Baseball, like summer camp, leaves a gap when it’s over

By John Toth / Editor and Publisher

Baseball is over. The summer has ended. The train has pulled out of the station and is rolling back to reality.

It was a long season, much longer than previous years, but we didn’t mind. We were excited, nervous, anxious, excited again, more nervous, exhilarated, tired, sleepless and excited and jubilant for one last time. It was exhausting and a lot of fun.

After all that daily drama, baseball came to a dead stop, much like slamming on the breaks at 100 mph. The games were over. What are we going to do tomorrow, we asked.

“Pitchers and catchers report on Feb. 13,” commented a friend on Facebook.

Extreme withdrawal. We still had the victory parade downtown. He was already looking forward to pre-season. Let Justin Verlander get married, Carlos Correa enjoy his engagement, and some of the players enjoy Disney World. We’ll have a great time during the holidays, then around the end of January, we can start looking at spring training.

We don’t want that. We want baseball.

“I woke up with elation yesterday. Today I arose with depression – the MLB season’s over. What? No game tonight?” posted another friend.

Our way of life since April, when George Springer started the season with a homerun, has suddenly come to a close. It was like saying goodbye to your childhood summer camp buddies and then realizing on the train ride home that you would really prefer to be at camp still.

I got that feeling each time I left camp. It was awful. Two months earlier the summer seemed endless, and I didn’t have a care in the world. The train ride home was long and lonely compared to the constant flurry of the camp life. I didn’t really want to be on that train, and I didn’t want to go back to the reality.

I liked it in camp. It was special, exciting, an instant social setting where the biggest problem I had was how neatly I made my bed in the morning.

The escape was over back then, just as the escape into baseball world came to an end just recently.
“I will probably watch some of the postseason reruns, starting with the Red Sox series,” said yet another friend.

Ah, yes, an attempt to continue the escape, but it’s artificial. I’ll probably catch some of those games also, but I already know the outcome. It’s just entertainment. Baseball is drama, excitement, disappointment all packed into a game – a way of life. It’s mental summer camp.

“I know – each fall it’s so sad when baseball ends! The summer is over, and we have to wait until April!” the comments continued.

After a night of celebrating that we now have a world championship team in Houston, after a fantastic paradae in downtown Houston, that lonely train ride home was very hard for many of us.

No more food fights, cheering, bunk raids, cook-outs, overnight hikes, sailing, water skiing, just silence as the train rolled through the countryside and into the city. Real life would soon pick up where I left it a couple of months earlier.

A punch in the gut all the way home.

But time takes care of it. Memories of summer were replaced with class schedules and a brand new group of friends as well as some old ones.

Thanksgiving kicks off the holiday season in a couple of weeks. Baseball will be a distant memory as the football and basketball seasons heat up.

It’s not the same, I know. Those two are just sports. But they are a good substitute until the train pulls into the station again, ready to take you back to summer camp, where the escape picks up again, right where it left off on Nov. 1, 2017.