If you hang out around this blog regularly, you know that I took on a project this summer of becoming a baseball fan…just for grins and to do something I haven’t done or been in the past. My good baseball fanatic buddy, Ron, went through an extensive exercise to determine which team would be the best one for me to follow. I had given him a list of a few I-wills and I won’ts to filter into the decision. To make a long ball short, the Chicago Cubs were chosen as my new, official team to root for.
I have been a reasonably good fan. Am I a fanatic? No, and I don’t think that will happen. Do I have any Cubs swag? Nope, I’m too cheap. MLB gear is very expensive. I think eventually I will purchase a cap or shirt, but for now it can wait. I chose to spend my baseball funds on the games themselves. Since I live in South Florida, I have had to pay a fee to the league’s website so that I can view their video feeds for each game. As for that, I can honestly say that I have watched a majority of the games. I have probably missed maybe around 7-8 entirely and came late to a few others. But I have faithfully been in attendance and cheering on my team every week since the season began.
The next bullet I have achieved is learning about the team. I now know most of the players’ names and what position they play. I haven’t memorized all their numbers yet, but I can actually identify some of the players by appearance alone. I can even carry on an acceptable conversation about the team and how it is doing so far.
That brings us to this week—showdown week. The Cubs are in town playing the Miami Marlins. Do I go to the game? Now, you would think this would be a no-brainer. Of course I should go. But there are several “principles” underlying the decision, among them: I do not like the Marlins management and I do not want to go to their ill-conceived, illogically located, wrongly financed new ballpark that is a pain-in-the-butt trip to get to. But alas, this is my team that’s playing and if I am a true fan I have an obligation.
So I spend the better part of five minutes getting up the guts to ask my wife out on a date. No, not dinner and a movie, but a baseball game! This is a lady who faithfully watches TV shows like Dancing with the Stars and the Bachelorette. Baseball is not her forte. But, for the chance of spending the entire evening with me at her side, not to mention the opportunity to backseat drive all the way to and from the game—why it’s too much for her to resist. So it’s a date. I blow off about $75 and buy our tickets and parking pass on line, print them up and we’re good to go.
Getting to the game was pretty much okay. We were going against the grain of rush-hour traffic and the open draw bridge just before crossing over the river to the ballpark caused only a twenty-minute delay sitting on the expressway exit ramp while cars whizzed by at 200 mph about three inches from my side door. I have to admit, the new parking lots were A+.
Meanwhile, I told Rosemarie we’d do it up right and have hot dogs and all the other usual baseball fare when we get there. Well, am I naïve or what! The cost of food at a ballgame isn’t what it was last time I went. Prices have escalated a bit. But, ok, we split a meal and that should hold us over. We each have half a cold foot-long dog, a clump of French fries and a diet Pepsi in a plastic souvenir cup with Billy the Marlin’s picture on it…$24 by the time it’s all totaled with tax.
The seats are good, right along the first base line, not far from home plate. The Cubs have their best pitcher playing tonight except early on it is obvious this is not going to be his night. In fact, it wasn’t the rest of the team’s night either. They struggled all nine innings and lost 7-3. Personally, it was the worst game I’ve seen them play and since I was there in person, it was me who more than likely jinxed them.
Going to the game has it pros and cons. It’s nice to see the event “live” and the people-watching is always good. It is best to take a radio with earphones if you want to know exactly what’s going on. Otherwise, you have to rely on the scoreboard and the stadium announcer to keep you informed. At Marlins Park, neither had much to offer such as an explanation when something unusual happened. At one point in the game both dugouts and both bullpens came pouring out onto the field in this huge testosteronial display with each player’s chest bulging and teeth gnarling as they prepared for battle to defend the integrity of their respective team. I thought maybe a hockey game had broken out. Exactly what had happened to cause such a display of machismo was never explained, not even an instant replay on the JumboTron. No one in our area knew what was going on, except it would have been a hell of a brawl if the Governor hadn’t called in the National Guard to persuade the nice baseball players to return to their seats.
Watching the game on TV is far, far better. You are kept totally informed about every nuance of what is going on, facial expressions are easily observed, instant replay is readily shown and the food at the concession stand in my kitchen is all reasonably price…and there’s always a bathroom available and free parking.
So that’s my Cubs scouting report. The team will not be in South Florida again this year and that is a good thing.