Two years ago I became a baseball fan after semi following the cinderella story of the Tampa Bay Rays. I listened to the games on tv, perking up when I heard Evan Longoria’s at bat music because I liked the song, eventually starting that budding crush on him, my first on an athlete, hearing about the old Devil Rays, the new manager Joe Maddon and the name change and thought it was pretty cool, but I don’t remember the day they clinched a playoff spot.
Tonight, I got to listen to it all on the radio broadcast thanks to mlb.com. I got to listen to Dave and Andy, the men who have spent many hours in my living room and even some nights in bed when theRays played late games and I curled up with my laptop. I got to go with Rich into the locker room and listen as he talked with players and management, and I could almost smell the champagne and beer flying.
The Rays clinched a playoff spot tonight after beating the Baltimore Orioles 5-0. Soriano got to close it out even though it wasn’t a save situation, and David Price went 8 shut out innings.
When the last strike three was called, I untucked my shirt, set my sandwich down and sat back to listen.
I have always enjoyed the celebrations after any sports win. Even when I wasn’t a sports fan, if I happened to be near a tv, I’d watch. It’s just something special, to watch the pure jubilation.
Never have I been able to do this with a team that has touched me the way the Rays have. The Rays brought baseball to my life at a time when all was dark, quite literally. After loosing my sight at the start of the baaseball season in April of 2008, and groaning when B had baseball on the tv, that game of nine and sometimes more innings crept into my heart.
The joy that followed has been indescribable. When I was able to subscribe to radio broadcasts, the game became so much more real. Everything was described. Hearing things like, “line drive! Deep right center field! At the warning track, at the wall, and gone!!!” Heart pounding, feet stomping, and finally able to breathe when the last call is spoken…I can’t describe what that does for me. It takes me out of my life, blocks away any pain and distress, if just for a moment.
Tonight I got to listen to my men celebrate, pour booze on each other, hear the smile in their voices as they spoke with Rich and then hear their breath catch as they were doused with freezing liquid.
I got to hear these men become boys again, to imagine them jumping around, showering fans with champagne, I could just imagine their sheer joy in the moment.
I cried. I just sat back and cried. As I write this I’m tearing up again. Congratulations, my Rays. My Rays!!! Yes!!!!
Now the race for the American League East Champions. Now the race to the American League Champions. Now the race to the World Series. One pitch at a time. One hit at a time, one run at a time, one game at a time. I’ll be here, listening, mouth dry, heart pounding, cheering on the men who have done something to my life that I just can’t explain with words. I love them, I love them all!
LET’S GO RAYS!!! LET’S GO RAYS!!! LET’S GO RAYS!!!!
Oh, and congratulations to B’s Dad, who’s Cincinnati Reds also clinched a playoff spot tonight!! Shall we meet for the World Series? We joked about that months ago; here’s to hoping it happens!