October baseball is in the air
My dad comes up with some coveted tickets to the Angels vs. Yanks in the division series. On my birthday, he and I and baby sis (and brother somewhere else in the stadium's sea of red) attend the first Angels playoff game in 16 years. Not much is expected of our gutty little team against the mighty Yanks but we managed to steal one of two in New York and there's a sense that maybe, just maybe there's something special about this team. Excitement and sense of mojo soon turn to an almost inevitable resignation of defeat as the Yanks pound us in the early innings. Before we can blink, we're down 6-1 by the third inning.
Sis and I head to the concession stand. "I'll take a beer...wait...make it two...need something to kill the pain." Ah, beer, the anesthesia by which we get through an Angels root canal.
Back to our seats and one beer down...Kennedy slaps a single to center. Raise second beer in half-hearted cheer. Woooooo! And what's this? Erstad rips one to right. Is it the beer settling into a buzz or do I sense a buzz in this stadium? Now Salmon up to the plate and suddenly you start to hear it...boom boom ba...boom boom ba...boom boom ba. My head bobs in time with the beat. Feet tap it out. Hands finish it with a resounding pop. Boom boom ba beat is taken over by the first real roar of the game as Salmon finds the gap in left! It's a double! Kennedy and Ersty score! 40 thousand plus rise to their feet in unison. It is the first time this October that the red sea rises and the thunder pounds...but it would not be the last.
End of three. We got two back. 6-3 Yanks.
We move to the 4th and the Yanks go quietly. Is there a momentum shift? Or has the second empty beer supplied that sensation? Our half of the inning will let me know. Yup. Spiezio pops out. Molina pops out. It's the beer. Kennedy steps up as the red sea ebbs. More anesthesia will soon be in order. Where's that beer guy?
When you're at the ballpark, the sound of the ball off the bat will tell you that it's gone. The crack of Kennedy's bat told me but I was hesitant to believe it. Its trajectory, however, comfirmed it and pulled us to our feet to watch it as if we were attached to it by invisible wires. It splashed into the redness of right center and the roar this time entered the head through the ears and rattled the brain. Or was it the beer? Who cares? Give me another.
I turned to my dad and we knew it was time. In joyful inhibition we went up top with a high five. I turned to my sis and it was up top there as well.
End of four. 6-4 Yanks.
Nothing doing through the 5th and the Yanks went quietly again in the 6th. In our half, we eek out a run through a sacrifice fly. Momentum and good feelings all around.
End of six. 6-5 Yanks.
Yanks again do nothing in the 7th and before our half, 40 thousand plus sing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" in remarkable unison, optimism, and joy. I don't care if I ever get back. None of us do. We are here. We are happy. We are singing with the hope that we will soon cheer together for an electric moment that is soon to find us.
Salmon strikes out. Anderson doubles. Wooten pops out. Spiezio enters the box with two out and again it starts...boom boom ba...boom boom ba...boom boom ba. Only this time it's not merely an emerging beat of something beginning; it's the emphatic beat that something has begun. This boom boom ba has us on our feet and shaking the rafters; it loses itself only just before the pitch, succumbing to a roar that would drown out an F-15 firing off a flight deck.
You know you've just reached that nirvana of a baseball game when you high-five that first stranger. After Spezio's hit landed in center and Anderson scored to tie it and after lifting sis in the air and fiving dad, I turned around and looked that big guy with the curly hair in the eye and there was never a doubt. No hesitation. Let's do it, brother. You and me. Bam! And you too dude right next to him -- up top! Whap! Soon it was fives all around. Give it up, brothers and sisters. This is our moment. This is our team. We had found that separate peace -- Whap! Bam! Slap! Smack!
I believe. I believe. I believe.
End of Seven. Game tied.
8th inning. We knew it was coming. Kennedy doubles. Erstad doubles. Salmon homers. Things are so out of hand that I'm no longer in my seats but running up the stairs with hands in the air as the person on each side of the aisle slaps them as they pass.
I think it was Walt Whitman who spoke of sounding a barbaric yawp. It was barbaric and we were yawping.
Yes we won the game and as we exited the ballpark, the sound of "Let's go Angels! Clap clap clapclapclap!" reverberated in the hallways. Ah, that was good.
Yes this was just a game. Yes there are far more important things in life. But there's something to be said for getting the chance every once in a while to literally stand up and cheer.
Maybe there's a yawp or two in me this fall. We shall see. Let's go Angels! clap clap clapclapclap! Let's go Angels! Clap clap clapclapclap!