There is this beautiful song out on the country radio charts. In fact, it is now ranked at No. 2 for this week, and it is called, "The Boys of Fall," and its artist is Kenny Chesney.
It talks of high school football and wearing the jerseys, digging in the cleats, and roughing up the shoulder pads. It is an emotional song that still manages to stay away from the label of "cheesy."
Down where I live in Texas, it fits the culture like a glove because Texas is all about football.
The Dallas Cowboys have five Super Bowl wins, the University of Texas has the "Hook 'em Horns" sign with the index and pinkie finger, and because football is more popular than baseball, it just makes sense that the world of baseball would be overlooked.
Well, there is a subculture of baseball here, and it is usually found in my sect. The tall, lanky boys that wear caps on the weekends, and wear sunglasses so the girls don't know we are looking at them.
We are the laid-back, cool under pressure/live for the moment which is baseball.
I love baseball. I have more memories of baseball than any other sport. I get those skin-tight white pants and my white socks, then I'd put on my cleats, and my jersey and my cap.
I still have my old brown glove sitting on the desk right next to me. I still have my ball with Tony the Tiger's face on it.
I remember going to practice, and just throwing a ball around. It was athletic yet relaxing because it was so simple for us. We didn't think about getting under the hoop for a inside pass to dunk it or making the trap block here.
It was simple. Catch/field the ball, throw it to first, hit the ball, run to first.
Best of all, it was a game where you took time to be friends. In football games, you're studying the team across, and heaven forbid you talk about your favorite action figure.
When I was a kid, I sat in that dugout next to my friend Jeff, and between my other friend Scott, and we just talked.
We drank Gatorade from paper cups, we chewed sunflower seeds, and we talked about what video games we wanted for our game systems.
When we won, we may argue cheese vs. pepperoni on our pizzas. When we lost, we got some sugary sweet snack in a package that our parents brought (each parent had a set week for snacks), and then we planned to fool around in our backyards on Sunday.
We grew apart as we hit middle school, but the constant for us was baseball.
I may have thought about law school and swimming. Scott wanted to do medical school and tennis, and Jeff and Zach went into tennis with him. Taylor was obsessed with golf, but we all remembered those days.
I will never forget winning the championship with my friends. I was playing third base, and there was a pop-up and it looked like it was going to fly beyond my grasp for a hit. I still said to myself to go after it anyway, what could it hurt?
I was always like that, and so were my teammates. We never gave up on a game or on each other, which was wonderful because I was jealous of my pals.
I couldn't even throw a ball straight half the time while Jeff was a switch-hitter. Zach was just awesome at second base, Scott just did his thing always, but me? I knew I was the underdog, the last guy picked, but it didn't affect our friendship.
Yet, it was the defining moment of my life at the time when that ball just curved and plopped downward into my glove with me staring at it.
I looked at the ball with confusion on my face, and I'll never forget it when coach just hugged me and lifted me up in the air with all the pride in the world. I had caught the last out of the game.
We had won the championship, we had won it all. We were the happiest set of boys alive in the state of Texas.
Today, as I lay back in my chair and gaze at my glove, I think of that day. I think of that, the sunflower seeds, the soda bottles, the white and brown stains on our clothes when we went home to take our baths, and I smile.
Today, me and my friends add more memories. I see Jorge Cantu's double into left field that gave him the first RBI of his Ranger career to put us in the lead. I see Nelson Cruz, Julio Borbon, and Jeff Francoeur catching fly balls.
I see a gigantic dogpile and everyone hugging. I'm wishing the guys were all here, so we can do the same.
I see Michael Young embracing every man on the field because he, Mr. Ranger, is finally going to the postseason after 1,502 games with the Rangers. The all-time hits leader for the Rangers is finally going to the postseason.
I see myself throwing my glove in the air along with the players as I watched that last out happen. I see Neftali Feliz getting his 38th save, a new rookie record for the MLB, as the Rangers clinch playoffs.
We've been waiting a decade, and while I'm still at home, and Jeff is at Texas Tech, Taylor is here, Zack and Scott are at Texas A&M, and Chris is at Texas; I know we are, in our hearts, in our tiny cleats and little caps.
And we are playing at Meadowcreek Park, and we are hoping the Rangers win this year.
The Texas Rangers beat the Oakland Athletics today, and they are going to the playoffs for the first time in 11 years!
Eleven years, guys. Was it worth the wait? I think it was.