Welp, it's baseball season again. And you know what that means. Lots, and lots of statistics flying around. WHIP, ERA, K/BB, OPS, SB, CUTFAABB... oh, what's CUFAAFBB? It's my annual "Countdown Until the First Article about Another Possible Battle of the Bay." It's a yearly ritual, and inevitably, the first columnist will write it around the 18th of September or so.
But anyway, baseball. I grew up with it, but since I grew up with Joe Montana, it was always sidelined by the golden boy who was always seemed too small--until he stepped on the field and made everyone else look like a flea circus. My family got caught up in that mania, just like so many others in the Bay Area, and baseball was barely worth mentioning in the house. I think I went to a Giants game once, when they were doing a "good students get Giants tickets!" promotion at my school, but what I mostly remember about that park is that Candlestick was very, very cold. Note that in the years since I first visited Candlestick, it's still pretty much the only impression I have of it.
The only time baseball became a real blip on the radar was 1989, when both San Francisco and Oakland went to the Series. I remember being forced to sit on the porch and watch the game through the window while everyone else was in the living room, all because I chose to root for the A's. (What can I say? They had the more recognizable names) Then there was an earthquake, and a strike or two, and baseball was off the map again.
Flash forward to my freshman year of college. There I am with about 3 hours of class a day, no parents around, a two-minute walk to any given class, and therefore waaaay too much free time. What could a bored boy do? After all, there's only so much porn you can look at before it all starts blurring together, and besides, that leaves another 10 hours and 50 minutes to burn, assuming 10 hours of sleep. So what filled the time, and kept things relatively sane for me? ESPN. There was always SOMEthing going on, be it baseball, basketball, hockey, or football, and the various stories kept my mind busy.
The natural progression of this newfound sports fanaticism meant going to games. Since I was on a college budget, it meant going to cheap games. So, I went to lots of Warriors and A's games, and was lucky enough to get into a Niners game in the nosebleed seats. And from there, I decided that baseball is the best sport to watch in person, because it gives you plenty of time to hang out with your friends, make an ass of yourself on the scoreboard TV, grab food in between innings, et cetera. The Niners game I was at I couldn't see a thing, while... well, it was a Warriors game, I don't need to explain that pain. Basketball fans in Memphis and Vancouver can relate--so can the Hawks, to some extent, since they peaked right around the time our team did. And so, I became a big baseball fan on top of everything else.
Things got even worse two years ago. Pacific Bell Park--one of the most beautiful locales in the sport--opened up no more than three blocks away from where I work. So, I sunk further and further into laid-back baseball fandom, kicking back with a friend, a few Krispy Kremes, some cotton candy, some Ben and Jerry's ice cream and the accompanying huge sugar high.
And when I thought things couldn't go any further, last year, Jon Miller's voice started haunting me. Obviously, when I was watching the game, I would hear his voice. But then, he would start popping up when I least expected it. Walking to lunch? Jon Miller on the radio as I'm passing a newsstand. Working? Jon Miller ever-so-faintly coming from my boss' office. On the subway? Jon Miller the moment we were out of the transbay tunnel. Jon Miller in the morning, Jon Miller in the afternoon, Jon Miller in my sleep. I swear, if I'd had sex I would've been giving Jon Miller play-by-play. "Ground ball to short, this could be two... Aurilia flips it to Kent, on to Snow... DOUBLE play!"
Which brings me, in my meandering way, to today. I love Opening Days. They're full of hope and ridiculous possibilities that will most likely be quashed over the next 6 months but are still possibilities. I love the fact that as of today, Baltimore and Tampa Bay sit atop the AL East while the Yankees and the Sox are at the bottom. I love that Barry Bonds is 'on pace' to hit 324 home runs this season. I especially love Bud Selig scrambling to try and denounce Forbes magazine's assessment of baseball's finances after losing his credibility during the congressional hearings. I love that... well, that there's 161 more games of variable importance for me either to watch or ignore, numbers to keep track of for fantasy baseball purposes, and, of course, the ludicrous injuries that baseball players suffer. Would you believe that last year, David Wells was held out for gout? Gout, of all things...
Hehehe, until next time.