skillful artistry, groundskeepers raked and watered the baseball diamond and outlying wall perimeters periodically to restore the smooth, orange texture of the field. Meanwhile the outfield grass glistened throughout the game with a fresh green glow. Seating aisles and concourse corridors seemed spotlessly clean with a noticeable absence of food vendors strolling around. Players and coaches in each dugout seemed noticeably fidgety with most of them choosing to stand. Sadly, a lack of player – fan interaction took place as eager autograph seekers perched behind the outfield walls would have to wait for another day. Pod seating intended to separate each group of ticket attendees felt awkwardly lonely for a sport that normally encourages spontaneous social conversation between strangers. As we abruptly left the stadium after a fan quiet “seventh inning stretch”, strong memories of the dull brown desert basin in surrounding Phoenix ignited my strong intention to move on to the colorful, red rock mountainside of our next road-trip destination: Sedona, Arizona.