Playing sports while growing, I preferred going one on one. But now every game involving Team Brewer is all about "we."
To my son, Miles Warren Brewer, who has been making hearts throb since Thursday:
As a child, I preferred to be alone with my imagination. I could even turn team sports into a solo act.
Let’s hope you don’t play one-on-one baseball, son. I was nuts. With a glove, bat, tennis ball, chain-link fence and three trees in our backyard, I figured out how to play the game by myself. I liked being on a real team, but I loved playing alone, using the three trees as my first, second and third basemen, using the fence as my catcher, pretending the tennis ball was a magical baseball that would bounce into play. I kept my own stats, did my own play by play and hosted my own postgame show. Team Brewer was incredible, so much so that no other real person was allowed to join. Why mess up my chemistry? I knew what I wanted.
Now, I write about sports for a living to satisfy my imagination fix. It’s still about me seeing the game the way I want to see it. I think of it as harmless, blissful selfishness. When I write, I have no teammates, again. Why mess up my chemistry?
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OK, OK. Daddy will stop his Cliff Huxtable (you’ll make me feel really old one day when you ask, “Who’s that?”) tangent now. Here’s the point: On the last day of May, when you entered this world to brighten a week burdened by gunshots and horror in Seattle, you knocked the loner right out of your father. You didn’t join my team. You took over the team. And now, every game is about “we.”
To be honest, your beautiful mother, Karen, had already started this process. She’s amazing, the backbone and the unifier of our family, our team. I hope your first words will reference her.
As I watched her deliver you, I realized that Marshawn Lynch isn’t Beast Mode. Mom is Beast Mode. And every mother is Beast Mode. Men are just better at marketing their toughness.
I’m not sure if this will be a blessing or burden for you, but your life will be infused with sports because of me. Heck, you already have two basketball hoops, and the walls in your room are decorated with animals playing various games. Sorry, son. Or maybe, fingers crossed, thank me later?
It’s not the games that your dad appreciates as much as it’s the spirit of them. Besides health and happiness, my greatest wish is that you’ll find something that makes you jump out of your seat and scream at random times, or bonds you with strangers, or, best of all, helps you understand and appreciate humanity. That’s what sports do for me. Maybe that will be music for you, or science, or cooking. Whatever it is, respect and nourish your passion. And if it makes you rich, well, remember that I changed your diaper for the first time on Saturday morning, June 2, 2012, at 10:25 a.m. — and I had to put in work, son.
If sports are your passion, please be patient enough for me to explain why you can learn so much about life from the story of Magic Johnson. Please let me tell you why sports are best played with the joy of Ken Griffey Jr. Please let me tell you why Ryne Sandberg is the best second baseman I’ve ever seen and why Peyton Manning is the prototypical quarterback and why volleyball is a criminally underrated sport.
If you must grow up a Seattle sports fan, which I’ll encourage even as I criticize your beloved teams, remember to read the warning label first. It’ll say something like: Consuming too much mediocrity increases the risk of depression.
To be safe, you should become a well-rounded sports fan. Don’t be a snob about just watching men play baseball, basketball and football. Appreciate the nuances of soccer. Respect women’s sports, especially since some of Seattle’s most remarkable athletes are female. Immerse yourself in rowing, your city’s greatest sports tradition. And if you think your father is ignoring any sport, try it for yourself. Your dad is frustratingly bland when it comes to some things. Copy your mother’s sense of adventure.
Actually, copy most everything your mother does because she’s incredible — superhuman — and for as long as I live, I will make sure you know how to express that to her lovingly. Don’t worry — I’ll teach you how to be like Mom in a manly manner.
One day, you’ll learn there’s a huge difference between being a male and a man. We’ll guide you as best we can. First, though, we just want you to be the happiest child in the world.
You’re the heart of Team Brewer now. Use that power wisely. The possibilities are infinite, and I’m sure you’re already tinkering with some ideas.
In the meantime, I’ll fetch my baseball glove. No more one-on-one baseball. All of a sudden, I realize why I was so picky about who I wanted to play with as a little boy. There’s only one person I could imagine being on my backyard team.
Jerry Brewer: 206-464-2277 or firstname.lastname@example.org