Thursday, April 14, 2011

Third Person Thursday, Throwback Edition: Being There For Your Team

With baseball season in full swing (pun completely and utterly intended) and with a lack of free time, the valiant blog author decided to save himself some effort and reach deep into the archives of his third person entries and repost a baseball themed story from Jun 24th of 2010. He hoped his audience would do two things in response: enjoy the story and forgive his laziness:

“You have got to be kidding me,” Bob groaned as he and his son emerged from the ramp into the daylight in section 226. “Down six runs already?!”

It was only the bottom of the second. Bob had been delayed leaving the house and then diverted to an expressway ramp that would add another half hour to his arrival time. He prided himself on being there for the national anthem of every game he had ever seen. Getting there so late made him feel partially responsible for his teams obvious troubles.

“Look, dad, the manager’s on the mound,” his son, Phillip pointed out.

And so he was. The starting pitcher Bob had specifically rearranged his schedule and bought tickets to see in action was getting the hook already.

“What the hell happened?” bob inquired of a random end of the aisle fan as they ascended the stairs.

“Took a line drive off the elbow with two men on,” the man said and shook his head. “After that he got rocked.”

Bob groaned and placed a hand on his son’s back as an indication to continue upward to their seats. “Row twenty-two,” he told Phillip. With the team’s star pitcher out, he hung his head and wondered which bullpen nightmare they were going to have the joy of watching implode on the mound instead.

“Uh, Dad?” Phillip said and pointed toward their seats.

There, in seats two and four of the shortened, four seat row, sat two heavy-set fans, each with a beer in their hands and a beer in their cup holders. Bob looked down at his tickets again before he said anything. Seats one and two. On the aisle. Row twenty-two. And he’d gotten these tickets from Sean in accounting who was the most straight laced guy he knew. Bob was certain they weren’t fakes.

“Excuse us fellas,” Bob said, holding up the tickets.

Both men turned and stared at him for a few seconds then turned back to the game.

“We’re one and two, guys. Just need you to move over one.”

The man sitting in seat four, the one not in question, turned to Bob and said, “There’s two seats left in the row three back.”

Bob looked a few rows higher. There were, in fact, two seats available in row twenty-five. They were in the middle of the longer row with the rest of it filled. Bob had purchased these from Sean because he knew they were aisle seats.

“I see those seats,” Bob said, trying to control the amount of sarcasm he let through in his voice, “but I paid for these seats.”

The man in seat two paid them no attention. The man in four said, “C’mon, man. Really?”

“Yes,” replied Bob, “really.”

With a sigh almost as large as his gut, the man in seat two lifted his girth from the blue plastic seat. As he shifted himself into seat three, pinning his associate against the wall on the other end of the row, Bob noticed seat two didn’t flip back up. He wondered to himself if it ever would after being pushed down by so much weight, even if it was only for two innings.

After taking Phillip by the arm so that he could expose himself to the displeasure of sitting next to this behemoth, Bob finally sat down and watched the new pitcher warm up. “Thanks,” he muttered to the two men, not meaning it, to which they responded with silence.

Four innings, two relief pitchers and three runs for the visiting team later, Bob was miserable. The tone was set by getting to the game late, his team's playing the worst he’d seen all season (which was really saying something), and then he had Baby Huey sitting next to him breathing audibly and, from the smell of it, sweating profusely through his replica jersey. This was the exact opposite of what he had hoped to get from a Saturday afternoon game with his son.

And it would have been another thing if Phillip seemed to be enjoying himself, but the boy took his team losing to heart. Bob’s eleven-year-old son sat with his chin in his hands most of the game, looking like he’d lost his puppy.

The single moment of excitement for the game came with a solo home run by the good guys in the bottom of the seventh. With no outs, it would have been at least a glimmer of hope that a comeback was possible.

As the ball left the bat, everyone in the stadium knew it was gone. This included Baby Huey, who shot up faster than Bob would have ever thought possible after his performance when needing to move over one seat for them earlier.

And as the fat ass stood up, his enormous thigh took his own plastic cup of beer with it. This ended up on Bob’s leg, running down to soak his sock and shoe.

“What the hell?” he would turn to Bob and say after high-fiving his fat friend and turning to see his empty plastic cup on the floor.

Bob simply stared at him. Baby Huey placed his current cup into the now empty one. After a few dramatic sighs, he sat back down.

Up to this point, Bob had been trying to stay positive. After unsuccessfully trying to burn a hole in his fat neighbor’s skull with his gaze, Bob clapped for the home run and turned to Phillip. “Let’s get a little comeback going, huh?”

A double play and caught foul ball later, his mood tanked. The glass was definitely half empty.

And there Bob sat, a lifelong baseball fan, a man who had never had a bad time at the ballpark, having what he was seriously putting in the running for his worst day ever. Maybe it was just one of those anomalies, he thought. He even used baseball metaphors of hitting streaks and bad starts to explain how things would go back to normal with the next game he attended. Sometimes you just have to accept defeat, he told himself.

He turned to look at Phillip, who was looking down at his shoes.

“Let’s go,” Bob said to his son.

“You sure?” Phillip asked, knowing his dad was one to stay to the end of every game.

“Yep,” said Bob. “We’ll get ‘em next time. Let’s at least try and beat the traffic and get something to eat.”

As he placed his hand on his son’s head, Bob looked forward to the small victory of not having to sit in his car for an hour before even exiting the parking lot. And he was awfully hungry. The nearby restaurants wouldn’t be so crowded with post-game patrons just yet.

The smile had returned to Bob’s face as he and his son made their way back down the ramp. They spoke to each other about how they at least got to see a home run. Bob asked Phillip which team he like to see play next time as he promised they’d have to attend another game to make up for this one.

And as Bob started his car and asked Phillip what he was hungry for, he felt fairly positive again, just for having survived the ordeal.

Meanwhile, over the loudspeaker, the stadium’s announcer would say something Bob and Phillip would never hear:

“The winner of the Saturday Cash $5,000 drawing is the fan seated in section 226, row twenty-two, seat two! Please bring your ticket stub to guest services to find out how to collect your prize!”

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