Babbling About Baseball

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My favorite sport has always been baseball.

Having married into a “football family,” which even boasted an uncle who played professionally for the New York Giants in the ’50′s, I had to sort of suppress the fact that I loved baseball since my family was (and for the most part, still is) a “football family.”

Don’t get me wrong, I truly enjoy football. I understand it and I would be the last person to say that it is not exciting. However, to be a baseball enthusiast you don’t need to know plays, strategy, etc. Someone hits the ball and someone else either catches it or doesn’t catch it. Period. End of play. There are no penalties (unless you insult the umpire and get thrown out), very few time-outs (usually just for a conference between the pitcher and catcher or a change of pitcher) and that’s it. It can even end before the allotted time if the home team is ahead. Amen. I rest my case. There will never be a “Heidi Baseball Game” unless that movie is foolishly scheduled after a Game Seven of the World Series and they go into extra innings.

I grew up two subway stops from Shea Stadium. I have been a Mets fan since 1962 and I am never ashamed to say that, despite how poorly they have performed in recent years. I often proudly wear my Mets baseball cap in The Grey Ghost. Despite the fact that most of my immediate family are Yankees fans, I’ve never liked the Yankees, except for the years before the Mets when it was all about Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris and Whitey Ford (who lived up the street from me in Queens) and those super-stars of the late 50′s and very early 60′s. Even Casey Stengel, as a manager, was a Met! so there.

My Dad and my Grandpa were Dodgers’ fans and I still remember getting a day off from school when they won the World Series in 1955.  I was in first grade with Sister Grace Winifred, OP. He was horrified when they moved to LA but at least it wasn’t quite as bad as when the Colts left Baltimore in the middle of the night. Nevertheless, the word “Dodgers” (or “dem bums” as they were referred to in NYC vernacular) was never again spoken in our home.

I have had the good fortune to meet someone yet again who apparently doesn’t know me well enough to realize that I am really a crazy person in the body of a short, chunky Italian woman. He likes me for whatever reason and he is a baseball fan. His name is Noel (and you can make all the jokes, because, yes he is my “…First No-EL” although it is pronounced “Knoll”)…and he is a Dodgers’ fan.  Well, one of those 7,538 sites that send me “discounts” every day offered a pre-season game at Angels’ Stadium (who, by the way are called “The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim”) when the Angels were playing the Dodgers. Angels’ Stadium is just a hop, skip and a jump from me, whereas Dodgers’ Stadium is a schlep.

I threw caution to the wind (that being the wrath of my 93 year old Dad) and got us two tickets for a nominal sum and we went to see them play.

Oh. My. Gosh. (I’d say Oh. My. God. but some readers may find that offensive!)

It was the best. It was a typically beautiful day in Orange County, perfect weather. We got to the stadium very early to watch the warm ups and I was in Baseball heaven.

I’d forgotten how much I love the sights, smells and sounds of Major League Baseball because it has been a long time. The greasy hot dogs, the expensive Chip-wiches, the popcorn that was made sometime during the Paleolithic era…It was all great!!! Our seats were not the best (I somehow mis-read the seating chart; I thought we were closer to home plate when actually we were literally in right field!) but it was so very exciting!!! The most difficult part for me was posting on Facebook (of which my Dad is particularly fond!) that I was (gulp!) at a DODGERS’ game! As far as I know, he has not changed his will because of my lack of loyalty to the forgotten New Yorkers who were left with only the Yankees for awhile.

One of the best parts of the event was watching the Dodgers going through their pre-game paces right in front of our seats. Kids of all ages were reaching and calling to the players as the pros played “catch” in the outfield and whenever someone hit a ball our way it was like Santa Claus was throwing a gift. The players frequently picked up one of the balls and tossed it to one of the little people hanging around hoping that little leather-bound sphere would land in their outstretched glove. There were a good many Dodgers’ fans there that day since Angels’ Stadium is just down the road from LA. In NYC we would call it a “Subway Series” when the Yankees play the Mets…here I would guess they call it a “Freeway Series.”

I had my luke-warm hot dog but instead of my traditional sauerkraut and onions I had jalapenos. How West Coast of me! No beer, though…you only “rent” beer… (Btw, I’m so used to eating the 97% fat-free ones that this tasted like it was “gourmet!” Fat = Flavor!) What I found funny, though, was the folks around us had all sorts of food: tacos, fried chicken, even Chinese food, all also purchased from the stadium vendors. I tried not to think that this was an abomination of what baseball is all about but I had to admit that the sweet and sour pork being devoured behind me really did smell very good even if it was stadium fare!

We stayed until the seventh-inning stretch. It was a low-scoring game and the Dodgers were ahead when we decided to beat the traffic and head out before the crowds. As luck would have it, one of the Angels hit a home run in the bottom of the ninth and the home team won by one. Sigh.

I can’t wait to go to another game! I’ve even DVR’ed a couple to watch on my own time without the six million commercials. I can’t really get my whole heart and soul around the Dodgers (too many years of listening to my Dad mourn their loss from the Big Apple, I think) but I’ll take them as “my” team here. However, it will be a cold day in SoCal before I give up my Mets! They will do it again. I just hope I live to see it.


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