Slow Down

By: Mike Carter

I don’t believe in much these days. Our world, our politicians, our way of living here blind in America. Men behind closed doors in our elected Congress are making important decisions in secrecy with no input for stakeholders. I cringe thinking of our president’s next Twitter storm. I am unsure how to feel about these things. I am on edge and need some relief, like we all do at times.

Roberto Clemente statue at PNC Park.

Last weekend I was able to travel to Pittsburgh with some buddies. We were able to catch a game at PNC Park there between the Pirates and the Chicago Cubs. I awoke early on Saturday morning, as usual, and stirred to the idea that I should try and find the remains of Forbes Field. Thanks to my best friend, Google, I discovered I was two miles away. I hopped in an Uber and went to the place. The left field walls remain standing on the campus of the University of Pittsburgh (which is gorgeous to walk through, by the way). I stood there and thought about the history of the place. Honus Wagner played there. Roberto Clemente. Bill Mazeroski’s Game Seven home run in the 1960 World Series. They actually have a plaque marking the sport where his homer went over Yogi Berra’s head, over the wall, and into the annals of history. Home plate now rests in the building that houses Pitt’s school of education, in fact. I found all of these spots and spent a little time with them. I absorbed the day. I did take some photos to share with my dad and my brother, who are also infected with this baseball obsession, and a few other friends who would get it. I know I am a geek and I embrace it.

Forbes Field 436 ft. marker.

We live in a world that is always moving too damn fast. We have been programmed to text people that we will be there in five minutes. We share our lives on devices that ostensibly make lives easier and more convenient, but we have lost the ability to absorb ourselves in moments without taking pictures and posting them on Facebook or Instagram. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that; it’s who we have become in this day and age. But I think it’s important to try and slow down. Our kids age quickly, we spend our time carting our kids to their events, and pretty soon, they are gone leading their own lives, leaving us with an emptiness that many will not be able to fill again.

PNC Park

Why do I sound so down in the mouth? Let’s take time to enjoy the best game we have. Let’s take time to play catch with our kids and introduce them to baseball cards, like I did this week with my six year old son, Jack. Let’s put our devices down and connect with people again. Getting conversation moving again in our great, deeply divided country is key to the rebuilding of America; it’s not a wall or government policies that will do this for us. I’m guilty of moving at breakneck speed to meet all deadlines and challenges. I need to slow down. We all do.

And I did last weekend, and plan to stick with it. Travel to see different baseball stadiums. It is worth your time, energy and cash. I would place PNC in my top five current ballparks. The park is beautiful with great sightlines and a magnificent view of the Pittsburgh skyline. The fans are knowledgeable and know their history; their love of Clemente and Stargell runs deep. Pittsburgh itself is a cool city with culture and many attractions as well. Check it out. My buddies and I covered lots of this fine city in forty-eight hours. The Pirates won a well-played game that night, 4-3, for those of you interested in the outcome.

Me w/ John Smoltz at 5:00 AM.

To cap it all off, I was leaving on an early Sunday morning flight back to Chicago, mumbling as I moved slowly through the security line. I happened to look up and see a guy standing taller than most people. It was Hall of Fame pitcher John Smoltz. I’m sure the last thing he wanted to do was speak to a rabid fan at 5 AM, but I didn’t miss my opportunity. I said hello, shared that I was a huge fan of his career, and that I loved his work on MLB Network. We made small talk for a few moments and he couldn’t have been nicer to me. In fact he even let me use my smart phone (funny based on what I have written here), and let me snap a quick photo before either of us had our coffee. I did not share that he was my favorite postseason pitcher to watch of all-time. Smoltz went 15-4 with a 2.67 ERA and four saves in his postseason career. It was a great way to end the weekend. I wished Smoltz a happy Father’s Day and trudged to my plane. Another great life moment and weekend for me due to my love of baseball.

As the Fourth of July approaches, make it a point to get out and take in a game soon.

You can see some of my photos from the weekend here as well.

Thanks for reading, as always!

2 thoughts on “Slow Down

  1. Love your post, Mike. Time is flying by and it’s always good to have a reminder to be more present.

    For those who love the game, each trip to the ballpark – little league, minor or major league – is a chance to slow down, enjoy the game and create special memories. To me, it’s a great escape!

    When I used to travel more, I made a point of catching games, when I could, in the city I was visiting. I went to parks that I probably wouldn’t have otherwise, but always enjoyed my visits. You get a little snapshot of that city’s culture, vibe and what it’s all about. Baseball really is the best – a nice respite from all the craziness and a great unifier.

    For the record, Wrigley will always be my favorite, and the oldies have a special place in my heart because of the history, but my top 5 are probably:
    1. Wrigley
    2. Fenway
    3. Old Yankee Stadium (haven’t been to the new one yet. You could just feel the history in the old ball park)
    4. Petco Park
    5. Camden Yards
    Special nod to Dodger Stadium. Really, really cool vibe.

  2. Well done, Mr. Carter. Another fine piece of writing with an important message for all of us.

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