RSS Feed

Tag Archives: sports

Don’t Take Me Out to the Ball Game

Apple pie and baseball are American traditions. I’d rather have a brownie than a slice of apple pie and I hate baseball. If that makes me un-American, so be it. Baseball is tedious and about as entertaining as watching the grass in the outfield grow.  I’ve been told it is more exciting when you’re at a game, but people at the games drink a lot of beer. I don’t trust them to give me accurate information.

All that standing around and just a few minutes of actual excitement.

All that standing around and just a few minutes of actual excitement.

Strike 1

When Oregano and I were dating for a few weeks, he called me unexpectedly on a Friday afternoon.

“My dad just got tickets to tonight’s Yankees game. Can you get to my house by 5:00?” he asked.

“Um,” I stalled. I wanted to spend time with Oregano, but sitting through an entire baseball game would be a mind-numbing way to spend the evening no matter who I was with. Before I said no to his offer, I had an idea. “Would it be okay if I brought a book to the game?” I asked tentatively.

“A book?! Why would you bring a book to a professional baseball game?” He was perplexed by my question.

“I think baseball is boring. You don’t know me that well yet, but I tend to get a bit snarky when I’m bored. I could probably hold it together for about 3 innings, but after that all bets are off.  If I have a book to read, I’ll be able to keep myself amused making me a much more pleasant companion,”  I admitted, wondering how he’d react.  It was way too early in the relationship to let my smart-ass show.

“The seats are on the third baseline behind the dugout. You probably shouldn’t sit there reading,” he explained.

At the risk of squelching our budding romance I said, “Thanks for asking me. Those are great seats. You should really bring someone who appreciates that fact and who will enjoy the game.”

Oregano agreed and took a friend. Thankfully, my disdain for baseball wasn’t a deal breaker for our relationship.

Strike 2

Several years later we encountered another baseball related conundrum. Our friend was having a birthday party at a minor league baseball game. I wanted to be there to celebrate with him, but the thought of sitting through a game was daunting.

“It will be fun. Some of our friends will be in the stands with us. We’ll be in a separate section so you can move around and talk to everyone,” Oregano said trying to convince me as we left the house.

When we arrived at the game, we ate and mingled with our friends while the players went about their business on the field. There was a lull in our conversation so I glanced at the score board. It was already the 7th inning. I looked at my watch.

“Hey, you were right. This isn’t so bad! It’s been about a half hour and we’re already in the 7th inning,” I said enthusiastically to Oregano.

“I don’t know how to break this to you, but that is the 7th inning of the first game. They weren’t able to finish last night’s game. They had to stop in the 5th inning. They’re finishing that game before they start the one scheduled for this afternoon. It’s kind of a double header.”

I became apoplectic. “What are you saying?” I was trying to process this new information. “Do you mean to tell me that there are two more innings in this game PLUS another 9 innings?” I sputtered.

Once the initial shock subsided, I turned to Oregano, “OK. Here’s the deal. I agreed to attend a baseball game. That’s a total of 9 consecutive innings.”

“Unless it goes into extra innings,” he interrupted.

I gave him the look and continued. “I don’t care how you divvy those innings up, but after 9, I’m leaving. I’ll come back and get you if you want to stay, but I can’t keep the snarky beast contained for 16 innings.”

Oregano agreed to my conditions. As it turned out, he wasn’t thrilled with staying at a minor league game for that long either.

Strike 3

A few more years passed before baseball became a topic of conversation again. This time we were on vacation in Colorado Springs. Oregano mentioned that the Mets were playing the Rockies in Denver. I know the Mets are his favorite team. Maybe it was the lack of oxygen in the thin air clouding my judgment, but I heard myself say, “Denver isn’t that far away. Go online and see if there are any tickets left for tonight’s game.”

Oregano stared at me in disbelief. “Your voice sounds like my wife’s, but those are never words I would have expected to hear coming out of her mouth. Do you realize what you just said?”

“Yes. I know what I said. If I were you, I’d jump on this opportunity. Who knows how long it will be until I make this offer again?”

