Tag Archives: Baseball

Play Ball! Nationals “Fan” Dares to Hope

13 Oct

Five hours and counting.

Not that I am counting, but if I were, five is the magic number. Five hours and seventeen minutes. Give or take.

…because counting would imply that I’m some sort of fanatic. That I’m somehow invested in the outcome of tonight’s baseball game. That I care, for some reason, whether Max Sherzer slept well last night.

Pshaw! It’s just a division title, give me a break.

He did sleep well, didn’t he? Is there a press release on that?

But then, why am I writing this instead of working on the myriad assignments vying for attention on my desk? Why am I doodling “Go Murphy” on the thesis I’m editing? Why am I secretly giddy that the Red Sox are out, knowing a certain fan living in New Mexico might be crying in her baked beans tonight?

To be clear, I’m not giddy that she’s crying, but when my Broncos faced her Patriots during the race to the Super Bowl in January, the FBosphere started getting uncomfortable, and I couldn’t cheer as loudly as I wanted to. It’s hard to yell “In your face” when someone’s Gronk is riding the stretcher to the locker room, you know? So, I’m happy to have that obstacle on the side of the road.

No, I’m not a fanatic. I can quit watching Nationals Baseball any time I want to. Then again, if that were true, I may not have sat up so many nights when we went into extra innings…Like that six-hour, 16-inning, suspense-a-palooza against the Twins last April when I couldn’t sleep until Chris Heisey’s walk-off put me out of my misery. Lots of coffee the next morning.

Lots.

It’s just that I admire this team, their dedication, their coach, and their creativity. They are fun to watch. You’ve got Espinosa hitting home runs as both a left- and right-handed batter in the same game, a rookie named Turner who can fly, and Harper stepping up on his supposed day off to pinch-hit a game-tying home run in the 9th inning. And there are six players on the team with 20 or more homeruns this season. SIX! Even the second-string players are phenomenal. Although our hearts were crushed when The Buffalo re-shattered his knee in the team’s first post-season game, Jose Lobaton stepped up to fill his cleats and got our hearts beating again.

My favorite player is Jayson Werth, for whose T-shirt I relinquished a few tenners. Not the jersey. I imagine if I were a true fan I wouldn’t let a measly C-note stop me from sporting the colors, but struggling writer budget trumps style. Werth, to me, epitomizes the game. He plays hard, pushed through a lengthy slump this year to emerge as one of the team’s top hitters, and he’s absolutely awful in front of the camera. I love it when “MASN Dan” dares to approach him with the mic—the more glorious the moment, the more colorful the language.

Four hours and 33 minutes.

nats

Even if they win, I promise not to get a big head over it.

And while we’re on favorites, I even like The Big-headed Presidents. Well, not Hoover. He’s a tad creepy. Teddy is the coolest, because he just looks as if he’s there to enjoy the game. I decided that if I made it to a game this year, I’d wrangle a photo-op with him in case I ever blogged about the Nationals. Sigh…then when my big moment finally arrived, Teddy kinda wandered away, leaving me with Willy Taft. I’ll take what I can get.

I do have a life outside of baseball. And the Broncos. And the Caps. It’s just that I can’t quite remember what’s in it. By this time tomorrow, I may get a glimpse, because my nights would be baseball-free, but I hope not. This series against the Dodgers has been a nail biter, but all the Nats players seem to be playing on high octane (and I’m betting Harper is just reserving energy for an upcoming dramatic save). So, I’m fully prepared to put off my meager social life even further to cheer the Nats through the World Series.  Starting in four hours and ten minutes.

I’d better double check the schedule to make sure the time hasn’t been moved up. Not that I’m a fanatic, mind you.

Criminy. There’s also a Broncos game on at 8:30. And the Caps play at 8.

Now what do I do?

***

Morning After Report:
Nationals lost.
Broncos lost.
Capitals lost.
I must really be a fanatic, because it hurts so very much. 😦
#GoNats2017

——————————-

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life. – Proverbs 13:12

Married for life. It’s not a game.

