On March 28, 2012 I sat in the office of a marriage and family therapistâ€™s office and explained how everything in my life seemed gray. Beyond stressed by work, the usual rainbows for me were buried behind ominous, dark clouds of depression. Three months and one day later, my first born son died from a drowning accident. He was 4. Ominous clouds turned in to a category five hurricane with the snap of a finger. And it wrecked everything in sight.Â
Two years later, one of those rainbows is about to pop through the darkness. Today is Opening Day in Major League Baseball. Sure, the Dodgers are 2-1 and Yasiel Puig is already giving Donnie Baseball more gray hairs. But today is the real Opening Day.
I fell in love with baseball when I was 8. I was in third grade at a new school and all of the boys I wanted to be friends with were California Angel fans. It was 1986.Â Wally JoynerÂ took Orange County by storm and Wally World officially opened for business. He quickly became my favorite player. LankyÂ Mike WittÂ with his breath-taking curve balls was my favorite pitcher. My iPhone and iPad are named after them, respectively.
I signed up for Little League the next season and played through high school. Iâ€™ve run a fantasy simulation baseball league since 1998, I have season tickets to Angel games and my wife just renewed our mlb.tv subscription for another year. Iâ€™m a huge baseball nerd. And I love it.
Jax did too. At 18 months he was swinging off a tee daily and “sliding” at home plate. At 3 he was hitting live pitching. Once his first tee ball season turned to coach pitch he never swung and missed; he either fouled it off or put the ball in play. He knew every team’s logo, would read me the score if I was in the kitchen and loved tapping the S key to swing when I played Strat-O-Matic. His favorite player was Torii Hunter.
For many baseball fans, today is earmarked with hope for their favorite teams. Everyone is tied for first. Maybe that big trade in the offseason will push your team into contending for the division. Or maybe that flashy prospect youâ€™ve been drooling about in your farm system will be 2014’s Matt Harvey (with a good elbow) or Jose Fernandez.
I force myself to dig for hope now. My therapist told me that the loss of a chid is the worst loss one could ever experience. Our kids arenâ€™t supposed to die before us. Looking forward to small things like Opening Day, my 3-year-old twins’ t-ball classes or a night out with the boys gives me hope. I need something to look forward to in order to keep from hyper focusing on loss. Without hope Iâ€™d lay in bed all day clutching a bottle and reeking of death.
The Angels host the Seattle Mariners tonight. Local hero Jered Weaver takes the mound with baseball’s best player, Mike Trout, behind him in center field and a legend seeking redemption in Albert Pujols.Â Their hope is a World Series. My hope is to bask in the beauty of baseball for a day before the darkness returns.