Base­ball and mu­sic re­veal se­crets slowly

The Buffalo News - - WEATHER -

They say it’s too slow. That it takes too long. That it moves at a snail’s pace. But they don’t un­der­stand – that’s the whole point.

Ma­jor League Base­ball kicked off its 2019 season this week, and when it did, I ex­haled, and felt win­ter fi­nally release its icy grip on my soul. For me, MLB open­ing day means spring, and spring means hope, and hope means I push the darker mu­sic aside for a hot minute and start lis­ten­ing to Phish, the Grate­ful Dead, Bob Mar­ley, and the sun­ni­est be­bop and Latin mu­sic. All of these blend to­gether in my mind, and frankly, I will­fully em­brace them, as cliched as that might seem to oth­ers.

Life is hard. Base­ball and mu­sic make it bet­ter. They re­veal their se­crets slowly. They’re not in a hurry. A good jam un­furls just like a well-paced game.

In the so­cial me­dia and smart­phone mi­lieu that is our cross to bear these days, you’re not sup­posed to linger, lan­guorously, digging a slow-mov­ing vibe and let­ting it un­fold at its own pace. You’re sup­posed to scroll, rapidly, as if you’ve al­ways got some­where else to be. You’re sup­posed to an­swer ev­ery text, phone call, In­sta­gram post, Snapchat snap, Twit­ter non se­quitur and Face­book mes­sage you see, in real time. If you don’t, you’re sup­posed to feel like you’re missing some­thing. Base­ball is here to tell you that you need to chill out, dude. What does any of this have to do with mu­sic? In my weary­but-still-hope­ful world­view, an aw­ful lot. As a 10-year-old liv­ing in the Berk­shire Moun­tains in Mas­sachusetts, I’d fall asleep star­ing at the Bea­tles posters that sur­rounded my Bos­ton Red Sox Amer­i­can League Champions 1975 pen­nant, posed photo of Red Sox catcher Carlton Fisk and in-ac­tion snap of left-fielder Jim Rice. When I close my eyes all these years later, the af­ter­im­age is eas­ily sum­moned.

My par­ents took my brother and me to a bunch of Sox games at Fen­way Park. The place was sim­ply mag­i­cal to me. The mas­sive Green Mon­ster hov­er­ing over left field, the 60-foot Citgo sign on Bea­con Street fully vis­i­ble from the park, my dad hail­ing the guy shout­ing “Getcha cold beer heah!,” the cool air blow­ing in from the Charles River – it’s hard to de­scribe to any­one who hasn’t been there, but man, it felt like what I imagined heaven felt like.

Forty years later, my lit­tle fam­ily – me, my wife and our son – were hang­ing out in the Fen­way Park neigh­bor­hood on the first week­end of Septem­ber, mov­ing the boy into his apart­ment as he started his sec­ond year at the Berklee Col­lege of Mu­sic. We hus­tled through the or­deal and high-tailed it the block-anda-half to Fen­way, where Pearl Jam was poised to take the stage.

This was it. The cir­cle was com­plete. At Fen­way, while glo­ri­ous mu­sic filled the air, with the two peo­ple who mean more to me than any oth­ers. I was speech­less. And yep, I cried a lit­tle.

I’ve had some moments in Buf­falo that felt al­most as spe­cial, right in our own mi­nor league ball­park, which is one of the most aes­thet­i­cally strik­ing mi­nor league parks in the coun­try. I re­mem­ber see­ing Cheap Trick there fol­low­ing a game, and the Yard­birds, too. I’ve re­viewed “Taste of Coun­try” fes­ti­vals there, and even if the mu­sic wasn’t re­ally my thing, the ex­pe­ri­ence was still awe­some. I’d love to see more live mu­sic in our ball­park. It re­ally is one of our city’s trea­sures.

If you ever want to make me happy, take me out to the ball­game. And leave the cell­phone at home. Let’s just chill.

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