Tag Archives: baseball

For Love of the Game

If you know me at all, you know that one thing I love is my baseball. Every year around this time I wax poetic about Opening Day, and this year will be no exception.

baseball.jpg

But don’t worry.

Although I’m repeating myself, this post isn’t going to be filled with statistics and names or metaphors about the game that I’ve loved all my life. If you don’t love baseball, I won’t try and convince you. If you do love baseball, you don’t need me to tell you why.

But for me, it’s more than a game.

It is just a bat and a ball, but it can unite a city, a state, a family with one swing of that bat or one pitch of that ball. It can make grown men cry, and sometimes, even a 32-year-old woman who usually only cries for road kill and good food spilled on the floor.

It’s remembering summers by games that were played—the crack of the bat, the stitch on a ball, the smell of the grass in the field. It’s looking forward to spring training in the dead of winter when every other joy seems frozen beneath layers of ice and of snow—especially given the historically horrible winter that we’ve endured.

It’s being able to identify players by their batting stance or jersey number and feeling an instant connection with strangers wearing clothes with the old English “D” for my Detroit Tigers.

For me, it’s an escape.

Sports in general afford me the opportunity to forget about the mundane concerns of everyday life for a while and to spend time with others who take pleasure in enjoying a similar break. It’s a reminder that I can still feel excited about something when a lot of the time I’m just numb.

For me, it’s family.

It’s a 92-year-old woman who can’t always remember who I am, but who might tell me about a game in 1948 with a clarity time hasn’t stolen quite yet.

I know this year will be different.

Gram doesn’t understand the games on TV and can’t comprehend what we’re watching. Selfishly, this makes me sad because I feel like we lost our big “thing”—the talks about players, the gripes about calls, the excitement of recaps and scores.

Yet watching the game with her takes me right back to being sprawled on her living room floor as a kid, watching each game on mute while Ernie Harwell came through on the radio. (But not lying underneath the ceiling fan, as I was warned the goddamn thing would inevitably fall on me and crush me to death. Fuzzy memories.)

For me, it relates to everyday life.

The goal of every single hitter is to always make it back home. There are daily ups and downs, success and adversity. You can fail miserably one day and be the hero the next day. Slumps happen, but you have to let go of the past and look forward and remember the goal—and that you’re not in this thing by yourself.

It’s tradition and memories tied up with box scores and hopefulness mixed in with stats.

Sure, it’s a “pastime. ” But it’s my favorite way to pass that time.

Play ball.

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Couchgating 101

Unless you’re new here, you know that I love sports. If you’re new here, you should know that I love sports.

I watch them on TV. I listen to sports talk radio 95 percent of the time. If someone approaches me for an intelligent discussion about baseball or anything/anyone on ESPN, it’s like flipping a switch. You instantly have my attention.

Sports get me. I get sports.

But I have to confess that as much as I love watching and talking about the games, I don’t always enjoy watching the games at the games. Overpriced parking, $5 bottles of water and expensive tickets just to sit in a cramped seat next to a drunken fool who spends the whole game screaming obscenities through a bullhorn? No thanks. 

I know, I know. Nothing can replace the atmosphere of attending an event live and I do enjoy going once in awhile, but with few extreme exceptions, the only thing I’m parking is my ass on the couch.

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My couch gets me. I get my couch.

So what do you get when you combine sports and the couch? Couchgating*, the underrated yet superior alternative to traditional tailgating and game viewing. Unlike the rigid rules associated with attending an event—parking passes, assigned seats, having to wear pants—couchgating is much more relaxed, greatly improving the game day experience.

If you want to wear your favorite jersey, paint your face and ring a cowbell—looking at you mom—you can do so without judgment or death threats (depending on your neighbors, of course.)

And if you’re going more casual, you can even wear a cat hair-covered robe and judge every missed call like a much poorer, sports obsessed Judge Judy without anyone giving you “the look.”

“The look” can also be seen—and appropriately given—when stuck behind people on the concourse walking ridiculously slow who won’t let you pass as you try and make your way up to the concession stand.

