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Posts Tagged ‘baseball’

I felt like a traitor

I went to my very first postseason game ever yesterday, and it wasn’t even for the Phillies.

Granted, that would have been hard to do, considering they were effectively eliminated months ago. (Though, officially, it’s only been a couple weeks.)

But I digress.

Yesterday I went to the Nats-Cardinals game – Game 3 of the NLDS, and the first postseason home game for the Nationals – and I cheered for the Nats.

It didn’t feel right.

It didn’t feel natural.

It didn’t feel as intense.

But it did feel like the lesser of two evils.

If my Phillies weren’t in the same division as the Nats, I wouldn’t have thought twice about rooting for the home team. But they are, so I did.

The Cardinals, however, killed our posteason last year, and I can hold a grudge with the best of them.

Even so, my Nats cheers just weren’t heartfelt, and I tried to explain it to Husband.

I feel dirty. I don’t like cheering for a division rival.

Husband understood. He didn’t try to convince me otherwise, and he nodded (without explicitly agreeing) when I rationalized.

I can’t root for the Cardinals; they beat us last year. And it’s not like the Nats beat out the Phillies for the division. We were never really in the running.

In the end, though, my reasoning – sound or not – didn’t matter. The Nats lost to the Cards, and I realized the only slight silver lining of not having your own team in the postseason: I wasn’t sad about the loss.

Last year, when the Phillies were in the NLDS, my emotions were tied up in each and every game. And I cried when we lost the series.

This year, I won’t cry either way. I’ll cheer for a good game, and get goosebumps when I see all of the “Legends are born in October” commercials. And I won’t be emotionally drained by the end of the month.

But truth be told, I’d always rather be in the running and risk the heartbreak, than not be in the game at all.

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When I was younger, I used to get a little bit embarrassed by my dad.

(Sorry, Daddy.)

  • It wasn’t because he answered our home phone with, “City Morgue, how can I help you?” or “Pizza delivery!
  • It wasn’t because he made the same “punny” jokes over and over.
  • And it wasn’t because of the numerous nicknames he called me (most of which I actually like).

It was because of his sports spectating style. Softball specifically.

Let’s keep two things in mind:

1) My dad has been playing baseball or softball pretty much his entire life. He’s clearly familiar with the rules. He knows he’s right.

2) The slow-pitch league I was in was for girls about 8 to 10 years old, I believe. It wasn’t known for being overly intense.

Enter Daddy.

From any position on the field I could hear him arguing with the umpire over balls and strikes. I could hear him arguing the merits of playing with the infield fly rule. I could hear our coaches asking him to sit down, please.

And, on several occasions, I could hear the umpire warning him that he was close to being tossed.

On those occasions I would see him bite his tongue and stalk away, contenting himself to watch the rest of the game from outside the fence, where he could yell freely.

Remembering that, and knowing my own competitive streak and tendency toward argument, I’ve promised myself that I wouldn’t do that to my future children. But I may have spoken too soon.

Last night I went to my husband’s (!!) baseball game and found myself moderately channeling my father. I vehemently disagreed with certain balls and strikes, and was yelling, “That’s b- !” before I remembered that I was sitting next to two children.

I grumbled about certain plays that should have been outs and paced in the stands from about the 6th inning on. Unlike my father, I didn’t speak with the umpire directly, but I also try to avoid confrontation in general.

Confrontation aside, I fear that I could eventually be *that* parent.

It’s possible that this will all be a moot point, and that when it’s my kids I’ll just enjoy the game and not worry about the missed calls or ridiculous strike zones.

But based on family history, I highly doubt it.

*I should note, just for clarity, that I would never ever yell at the kids themselves. And you can bet my inner Mama Bear would come out if any other parent did. Like this.

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My dad is 71 (you’d never guess it, though), and I’ve realized fairly recently that I don’t know nearly enough of his stories.

I know about our family, yes, but I don’t know his stories. The fun stuff.

I don’t know the craziest thing he’s ever done.

I don’t know who his best friends were (or are).

I don’t know what he’s most proud of.

And until recently, I didn’t know something as simple as who his favorite baseball team was growing up.

Usually, when I call home, I talk to my mom. We talk about anything and everything at length, and she humors me, even though I know that I’m the one dragging the conversation out.

When I talk to my dad, it’s usually about sports. Depending on the season, we’ll dissect what the Eagles or, right now, the Phillies are doing wrong. I’ll rant about Kendrick and Qualls as he listens patiently. And though I knew he grew up in New York, rooting for “anyone but the Yankees,” I never actually knew who his longtime favorite was.

So when he and my mom came down for my graduation, and we spent the day walking around Arlington National Cemetery, I took the time and simply asked.

The Cincinnati Reds,” he replied.

I wracked my brain to think of the connection, but couldn’t come up with one.

Why the Reds?

He thought for a moment before answering. He always does, and his answers are more intentional that way.

Maybe because they were really great while I was growing up. [beat] Or maybe because they were the ones who recruited me.

I’m slow sometimes.

Recruited you to do what?

To play. In 1959 they offered me a signing bonus to come up through their system.

As you might expect, I had a million questions, not least of which was, how have I never heard this before?

I guess the short answer would be because he didn’t take the offer. But the fact that something so amazing, so potentially life-altering, is in his history and I had absolutely no idea is mind-boggling to me.

It makes me wonder what other stories he has hidden up his sleeve.

And now seems as good a time as any to ask him.

