Batter Up!

batterThere’s a saying that men marry women hoping they won’t change and that women marry men hoping they will. Maybe this is true in some cases, but people are individuals and the only rule that has no exceptions is the rule that there are exceptions to every rule. And we live in an enlightened world where people of the same gender can marry which raises the question, if two men or two women marry who’s expecting whom to change or not change? And it doesn’t always happen, but ideally everybody who gets married goes in with some idea of what to expect. As an old friend of mine once said, “I wouldn’t buy a car without at least taking it for a test drive.” I agreed with her but added that ideally there’d be a lease with an option to buy, and that a cross-country road trip wouldn’t be a bad idea. Besides everybody changes over time. I’m not the same person I was when I was twenty in more ways than I can count, and in spite of barely passing the last math class I ever had when I was twenty I can count pretty high.

I didn’t marry a baseball fan. In fact I wasn’t really a baseball fan myself when I got married. I’d watch baseball once in a while, but my interest really grew over time. Part of it was movies like Pride of the Yankees, which made the history of baseball and some of the personalities interesting to me, and Bull Durham, which made the structure of the game and how the personalities of the players could mesh to bring about a win, a loss, or the best idea for a wedding gift intrigued me. And there are some really cool people, people I admire who had a passion for baseball, like Stephen Jay Gould and Carl Sagan. I think they were both Mets fans, but nobody’s perfect. Over time baseball became one of three sports I’d watch. One of the others is soccer, because I played soccer as a kid, and I like to think of myself as a citizen of the world, and you can’t get more international than soccer, even if the rest of the world calls it football. We Americans already had a game called “football” where the players throw the ball. With their hands. American football also has no respect for the clock. A football match played anywhere else in the world is ninety minutes. A game of American football is divided into two halves of thirty minutes each but every ten seconds the referees have to stop play to move giant exclamation points down the field to show how many inches one team or the other has advanced, which is why the average game lasts four and a half days, but that’s another story.

The only other sport I watch is billiards. And, yes, that is a sport. It’s shown on the sports channels, and if you think golf is a sport then keep in mind that billiards is just like golf, except it’s indoors and you don’t have to hit the ball nearly as far.

For a long time I didn’t watch baseball very often, but then a few summers ago I started tuning in to games, mainly to see how badly the Chicago Cubs were losing. Honestly I think the Cubs are great and Wrigley Field is a really cool historic monument, and one of these days the Cubs are going to make it to the World Series and half the country is going to be Cubs fans. I’m just trying to score a place close to the front of the line.

I have been known to cheer for other teams too.

I have been known to cheer for other teams too.

I’ve been to games like this. (Source: Wikipedia)

And my wife who had complained that baseball was boring started watching too. And now if there’s a Braves game on we’re tuned in. Actually most of the time she’s tuned in. Sometimes I watch and sometimes I take advantage of the fact that there are a lot of lulls in baseball where not much happens. That’s really one of the cool things about baseball: it’s the athletic equivalent of Dali’s melting clocks. Time in baseball is a fluid concept because as long as one team keeps hitting they keep going and the seventh inning stretch can be over in less time than it takes to watch the deleted scene from Field of Dreams where Ty Cobb comes out of the cornfield just to hit Timothy Busfield in the back of the head with a bat. Sometimes I come in late and have no idea what’s going on.

“What’s the score?”

“Zero to zero.”

“Who’s ahead?”

Sometimes I think I’m a bad influence because I got my wife interested in baseball. Most of the time I don’t mind, but it can make for some interesting conversations when she’s focused on the game and I’m thinking about something less important, like what we should have for dinner.

“Hey, what would you say to a sandwich?”

“SON OF A BITCH!”

At first I was slightly taken aback since the worst thing I’ve ever said to my food was ” Je préfèrerais cruddite” when offered steak au poivre, but then I realized she was talking about a strikeout in the bottom of the sixth.

And then there was the time I was in another part of the room folding laundry and had a mild heart attack when she yelled “DAMMIT CHRIS DON’T SWING AT SHIT IN THE DIRT!”

That was made up for by the time we were at a game and she turned to me and said, “You look like I need another beer.”

And the funny thing is I didn’t even like beer when I met her. It’s incredible how much I’ve changed.

Update: men yelling at the television during sports games reminded me of this. Skip to 2:20 for the relevant moment.

 

15 Comments

  1. Ray V.

    Great, short story and I’ll be sure to use the ending beer reference in the near future.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Thank you! And it’s a great line–use it well. I think she was paraphrasing the line “You look like I need a drink,” which, if I’m not mistaken, has been attributed to Tallulah Bankhead.