Once there, said people will scour the limited menu as if deciphering Egyptian hieroglyphics, delaying your ability to secure an overpriced water bottle that will send you to the germ-infested toilet or claustrophobia-inducing Petri dish known as a Porto-Potty multiple times.

At home, there are no concession concessions (see what I did there?) needed, and the option to use a working toilet instead of climbing through rows of disgruntled fans to secure a spot in a 20 minute line to evacuate your bladder of the $5 water pretty much seals the deal for me. (In case you’re new here and haven’t left yet, I have a bladder the size of a Cheerio.)

I also overshare.

Anyway, the only “obstructed view seats” at home are when the cat does her rendition of “Riverdance”  in front of the TV to get my attention/catnip, the Wave can be done on your schedule without the pressure of waiting for your turn to stand and if the game sucks, you can just change the channel.

So while I admit that going to games can be fun, at the end of the game day for me, you know where I’ll probably be.

Couchgating gets me. I get couchgating.

*Note: In warmer weather, couchgating is replaced with deckgating, which is similar in structure but necessitates a lawn chair on the deck and a radio.

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Senior Moments: Hail Mary

June 21 is not only the first full day of summer, but also my grandma’s 90th birthday.

gramtiger1

This is how we party—batting helmets and bibs.

If you’ve read this blog for any amount of time, you know that she’s quite a gem, to say the least. I’ve written many posts about our “Senior Moments” at the home — everything from Bingo etiquette to dating advice — but I haven’t had many to share lately simply because there aren’t as many funny moments as there were in the past.

Heck, she’s 90.

You can’t expect her to tap dance and sing, although she often requests that my mom and I do a little of both. But she did call an old lady a cocksucker yesterday, so there’s that. Considering she’s 90, I suppose she gets a free pass on that one only because the woman referenced wasn’t a nun.

It could always be worse.

Anyway, the Tigers serendipitously had a day game today, so we spent the afternoon watching the game and treating her like the Polish queen that she is.

partyfood2

There was a hot dog bar—which meant I had to explain once again to her that tube meat is not vegetarian so she could call me a spinster hippie—Cracker Jacks, decorations and cake.

It was also 352 degrees in that room, yet she still insisted on bundling up and telling us that she was cold.

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That’s her friend Evy that I named a doll after when I was little. I also had a doll named Gert and obviously no young friends. 

Anyway, as a mini-tribute I’m doing that annoying thing where I link back to some of the funnier old posts that you might have missed the first time around. (I promise my next post will be “new” and probably not improved.)

If you have a few minutes, I invite you to get to know the woman who inspired me to complete my first full phrase as a fat little baby — “goddamn dog.” She claims that she doesn’t know where I picked it up from, as it surely wasn’t from the 203 times a day she would yell at their old poodle Pokie to get off of the couch.

From that point on she only swore in Polish, which meant I only swore in Polish. At least at that point no one knew what the fat little baby was saying.

Again, it could always be worse.

So Happy 90th Birthday Gram.

I’m not sure I could love you much more.

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Senior Moments

Senior Moments Bingo

Senior Moments Opening Day

Senior Moments Dating

Senior Moments Fork Fight

It Was a Drive-By Beaching

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Jose Can You See

While Thursday is generally just the day in between people annoying me with “It’s Hump Day!” and “TGIF!” it’s actually a really important day for me this week.

It’s Opening Day.

leylandgnome

And yes, we have a Detroit Tiger gnome named Leyland.

If you’ve followed this blog for any amount of time, first of all, thank you and you deserve a medal of honor and possibly a psychological examination. But you also are aware that baseball has always played a huge role in my life and quite frankly, in my happiness.

Because the Tigers open up their regular season on Thursday, I felt like I needed to write a post about it. Then I realized that the post I was trying to write had already been written—last year, by me.

