Thursday, July 21, 2005
I'm an artist, so I can say 'let me paint you a picture' and it won't be completely pretentious. Or does being an artist in the first place automatically necessitate pretention? Buggered if I know, I'm probably too close to the problem to see it clearly.
Anyways. Let me paint you a picture.
You're at US Cellular, on what basically amounts to the wrong side of Chicago, for a White Sox/Tigers game, and it starts to pour. Your team is down 2-1, but you're the goddamn White Sox, it's early in the game, that's nothing to you this year. The grounds crew rolls out the tarp and the rain delay drags on-- 20 minutes, 30 minutes, an hour. Fans are leaving in droves, and if the park was never too full to begin with, now the crowd looks positively skeletal.
But goddammit, you're a White Sox fan, and you're here to watch a ballgame, and you'll be damned if you leave the park when there's still a sliver of a chance that the game will be played. You're soaked and you're bored and you're probably sitting all alone in your section because everyone else has fled.
Suddenly you see two guys emerge from the home dugout. Since you're still at the park, it's safe to assume you're a pretty hardcore fan, so you immediately recognize the two as Mark Buehrle and Willie Harris. It's still a rain delay, the field is still covered by a tarp, you wonder what the hell they're doing coming out into the open and getting wet.
They get a running start and hurl themselves at the tarp, sliding across it on their stomachs like absurd, cleated penguins, huge jets of water sluicing off in a V-shaped wake after them, laughing hysterically. They get up and do it again, and you're reminded of little kids playing on the Slip'n'Slide on a hot and sunny day, only the Slip'n'Slide is the tarp covering the infield, and the little kids are your light-hitting backup second baseman and your fast-working All Star starting pitcher.
The White Sox go on to lose 8-6, because they ran into the wrong side of the unstoppable Chris Shelton and the resurgent Omar Infante, dropping the series to the Tigers. You sat through an hour and 11 minutes of rain delay just to watch your team lose at home to a squad that can't even hang tough at .500, but as you leave the park you've got a bit of a smile on your face, because you're a real fan who stuck around to watch your boys and you got to see them goofing around on the tarp, having a stupid good time themselves but also putting on a show for the people who, in the end, probably deserved it most.
I know that's got nothing to do with anything, but it just made me happy.
My mother and I were at yesterday's sweltering afternoon Red Sox game. I'm pretty well used to taking the T in for games, but my mother hadn't been to a game at Fenway since about 1990. One of the nice things about taking the T in is how the absurd majority of your fellow commuters are also going in for the game, even from a far-off stop all the way down the Blue Line like Wonderland. You don't even really bat an eye at it after a few games, but my mother was greatly amused to see all the hats and jerseys.
We saw a little boy clutching a bright Colombian flag (with a woman wearing a pink hat, most unfortunately) at Wonderland. I wonder if he was just 'yay Colombia!' in general, or if he was a great big Edgar Renteria fan.
Man, it sure was nice to see us win with all our replacement players in there. When we first got there we saw a Sox player come out of the dugout during warmups and greet a couple of Devil Rays with hugs and some light chatter. Usually it's Manny and Ortiz who have friends on every team, but this wasn't Manny or Ortiz. In fact, I didn't know who it was, because the uniform number (10) wasn't one I'd seen before. I figured it had to be Hyzdu or Cora or Stern or someone, one of the new guys whose numbers I don't know yet.
It was Tony Graffanino. He used to play for the Devil Rays, and he's bounced around enough that he's probably got friends all over. It was kind of sweet.
Both my mother and I laughed heartily at the sight of Dougie rolling his wheelie bag out to the dugout and then back again before the game. This ridiculously square-shaped man, stumping along with his catcher's gear on, jauntily toting this ridiculous black wheelie bag... ah, it is one of the most consistently funny sights in baseball.
I cheered very loudly for Tony G(not -iarratano) when he came up, and my mother chastened me for it, prompting the following exchange.
Me: "But no one else is cheering for him!"
My mom: "Because he hasn't done anything for the Sox yet! (he grounded out to short his first time up) When he does something, then you can cheer for him."
He hit a towering wallball RBI double in the fifth, one of those balls that looked like it was heading out of the park but died just at the Monster (there were at least three for the Sox yesterday-- must've been the wind), and then I was allowed to cheer for him. Not Hyzdu, though. He had a shitty day.
I was scoring the game and I was absolutely terrified that the Sox might bat around in the first inning. The first six guys to get on base scored, which was a beautiful thing to put down (all those nice little completed diamonds!), but, you know, scary. Then they switched pitchers and Dewon "I ain't goin' to no AAA, I ain't afraid of no Restricted List" Brazelton struck out the bottom of the order, and my scorecard narrowly escaped disaster.
Chad Bradford looked pretty good, but John Halama did not. We kept standing up to cheer for the last out, and he kept tormenting us. It was very unpleasant to see that homerun go out over the Monster, since everything we'd hit there that day had died at the wall (Johnny's homer went out into the seats down the first baseline). Eduardo Perez had grounded out to short three times before he came up and whacked that, which just made it more painful. No damage done in the end, unless it was to the chances we have to see the Eyebrows of Doom remain in a Red Sox uniform.
Jonny Gomes and Aubrey Huff were the only DRays to look really good at the plate, and at least one of them could be said to be counterbalanced by the sheer awfulness of Alex Gonzalez in the field. Three errors on the night, two of them in the 6th... that is bad. None of them resulted in runs, but if he could have found a way to make them do so, he probably would have.
You guys ever see a player for another team, and you covet him so much that it makes you breathless just to think about it? Because I sure do. And HOLY FREAKING CATS do I covet Zach Duke. Oh man. Oh man, I covet him so hard.
You guys, he struck out 5 tonight. Oh man, he dropped his ERA to under 1.00. He's 22. I know the league's still figuring him out, I know that. Right now I do not care, I am just filled with covetousness. I want him on my teeeeeeaaaammmmm.
The White and Red Sox are playing as we speak, prompting the usual grumbling about how we actually wear, you know, RED SOCKS, while they, confusingly, wear black socks. I dearly hope little Alex Cora gets into at least one of these games and hits some kind of massive towering homerun. His older brother is the ChiSux third base coach, and it would be completely sweet to see Alex thumb his nose at him as he rounded third in a sedate homerun trot.
No matter what happens tonight, though, I think we all (fans and players both) need to remember this:
Please, everyone. Think of the kittens.
edit: Oh my god, I can't believe I nearly forgot this. Yesterday, Doug Mirabelli's at-bat music WAS BRONSON ARROYO SINGING 'DESTINY'. He doesn't even catch Bronson! I died like 5 times over in my seat.
Haiku because I feel like it:
A lot of errors;
I am still glad that Edgar
Now wears his socks up.