I once watched a rookie get three two-run homers in Game 7 of the division series, and he tried not to smile as he ran the bases, keeping his jaw slack so as not to grin. But he couldn’t withhold it as he landed home and his teammates crowded around to hug him. Full-on hugs and then some to that same rookie they like to pick on. The team warms my heart.
I like to remember the 2007 Rockies when they made it to the World Series. Those grown men leaping tree feet in the air, piling on top of each other with giddiness. And what Red Sox fan can forget Game 4 of the 2004 World Series? The pitcher catches the ball, there is one last out to win the game and the series of a generation; all he has to do is toss it to first base. He hesitates with the realization of what is about to happen, runs toward first base as though he’s going to make the out himself, then finally tosses it underhand ever so carefully, all the teammates making sure it is firmly caught and the out is called before the mad celebration begins.
Such moments conjure pictures of these men as they must have been after a Little League game, that joy of play, the thrill of accomplishment, the chance of a lifetime. How many professionals get that level of excitement? (Not many that I know, unless they’re just leaping on the inside.)
Why does it make me smile? I guess anything that makes grown-ups feel eager like children has my vote. We could use a lot more of it.
And now, a recap of that 2004 moment, for all the Red Sox fans (I dare you not to smile):