Take Me Out to the...Thingy, You Know, the What's-it

Ah, baseball season is here! I know most people will tell you their favorite thing about it is the crack of the bat, the roar of the crowd, sitting in the bleachers with a Coke on a hot summer day…not me, though. For me, it’s always been about that magical moment exactly thirty minutes after the final pitch of a night game. The sights and sounds of the thirty minute mark after the contest has ended are what renew my interest in the grand old game each and every spring. Ah, rising from my seat when the PA system simply cuts off “Ring of Fire” or "Rock the Casbah" halfway through, the traditional sign that the management appreciates everyone coming and all, but the teams are long gone and they want everyone out of there right now….waving goodnight to a random member of the grounds crew as he stands beside second base with arms crossed, frowning at my gesture of goodwill…..walking into the echoing stillness of the men’s room behind three bloated Hell’s Angels and seeing the haunted face of the sixty-seven year old Mexican janitor as he starts going from stall to stall to see the surprises that await….the skinny, bored teenager counting out his register at the hot dog concession while his balding manager empties the remains of the ketchup dispensers into the master tub, huffing and puffing from sheer obesity as he does so….the confused looks of a pair of skanky redneck twins still wandering through the concourse trying to figure out where their ride went….moving beyond the gates into the chilly night, every fifth step falling squarely on a sticky Coors stain or cotton candy wrapper, and joining eighty-five other people in their zombified shuffle toward Tuesday's last subway run….getting besieged by the plaintive pitches of moon-faced panhandlers anxious to score a few last quarters before disappearing back into the all-too-nearby slums…..the vacant gaze of the short freckled woman with the huge butt selling cheap novelty helmets sporting logos six years out of date, practically molded to her deck chair on the sidewalk and hoping there’s one last kid whiny enough to sucker Dad into coughing up twelve dollars for a fifty cent piece of plastic….seeing a group of drunk college sophomores catcalling a good-looking girl across the parking lot, then switching gears by picking a verbal fight with some dude they spot in a Red Sox cap….cramming myself in the train beside an eight year old kid whose pre-game optimism has turned into boredom, fatigue, and regret that he wore his stupid mitt in the infantile hopes of catching a foul ball….listening to the pathetic stories of past athletic prowess told by some forty year old loser trying to convince his buddy that he could have avoided a life in the public works department and made the pros had it not been for his bum knee (“I wasn’t a singles hitter either, man, I was all about power”)….stepping through my front door at 11:30 and staying up for another half hour to watch the highlights of the game on channel 9---two minutes of free, concise action as opposed to the four hour slog I just paid $35 for….and then putting my head on the pillow knowing that it was just one game of one hundred and sixty-two, about as meaningful as the single chip of salt that fell onto the kitchen floor when I removed a cold hard pretzel from my jacket and couldn’t figure out why I decided to put it there after I realized upon the first bite that it was totally inedible. I like the Brewers’ chances this year, how about you?