I love baseball. I do. It’s one of the few things in life that fills me with pure, unadulterated joy (the others being homemade guacamole and a perfect mix CD….also, really good sex).
Some of you may argue that this post veers dangerously away from my three tenants of “Beer, Food and Geekitude”, but I would argue that point. And I would win. What other sport contains so much math? And what are Geeks if not defined by our overwhelming sense of superiority due to our ability to crunch numbers no one else wanted or needed to be crunched in the first place? Where else but a baseball stadium can you pay $7 for watered down beer? Where else can you dine on the delicacies that are dollar hot dogs? (P.S., Phillies, I don’t know if you planned Dollar Dog Night to coincide with the swine flue scare, but kudos to you for that). So, I love baseball. After all, I am named after the man seen at right.
Of course, I was named after his Yankees incarnation. My father is a Yankees fan through and through. He has been to more baseball games (major and minor league) than I have hairs on my pretty little Irish head. He caught his first foul ball at the age of 55. He instilled in me a love for the game that is practically embedded in my DNA. He has taken time off from his illustrious journalism job to call games for the Bowie Baysox and the now defunct Aberdeen Arsenal. He wrote a book about it. You should go buy it here (clicking on the picture will also work. Please buy my dad’s book, I need birthday presents this year).
My tiny baby self was dragged to more games in old Yankee stadium than is probably healthy for any infant. When we moved to the DC area, my parents would pack us into the Honda wagovan and drive into the absolute dregs of Baltimore to see games at Memorial Stadium (easily one of the ugliest ballparks in creation, seen at left). If the Yankees were playing the Orioles, it wasn’t even a question, we were there. Heck, if the Yankees were playing the Red Sox, we were probably there, too (it took my mom, a Massachusetts native, a few years to give up her loyalties). Some of my fondest childhood memories are of falling asleep in the back seat as we drove through the worst part of Baltimore on our way home at 1am.
And then came Camden Yards. Oh, Camden Yards. Probably the most beautiful ballpark I have ever been in. The first of the new style of stadiums. I saw a Cal Ripken streak game here. My dad would take us out of school early to catch afternoon games. I loved and still love this ballpark with all my heart. My love for the Orioles may have waned (because, well, they’re the ORIOLES). But my love for the ballpark remains.
Our family vacations for years involved a stop in Cooperstown, NY. I can probably still name most of the Hall of Famers off the top of my head. Somewhere in the depths of my closet I still have a hot pink Hall of Fame baseball cap that I wore for about 6 years straight (seen here on a much younger incarnation of myself). I learned how to keep score at age 9. It was one of the few things I had going for me when I ended up managing the girls’ JV Softball team in high school (did I mention I went to a high school named after the Big Train himself, the great Mr. Walter Johnson?) Because, you see, while I love baseball, I sort of suck at it. Don’t get me wrong, I can hit passably and was a fairly good catcher for the CustomInk Inkers back in 2007, but I’m really sort of shoddy. I guess love of the game doesn’t necessarily coincide with a talent for the game.
Now I am fortunate enough to live in Philadelphia. Home to the World Phucking Champions of baseball. Home to Citizen’s Bank Park, where you can still get seats for $11 and be able to see the whole game (suck it, new Yankee stadium). And the place where last night I witness my first ever grand slam. And as if that weren’t enough, there were TWO grand slams last night! I was in screaming, cheering, slightly beer-buzzed heaven. Home to the late, great Harry Kalas, a man who I have the ultimate respect for and whose absence makes baseball feel a little less real to me.
In conclusion, I love baseball. And I wanted to share that love with you. Why? Because sometimes you need to cheer. Sometimes you need to stand up and scream and cry and believe in a team of men that represents the hopes and dreams of an entire city. Sometimes, just for a moment, a city notorious for filth and crime and toughness can come together and indulge in the joy of winning a world championship. And if you don’t believe that’s true, then you obviously weren’t in Philadelphia last October.
P.P.S. Raul Ibanez, I love you. No, really I do. I’m going to buy you a cheesesteak and we can hang. Burrell? Burrell who?
P.P.P.S. Whoever threw that hot dog at my head last night, don’t mess with an Irish woman who has just enough whiskey in her system to forget she has the upper body strength of a rat terrier. I’m watching you.