In the daily haze of complaining and commiserating with each other over the state of a baseball team in the middle of a hot, messy skid to the basement, we often forget that there are other things inside baseball that matter; things inside baseball, but outside of the game itself. As someone who web-logs, I read, hear, and talk to other fans and bloggers about the game, read what our journalists have to say, and formulate my opinions from my observations. I get caught up in these things, and have the tendency to gloss over the human beings behind the works. Sometimes it gets hard to see the forest for the trees. I argue. I laugh. I get annoyed at someone in the stands for booing Adrian Beltre for being on the opposing side.
But one thing I’ve really enjoyed about the game of baseball and the folks I’ve met over the past few years is the fact that the situation is so united. Sure, we have our disagreements about stats and our favorite players, and we argue to the point of name-calling, but I’ve rarely seen that go as terribly wrong as it does in the music scene, and I can still like Ichiro and sit next to a friend who doesn’t think he’s all that great, and we can still enjoy the game together, because we are on the same side, hoping the same team wins. Regardless of our politics, religious beliefs (or lack thereof), familial background, race, or any of that stuff that might be asked for on a census form or job application, baseball unites us automatically, because we are Seattle Mariners fans, and we are all there for our team. Baseball is kind of like The Force, but with dingers and a lower OPS.
So even though I am not close friends with Dave Cameron, and have in fact only met him once or twice over the past few years, I feel a kinship with him because of this game we both follow, and the fact that the game has moved us both enough to venture onto a public forum, reach out, and discuss it with other people, a lot of whom are total strangers; but all of us Mariners fans. I feel that sort of inspiration that comes when I see someone who is really good at what they do, and wish I could be that good. Dave is part of what makes the Seattle Mariners fun to watch, and what makes baseball such a joy to talk about. If it were not for some of the events Dave has helped organized over the past few years, I might not have met some of you. And I certainly wouldn’t know as much about the game and the people who play it as I do today.
I woke up late this morning to the news that Dave was recently diagnosed with leukemia. I have lost two very good friends to the monster that is cancer, and thus it is something that hits extremely close to home for me. Hearing about something like this sucks all the joy out of the air for a few hours, and makes my chest feel like someone has laid multiple bricks on it. I spend a few horrible moments contemplating the universe, my place in it, and why bad things happen to good people. Thinking about all of it at one time is overwhelming, and it’s really difficult to properly express just how low it can make you feel, to know that your friends or people that even remotely impact your life are going through some very life-changing events that may stay with them for good. To say that it “sucks” is putting it extremely mildly.
But Dave has vowed to fight. And sometimes in the face of that kind of adversity, fighting is not all you can do, but it’s what you do. Throughout my life, I’ve seen some people fight amazing hardships; I myself have been through the wringer a few times. If it’s one thing that I’ve learned during my small stint on the ground here, it’s that the human spirit is indeed strong, and even when faced with the darkest of storm clouds, I’ve seen people face it knives out, and ready to go. When life sends human beings the fire-breathing dragon of hardship, we tend to try and meet it head-on. It’s just what we do, because to do anything else simply wouldn’t be in our nature.
So go on over to USS Mariner, and send Dave your thoughts, donate some bone marrow or blood, give some money to a leukemia or cancer charity, or at the very least, take some time to think about what’s important; because at the end of the day, it’s not that we agree or disagree about the great game of baseball – it’s that we get to watch it together.