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2005-04-15 - 3:50 p.m.

“Folke has now gone three batters, starting at two and oh, then to a full count, and then to two pop ups and only one walk. Ruben Sierra at the plate now, as the Yankees continue to throw everyone off the bench onto the field. The bases loaded, Boston with a three run lead. One goes long and Rivera will be called up for the save. The three and one. Here’s the payoff. And the pitcchhhhh…”

CRACK.

The Big Sandwich, as only I call him, fouled it back and Veritek made a running catch to end the game, bringing the six game series to a predictably even three to three. Given that the last six games have run pretty close, each team blowing out the other on occasion, you would think the game winning catch would be one of relief rather than jubilation. The Yanks usually have a way of finding those hits in the ninth, so to leave three stranded, should cause a breath of relief. But in a game where Randy Johnson, the supposed key to tackling the Beantown bombers in the postseason, gets lit up for five runs, it was a victory before the final out was scored.

I would have been interested to see the faces on the fans of Boston when the game ended, but alas, I shall never know, as all of these tidbits were relayed via my brown alarm-clock-radio. (I swear it was white when I bought it.)

The last few dollars I had in my pocket went to a bottle of wine with lady-bugs on it. Not exactly the height of fine culture, but a solid step above Boones. So, with a mug of wine described on the label as “red,” I laid myself out over the couch, staring at the ceiling, listening to what sounded like Roddy Rod from the Price is Right call the plays from Fenway.

The sun was setting by the time the game started, a view of reds and purples splashed over planes headed for LaGuardia and the few tall buildings in East Brooklyn gently pulsing through my windows. For a Thursday there was little going on below, no kids playing on the front stoop, or elders gossiping by the bodega. The world was incredibly still.

“It’s a brisk night here in Boston, and all the other press booths have closed their windows.”

“A little competition between journalists, Susan?”

“Well, we can bear the cold, to hear the game.”

My new computer, a bright, shiny, gynourmous monolith of a machine, could do just about anything I asked of it, but thanks to a shoddy TV card, and my continued lack of cable, beaming in baseball Armageddon lay just outside it’s reach. Instead I relied on the little device I’d bought when I was twelve and going to sleep-away camp for the first time. How any alarm clock survived thirteen years with me without being smashed to pieces is a wonder in and of itself.

The voices scaled up and down with the action, as the crowd’s consistent murmur changed modulation, up with a Boston play, down with a Yankees. The soundtrack to the game reflected the constant flux both on and off the field; a constant churning movement. Meanwhile, I gave up trying to reach for the box of Wheatables at the end of the couch, and slowly began to ferment.

It didn’t help that there was no one there to talk to. Baseball games, with their sagging gaps between moments of ragged fervor, give ample space for armchair managers to offer up absurd theories on the next best move. This is why Baseball fans know the stats, each of the players, and every possible trade. We talk about EVERYTHING. We have time to.

The room never moved, and the commentary in my head, it just sat there molding with the rest of my body. When you’re watching the game on television they ply you every two seconds with commercials and quick snippets from other games. Every statistic they show is somehow sponsored by some major corporation: “Mitsubishi’s DRIVE of the game. Cingular’s CALL to the Bullpen. Tupperware’s play off the PLATE” You don’t really have downtime between all the incessant information slammed into your retinas.

My grandfather was a Yankee fan. He was Yankee fan during the last season the Red Sox walked onto the field as the “World Champions.” (I may be wrong, by the way, but I haven’t seen a game yet where the Yanks play in Fenway without hearing a bit of Queen. Not that I blame them for rubbing it in.) Pop was born in Nineteen-Eleven, on September Tenth, though if you asked him his birthday he enjoyed simply saying “Nine, Ten, Eleven.” He got a few looks, and a few people thought he was autistic, but that seemed to keep him happy.

He always used to tell me about spending his nights with his eight siblings huddled around the radio, listening to the Yankee games, and then staying up late to listen to The Shadow; the Heroes of the field blending with the Heroes in the dark, each of them a flash in his imagination. Just as he constructed the wind on a dark stormy night fluttering through one champion’s cloak, so he imagined another champion pointing to the bleachers before slamming a fastball sitting up as it went across the plate.

They existed upon the shaky reality of the bombast sputtering from a single speaker, and splashes of paint in the back of his mind. Today, I have an instantly accessible encyclopedia of every picture, quote, and stat any ballplayer had put on the board. When I get a raise I can see them in High Definition, a standard of video so detailed, it actually exceeds the human capacity of vision. I can “feel like I’m there.”

“Damon takes second on a steal. Renteria at the plate. Randy Johnson, too slow on the pick off, and Damon moves into scoring position. This is not lost on Renteria, who is a single away from widening the lead. The one-oh on Renteria. Johnson checks Damon. Here’s the payoff. And the pitccchhh…A High Fly Ball going to Deep Center! Sheffield running back! Back! He’s on the warning track, looking…and THERE IT GOES!!!”

He wouldn’t have been cheering. But I wonder if he would have felt like he was there.

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