He's a big kid, like his
Footwork moving to the ball, receiving the ball, making the transfer, throwing footwork, fingers on top of the ball - over and over he fields as I hit balls at him and exhort him to take a different angle to the ball, or make sure the fingers of his glove are all the way down to the dirt as he receives the ball. He did a fantastic job, so much so that I cut practice short - better a dozen good reps than a bunch of sloppy ones.
At the end of the day, of course, for all the Cabin Boy's dedication and toughness and burgeoning skill as a ballplayer, for all the awards and recognition he's received, he's a seven year old kid, playing youth baseball with a bunch of other seven and eight year olds, and he's only a couple of years removed from this.
Given that I'm writing a blog and keeping a wiki devoted to my favorite roleplaying games, I've pretty much surrendered any claim on the title of 'casual gamer.' I've churned out hundreds of posts and thousands of words on what can generously be described as trivia. As much as I'd like to enjoy the laid-back cachet of 'beer 'n' pretzels gamer' or 'cheetoist,' realistically 'lifestyle gamer' - or perhaps just 'lifer' - seems much more appropriate.
But at the heart of roleplaying games is the childlike joy of playing pretend; flipping through rule books, rolling dice, scribbling on character sheets, moving minis around a tabletop, and, yes, acting all thespy an' stuff, are the 'mature' trappings of our kids' games, but at the end of the day, no matter how many blog posts or wiki pages or house rules I create, no matter how many setting locations and non-player characters I research and write up, no matter how many manor or fortress or courtyard plans I draw, it's nothing more than a slightly more elaborate version of the imaginative play I engaged in as a kid.
I thought of this yesterday as I was reading a blog - doesn't matter which one, so don't ask - and saw the long list of products the blogger assembled for sale or download. I've been approached a few times about writing gaming products, and actually made a half-hearted - half-assed, really - effort at it once, and that was enough to disabuse me of the notion that I should be attempting to publish anything. Writing and creating for my campaign is fun, but even taking that same information and putting it into a publication-friendly format is too much like Serious Business for me. I have nothing but respect for those who make that leap, but I have no interest in joining them.
Today the Cabin Boy told me he wants to play in the major leagues. For right now, and for many years to come, I want him to play because he loves it.