Monday, October 20, 2008

Take Me Out to the Ballgame!

So my buddy Mike bought me a ticket to last night's Game 7. You serious sports fans (and you know who you are) should probably just skip this and go back to work. It may be painful for you.

I didn't actually know the game was over when it was over. The scoreboard only showed up to the eighth inning and even I know there are nine innings. I certainly noticed everyone yelling and screaming at that third out, but they'd been yelling and screaming -- and cow-belling and horn-honking and high-fiving and low-fiving and hand-clapping and back-slapping -- for several hours by now, so its significance was lost on me. After a couple minutes, the scoreboard finally showed a zero for Boston in the ninth, but I still thought the game was on.

I had no idea that when it's clear in the ninth inning that the home team has won, the game just quits. I'm still appalled by that. I mean, the Red Sox got to play nine innings. We only got to play eight. How can that be fair? Well, I agreed with myself (with whom I was having this conversation) that it would be a glum Boston, indeed, who would play against the already victorious Tampa Bay, but still ...

I later argued with Mike about it in the car. A world record could have been established in that ninth inning! Mike conceded that a personal record could have been beaten.

The score could have doubled in that time.

We could have watched a home run.

If, as the dropping of the bottom of the ninth when the home team wins suggests, it's only the winning or the losing that counts, then why are scores even announced? Why don't they just say A beat B? There's obviously no need to say A trounced B because, clearly, the numbers don't matter because if they did, the winning team would be allowed to have its ninth inning.

Have I made my stance clear? You can't have it both ways. Either the score matters or it doesn't.

Mike said the only thing that was clear was that no other car was housing a conversation this ridiculous, "and there are a LOT of cars!"


As we walked to the dome to watch this nine-innings-for-them, only-eight-for-us game, two sets of twentysomething couples merged onto the sidewalk. One man said, "Man! Game Seven's gonna be somethin', huh?"

"What flavor is this gum?" one of the women asked.

I noticed that there weren't many black people, and I wonder why.

I also noticed that the giant display of a Pepsi bottle showed the soda to be much lighter than it is in real life. And the bottom of the O in the lit-up Tropicana sign had lost its way. That seemed amazing to me. This game was televised and it was crucial and the name of the freaking stadium has a burned-out bulb?

I wondered how St. Anthony's Hospital could afford to advertise here. And why.

I wondered a LOT about Raymond, the mascot. First of all, what kind of critter is Raymond? All I could tell was that he has big hair. I couldn't connect him with "Ray." He's too fat to be a Sun Ray and too tall and humanoid to be a Sting Ray. He's too dull to be a Ray of Hope. We know he's not a Devil Ray because we by god are just the Rays now.

And is Raymond James involved at all, as in that stadium in Tampa, or is it the only "Ray" name they could come up with? Could it, for instance, have been Raymona, or must all sports mascots be masculine ... or at least male? I wouldn't call Raymond masculine. And who's under that huge costume? A man? A woman? Black? White? Other? (Answer Optional) Whoever it is, it's someone with good moves and a spirit that seems to show even with the Raymond persona.

And does anyone really buy that pre-packaged cotton candy? Does it sell, or does someone just drag around the same huge wads of nasty-colored spun sugar jammed into transparent bags on sticks? Is pre-packaged cotton candy like fruitcake in that sense? Fresh cotton candy is a delight, as I recall, but maybe only if you're under twelve.

Furthermore, if popcorn is for sale at games, how come I've never smelled it? The song clearly calls for it.

I spent a lot of time just gazing around at all the shouting mouths, the pumping fists, the distended neck veins. It was pretty impressive, the passion. Impressive and, to me, completely cryptic.

At least I started understanding the cowbell thing. Well, I confess that I was paying attention to the Cowbell Etiquette Lesson on the big screen. When the opponent has two strikes, we're to rise up clanging. Fairly often, a Sox man would step back to insist upon quiet while he bat. We Rays folk would boo him for his unwillingness to submit to our attempt to rattle him. It doesn't rattle our pitcher. Our noise, obviously, was honed to a laser point at the batter only.

Am I supposed to say "A Sox"? A Sox would step back? See, sports just makes language hard. Or is it sports make it hard?

There seemed to be a period of time when all the people around me leapt to their feet to follow the progress of the ball soaring through the air. I finally got whipped up enough that I, too, sprang up and watched, shouting and clapping. That opened the window for the men on my right. Now that I'd shown some animation, I was included in the high-fives. I'll bet some carpal tunnels got syndromed last night. Talk about repetitive motion!

One poor man tried to low-five me, but I wasn't used to it and I just shook his hand.

I have a friend who was moved to tears by the TV reporting of this game. I was moved when B.K. Jackson, a seventeen-year-old from Boston, played the national anthem on a tenor sax. It was hot.

I experienced a couple of extremes. The ladies' room was the filthiest I've ever seen anywhere. Normally, though, there are attendants, so it looks as if someone called in sick last night.

The french fries were the best I've ever had. They tasted like fresh potatoes, dug from the cool damp earth that very morning. Yay for potatoes!

I'm impressed with the Rays' fashion developer. I'd say there were at least twenty different styles of Rays shirts. If I'd thought to bring a pad and pen, I'd have actually counted the variety (nothing OCD here). At the top of this page, you'll see a shirt I made for a game that Mike held out to me and then snatched away and gave to someone else.

Now, I wonder why he'd do that ...


flahoos said...

Oh my god, what I wouldn't have given to have those tickets, BN!
I actually have a blister on my finger from cowbell ringage! You lucky, blogging DOG!!!! said...

Nice shirt. I like fruitcake, leave it alone!

MuddyAxles said...

I'm a guy and am supposed to be into sports. I, like you, would rather be there watching the people. They're so much more interesting. I like baseball, but between the infrequent periods of activity, there is a lot of time for wek minds like mine to wander.

I'm with you, Barbara


MuddyAxles said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Steven said...

How do I get one of those shirts????