It’s tacky to refer you back to old posts, but if you have even one tiny cell of fandom or like reading about my 89-year-old grandma explaining the rules of the game to her deaf friends at the nursing home, please go back and read these two posts.

Opening Day Senior Moments

My Perfect Game

They’re important to me, as I’m grateful to have another Opening Day to celebrate with the old woman and another season to enjoy. I’m taking Thursday afternoon off and once again, the three of us will gather around the TV and belt out the National Anthem off-key before my grandma simultaneously yells about a bad call or how the popcorn tastes like shit.

But another reason I love baseball is that after star players retire, they can still entertain us with their talents. No, I’m not talking about starting charities or becoming insightful game analysts, although those are commendable endeavors.

I’m talking about Twitter, and specifically, Jose Canseco on Twitter. The following stream of tweets last week have nothing to do with baseball, but quite honestly, they’re just as entertaining. And now I want Jose Canseco to send me a virtual hug.

Enjoy.*

Jose Can You See

how do we stop global warming

reduce reuse recycle morons class in session i complete you of to practice for my playboy celebrity golf tournament

clowns if you dont stop your mass consumption we will have no polar bears soon need to recycle or else no more bears

1 more stop global warming tip .turn your home heat all off at nite .saves $ an energy and lowers your body temp so u will live 20% longer

flanel pajamas morons share body heat like the pioneers did even in snow

hole families used to sleep in one big bed and produce no waste how did we go from their to killing polar bears in 100 years

al gore was a head of his time .i miss him rest in peace buddy hug for u

sorry al you need to make some more noise .Keep fighting for us i believe in your and i am with you

what did you clowns learn yesterday other than gore is not deed?

Had no idea @algore had a tv station. What a coincidence he is all over news today about firing people. Hug for u al

we need to consume less and protect enviroment for future generation nobody has no regard for the earth anymore. lets do our part

His last solution?

how about a sitcom where I play a gym teacher and wear those old skool nuthugger shorts coaches used to wear with those high tube socks

*I did not edit any of these, as the horrific nature of grammatical structure simply adds to the charm.

Home run.

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My Perfect Game

This won’t mean a lot to most of you out there, but this weekend the Detroit Tigers clinched their first division title since 1987, and their first American League Central title ever.

mlb_u_tigers_celebrate_b1_300

It’s kind of a big deal.

But don’t worry. This post isn’t going to be filled with statistics and names of men being (over)paid to play a boy’s sport or ridiculous metaphors about the game that I’ve loved all my life. If you don’t love baseball, you certainly won’t love my explanation of why I do. If you do love baseball, you don’t need it. 

But for me, it’s more than a game.

It’s remembering summers by games that were played and the sensory clues I still find—the crack of the bat, the stitch on a ball, the smell of the grass in the field. It’s looking forward to spring training in the dead of winter when every other joy seems frozen beneath layers of ice and of snow.

It’s being able to identify players by their batting stance or jersey number and feeling an instant connection with a complete stranger when I see them wearing a shirt with the old English “D.”

tigers

It’s a simple game—a bat and a ball—but it can unite a city, a state, a family—with one swing of that bat or one pitch of that ball. It can make grown men cry, and sometimes, even a 30-year-old woman who usually one cries for road kill and good food spilled on the floor.

For me, it’s my escape.

Sports in general afford me the opportunity to forget about the mundane concerns of everyday life for a while and to spend an unpredictable amount of time with others who take pleasure in enjoying a similar break. It’s a reminder that I can still feel excited about something when a lot of the time I’m just numb.

For me,  it’s family.

It’s a 90-year-old woman who can’t always remember who I am, but will tell me about a game in 1948 with a clarity time hasn’t stolen quite yet.

Some days the games are all foreign to her and she couldn’t care less if one’s on. Some days watching the game with her takes me right back to being sprawled on her living room floor as a kid, watching each game on mute while Ernie Harwell came through on the radio (but not lying underneath the ceiling fan, as I was warned the goddamn thing would inevitably fall on me and crush me to death. Fuzzy memories.)

