Since talking about Baseball Present has become so disheartening lately, let me open the vault of Baseball Past. A friend who shall remain nameless resurrected a memory I was hoping to forget. Here's a little tale from 14 years ago.
Early October is probably my favorite time of year. Baseball season is met gracefully by football season. Leaves change color. It's the best time of the year to live in Fresno, typically with highs in the low 80's and a lil' breeze. Quite a reward after enduring the drawn-out nastiness that makes up a summer in the Central Valley.
October 3rd, 1993
San Francisco Giants at Los Angeles Rectums (Salomon Torres vs. Kevin Gross). How I remember the last day of that season. The "good guys" needed a win to sneak into the playoffs after an incredible 103-win year, Barry's first in black and orange.
I was at my dad's friends house, for whom I washed his big ole truck every weekend for $15. I always tried to get there as early as possible so I'd have my whole day left, but being a junior in high school, I typically woke up closer to noon than 8am. I slept in until right before game time, so I screwed myself and had to hit the road right before the first pitch.
To keep myself informed during the game, I tuned in to the broadcast with Ron Fairly and Hank Greenwald on KYNO 1300, but felt myself needing visuals for this ever-important game, what with the postseason on the line and all. After I started my work, I kept running inside his house every 15 minutes or so, asking him if I could change the channel from whatever crap NASCAR race he was watching. He would oblige, but I could see the confusion building in his glare.
After an hour or so, he asked me why I was so obsessed with this game, the Giants and moreso with a boring sport like baseball. Many of my dad's friends wouldn't have really cared, but this guy was pretty intuitive and curious like a cat. To my knowledge, the only sports he cared for were boxing and auto racing, so he needed a little help understanding my obsession for Giants baseball.
After talking about the nuances that attract me to baseball (strategy, teamwork, hatred for the city of Los Angeles), we shared a beer and it was back out to finish up washing his truck. About 20 minutes later I hear a faint scream from inside the house. It was right around the time Mike Piazza hit a long 3-run HR off of Dave Righetti, basically ending the Giants' season. I stepped back in the house and asked Mike what the heck he was hollering about. He said that "Mike Pizza" just "had a nice homerun hit" and that I would be thrilled to watch the replay. After I threw up in my mouth a little bit, I explained that watching this replay would pretty much ruin my weekend, when all of the sudden Legendary Tool Raul Mondesi goes deep. The Rectums eventually won and you know the rest of the story.
I didn't really feel like explaining to this guy how much I hated the Dodgers and how this would not "thrill" me, much like the Piazza homerun would not thrill me. Mike said that I shouldn't care who wins or loses, but that I should enjoy the game for what it was. He went further, explaining that he doesn't have a favorite NASCAR driver, but he sure does enjoy watching auto racing.
If you've never experienced a "sports fan" of this ilk, I recommend that you don't use what breath God has given you to explain why you root for a certain team. Just nod your head, smile at any commentary that been offered and move on.
I tried my hardest to explain baseball to him on that October day, and I was rewarded with nothing more than a nod of the head and a smile. Damn frustrating if you ask me.