Batting some thoughts around about baseball

Baseball is athletic chess – Larry King

Those of you who read my baseball posts know they aren’t laden with stats and play by play recaps. If I had a head for remembering that stuff, it might be different. I just have some thoughts going into this Saturday afternoon and wanted to get them down.

This morning I got to hear Larry King talk about baseball. If you’re a baseball fan, heck even if you’re not, and you get the chance to hear Larry King talk about the greatest game on earth, do it. I had tears in my eyes when Rich Herrera asked Larry King if he remembered the first game he ever went to. Immediately I could imagine a ten year old boy walking into the park for the first time as Larry talked about how green the grass was, how brown the dirt was, how white the lines and bases were. He really has a way of taking you back and his descriptions were incredible.

During a commercial break, this one add played and I don’t even know what the add is for. I’ve heard it several times now, but the first time I heard it I had to laugh. The voice guy is talking about the crack of the bat, the sizzling of the grill, setting the scene for a summer’s day bbq and he says, “Burgers, brahts and that other beautiful ‘b’ word…”

Broccoli?

That’s what I thought the first time I heard the commercial. Grilled broccoli with burgers and brahts, yummy.

Um, Ro? That other beautiful ‘b’ word is baseball.

I knew that.

Now on to yesterday. This is going to be wordy so grab a beer or some broccoli.

I started the day knowing the Rays would be playing the White Sox in Chicago again, looking for their first win. We had started the season 0-6. It had not been a good week for Rays fans. I was so tempted to turn the games off towards the end but I just can’t do that. Anyway, I did my normal morning thing, checking Twitter and such and one of the Rays fan Twitter accounts I follow posted something like, retweet this only if you think the Rays will get their first win tonight.

I thought long and hard about it before deciding to retweet or not. The Rays just had to win. They just had to. So I retweeted it.

I was listening to the Yankees/RedSox game as they played the home opener in Boston. The Red Sox were also 0-6 for the season after everyone pegged them to win the AL East this year. I was actually rooting for the Yankees. Do you know how hard that was? But Boston just couldn’t get their first win before the Rays, they just couldn’t!

Ugh to be rooting for the Yankees as they came to the plate. I actually said out loud, “let’s go, Jeet.” Ok, I have to admit, Jeter is a Yankee. I should hate him. I don’t though. Come on, he’s kind of a baseball pillar and he’s going for his 3000th hit. Wait, I said I wouldn’t talk stats. Oops.

Anyway, the Red Sox feed dropped so I tuned into the Yankee feed, only half listening by this point because the Red Sox were winning. I was hanging out on Twitter and doing whatever when I got a tweet from Mark Topkin that read something simple like, Manny has retired.

You know the sound a record makes when it’s spinning and you lift the needle? Insert that here.

What?!?! Manny Ramirez is retiring? The guy the Rays signed to a one year contract, the one who was supposed to give Evan Longoria some protection, batting after him in the line-up? The guy who’s bat was supposed to be the miracle that we added with Johnny Damon? Manny is retiring?

Yep, he’s gone. There was a problem with his drug test. And rather than face another suspension, he retired. Wow. Truthfully? I’m not gonna miss him. He wasn’t hitting anyway.

For the next while that’s all any of us could talk about. I’m texting B and tweeting and reading links as they got posted. It was a little crazy. It cracked me up too, because about ten minutes after I found out on Twitter, the Yankee announcers were like, we’re hearing a rumor about Manny Ramirez…

I was feeling a bit torn after that because the Rays were playing at five my time and I had planned on tuning in to the Rays AAA affiliate at four. They are the Durham Bulls, and Dirk Hayhurst was making his first start with them. I found out I can listen to the games at www.durhambulls.com. However now that the news had broken about Manny, I wanted to catch the Rays pre-game. I could listen to that archived though, so I tuned into the Bulls game anyway. Dirk Hayhurst did pretty well, but you know I can’t remember stats. I think he had two strikeouts and gave up two runs. The Bulls would later win the game, but I tuned out after Hayhurst was done pitching and went back to the Rays game.

Naturally they were losing 3-0 when I tuned in. I knew already since I get text alerts and was checking those during the Bulls game. Great, just another Rays loss.

Haha! Think again!

For the entire top of the ninth, I paced around my house with my wireless headphones. B had the game on TV and sometimes there’s a delay, so I’ll hear something on TV before I hear Dave and Andy call it, so I stayed away from the TV. The Rays were threatening. They were still down but they were threatening. I had wondered if the whole thing with Manny might spark them, give them a little anger and some disappointment to put into their swings. Joe Maddon said the same thing in a different way on Twitter. And it was happening.

When a run scored I would stop moving to listen closely as the excited voice of Andy had that change in pitch and cadence that indicates something might just happen here.

Right before Dan Johnson’s three run homer, I was standing in my kitchen and when that ball left the park I sank down on my feet, grabbing the counter and screaming.

The Rays won! 9-7! Kyle Farnsworth came on to close the bottom of the ninth and the Rays won! No 0-7 for them, baby!

So this morning came the tweet again. Retweet this only if you think the Rays will get their second win today. Again I thought long and hard. Would our momentum carry us in to today? It definitely could. Then I thought about the guy starting for the White Sox and I thought about Wade Davis going up for the Rays today.

I retweeted it.

I have a feeling I’ll be standing in my kitchen again if the game is close in the ninth. Those little baseball superstitions, you know. Do the same thing you were doing the last time something great happened.

Going back to Larry King, I got a little sad as I listened to him and Rich talking about the memories they had growing up with baseball. I didn’t have that since I’ve only been a baseball fan since going blind. Sometimes I wish I had discovered the magic of the game as a kid, but then I wouldn’t be a Rays fan. I wouldn’t change it, if I think about it truthfully, because baseball and the Rays have been one of the amazing gifts that have come from losing my sight.

The game is on soon, so I better wrap this up. Let’s see if I got 2-0 in the retweeting department. Go Rays!

2 Comments

Filed under baseball, evan longoria, misty eyes, twitter me this

2 Responses to Batting some thoughts around about baseball

  1. Finally getting around to reading this. Well done.

    I’ve had at least a casual interest in baseball since I was about 5 years old. Heard it once while I was playing with my little radio and it fascinated me. From then on I’d often put Tigers and Jays games on while I played with my toys. My dad also used to be on a rec team, one of those slow pitch type just for fun deals. For some reason, even though I knew they were just playing for fun, it was still just as fascinating and cool. My dad plays ball, that’s awesome.

    You might not have the same memories of going to games or playing or whatever as a kid that a lot of us have, but your baseball story is nothing to sneeze at. It brought you comfort during a time when you needed it and I know it still does. And when you look back on it after you’ve been a fan for however many years, it’ll still bring you back to different times, different milestones. Where we hear the crack of a bat and go back to being a kid in a park, you’ll think about getting over a major fear. When we think about eating hotdogs, you’ll think about the time when you went and got your first guide dog. Baseball or any sport for that matter is different things to different people, and it can be more powerful than some realize.

  2. Ro

    Very true. The memories I’m building now will always be there and continue to bring me joy. Part of me wishes I had been a fan longer but for the most part I’m just grateful baseball came into my life when I truly needed it. I guess that’s why I got in an argument with a baseball player on Twitter…hahaha!

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