Love, Failure, and The Postseason

Ok, so this is my first piece for BBE and I have to start by saying how excited I am to contribute to the site. I write about some other things totally unrelated to baseball – which is fine and everything – but baseball is my FIRST love. My parents took me to my first Braves game when I was a couple months old. I don’t remember a damn thing of course, but I looked happy in the picture with “Chief Noc-A-Homa”* Anyways, the people that read my music and food and travel stuff don’t give a rip about baseball, so it’s GREAT to get involved with a community that does care about baseball. I seriously only have like three friends I can even talk baseball with, and only one of those actually lives in the same town as me. And that friend doesn’t even watch baseball. Like ever. Dodgers fan…figures.

*Do you think 2 month old me realized how effed up a name “Noc-A-Homa” is? I’m seriously the least offended guy on the planet, and I rarely feel outraged. Probably don’t even have a problem with the mascot being a Native American. But “Noc-A-Homa”?? That’s just…bad. Hardly the first to say it. Anyways, it was the 80’s. Hair metal was a thing. That’s OFFENSIVE.

Maybe this isn’t normal for a baseball article, but I’m not a normal baseball writer. Well, I’m not a baseball writer. I’m not a “trained” baseball writer like USA Today’s Christine Brennan. In fact, I forgot to mention that I am in my parent’s basement as we speak.* I’ve tried to adopt a strategy of being candid and abrasive in my writing, so as to stand out and be criticized as an attention seeking child. At times my writing has been criticized for sounding “uneducated”. To which I say…yep. I dropped out of college when I was 19 to join a band and go on tour. Did that for about a decade and never went back to college. So in the traditional sense I am indeed, uneducated. But with this candidness and crudeness and no BS attitude comes honesty. Putting one’s self out there for everyone to see can connect with a lot of people, even in baseball writing.

*Christine Brennan must think that literally nobody writing about sports on the internet could possibly have a house, wife, kids and normal life. Because of course I’m not in my parent’s basement. I’m in my home office, juggling writing this article and filling up my daughter’s sippy cup and scolding her to shut up and go to sleep. Just a normal 32-year-old adult.  What you think about that CB?

In October 2010, I was a little more than a year removed from a divorce (technically it was an annulment…that’s a story for a different day). It was short marriage, a disastrous marriage. Ill advised to say the least. One tragedy of that marriage was that my love and following of baseball was stripped from me. For whatever reason, I was basically “not allowed” to like baseball. This is incredibly embarrassing to write, but it’s the truth. There was no watching of baseball. No going to baseball games.  She wanted nothing to do with it. She was an artist. Not to say that an artist can’t like baseball…hell I am kind of an artist? I’m a drummer. Ok that’s not an artist, but I am creative…kind of. This was a dark time in my life. Sure, the marriage was awful, but no baseball? That was weird. The misery ended in fall of 2009.

When the spring of 2010 came around, I had an epiphany. I was single. I was free. I will follow baseball again. I found out about the AtBat app and that was it. Life was basically over that summer. If it wasn’t baseball, I wasn’t paying attention. I had been deprived for so long that I consumed all that I could. I joined Twitter and learned about “baseball twitter”. I listened to games on the radio everyday. In the summer of 2010 I probably could have told you how many games back from first any given team was. I was glued to the standings and the scoreboard.

The Braves were having a pretty good year. Damn, there were some fun games in 2010. The Brooks Conrad walk off grand slam comes to mind. They would end up winning the Wild Card that year, facing the Giants in the NLDS. That worked out really nicely for me, because in August I randomly moved to the San Francisco Bay Area. I had an opportunity to live rent free for a time and play some drums, so I packed up and moved across country from Nashville on a whim. I was free after all.  Single. I was following baseball. Anything was possible.

The NLDS opened in San Francisco. How exciting that the year I return to baseball, my Braves would be playing playoff games in the city I lived in. The way in which I scored tickets to Game 1 and Game 2 is really the coolest part about going to the playoffs. Game 1 had already started and me and a girl from the restaurant I worked at were roaming around, drunk from pre-gaming mind you, looking for tickets from scalpers because the game was sold out. We were fortunate to encounter an employee of the Giants walking near the stadium that informed us that all we had to do was walk right up to the box office and buy tickets…at face value.

But it’s a sold out game! How would you buy tickets at the box office you ask? I don’t know ALL the details, but I do know this. MLB releases tickets, seemingly at random, at the box office once the game starts. Very few people knew about this. There were maybe 20 of us standing around the windows as the box office people refreshed their computers to see if tickets had become available. It worked. The lady helping us was able to pull two upper deck seats, for $35 each. To a playoff game. It was a steal.  Especially considering that the upper deck at AT&T park is the best seat in the house. That view man.

Tim Lincecum dominated the Braves in Game 1. One hit and 14K’s I believe. And Buster Posey was safe at second. No replay in 2010. Safe. Buster was safe. Buster was safe. Buster was out…

Game 2, I went down with a different friend and we did the same thing as the night before. Upper deck, $35. This was the extra innings game that Rick Ankiel hit the deciding home run into the cove. I’ve never heard a baseball stadium so quiet as when the ball came off his bat. It was the greatest moment I’ve ever witnessed in person at a ballgame.

The Braves of course were eliminated in Game 4, after the disastrous defensive performance by poor Brooks Conrad. I was heartbroken. Nothing new for me at that time in life. There was something so familiar about how the 2010 season ended for the Braves. The feeling of putting so much into loving a team and seeing it end in a train wreck. The vulnerability I was experiencing in the aftermath of my failed marriage made it easy for me to draw these melodramatic parallels. There I was, 27 years old and channeling my inner Dashboard Confessional over a baseball team.

But as lame and pathetic it may sound baseball kind of helped me feel SOMETHING again. After the divorce I just drank a lot of beer and existed in a state of constant Debbie Downer, totally numb to emotion. Finding baseball again pumped life back into my…life. In a way, it saved me and helped me move on from a dark time. It made me a person again. I was even able to meet a girl, ask her out, get rejected and then marry her in 2011, only one year later.

In October 2010 I was drinking a lot of beer still, but I was drinking beer and watching baseball. Which is totally the time to drink a lot of beer, even at $9 per. I went to Game 1 of the World Series in 2010, using the same box office hack I picked up from the benevolent Giant’s employee.

Upper deck, $100. Tim Lincecum vs. Cliff Lee. I was free. I was alive. I was at the freaking World Series.

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