Oregano quickly purchased 2 tickets to the game. When we got in the car to drive to Denver we noticed that the thermometer read 98 degrees. I have a heat activated bitch switch and I volunteered to sit in this kind of heat to watch a baseball game; clearly I underestimated the effect the high altitude had on my reasoning skills.

By the time we walked from the car to the stadium, we were both drenched in sweat. Oregano looked at my pink cheeks and glistening brow and offered these comforting words, “I’m sure it will cool off once the sun goes down.”

We arrived at our seats in left field. Holy crap! It was hot! What little breeze we’d had walking to our seats disappeared once we crammed ourselves in among the other sweaty spectators. I leaned back in my seat with a vat of lemonade. I had just gotten as comfortable as I was going to get when I heard a loud cracking sound. Everyone around me jumped up to try to catch the home run ball whizzing in our direction.  I assumed the crash position hoping I wouldn’t be hit by the ball or the people clambering to try to catch the ball.

Some lucky fan plucked the ball from the air and the crowd began to sit down. Oregano turned to talk to me and noticed that I was all hunched over. “What are you doing down there?” he asked as he settled back into his seat.

“Just staying safe,” I answered casually with my voice muffled by the arms covering my head.

“You do realize that it’s customary and fun to try to catch a home run ball,” he chuckled.

“I’ve heard that, but I’m fine down here protecting my head from the hard, high-speed projectile hurtling our way,” I replied.

When we exhausted our supply of lemonade and the sun dipped below the horizon cooling things off to a chilly 95 degrees, Oregano volunteered to go get us more liquid so we didn’t instantly burst into flames.

While he was gone, the game continued. The pitcher pitched. He scratched his crotch. He pitched again. He spit. He scratched his crotch. As sweat rolled down my spine and pooled in my underwear, I couldn’t imagine why people paid money to sit in this heat to watch this. Just then I heard the crack of the ball on the bat. Players started running and the crowd was cheering.

Oregano returned, his arms laden with liquids. “What happened? What did I miss?” he asked excitedly.

“Someone hit the ball. Someone caught the ball. Someone threw the ball and now someone is out.” I was proud that I was able to relay such a thorough retelling of the events that had transpired.

The man seated in front of us started laughing and turned around. He looked at Oregano and said, “It was a 6 to 3 play. Grounder to short stop and he threw the guy out at first.” Then he turned to me and smiled, “Not a fan of the game, huh?”

“Is it that obvious?” I asked. “In my defense, I accurately recounted the events. I was just missing some inconsequential details.”

We sweated through the rest of the game. I couldn’t tell you who won or what the score was, but the evening wasn’t a total waste of time. With that much sweating I was sure I had lost a few pounds. When we walked out of the stadium at 11pm, the temperature on the sign read 90 degrees. “See, I told you it would cool off once the sun went down,” Oregano said wringing the sweat out of his t-shirt.

“That was a memorable outing. Be sure you remember it because I am NOT doing that again,” I said cheerfully.

Oregano enjoying the one and only time I'll ever be at a major league baseball game.

Oregano enjoying the one and only time I’ll ever be at a major league baseball game.

 

Those experiences have done nothing to change my feelings towards baseball. If anything, they have solidified my opinion. Every October when television is inundated with playoff and World Series games, I am irritated that shows I want to watch have been preempted.

During this year’s playoffs, Oregano made an announcement. “I have a surprise for you. I know how much you dislike baseball, but they have found a way to make it even more torturous for you.”

“Really? How could they make it worse?” I was curious.

“There is something called sabermetrics. It’s a detailed mathematical and statistical analysis of baseball records. They are showing tonight’s game with all kinds of statistics on the screen while the game plays in the background. They’ve managed to combine your two least favorite things: baseball AND math,” he chuckled.

“I didn’t think it was possible to make baseball more boring, but they’ve managed to do it. That’s impressive!” I said walking out of the room as he turned on the game.

 

 

 

**And now a word from our sponsor**

My story “Looking a Gift Horse in the Mouth” is in Scary Mommy’s Guide to Surviving the Holidays. I’m thrilled to be included in a book with so many talented writers and to be contributing to the Scary Mommy Thanksgiving Project. You can learn more about the project, order the e-book or donate to this worthy cause by clicking here.

