It's been a month since my season ended, and home has really started to take shape...starting with an actual home. We bought a house towards the end of the season (after seeing it one time for 15 minutes during our 3 day all star break, naturally). Baseball takes our free time. There are no such things as weekends during the 7+ months of the season. Days become a blur of alternating homestands and roadtrips. 10-15 days at a time without an off day. No Holidays either. We play on all the major holidays from Valentine's Day to Labor Day. Baseball even takes a normal dinner time and moves it to 11:45 pm. I'm not gonna say that baseball makes me eat Taco Bell at midnight...but, it kind of does. Being home and seeing my friends follow their normal work schedule reminds me that baseball takes the 9-5 workday and makes it 1-11. These things are inconvenient, sure, but baseball demands relational sacrifice and that pill is much harder to swallow.
I remember a few years back when one of my buddies was getting married. It was going to be a perfect summer wedding on the beach in South Carolina. I, of course, would be playing ball all summer and thus unable to attend. Knowing this, he still invited us to the wedding and even asked if I could be a groomsman. I had to regretfully decline both of the invitations, and my only contribution to the wedding was a super nice wedding gift (my wife has a gift for picking out fancy kitchen tools). As the rest of our friends started getting engaged, there were no more groomsman invites. No more holding out hope that I could "get away" for a couple days to celebrate the biggest day of their lives. Baseball takes Spring/Summer weddings, birthdays, graduations (including my own wife's), etc. and makes them novelties of the past for me. The only remnants of these special events are pictures and status updates via social media. I scroll through my Instagram feed (@cmchugh) and facebook wall and feel myself falling a little further out of touch with the most important people in my life. It becomes more than a crippling case of FOMO (fear of missing out). It's closer to FOFOOTF (fear of falling out of touch, forever). When the offseason comes it's wonderful to see your loved ones' faces you haven't seen in over half a year, but sort of horrifying when you meet the 8 month old cousin that didn't exist when you left. True story.
Not only does baseball take other people's important events away, it also dictates when we can have ours. Thinking of starting a family? If we have a baby in the middle of the season I get 3 days to fly from wherever I am (based on our history, let's assume it'll be as far away as possible), see my wife give birth, hold my first child and be back at the park ready to play. Not ideal, obviously. For that reason, giving birth in the offseason is clearly preferable. To do this, however, there is roughly 3 months from new years to opening day (april 1) to conceive. Baseball takes what should be a natural and organic process and shrinks the timeline into a stressful sprint to parenthood. Some players get lucky and nail to the schedule perfectly, for others (like so many) it isn't that easy and the 3 days during the summer is all they get.
On the subject of wives, baseball has taken my wife's business on a winding journey through 18 houses, countless cities and far from the consistency that she would have if I had a normal 9-5. Only because she is a BOSS has her business survived (even thrived at times), but my decision to play baseball has pulled the E-brake on her enterprising too many times. Baseball puts money in my wallet and takes it out of hers.
Once again, I don't want this to sound like I am complaining. I've taken chartered flights all across the country, stayed in 5 star hotels, eaten at the fanciest restaurants, discovered the best hole in the wall places, met celebrities, met the best fans ever and enjoyed making a living playing the greatest game on the planet. I love it. It's worth it. But standing around our newly built firepit yesterday with my closest friends in the world, I saw all of the things it takes to play baseball and all the things/people baseball takes in return. Sometimes I wish baseball wasn't so jealous and that she shared more of her time with the other important things in my life...because I miss them. Baseball won't last forever, that is a fact, but the people crowded around the fire, drinking beer, sharing stories and inside jokes, will be around long after the game is over for me. My 4 months of offseason is down to 3 now. Here's to investing in the things that last.