The stars had to align just right — they always have to, it seems, with any outing with kids — but owing to a combination of a weekday off of work, perfect weather, a day game and the general cooperation of two little ones, last Thursday provided the occasion to bring my 9-month-old daughter to her first Twins game.
It’s a milestone, to be sure, but it turned out the more memorable interaction came via my older daughter, a 3-year-old (“Three-and-a-half!” she would surely yell if she knew what I was typing) who had already been to a few Twins games in her life.
It was not her first game, true, but it was the first game in which she was old enough to attempt to understand what was happening on the field instead of just running around and eating.
As someone who has been watching baseball for more like three decades (“Three-and-a-half!” my wife would surely yell if she knew what I was typing), trying to understand the game through the eyes of someone so young brought to light this simple fact: Baseball is ridiculous.
It’s wonderful, sure, but it’s ridiculous. This thread was unspooled through a variety of questions I was asked as the day wore on:
• “Did the game start yet?” was asked multiple times. Those of us used to the rhythms and routines of baseball know the answer to this obvious question, but if you look on the field at any random time — as my daughter did — absolutely nothing is happening. So yes, it is fair to wonder whether this game has even started.
• “Did another man fall down?” became another favorite question during a sequence of a few plays where an outfielder dived for (and missed) a fly ball while two separate baserunners dived into second base. Again, these are normal things that happen in a baseball game. But when in the course of normal life do people just belly flop onto the ground?
• “Why can’t the bear play, too?” she asked after T.C. Bear — who quickly became her favorite, of course — was on the field between innings but then departed before the next inning. I mean, in a game with long periods of inactivity interrupted by belly flops, why shouldn’t the bear play?
• White Sox infielder Tyler Saladino, who had a glorious mustache during the game before shaving it off the very next day, became known as “Mr. Mustache” to my daughter. After he struck out, she excitedly explained to my wife that “Mr. Mustache got an out and he had to go back into his little house.” His little house was the dugout, of course.
• Somehow, through all this, we managed to make it to the ninth inning (of a game that would last 3 hours, 17 minutes) before the first “Is it over?” question was asked. No, it’s not over, I explained first when the White Sox took a 4-3 lead. No, it’s not over, I explained again when the Twins tied the score. It won’t be over until … a Twins player gets hit in the leg by a pitch.
Yes, the first game for my youngest daughter and the first game my oldest one will actually remember ended on a walk-off hit-by-pitch.