 

 

 

 

In a (Fantasy) League of His Own

Many children have an imaginary friend when they are young. Together they have tea parties, sleep overs, share secrets and just enjoy each other’s company. However, there comes a time in most young children’s lives when they outgrow this relationship. But what happens when a person’s fictitious childhood friend grows into a lifelong bosom buddy? And, what happens when that person doesn’t have just one imaginary friend, but enough to field a baseball team? Apparently, that person joins my gym.

When I arrived at the gym, I headed towards the treadmill, but my path was blocked by a gentleman. I thought he had just chosen an inconvenient place to stretch, but after a few seconds, it became obvious to me that he wasn’t stretching; he was pretending to pitch a baseball into the men’s locker room. I’m not talking about a half-hearted pitch that he was lobbing over the plate. This man was shaking off signs from an invisible catcher then pretending to throw a ball just like a real pitcher would with the full wind-up, throw and follow-through. What was even more astounding was that he waited for the catcher to throw the ball back to him, made a show of catching it then checked the bases before he threw the next pitch.

 

I wasn’t sure of the etiquette required in this situation. Would it be rude to just barge right between the fake pitcher’s mound and the plate? Should I try to squeeze behind the pitcher and hope I don’t get whacked in the face during his wind up? Or, is the polite thing to do wait until the inning is over then walk past when the other imaginary team takes the field? I waited while he threw two more pitches then realized he was oblivious to me standing there and to the notion that he was blocking the way to the workout floor. While he was checking the bases for runners, I snuck behind him to get to the treadmill.

Normally I find baseball to be a torturously boring sport to watch. You would think that the boredom of an actual baseball game pales in comparison to the boredom of watching one when there isn’t even a ball, yet somehow, I found it riveting. He pitched what seemed like an entire inning then stopped and went to lift some weights. I guess he had retired the side and was using the rest of the gym as his bullpen. Needless to say, I was intrigued by his unusual public behavior. There weren’t many people in the gym that afternoon, but as I walked on the treadmill, I looked around to see if anyone else noticed this odd scene. If they did, they weren’t obvious about it. No one made eye contact with me with a “Can you believe this guy?” look in their eyes.

I had a conundrum on my hands. I was so fascinated by what this man was doing that I wanted to watch to see what he would do next, but I didn’t want to seem rude by staring at him. I was struggling between being a mature adult and giggling out loud. The only way to prevent myself from giggling was to avoid watching him. This meant that I had to walk with my head turned sideways which, given my clumsiness, is risky business. You would think concentrating on not falling would have been enough to distract me from thinking about this man and his antics, but it was not.

In an effort to stem the wave of giggles building in my chest, I tried to rationalize this man’s behavior; perhaps he is a baseball coach and is working on his form to improve muscle memory. That was my  theory until I glanced in his direction and saw him crouched down, hands poised under the buttocks of an invisible center, waiting to receive the snap of a football.  He trotted backwards cocking his arm, checked downfield then threw the pass while dodging an oncoming, yet unseen, tackle. That was it! I was hooked and could not look away. Giggles be damned! This was the most entertainment I had during a workout since I realized I could download audio books to my i-pod.

After I averted my eyes long enough to get my giggling under control, I looked back again. Now, this all-star athlete was shooting free throws at a non-existent basketball hoop. I suppose one of the other invisible players had fouled him, but couldn’t figure out how a referee might have seen the foul go down. His free throws involved an elaborate ritual where he bounced the pretend ball several times then took the shot, retrieved the ball and took another shot.

What luck I had to witness such a varied display of athletic prowess. I watched him with anticipation trying to guess which sport he might mimic next: tennis, golf, Frisbee. Alas, he must have only earned his varsity letters in those three sports. The next day, he was back again, but this time he had a prop. The bats, balls and players might have been imaginary, but the baseball glove on his hand was not. He continued pitching and I looked around for the reactions of the other people in the gym. Not one other person seemed fazed by his unusual behavior. They didn’t even seem irritated that he was blocking their way to and from the locker rooms. People ignored him and walked around him like he wasn’t even there. That’s when I began to wonder if he was a figment of my imagination.

