“You ever gotten your heart broken?”
“Yeah, when we lost the pennant in ’87.”
-For Love of the Game
Although the title of the movie is misleading in my conception of this sport, I feel this quote rings true in capturing the mood and bitter taste left in the mouths of all who participated in the 2012 Griffs’ Baseball season.
Have you ever had that one person or one thing in your life that continuously breaks your heart?
They insist on ripping your heart out, stepping it, all while you return year after year. You continue to expose yourself to stress and anxiety. You keep volunteering your emotions to a game of failure, to a game where so much is beyond your sphere of influence. Your attachment and willingness to continue can be considered crazy, illogical, and outlandish. For me, words like ‘absurdity’ and ‘turbulent relations’ encapsulate my feelings regarding the game of baseball.
We, as players and coaches, renew our relationship year after year with the game of baseball. We willingly enter into this marriage with the game, devoting hours of our time despite its reputation and past experiences of crushing our hopes and dreams.
But why? Why do something that has a good chance of making you miserable in the end? Why not just end the heartache and misery, remove our vulnerable baseball-playing selves from the harsh side of the game, and dump baseball’s sorry butt?
Everyone’s relationship is different. One’s connection with the game of baseball is truly personal. Some play for a ticket out of poverty, for a chance at a new beginning. Some play for the opportunity to battle alongside teammates and to submerge themselves in the competitive atmosphere of college and professional sports. They play with the promise of achieving greatness and having their names scribed on the trophy of their respective conference or league.
Others play for more frivolous reasons: a chance to hang out with friends, to continue clinging onto the title of ‘athlete,’ to socialize and escape reality by swinging a wooden club as hard as they can. Everyone’s reason is a personal reflection, a unique connection with the sport they devote their lives too, or just 2 nights a week depending on where you play.
Our attachment to a game that can torture us is probably ridiculous and most likely inexplicable. Why we put up with the beating that baseball has been known to attack us with is difficult to comprehend at times.
Whatever our reasons for playing baseball, one thing is certain. Successful teams possess a special unity. Like so many other sports, individuals and egos have little bearing upon the outcome of an entire season. The 2012 Griffs truly captured this idea. We were bonded together by phrases like: “Think we won’t?,” any reference to big dogs, “Knock knock,” and any other heckling that catcher Brooklyn Foster initiated via Twitter.
We were interwoven through songs like Dirty Mix by DJ Blend (a song not appropriate for parents and children). Our ‘victory song,’ which was played after each Griffs’ win, provoked dancing from even the most unlikely of candidates. And the loud group singing that came during the “Going to San Francisco” portion of the song is certainly a memorable part of the 2012 campaign. This song and the dancing that ensued caused the unfortunate demise of a kitchen table in an unnamed clubhouse on the road.
The best and worst part of competitive sports is that come next year, everyone is 0-0. Despite the past year of success or failure, everyone becomes statistical equal and must begin a new quest next February.
Along with resetting the records, your traditions reset as well. There are no big dogs, no going to San Francisco, and no knocking, just a unique team trying to find an identity, unified for one year trying to capture a title that has eluded even the most talented Canisius alum. My most sincere encouragements go out to the 2013 Griffs as their growth has been a pleasure to watch and be a part of.
As I bequeath this blog to any willing returnee, I would like to thank a few people who were instrumental in giving me this unique opportunity to showcase the lives of college athletes. Matt Lozar has been excellent, not only in his continuing coverage of the Griffs, but in editing and publishing this blog on gogriffs.com. A big thanks goes out to Lozar for all his help.
Finally, a huge thanks to Ryan Fennell, who set up and designed the website on blogspot.com. He also used his Canisius marketing degree to promote and broadcast our joint effort. Without him, this opportunity to communicate with parents and fans would not have been possible.