Monday, October 17, 2011

What a difference a year makes

Anyone who knows me knows what a huge baseball fan I am. I’m not talking about the “fan” who seems to be everywhere now that the Rangers are making their second straight post-season run. I’m talking about me! I know the entire 40-man roster top to bottom and can recite it on a dare. I play in a fantasy baseball league so complex my wife constantly questions my sanity. I was sweating games in May the same way we are all sweating these incredible October games.  So as you can imagine, this time of year pretty much everything else takes a backseat … or at least it used to.

Just one short year ago the Rangers were winning their first playoff series in franchise history.  Lauren was pregnant, and it was such an exciting time in our lives. We even had several of those “I’m kidding, but I’m really not kidding” conversations about naming our son after one of the Rangers.  I mean, after all, this was once in a lifetime! We had to commemorate this historic playoff run by naming our son Elvis Echols, or Hamilton Echols or (and, man, am I glad we didn’t go this direction) Cliff Lee Echols.

During the 2010 post-season I spent most of the games at a sports bar with a group of friends, hanging on every pitch, yelling and generally soaking in the glory of post-season baseball. This was once-in-a-lifetime territory; the Rangers were in the playoffs! There wasn’t any debate—if it was a game night, everything else in our lives took a backseat.

Now a year later I can’t help but laugh at the difference. This past week included two of the most epic games in franchise history, both punctuated by a crushing home run in the 11th inning. If this had been last year, I would have been screaming at the top of my lungs, high fiving and generally acting like a maniac.

This year, as Nelson Cruz stepped to the plate in the 11th inning, I had the TV volume down to 8 so that I could hear the baby monitor. When the ball left the bat, Lauren and I were jumping around our living room in pantomime celebration (careful not to wake the baby).  As the ball landed in the seats, we extended our arms for a high five, but then waved it off at the last second, as the clap sound might have been too loud. This was quite the departure from last year, when we were hoarse the day after a game from so much yelling.

It’s crazy how much your life can change between baseball seasons. But despite all these changes, baby Elliot and I have watched a lot of baseball this year. I hold him on my lap and try to explain to him the idiosyncrasies and beauty of the game, but right now I think he is just mesmerized by the green color on the screen (and hanging out with Dad).

Jordan Echols is a Sr. Marketing Specialist for Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas and first-time dad who will be cheering quietly through the World Series.

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