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My dearest Phillies,

I have but one request for you this weekend, and it is simple: please do not get swept by the Nationals.

I understand that they’re looking pretty good so far. I can admit that Harper is fun to watch. And you’ll forgive me if I still have a soft spot for Jayson Werth and his beard.

I’ll use any excuse to put this photo in a post. Even if the facial hair isn’t current.

BUT you have to win this weekend – at least one game.

They’re trying to psych you out with this “Take Back the Park” campaign, but I think we all know that the fan ratio will still be in Philly’s favor.

And don’t you want to win for your traveling and transplant fans?

Now, I’ll be honest. It probably wouldn’t be my choice to have Kendrick facing off against Strasburg, but maybe you’ll surprise me. Maybe you’ll score the way you did against the Braves. Stranger things have happened. (See: Nationals in first place in the NL East.)

I also want to take a moment to apologize. I won’t be able to be at the games this weekend, because I’ll be back in the hometown (running Broad Street!) where you know that everyone will be rooting for you.

I will be cheering my little heart out, possibly with obscenities, depending on how everything unfolds.

So please, guys, please make me proud. I really only want to use obscenities in a happy way.

Love,

Elizabeth

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Back in September, BNF joined a baseball league and last night I finally got the chance to go to one of his games. One of the first things he told me about when he started was the coach. “He’s really anti-marriage,” he told me. “He actually sent me an article about how marriage is bad for you after I told him I was engaged.

So, naturally, I couldn’t wait to meet this guy, and I was certain that I’d be welcome at the game.

Coach did not disappoint.

I introduced myself when we got to the field, before the guys started warming up.

So you’re going to try that marriage thing?” he asked me. “It’s a mistake. You’ll be so bored. Can you really imagine spending the rest of your life with the same person? God, that’s awful.

When I told him that not only was I excited about my upcoming marriage, but that I was inspired by my parents (who will be celebrating 35 years in November!), it prompted him to ask me how old I was.

You’re only 26? And you can really imagine spending the next 20 to 30 years with the same person?

I’m not really sure how we got from “the rest of your life” to “20 to 30 years,” unless he thinks that everyone dies before 60. What an optimist.

After Coach left the bleachers to go warm up with the team, another guy who had been sitting there the entire time, unassociated with the team, turned to me.

That guy is a piece of work! He’s really something else.

I assured him that I’d been warned and we laughed and chatted a bit. And when he stood up to leave he joked, “Well, I guess I’ll just go back to my “boring” wife of 21 years. I’ll tell her, ‘you know, honey, I thought things were great until I heard this unsolicited advice from a guy at the field – guess we’ll have to change things up.‘”

The real kicker, though, aside from the reaction of complete strangers, came at the end of the game, when Coach started a sentence with, “My girlfriend…

Well, now. I definitely did not see that one coming.

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My dearest Phillies,

You know I love you, right? And you should know how proud I am of you for a) clinching the National League East, b) clinching the National League record, and c) currently having the best record in all of baseball. These are not small feats, and I understand that. But you’ve set the bar high for me these past few years, and now I need you to live up to it.

There is no question that 98 wins is an accomplishment, but think how awesome 100 would be! And even better than that? 102. I know you can eclipse the current franchise record. I know you can.

Honestly, I thought you’d at least be at 100 by now. No one counted on you getting swept by the Nationals. And I’m not happy about that, but maybe you just needed to get it out of your system. I’d rather it happen now than later.

There are six games left for you to show the Mets and the Braves why you’re going to the postseason and they’re not. (Well, at least one isn’t. But it’ll be two if St. Louis has anything to say about it.)

The point is this: please win. Please play like the team that I know you are. Play like the team that clinched its postseason spot before anyone else and has the best pitching rotation in the game. Play like the best team in the league.

I promise that I’ll love you no matter what.

You should know, though, that not living up to your full potential could earn you a spot on my shit list. Kendrick, you know what that’s like.

But I will still love you.

Your biggest fan,

Elizabeth

P.S. The next time you pop champagne in the clubhouse, can I please come? I’m really good at celebrations.

Just think about it.

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Dear Brian Wilson,

You kind of ruined the All-Star Game for me.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m happy about the National League win. I like to think that it will come in handy for my Phillies later on down the road. You know, if I made predictions or anything.

But seeing you on camera kind of put a damper on the evening because – gee, how do I put this nicely – you look disgusting. Your beard is awful.

And you should know that I’m generally a huge fan of facial hair. Even unkempt facial hair.

Case in point:

So, maybe I’m still bitter about the 2010 NLCS. And maybe I haven’t forgiven you (or Uribe, or the Panda, or Cody Ross) and that’s coloring my judgment, but your beard still grosses me out.

You know that commercial where it shows what’s living in there? I fear that it might actually be accurate (not the dancers, maybe, but some living organism).

Because I’m such a helpful person, I’d like to offer up a couple solutions to this problem.

1) Get rid of the beard. It’s not often you’ll hear me say that, so take it to heart.

2) Just stop pitching. Quit the Giants (you’ll be better off) and go take up another hobby. A private hobby. Once you’re out of the spotlight, I’m sure this will be less of an issue.

You don’t have to let me know what you’ve decided. I’m pretty smart. I’m sure I’ll figure it out.

For now, I’m just counting my blessings that I don’t have to see the beard in person. I might actually vomit.

Do the right thing, Brian.

Still hating you and your 2010 Giants,

Liebchen

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