Sunday, August 8, 2010

Fun Game!

Well, I did it - I finally went to my first Indians' baseball game of the season last night. It was such a blast. How in the heck did I delay going? They're always so much fun. The team is owned by the Brett brothers (including George of KC fame), and they have, for years, done a stellar job at the park with mixing fun, in-between-inning events with the beauty of the game itself.

Last night was no different. There's always something to watch. For instance, there is the new edition of Recycle Man. He runs through the stands towards the end of the game, collecting things to recycle. Here's his profile. Notice under school: "OF COURSE!" And favorite activities: Cleaning Up and Indians Baseball. Funny. Oh, and here's the photo I took of him - chased him down, in fact, to get it:

He couldn't make his normal heroic pose, because his hands were full of recyclable items - but maybe that's the most heroic pose of them all, since recycling is what makes him a hero in the first place.

And then, beyond Recycle Man and the like, the Indians won! 8-1. That was the great thing.

It was a fairly quiet game through the fourth inning - no scoring, almost no hits - and then Yakima, the visiting team, scored a run. A sense of panic rippled through the crowd. But for me, it was a good sign. "Now they'll have a fire lit under them," I told my friend Greg (who was there at the game with me). And by the first batter at their next at-bat, the Indians went on a scoring streak. Really, all they needed was something to fight for.

You knew things were going the way of the Tribe when the third base runner scored the third run for no apparent reason. I asked a guy sitting to my left - twice, because the first time I didn't understand his answer - if he saw what happened. His explanation was that the third base man had overthrown the pitcher. Oh. (I should have known he didn't know what he was talking about, since his reaction to my questions was to move to the other side of his wife, apparently so I no longer would be able to "interrogate" him!)

So this is what really happened. Apparently Yakima's pitcher asked for a time out, and the ump didn't allow it. So then the pitcher wanted a new baseball, and threw the one he had towards the Indians' dugout. Unfortunately for Yakima, that was still a live ball. So then the pitcher ran to chase it down (which dang ball is it, anyway??) and the runner ran on home while the pitcher was otherwise occupied.

Loved how they wrote it up in the newspaper today -

The capper for Spokane during a charmed night came during the fifth inning, when the Indians scored their third run and most people at Avista Stadium had no idea why....

Two walks, one passed ball, one wild pitch and one error later, Spokane led 2-1 and Santiago Chirino stood at third base.

That’s when confusion took over.

Wilson called for a timeout, but home-plate umpire John Silva didn’t grant it. Wilson then wanted a new baseball and threw the other one toward the Indians’ dugout. What he – and many fans – didn’t realize was that the ball was live.

“I looked away to say something to (Chirino),” said Indians manager Tim Hulett, who serves as the club’s third-base coach, “and the next thing I hear was somebody yelling, ‘Go get it!’ ”

Chirino scored as Wilson chased down the ball...

I thought of my friend Charlie last night (as I ran into other people I know) - who sat in the same seats for years, at these Indians game. He passed away a few short weeks ago. It was the only moment of sadness last night, thinking of how I couldn't wander down to Charlie's seat to say hello.

Getting the tickets in the first place had been a bit challenging. Turns out, Saturday night was fireworks night - one of those popular nights where the games sell out. When I came for tickets on Wednesday, the only ones left were waaaay out in left or right field. Sigh. After asking a variety of questions to make sure there were no other choices, I said, "Well, I did write the book." The guy helping me said, "You did?" I nodded. "You know." I said. "'Until the End of the Ninth.' The novel on the 1946 team." He smiled and nodded - he knew the book. "So...." I said, glancing at his ticket-generating computer, "are there any good tickets available now?" He dutifully looked at the computer again, and shook his head no. Well, I knew he was telling the truth the first time - but it didn't hurt to ask! In the end, I got tickets a couple days later in relatively decent seats because they freed up (from a group that ended up not using the entirety of their blocked-out seats). By then, of course, the guys in the ticket office knew I was the author (since I'd talked about it before). One thing led to another and, by the time I had left with my tickets, I had also left behind a signed copy of the book. Hey, if ever a group of people should have a free copy of my baseball novel, it's the guys running the Spokane Indians' ticket office.

After the game, there were fireworks. Spectacular! so much fun. They did a countdown on the scoreboard, down to "0", and then lights went out, and all was black for an instant before the fireworks began. As the show progressed, we noticed the Indians' team sitting on the grass in the dark, right outside their dugout. There they were, the team that had won the night, that deserved a moment of sparkle... As they sat, almost glowing in their stark white uniforms, intently yet casually watching the sky, I thought - they love the game. Just like the 1946 guys, just like any of the men that have played before them. They are playing for the love of the game, and as a team, and in this moment, they can rest. Everyone deserves a moment of rest.

I tried to take a picture of them, sitting there. But it didn't turn out. Maybe that's for the best. Maybe there was something there that just couldn't be captured on film.

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