After a weekend that was busy, crazy, terrible, fun, hectic and hot, I've finally found a few minutes to sit down and relax this morning. I woke up at 6:30 today - not entriely by choice - and went to the golf course to play nine holes and hopefully clear my head a little.
I think it worked.
See, I like getting to the golf course early, when it's calm, still and empty. Golf is a lot better at that time, when you don't have to wait for the 15 minutes on every hole for the four duffers in front of you to finish. Nothing is more peaceful than a golf course on a beautiful morning.
Alone with my clubs and my thoughts, I can play a round pretty quickly. These early morning rounds are the best mental therapy for me. It may sound corny and trite, but I've found that life is really all about the little things. Since this is primarily a sports blog, I will relate some wonderful experiences with sports I've had the past few years that I've come to appreciate more and more:
- Joe Charboneau gives baseball lessons at Unlimited Sports, the facility at which I work. For those of you who don't know, "Super Joe" played for the Indians and was the 1980 A.L. Rookie of the Year, before injuries derailed his career. Before I left for college last August, I was astonished at how nice and friendly he was. I came back to work in May, and the first person I saw was Joe. "Scotty, how's it going man?" he asked with a big smile and an even bigger handshake. Joe Charboneau remembered me? It may not seem like much, but he made my day. (Later he asked me if I had any dip. For the first, and only, time in my life, I wished I had some to give to him).
- Jim Thome received a mixture of boos and cheers (mostly boos) when he returned to Cleveland this summer. I will always have fond memories of Thome, who used to work out at Unlimited Sports. One wintry day we were deluged with snow and I was outside shoveling, struggling to clear our front walk, when none other than Mr. Thome himself appeared, shovel in hand, and helped me finish. Another time my friend and I brought some baseballs and asked him to sign, which he did uncomplainingly, and also chatted with us for a few minutes. Say what you will about him leaving Cleveland, but I will always remain a Jim Thome fan.
- As an intern with the Lake County Captains, single-A affiliate of the Indians, I have many different tasks during the course of the game. Occassionly I will be with our mascot Skipper, making sure he gets to the on-field promotions on time and keeping the kids from swarming him. We also visit the stadium's suites, and one day Cleveland Browns GM Phil Savage had our diamond suite reserved. We walked in and Savage was watching the U.S. Open on TV, and while Skipper entertained the little kids, Savage walked up to me and asked, "So you've got to follow the big guy around today, huh?" Dumbfounded, I could only nod. Then he stuck out his hand and said, "Hi, I'm Phil Savage." I shook his hand and replied, "Yeah, I know." He asked about the Captains, my future, and seemed genuinely pleased when I told him I wanted to work for the Browns, Indians or Cavs someday. That 5-minute conversation with him is one of my fondest memories of all-time.
In addition to meeting some great people, my fledgling amateur athletic career led to some memorable moments. Our varsity baseball team played a game at Jacobs Field, and after warming up in the Indians bullpen, I pitched the sixth inning. Absoultely unbelievable. Every time I go to a game I am reminded of that feeling.
It's amazing how much a little round of golf can bring out. I feel it is the most humbling of any sport I've played (and trust me, it humbles me pretty often), and despite the frustrations it offers me the greatest chance to just take a deep breath and relax.
To put it briefly, golf is like a mulligan for real life.