10 Apr

Rooting for a baseball team is a bit like being married. You swear from the onset you’re in it for the long run, then one day you look up and say, “Hey, this isn’t the team I remember!”

Over the winter, while you’ve busied yourself with life and other urgent matters, your team has been maturing, purging what you thought were endearing qualities, and growing longer beards until everyone on the roster looks like Jayson Werth.

My Washington Nationals lost their first game this year. More than a little disappointing. Then they eked out a win Wednesday and lost yesterday. They’re struggling, and I find myself wanting to leave the room rather than watch them unravel.

Who is this pitcher? Where are The Goggles? Who’s this guy on first? LaRoche would never have missed that throw!

If, like me, you’re thinking about walking away, don’t.

You see, I was married before, to the NY Yankees in the late 1970s. It was a great time to be a Yankee fan, particularly since I lived in BoSox country and babysat for a man who didn’t care that it was illegal to gamble with one’s 16-year-old sitter’s pay check. Every time our two teams faced off, we went double or nothing and I brought home a serious bonus. I was in a good place, and my team couldn’t lose. Then, in the summer of 1979, my hero, Yankee catcher Thurman Munson, was killed in a plane crash. I was so devastated that I walked away from the game and didn’t look back.

In a way, I was angry that the team could so easily move forward without Munson. I’m sure his replacement was a capable player, but I couldn’t see anyone else behind the plate. I know they finished 4th or 5th in the league standings that year, but I was no longer interested. Or so I thought. Over the next 30 years, whenever the Yankees fared well, I’d mumble a trite and whiny, “I used to be a Yankee fan.” I wanted to feel that excitement again, but it was gone. In a moment of pain, I’d given up my rights to any future celebrations with that team.

Glove and Rings

There’s no such thing as a sort-of union.

Then I met the Nationals. For two years I’ve cautiously invested time, getting to know the players, their strengths, and their character traits. I learned to wait for Denard Span to spin the bat 11 times before he settles in to hit. I learned that when Geo starts to mumble, he’s about to crumble and he’ll soon be taken out. I learned that a healthy Zimmerman can play anywhere, and there’s no such thing as too many good players. I dared to love again, and by mid-season last year I was back on a baseball high.

Now I’m not sure about anything. Half my favorite players have been traded and the others are starting the year injured. There are so many new faces on the field, I feel like I’m the stranger here. Plus, I’ve become too busy over the winter to sacrifice that kind of attention again.

Perhaps they’ll be fine without me.

However, I’ve learned from watching my husband that I cannot give up. He was a football fan when I met him, and he saw the Broncos through some dismal seasons over the years. At one point in the late 80s, I could barely watch games with him because it hurt my heart to see him become despondent. Yet, every week he’d be at it again. Hopeful. Dressed in blue and orange. Bronco flag waving proudly in front of our home.

When the Broncos won back-to-back Super Bowl championships in 1998 and 1999, my husband’s joy was uncontainable. And why shouldn’t it be? His loyalty paid off, and the victory was all the sweeter because of the steep climb he’d made alongside his beloved team.

So, I will announce to all the world, I am a Washington Nationals fan. The season ahead looks tough, but it’s just a season. I will find those things about my team that haven’t changed, like their work ethic, their genuine encouragement and concern for one another, and their love of the game. We can build on that. They might let me down, but I’m not leaving.

I think the most important thing I’ve learned is that supporting an untested team is not nearly as meaningful as sharing their victory through struggle. No marriage is without struggle, but the rewards of facing trials together, finding common ground, and building toward a better season are bountiful and strengthening, and well worth the effort invested.

Geo is pitching tonight against the Phillies. The Phillies, for Pete’s sake. He can take ‘em. And I’ll be watching, cheering, and hoping against hope that he not start mumbling. Even if he does, I’ll then pin my hopes on the next pitcher, the next play, the next game, even the next season if need be…whatever it takes to make it through. And the victory will be sweet.

Yep, I’m married for the long haul, because I believe in my team. Oh, and I think I’m a Nationals fan for the long haul as well.

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. — Romans 12:9-12