Because while I joke about her and there are still good times, the bad days outnumber the good by a lot. But on those good days, baseball bridges a gap as we talk of the games and the team. It’s tradition and memories tied up with box scores and hopefulness mixed in with stats.

copo

From this year’s Opening Day to where we are now, this season has felt somewhat special. And despite my promise not to wax eloquently with corny language, I guess I can’t help it. Sure, it’s a “pastime,” but it’s my favorite way to pass that time.

For me, it’s more than a game.

It’s my perfect game.

I have baseball and sports, but what’s your “thing,” so to speak? What are you unapologetically passionate about and have never grown tired of?

Opening Day Senior Moments

Today we will be moving from dining room drama to Opening Day of baseball season in the activity room.

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Gram in her throne pre-game.

If you know anything about me or my family—I tend to overshare here—you know that there are no bigger sports fans than me, my mom and my grandma (G.) Needless to say,  I am super excited that baseball season has started, and considering I don’t get excited about much other than food, sunshine and sleeping—preferably in the sunshine—this shows the magnitude of my love of the game.

And much like the bump on my nose, the love of the game is genetic.

Even though she can’t remember what day it is, G can tell you who played first base in 1968 and who pitched the third game of the World Series. This is the woman who Ernie Harwell knew by name at the games and who kept a mini souvenir Tiger bat under the seat of her Cadillac to ward off hoodlums that drove white vans with no windows.

So per tradition, I took the afternoon off of work to watch the game with mom and G. While we didn’t get to raise the Tiger flag outside as we had year’s before or hang up the banner in her room (damn fire code), we still had our own little watch party.

chair1

We pimped G’s ride.

At first it was just the three of us. Then another resident got wheeled in, then another, then another until there were close to 10 residents and a few nurses—all women—watching the game.

It wasn’t like being at the ballpark or at a sport’s bar, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing—especially for me, considering my desire for social interaction is limited to the clerk at the grocery store.

A quick recap:

  • The crowd was comparably demure, most likely due to overmedication and not overconsumption of $8 beer. There was the occasional “whoop!” from me and mom (normal, but in a much more reserved fashion,) a “Come on my little sweetheart” or “Goddamn bum” from G (depending on the situation) and random bodily noises from various other residents (normal, but in a much less reserved fashion.)
  • My attempts at the wave were not well-received, or even noticed, as far as I could tell.
  • Stadium blankets were not needed, but quilted afghans were placed on the laps of all residents in attendance—despite the fact that it felt like an 85 degree day in that room.
  • There were no $5 hot dogs or nachos to buy, but the nurse did come around at snack time with her cart of assorted juices and munchies—free! Mom supplied the Cracker Jacks, a single box of which contained exactly three peanuts and one tattoo among the popcorn.

cracker-jack-original

Gram got tatted up while eating the peanuts.

  • Although a resident did have her “baby” (doll) with her as usual, there were no screaming children and no tantrums due to cotton candy sugar highs or the denial of overpriced souvenirs. My kind of kid.
  • Due to their decreasingly slow reaction times, my efforts to circulate a beach ball through the “stands” was less than successful—even more so than the wave.
  • However, the seventh inning stretch included a rousing round of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” that Harry Caray would have been proud of.
  • We had no streakers, but Geraldine did fly by the TV in her wheelchair numerous times throughout the game. She tends to cover a lot of ground when she’s on a mission, which is apparently all of the time.
  • Finally, when the game was over, there were no crowds of people to wade through or traffic jams to battle. In fact, considering that most of the residents weren’t aware that the game was actually over and were nodding off due to the post-lunch pre-nap nap they are accustomed to, they didn’t seem to be in a hurry to go anywhere.

So even though it’s possible this was a closing chapter on our Opening Day tradition, I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

I take that back.

The Tigers could have won and saved us from the post-game overanalysis of a certain 89-year old woman convinced she would have led the team to victory, but then again, it was just another Senior Moment.

And she was quickly distracted with a chocolate bar.

Let the games begin.