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Pinch hitting: Sarah Rosenberg

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Our next Pinch Hitter has been here before. Sarah Rosenberg is a 23-year-old senior in the Macaulay Honors program at Brooklyn College. She’s majoring in creative writing, and guest blog posts are hardly the peak of her young career. As a teenager she wrote a novel that appeared in the collection Nine Novels by Younger Americans, and she authored a prize-winning short story in this year’s Spotlight anthology. Sarah is spending most of this month in Hollywood to research for the novel she’s writing for her undergraduate thesis. And no, it has nothing to do with baseball.

For her guest post, though, Sarah brought a novelist’s voice to describe the passion of a baseball fan.

[2]To me, baseball is romance on training wheels.

It was one of my first loves. You know, those passions that grab you and conquer your thoughts and dominate all the highs and lows of your emotional states. The ones that you can’t get enough of, and you read all the books and you learn all the names and you memorize all the stats and collect all the stories and it doesn’t feel like work at all because you are so in love.

But over time, maybe the intensity dulls. Maybe the novelty just wears off. Maybe your team is eliminated in the Division Series one too many times. Maybe your favorite player is traded (Alfonso Soriano, I still appreciate you!). Maybe a steroid scandal rocks you too hard.

And then you wake up one day and you realize you’re married to this game, or maybe to this team, but it’s not the game or the team you fell in love with. There are so many new names, new faces, new statistics, and they don’t have the same nostalgic value, and it all just keeps changing so fast you can’t keep up.

It’s still there with you when you come home, a steadfast companion, ready whenever you turn on the TV or flick on the radio or browse the sports shelves at your local bookstore. But sometimes, deep down, you wonder if you’re fooling yourself, if maybe it’s time to let go.

But then maybe something comes up and everything reverses polarity again. Maybe you meet a stranger on a bus and somehow get into a heated discussion over whether or not Tim Lincecum was just a flash in the pan. Maybe you go to a game and the lead changes hands 13 times and you’re on the edge of your seat for four hours straight. Maybe some non-fan disses your team, or the whole sport, and you snap to defend it, bristling with righteous indignation. Everything you love about this game is suddenly pouring out of you, from the extra-inning dramas to the rich history to the smell of the grass to the ridiculously overpriced beer to the home run calls John Sterling makes that are so incredibly awful they’re amazing.

And in those moments, you know you’re head-over-heels and that if you think you could ever just walk away, you’re kidding yourself.
It’s hard to give your heart, season after season, to something that you know might, in the pressure-cooker of October, crush it to bits. It’s hard to give your heart, again and again, to something that might not deserve it. It’s hard to give your heart, year after year, to something that’s not the same as it used to be.

But hey. That’s life, that’s love, that’s romance. Forget the training wheels. This game has taught me everything I know about being in love.

Associated Press photo