Dr. M has a gift for targeted splurging. And at the last minute, she contacted a ticket agent and got us really good seats to a Dodgers-Giants game. The tickets, which arrived in an envelope we picked up from the ticket agent’s office near the ballpark, were accompanied by a receipt, indicating what the tickets cost us. I made a point not to look at that receipt. I knew it would only spoil my evening.
“That’s too much!”
That’s what I didn’t want to hear myself say. So I judiciously refrained from looking.
I’m trying a new diet, which discourages eating wheat. So before we left for the ballpark, with the traditional hot dog (on a wheat bun) now off the menu, I prepared myself a turkey sandwich on spelt bread. I don’t know what spelt is. But it doesn’t have wheat in it, and, among other comestibles, they make it into bread.
It’s not terrible. And I had to bring it along, because, even with the newly expanded dining options at Dodger Stadium, there was a serious unlikelihood they would include spelt.
I could still have peanuts, which I did. And who knows? Maybe I’ll become a trendsetter and my diet’ll catch on. Maybe even change the song:
“Buy me some peanuts and turkey on spelt
That’s the strangest bread I ever smelt…”
So we’re watching the game, and things are looking good. Two dazzling catches by the Dodger right fielder, our pitcher holding the Giants to just one hit. By the end of the sixth inning, the Dodgers led four-to-nothing, mostly courtesy of a three-run homer by a player I had never heard of.
Not long before, the Dodgers had shipped the oft injured but formerly magnificent Manny Ramirez to the White Sox, and were running out the string with replacement nobodies, one of whom made a late-season bid to become a somebody by knocking the ball out of the park
Also in the sixth, James Loney, the Dodgers’ reliable first baseman, hit a laser shot into the right field corner, and started racing around the bases. When he passed second, he hesitated, then decided to try for third. At which point, he fell down.
With reaching third no longer an option, Loney, after getting up, turned to go back, but the relay throw from the outfield beat him to the bag. So instead of standing on second with a double, James Loney was out.
The next batter cracked a sharp single, which, if it were not for the mishap, would have scored Loney from second. But nobody cared. It was four-nothing Dodgers with only three innings to go, against the famously light-hitting Giants.
The comfortable lead left us buoyant enough to imagine the kind of razzing Loney must have received when he returned to the dugout.
“Mickey Mantle fell down too.”
Things were going beautifully. We had excellent seats, the weather was ideal, and the Dodgers were comfortably ahead. Even the spelt sandwich wasn’t too bad.
And then the winds significantly changed.
The Giants hit a home run in the top of the seventh.
They hit two home runs in the top of the eighth.
And they hit a two-run home run in the top of the ninth.
During these innings, the Dodgers used three different pitchers in an effort to quell the Giants’ rally. Two of them, not wanting to make their predecessors to feel bad, generously surrendered home runs of their own. The only exception to this futility was an Asian pitcher, who, not understanding our culture, pitched like he was actually trying to win.
Though the Dodgers mounted a comeback in the bottom of the ninth, they were frustratingly unable to score. And so the game ended.
Giants 5, Dodgers 4.
If only Loney hadn’t tripped…
More than any sport, baseball is like life. Football isn’t like life, or we’d all have arthritis by the time we’re thirty-five. Ping-pong isn’t like life, though I’m not sure that’s true universally. It could be like life in Korea. Though they play baseball in Korea too. So in Korea, baseball and ping-pong could both be like life.
Baseball feels like life. And I mean every game, including “Game One Thirty-Six.”
Consider the story arc. You’re rollin’ along, singin’ a song, and then you stumble, which, though you’re unaware of it at the time, totally turns the tide. You do your best to overcome this pivotal misstep, but you never quite make it.
That was “Game One Thirty-six.” And it’s also life.
Of course, that’s not all life. It’s only one kind of life. Sometimes, the breaks go your way. That’s a different kind of life. The kind where you win.
Then, there are games where you’re horribly overmatched. They’re called “blowouts.” That’s yet another kind of life. A really sad kind. On the other side of the coin are the games where you can’t seem to do anything wrong. “Cakewalks”, they call them. And, of course, there are the “squeakers”, where squeak by by the skin of your teeth.
They’re all baseball. And they’re all, in their own way, like life.
Of course, I could be analogizing here simply to inject some profundity. Maybe baseball isn’t like life. Maybe what we experienced was just an ultimately meaningless game where we didn’t quite make it.
Though, in a way, that’s a little like life as well.
I guess you can’t get away from it. Baseball really is like life.
* The regular baseball season runs a hundred and sixty-two games.
A reader mentioned "The Puck Crisis", which is a short, mock documentary I wrote in Canada. I don't know where you can see it, except in my house. I wish it were available. It turned out pretty good.