Humdrum Olympic Dreams

As you might have heard, the Olympic Games have begun. Non-stop coverage of young, lithe, athletic people has me fantasizing about what might have been if I wasn’t short and clumsy. In my early teen years I was an excellent swimmer. I did reasonably well until everyone else grew taller and could beat me simply by virtue of the fact that their arms were longer.  In high school, I was a varsity volleyball player. The fact that I could nearly walk under the net without ducking my head only helped to hone my skills as a setter by not having to waste time practicing those pesky jumping and blocking skills. Needless to say, any dreams I had of being in the Olympics were never realized.

If I can’t be an athlete, could there still be some way for me to participate in the Olympics? I wouldn’t want to be a referee, judge or time-keeper.  With so many hopes and dreams on the line, these jobs are a very stressful way to be involved in the games. Being one of the sports commentators appears to be a great option with an all-expense paid trip to the Olympics and great seats to events. However, my lack of sports knowledge might be a detriment to the viewers at home who are expecting in-depth analysis of the action. After much consideration, I came to the conclusion that the only way I am qualified to participate in the Olympics is as a spectator.

Fully committed to that role, I watched hours of Olympic coverage this past weekend. During the archery competition I discovered that there was a way I could keep my Olympic dream alive. After the archers shot their arrows at the target, someone walked down to the target, removed those arrows and brought them back. That’s something I could do! Sure, I’ll never compete as an athlete or feel the weight of a medal draped around my neck, but there is still a way for me to participate in the Olympic Games. After that realization, I began to watch Olympic events more intently. The talent of the world-class athletes was admirable, but I was focused on something else.  I watched the background for the unsung heroes who are a crucial part of the Olympic Games. The skills these men and women demonstrated while carrying out their Olympic duties are strikingly similar to skills I have mastered while doing housework. Without even knowing it, I’ve had years of training. I’m now ready to rise to the Olympic level. Unlike athletes who spend their lives training for one sport, my skills are applicable in a wide variety of sporting events.

Basketball and indoor volleyball Between points and during time outs, a team of people with mops runs out to wipe the sweat from the floor. I have many years of mopping experience, although I normally don’t have an audience or run while mopping at home.

Long jump and triple jump Before the leaf blower became commonplace for yard work, we gathered fallen leaves the old-fashioned way; with a rake. My experience with this low-tech hand tool qualifies me to be the person who rakes the sand after the judges have measured the distance each contestant has jumped.

Gymnastics and weight-lifting Have you seen the mess around the chalk bowl? Someone needs to dust all that.

Rhythmic gymnastics You can’t tell me that long ribbon they twirl around doesn’t get tangled. I’ve spent hours of my life untangling things – hair, electrical cords, the innards of cassette tapes and shoelaces.

Sailing As long as I’m bragging about my untangling skills, I should mention that those same skills qualify me to be the person who stands on the dock to untie the boat before the race begins.

Swimming Did you notice that the swimmers leave the ready room fully clothed? When they reach the starting blocks they place their clothes into a small laundry basket which someone carries away. I have carried many a laundry basket during my lifetime. The wet, slippery pool deck offers an added bit of athleticism to make the job more challenging.

Track and field Tidying my house on a daily basis means picking up errant items and returning them to their proper place. That same skill set could be used to fetch the shot-put, discus and javelin and return those to the athletes.

Marathon and road race cycling –At designated points on the race route, people from an athlete’s team stand on the side of the road and hand out a bag of food or bottle of water. I’ve been training for that task for years by standing at my front door handing out Halloween candy to pushing, grabbing trick-or-treaters.

EquestrianI’ve scooped cat litter most of my life. While I’m sure the volume of the horses’ droppings and the size of the shovel needed would be vastly different from those used in a litter box, picking up poop is picking up poop.

I’m not sure how to apply for any of these positions, but I have 4 years until the next summer games to figure out how to get hired. If I that doesn’t work out, I could always participate in the Olympics by being an official usher like the woman in this video.  I certainly have the necessary sarcasm skills for the job.

%d bloggers like this: