Tell me another story about baseball…oh, the humanity

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Everytime I go to a conference, storytelling is a forum people are attracted to. It’s a human condition. Our brains shut off if you feed me too much theory, but if you tell me a story? I’m all ears.

Both in our private lives & in business, storytelling is a powerful tool. We know this.

Teaching about baseball in a Cultural Studies class

When I had one of my first Cultural Studies courses, which focused on presenting Anglo-American culture to German students, I decided to try to give them a taste of my America by talking about my love for the Chicago Cubs.

Few Europeans can get into this weird antiquated game that such a small segment of society understands, or even wants to. How to present it to them, when they have little or no context?

My approach was to tell them about my relationship with my nana, who instilled her values in me while we were watching our nightly Cubs game.

The students, who neither cared about the rules or the history of this curious game, could find a connection with the relationship with my grandmother.

We all have grandparents, no matter how good or bad our relationship with them is. In many cases, our parents’ parents are the easier, more gentle family member compared to our own mothers or fathers.

Not always, but I think you get my point.

These students of mine were kids, or young adults, and they knew next to nothing about the rules of baseball, even after my brilliant presentation.

It was certainly to be expected. I’d not even bothered getting into the weeds of explaining something like a sacrifice fly or a suicide squeeze. It wasn’t as useful as talking about a relationship.

My nana was isolated out on her ranch, but she still had her Cubbies. They’d entertain her nearly nightly through the summer & early autumn. When they lose their last game, there’s always next year.

These are even baseball sayings that make me nostalgic for those times with my family, but particularly with my nana. Sometimes you lose, but how do you deal with it?

You get up off the grass, with stains on your uniform, shake off the dirt, and tell yourself there’s always tomorrow.

Like life.

When we were at my nana’s memorial, my niece Amelia and I watched a game in the hotel room. It wasn’t lost on me the parallels.

Now, when I’m here in Germany, I call my brother Michael and ask what his family’s up to. He tells me the family’s watching a playoff game.

My nana’s love of baseball has been passed on to my brother’s kids. It’s cultural. No matter how many people I hear tell me baseball is so slow and boring, I know better.

That’s how storytelling works, though. You needn’t know the particulars like the rules to get the point of the story.

My family carries on its traditions by how we spend our time together. Anyone can relate to that.

Right?

never as right as right now

waiting not so patiently

Here I am at some ungodly hour up in the night waiting for a sporting event to just get started already. 

And I’m trying to imagine a thing I’d be more excited about…just can’t do it. 

What about a World Cup Final? If Germany made it all the way to the title game? Been there, done that. When I was new here, we lost to Brazil in the 2002 final. Then a couple of years ago we eeked out a World Cup Final victory against a uncommonly flat Argentina, and…

…Wir sind immer noch Weltmeistah!
Oder?

What about the Rockets in the NBA Finals? Yep, I was there. Good for them. Both of Akeem ‘The Dream’ Olajuwon’s titles were a joy to behold. Still not the same as right now. 

The Chicago Cubs have won the National League Pennant for the first time since 1945. This is big. Really big. 

My heart’s been racing since we beat the Dodgers in Game 6, and I cannot stop smiling. In more than one instance the next day I was asked, ‘You’re not going to cry, are you?

I just might. Before this is all over, I just might. 

See, my Nana is most definitely looking down on us, sitting in the bleachers with the baseball gods. 

She’s been cursing the Dodgers since they left Brooklyn, she never accepted the designated hitter nonsense over in the American League and most importantly…

…every year she’s been saying, ‘This is going to be the Cubs’ year. I can feel it. They could really go all the way this year.

My Nana was right about so many things, but never as right as right now. 

German baseballers go for glory

Here’s Douglas Sutton‘s article in The Munich Eye about baseball in Germany:

German baseballers go for glory.

Thanks Douglas. Great article.

You didn’t even know we had baseball over here, did you? I’ve written about the game before, because I associate it with both my dad and my Nana. It’s one of the only things I miss about living in the US.

Play ball!