After every Little League baseball in Cleburne, Texas in the late 1980s, each player was entitled to one (1) free soda at the concession stand. At some point, it became very en vogue to ask the attendants to do a little extra work and mix a splash of every flavor of soda into our cup. I don’t know how this trend started (I am told that it was not exclusive to Cleburne), but the name for this abomination was a “suicide” — a moniker that my parents hated, for obvious reasons. In fact, once they heard us order the drink, they expressly forbade us to continue using the term, and encouraged us to make up a new one. The drink tasted like Skittles, so — as children with no talent in the branding department — we opted to call the drink “a skittles,” which only served to further exasperate the already-annoyed parent-volunteers, who kept explaining that we didn’t get free candy, we only got a free drink.
“Just… mix in a little of each flavor,” we said in the resigned sigh of children being forced to do something uncool. “Oh, a suicide,” they would reply in a why-didn’t-you-just-say-so tone of voice, and we would look up at our parents with a cautious glance, as if to indicate “…they said it, not me.”
I returned to Globe Life Park for the first time this season on Friday night, two weeks (and two days) after my second vaccination. I was in attendance for the NLCS and World Series, but this was my first Rangers game with fans that I had attended since the final game at Globe Life Park, at the end of the 2019 season. That was only a year and a half ago, but between the pandemic and the change of stadiums, it just feels like an entirely different world.
As I filled out my scorebook and readied my work space in the press box, I could smell the familiar smells of ballpark food, and a number of colleagues made their way over to say hello. I did not expect to be emotional, but it felt like a heaviness being removed. No, this is not a finish line, but it felt like the universe took its foot off my chest for a moment, and I could breathe again, for the first time in over a year.
Or maybe just the first time in a few days.
You see, I was almost late to my first game back because I spent the afternoon in the same little town where I once played Little League, attending the funeral of one of my best friends from high school. I don’t need to process that grief process in detail here, but suffice it to say:
I am currently a large “skittles” of emotions.