Hello! (Or, Here Comes Boz)
Ever since Tracee and I were at the Olympics last summer we've been talking about Nationals Journal this season. I told her that when I wasn't actually at the park I was constantly watching Nats and O's games live on TV or the next morning (with FF). And, of course, I had a lot of miscellaneous thoughts about almost every game. Who can watch a game and not want to talk the ear off the person next to them? (Unfortunately, that applies to me especially well.)
The past four seasons, Barry and Chico have been very tolerant of me: kibitzing, pontificating, theorizing, inflicting my anecdotes, putting in a call or two (for a homer on that at bat, or the next pitch) and, of course, my defining in-game characteristic -- changing my mind, re-changing my mind, then re-re-changing my mind.
Tracee said, "Well, post on NJ all you want next season." So, cover your ears (or eyes). You're stuck with me, I suspect. I don't know whether that will mean 50 or 500 posts. When it comes to baseball, I'm pretty *compulsive. But I also hate to bore or annoy people with inane or half-cooked ideas. It's a fine line between being a pest and a real contributor to the discussion.
I've actually been an active poster on (non-sports) internet boards for more than 10 years. (My wife is not always happy about this. "Are you in there chatting?") In fact, I've considered joining Internet Addicts Anonymous (if there is one) and have, with great self-discipline (yeah, right), cut back my on-line "contributions." I understand the kind of community that grows up over time among people who have a powerful common interest. Sometimes you feel that you know chat-room posters better than many of your friends. Someone's "writing voice" is very revealing because it is so often a different voice than the one that comes out of their mouth in normal conversation. AND (I just realized this) the anonymous voice on the Internet may actually be a THIRD writing voice! It's amazing (or alarming) what you find yourself posting (or almost posting, then 'killing') in cyberspace. I don't mean that every outwardly normal person turns into a "troll" or flamer. (I love the phrase: "Don't feed the trolls.") Even on the most wild-and-woolly boards I've been on -- and this one is extremely civil by comparison -- the large majority of the "voices" there are exacly the people you'd want to talk with about your pet subject.
I remember going halfway across the country to an event with perhaps 50 other chatters that I'd never met. Get experience. Especially when you say, "I'm (then give your online nickname)," and you have a real person to attach to this "anonymous" cyber voice. I remember thinking, "So, YOU'RE 'Goingtohellinahandbasket.'"
Perhaps the most hostile, slashing (and really smart) poster on that board was someone I assumed I would not like. He was permanently unemployed (by choice), politically extreme (and exactly opposite of me), loved to argue with anybody about anything and lived a miimalist (almost Thoreau-like) lifestyle; I suspect he sent most of his days either reading in a public library or posting insults, insights or polemcs on the web. We hit it off so well that, going to a massive chat board dinner -- we took up half the restaurant -- we were so busy talking and making friends that I ended up driving into another STATE. (It's hard to miss an entire state.) "Did that sign say were were in Iowa?" We were so lost, even though we were only 10 miles from our target, that a friendly state trooper gave us an escort to the restaurant! So, the two of us -- always arguing on the board -- showed up laughing like old buddies with the cops leading us into the parking lot.
So, you folks seem like a very sympatico bunch. I particularly enjoyed the stories here the other day about Where I Saw My First Game. (Nice idea, Tracee.) By way of introduction, I thought I'd throw out my memory of my first game....Except it wasn't quite my first game. I don't actually remember Game 1, except that it was against either the White Sox or Indians at Griffith Stadium in '56 when I was eight. The purpose was to see Roy Sievers, my hero. And I think it was a night game because I remember how brilliant, almost internally illuminated, the green grass looked when you walked up the first-base runaway and saw the whole field -- or a big slash of it -- for the first time. My mom took me -- "all the way across town" -- on the streetcar. Florida Avenue was a long way from NE. (My dad, a football fan, took me to my first Skins game for my 10th birthday. Baseball bored him. He tried to pretend it didn't. But we usually left him home.)
My first vivid memory of a Nats game was on a hot summer afternoon in '56 or '57, the first time I went with my mother and my best friend from down the block, Lamont Wash. My mom paid for herself and me. Lamont had his own money and came behind us. The ticket guy tried to charge him twice as much as me. My mother told us to "go over there and wait a minute." I never saw her chew anybody out as long and hard in my life. "He tried to cheat us," my mother said. So, I didn't really figure out why she was sooo mad that day. Neither did Lamont. I hope. (He cut a soul album in '86 in L.A. under the name Lamar Barry. "There's Nothing Better Than Love." You can Google it.)
So, I guess I've always associated baseball with both the keenest pleasures, mixed with a consistent ability to inspire my outrage, from Calvin Griffith on down through the years.
Can't wait for Opening Day. I've never posted my thoughts on a game that I didn't actually attend and where I was not able to ask the players/manager afterward for their thoughts (or self-defense) on what had happened. In a way, it's not fair. But it captures the duality of the blogosphere -- passion (always), insight (sometimes), community (intense), pleasure for those involved (considerable), accountabilty (none), knowledge (anywhere from "a lot" to zero). But at least I'll still post here with the certainty that I have to face the people I write about within a few days. I hear they all have access to the Internet! Or, as Stan Kasten said to me a couple of weeks ago on a Thursday at about 11:45 a.m. when I said that I had to get off the phone: "Ohhh, the most dreaded words of the week -- 'Boswell's chat is about to begin.' I hope you know that's just one step above talk radio." He was kidding. Sort of.
One promise: This will be, by far, the longest post of the season!
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