      Reply
  2. Chuck Baudelaire

    To paraphrase Eddie Vedder, some people change by not changing at all. I was a huge baseball fan from 1982, when the Brewers made it to the World Series, until 1994, when the players’ strike soured me on the business of the game. I’d like to go back to watching baseball. That would be a nice change.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      The business of the game really can ruin it. It’s an odd coincidence that you mention the Brewers because the Nashville Sounds were the farm team for the Brewers until this year. And they played in a stadium that was cheap and rundown, but that was part of what made it charming and fun. Now they’re the farm team for the Oakland A’s and have a big fancy expensive stadium where everything costs more. It hasn’t ruined it, but it’s almost too glossy.

      Reply
    2. TwerlaP

      I was going to college in Milwaukee in ’82. When they won the playoffs, we sqeezed 6 people into my tiny car and went downtown. There were thousands of people screaming, dancing and cheering in the streets. Like a prehistoric flashmob.

      Reply
      1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

        That’s fantastic and I’m deeply envious. I’ve been in several sports towns when the local team was playing a big game but never when they won. The exception would be the time I was there to see the Tampa Bay Rays break their losing streak. There was no dancing in the streets, though. I think I was more excited than most of the people who lived there.

        Reply
  3. Gina W

    The reaction that your wife has to the games sounds like my Mom (and me). Though not during baseball but usually college basketball. It was a running joke for the longest time that every mistake and bad play elicited a “SON OF A BITCH” from my Mom (because she really did say that all the time). Now I find myself doing the same thing. And it’s funny that your wife startled you when you were folding the laundry. Mostly I was impressed that you were folding laundry. That rarely if ever happens in our house. I mean, of course the laundry gets folded, however it’s usually me and not my husband. My husband usually gets most upset watching soccer (ahem, football) games. Now my son does the same thing too. I’ll be upstairs and hear them on the first floor wailing over some mistake. It’s funny although it’s scared the bejesus out of me before when I’ve heard them scream. Your first instinct is always “Somethings wrong!” and not “Someone missed their goal attempt”.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Since my wife sometimes leaves me alone on weekends when she goes to dog shows I’ve had to learn to be moderately independent and take care of my own laundry, cook my own meals, and occasionally even rock myself to sleep after I’ve made the boneheaded decision to watch a horror film late at night. The funniest, thing, though, is when she yells and makes the dogs bark. It’s like they’re saying, “Yeah! What an idiot! I could have caught that ball in my mouth!”

      Reply
  4. kdcol

    Giant exclamation points. I am sooo using that the next time Gerald is watching (American) football. Gee, I’m so excited, the (American) football season is soon approaching. Can’t you just feel my enthusiasm? The only time I like to “watch” golf is on a quiet (read: no kids) Sunday afternoon and golf is on the tele (volume low) and then Gerald and I take a nice nap on the sofa. It puts you right to sleep. I have a hard time thinking of billiards as a sport. Gerald watches some reality billiards show (maybe on the sports channel??) and it just about kills me. Shouldn’t a sport involve SOME sort of physical exertion? And after all my bitching — Nice read, Christopher. I thoroughly enjoyed it. 🙂

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Hey, there is physical exertion in billiards. There’s walking around the table. And thank you for turning me on to the TV show The Hustlers, which I assume is the one Gerald watches. Although it sounds like one of those reality shows that focuses on the personalities when what I really want to see is the game. Once in a blue moon ESPN or one of the other sports networks will show a bona fide billiards match like the Mosconi Cup and that’s when you’ll really hear me yelling at the TV.
      Good luck during football (the American kind, not soccer) season. I find American football to be great for naptime too.

      Reply
  5. Ann Koplow

    I had so many associations with your post, Christopher, that all I can say right now is that I would love to go to Fenway Park with you, your wife, Ray Romano, Jonathan Katz, the spirits of John Updike and George Carlin, Roger Angell, the philosophers of “Bull Durham,” Ferris and Cameron, Captain Carl Yastrzemski, and whomever else any of us want to bring along to that “lyric little bandbox of a park” (Updike). Many thanks for all you wrote.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Thank you for such a wonderful idea that’s made “Take Me Out To The Ball Park” so much better. That would be the ideal group to take to a ball game. The only other person I can think of to add to that ensemble would be Denis Leary. As a huge Red Sox fan he might be there ahead of us, though.

      Reply
      1. Ann Koplow

        While I have mixed feelings about taking people out to my blog park from another blog park, you might want to check out this post, wherein my son Aaron and I met one of the people from that ensemble.

        https://annkoplow.wordpress.com/2014/06/30/day-546-a-place-in-the-world/

        Reply
  6. Holly Waldrop

    You do spin a fine yarn, my dear. I will endeavor to use the player’s LAST names from now on to spare you. I’m pretty sure none of the Braves are Waldrops. Well, at least not until the trade deadline…

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Thank you dear. And on reflection maybe it’s my mother’s fault for giving me such a common name, even if it wasn’t that common at the time.

      Reply

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