Ready position – Bring it!
I swore off Baseball in 1992 after the devastating loss of the Pittsburgh Pirates to the Atlanta Braves. More distressing than the actual loss was the fact that Sid Bream scored the winning run complete with attached leg brace. After following the game for months and hours and hours, I can still recall the utter sickness that flooded the pit of my stomach. I sat there speechless as did my dad. Disappointment was not even a close to what we were feeling. To make matters worse, my soon to be husband (formerly of Atlanta) danced, pranced, thrusted, chopped with an invisible tomahawk, whooped, and hollered chanting the whoooa-o-o-o-o-ohh theme cry for the Braves. I glared at him out of the slits that I call eyes which, he ignored and continued with his one man celebration. However, when my father shot him the same glare he immediately choked on his next war hoop which came out as a high pitch squeak and retreated to his chair head bowed in reverent respect for the Alpha male in his presence.
So it should come as no surprise to those who are aware of this horrid memory that I no longer get intimately involved in sports. I will watch occasionally and know the standings of the various teams but I purposely keep myself detached. This goes for my son’s Baseball team as well. It has been convenient that I have a 4 yr old “infant-child” who terrorizes the ball field and likes to hang out in the dugout. Thus, I drop off my Baseball slugger at the field and promptly leave. Sound harsh? Not to worry because the former Atlanta Braves cheerleader arrives shortly after my departure, usually on his way home from work, to cheer his little dynamo on. Well, this set up has worked well for years and the games have been mediocre at best. Josh has pure talent but I mean, how exciting can little league really be? I’d hear about this line drive, a triple hear and there, an occasional home run or that strong play but nothing major. It was easy for me to listen to the game details from afar. So when the cheerleader game home after a recent playoff game with that familiar twinkle in his eyes, I knew something major happened. He proceeded to tell me of the nail biter game in which Josh was able to clench the winning hit. There were two outs and men on base as our son approached the plate. This play would decide who won the game. The pressure was building and our baby boy knew the responsibility that was passed along to him. Determination glistened with droplets of sweat was the look he wore as he stared at the pitcher. The sound of the ball connecting with his bat resounded dreadfully in the opposition’s ears. The game was won, our son was picked up and held in the air as the team cheered. He has truly had a great season. As the cheerleader told me the game blow by blow I was unknowingly being roped back into the black hole called sports. The team needed to win one more play off game and they would head to the grandaddy of all games….the championship. I’m sports distant but not stone cold so it was settled, I would attend the play off game.
At the request of the coach we rallied our troops. Our line up consisted of friends, their kids, my parents, posters, noise makers and me. I think the ball field regulars were wondering if my son even had a mom. The Brave’s cheerleader is known by all but I was met with surprised, inquisitive glances. We sprawled out in a linear formation and began the whoops and hollers. The cheerleader was surprisingly quiet given his prior obnoxious tendencies. My dad, on the other hand, was all out present. He was a verbal force to be reckoned with dare anyone try! It was a great game and the team held up under the pressure. Not only was it a great game but a close one. We entered the final inning with guys on base and no outs. Somehow they caught us and baby boy walked up to bat with one out left. A familiar situation for him and not uncommon considering he is nicknamed the sweeper or the cleaner. He hit a chopper that was caught by the other team (who played brilliantly possibly due to being stacked with tournament league players) and the game was over. He left the plate with his head hung low and I could imagine the disappointment he must be feeling. The other team members who had been struck out or preformed below their personal expectations were also bummed. The coach was wonderful. He was the best we’ve had and he spoke encouraging words to the team.
During the game my dad cheered “Come and get your bucket of wings – it’s waiting for you.” Or something along those lines. After the game we patched the wounds, literal and emotional, with a trip to Quaker Steak and Lube. Baby boy ordered his own, separate full rack of ribs and devoured the entire entree. A BBQ smile spread across his face displaying pure nirvana as he licked his fingers clean of the sloppy mess. A content sigh signified that all of the previous disappointment was washed away and replaced with good memories and a full belly. In the end, fun was had by all and the 1992 game trauma was laid to RIP.