I have come a long way to be in Cleveland for the game tonight: 488 miles from Verona, Wisconsin, through Chicago, Illinois, past South Bend, Indiana, and finally to Strongsville, Ohio, the suburb where my grandmother lives in her condo on a quiet street. In about half an hour I will drive to downtown Cleveland, and hopefully get to watch batting practice.
I left Verona around 8 am, and about two hours later I was driving in heavy traffic through Chicago. My brother has a route that will take him around Chicago, thereby saving time, but I didn’t follow those directions, and am glad I didn’t, because I got to see US Cellular Field, the home of the White Sox. It rose high above the highway, steel girders and concrete frame gleaming in the morning sun. I resisted the urge to take the exit and stop and marvel at the stadium’s wonder.
But the ballpark stood empty, as the White Sox were already in Cleveland, preparing for last night’s game, so I passed it by. I always feel there is something sad about an empty ballpark, a structure built for the sole purpose of housing its fans.
All in all, the trip was smooth and uneventful. I cruised into Strongsville around five o’clock.
During the trip, I thought about how much travel a baseball team endures during the course of the season. I hope they get frequent flyer miles, for when they retire, they could fly almost anywhere for free on what they must accumulate. In the old days, a team would drive by bus, back when there were few teams, and they were close, and I am sure they still do to play their geographic rivals, but now in 2010 with teams spread from Seattle to Oakland to Arlington to Tampa Bay to Kansas City to Boston teams fly to many of their destinations.
So as I traveled, I thought of the Life of a baseball player that centers around two things: the game, and the road. That long eternal road, and a new game each evening (or afternoon). There must be comfort in all the old familiar places on the road, and in the renewal that comes from a brand new start after each nine inning battle.
Or maybe I am just an old romantic in a new era of baseball.