Now all I need are Mom and apple pie
I got to go to a Cubs game today! A friend of mine had tickets (actually, her boyfriend's, but he was stuck home studying for exams, so he gave them to her) and invited me to come along. I was excited -- this is only the second time since moving here that I've managed to get to a Cubs game.
The game started off pretty slow -- no one scored a run until the second inning, and it wasn't the Cubs. Instead it was yesterday's winner, the Colorado Rockies. Soon, though, things picked up with several Cubs home runs. That was pretty exciting. The Rockies also got a home run or two, after which the fans lucky enough to catch the ball threw it back to the outfielder. My friend mused, "It would suck to catch the ball and have to throw it back." I was puzzled. "They're making them throw them back?"
My friend looked at me. "Well," she said, "it's not like a rule or anything, but if the other team scores a run you're supposed to throw it back."
I had never heard of this before. "Really?"
My friend nodded. "It's kind of like saying, 'your balls are no good to us.'" She knows a lot more about sports than I do, so I thought about this for a second until I finally concluded, "well, I wouldn't throw it back. I'm from Colorado so the Rockies are kind of my team anyway."
She looked at me with her eyebrows raised. "Um, you wouldn't want to hold onto it in that crowd."
I shrugged. "They wouldn't beat up a girl."
"Yes, but you'd be under extreme social pressure to throw it back."
I didn't say anything.
"Like, 40,000 people chanting, 'throw it back, throw it back!'"
Sports norms are a strange thing to me. I've never been a huge sports person (though I did catch myself a fair case of Bronco Fever back in high school and college). So I suppose I have to have some sympathy for the intensely personal interest people take in their respective teams' success, foreign as it is to my sensibilities.
On the other hand, there's something comforting about having unwritten rules like this that are nonetheless religiously followed and enforced. Sure, you won't be sued or imprisoned if you don't obey the rules. But you still know that you should obey them. Everyone knows. It's that kind of unwritten code of honor that used to occupy most of everyday life -- and now seems relegated only to less important aspects of life (apologies to the sports fans for calling sports "less important"). Even though these rules might seem silly, there's something valuable about them. It's kind of like a tie to the past, back when respect and patience ruled the day. Even though it's good to live in a diverse and pluralistic society, it's nice to know we haven't lost touch with our roots. I hope we never do.
So here's to America's national pastime. Let's keep it going strong.