Home > A Day in the Life... > There’s Always Next Year

There’s Always Next Year

Kelly glistens. Like sparkles glued to construction paper. Luminescent pinpoints among freckles. Sandled feet on the back of the bleacher seat in front, she brushes dark hair off her neck and sips at the beer that is already warm though it came from a cooler carried into the stands minutes ago.

“Cold beer! Cold beer, here!

Baseball has been a lifelong passion. The Reds on the radio when I was growing up in the hills east of Chillicothe, Ohio. Sandlot games. We could never field complete teams. We needed only two outfielders, three infielders, a pitcher and a catcher.  We could sacrifice the catcher if we had a brick wall or a fence for a backstop and runners weren’t allowed to steal. Baseball was my favorite sport because, unlike football or basketball, it’s a small, speedy guy’s game. I liked to pitch because I could show off my quasi-ambidexterity. Righty Mick was all fastballs. Left Mick served up a steady diet of breaking pitches including a particularly devastating eephus. Righty Mick often got the shit pounded out of him. Lefty Mick was more effective but flew open as he released the ball. Defenseless.

I heard the crack of the bat. Then darkness. The kids standing over me when I “came-to” looked at me in horror but also in awe, looking at my nose splattered against my cheek. The blood was impressive. Facial and scalp wounds bleed out of proportion to the actual damage. My mother fainted when she saw me.

The old country doctor mashed my nose back into place, more or less, with his flattened hands, knuckles against my cheek. Working. Working. Branches cracked and loads of gravel rattled down a hillside in my mind. My already impressive proboscis stuffed with cotton and taped with splints into straightened verticality. The ruined grill of an almost new car. Headlight eyes glowing purple, then yellow and green. Boys gleeful in their mockery until they discovered what a powerful emotion sympathy is among pubescent girls. I’m surprised I didn’t start a fashion trend.

I reconnected with baseball in Cleveland. Old Municipal Stadium with 5,000 of my closest friends. An Indians baseball fan is an authentic baseball fan. No room for band-wagoners. I doubt they can afford a wagon. At Municipal I’d wind up peering around a pole watching Joe Charboneau lope up the slightly graded left field after a rope of a line-drive off the opposition’s bat. Super Joe was the purest of players. Not because he was the 1980 A.L. Rookie of the year with a .289 batting average but because he opened beer bottles with his eye sockets. But Joe’s fame was fleeting.

I was already in Cincinnati when Jacob’s Field was built. Before the powerful Indian’s teams of the 90’s. Before the 455 consecutive home game sell-outs. Before the consecutive playoff appearances. Before the 1997 heartbreak of Game 7 of the World Series that I watched on an airport television on my way back from Italy. Nagy took the loss in the 11th inning but it was Jose Mesa who blew the lead in the 9th. Omar Vizquel was right. Mesa was a choker. Mesa is gone and Municipal Stadium is a reef off the Lake Erie shore. A home for fish. I’ll bet the sightlines are terrible.

And the Indians are back to being the Indians. Last place, lovable losers. Being an Indians fan is to be a yearlong baseball fan. Indian’s fans keep track of trades and acquisitions in the off-season knowing that next year’s team will be better. Next year is always better.

In the sun deck of Great American Smallpark, enjoying Clevelandesque weather, sunny and warm but dry, I long for the seagulls gliding in off Erie. Another round of beers for the group. Kelly discovers a sticky substance on her seat and her ass. We’ll call her Candy Ass for the rest of the afternoon. The Phillies are ahead but I don’t think they’ll hold the lead. I want the Reds to win and they do but it’s a tainted victory. The Reds feel like a mistress to me. I feel like a cheat enjoying myself in the company of a charming and alluring woman while my true love sits home alone and waits.

For next year.

Categories: A Day in the Life...
  1. July 1, 2010 at 12:50 pm

    I love your style, MY nose hurt just reading this (OUCH!!!!) Not much of a fan of baseball but for a few minutes here I was…


  2. MB
    July 1, 2010 at 11:34 pm

    That explains the nose. 🙂

    Loved playing baseball with the boys at the beach. Only 2 girls, and we did okay!

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