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Nov '10 02

Old World Pastime – From Brussels, See The Road End

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Old World Pastime

John Miller, who is playing and coaching for the Brussels Kangaroos in the Belgian 2nd Division and is a reporter for a big American newspaper, is now also the Little League Commissioner for Belgium. He is also back chronicling the 2010 season in his “Old World Pastime” column on Mister-Baseball.com for a third straight year.

The leaves outside are (almost Oriole) orange, and the sky is a mighty grey. When I go to work, it is dark. And the baseball season — the northern hemisphere one that sustains my psyche — is over and done.

I am 33, married, with a steady eddy job as a journalist. And I still can’t imagine living without baseball.

It’s too soon after the end of my Belgian division two season (I caught for the Brussels Kangaroos and hit .309) to miss playing. Need a few more weeks for that. But it is the right time to watch, and see our journey conclude.

This October, just like the all the ones since 1989, I sacrificed sleep and sanity to watch Major League Baseball’s postseason games.

I’m no longer 15, which I was in 1992 when the Blue Jays beat the Braves in six games. The excitement ripped me out of my bed and down the stairs to share the news. It was 4 a.m. in Brussels. Nobody else was awake. Nor am I 20, the year I decided to skip a meeting during a community service trip in Appalachia so I could listen to the Indians beat the Orioles in the ALCS. When I returned, the pastor, in his spoken prayer, included an invocation to “turn our minds away from inconsequential things like baseball.” In 2004, my home computer was broken, so my dad, brother and I went to my office to watch the last out of the Red Sox championship.

And then there was last night. We just moved, and my new place does not yet have internet installed. So I tracked each pitch and play of the final two innings on my Blackberry. When Brian Wilson K’d out the victory, I played both the scene and the commentary in my mind.

The post-season is like the girlfriends or jobs of youth — a key mental anchor, a system for setting down signposts year after year. Spin the wheel. 1996? A friend’s apartment in college, drinking cheap beer and watching Jim Leyritz go deeeeep off Mark Wohlers. 1997? Renteria singles; I’m watching in a bar in Tennessee. 2001? A packed, crowded bar by the harbor in Baltimore for those magic dingers off Yankee bats. And so on.

The human brain is a weird device, full of love, hate, fear, contradictions and beauty. We need these pillars. You and I share a big one. Which is why I’ve enjoyed writing this column for the third year in a row. Thank you for reading and sometimes writing, and to Philipp Wuerfel for his peerless oversight of mister-baseball.com. It is a wonderful website.

And I still love to hear from you even when the season is over, at oldworldpastime@gmail.com

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