Do you remember, seriously now, the first time you saw a baseball stadium? A lot of "A League of Their Own" is what should be considered ample sufficiency for consideration on any rightful minded (read: not Plaschke) individual's (booming voice) Top Sports Movies list. And yes, keep away from Sue if you don't like long sentences. Ass. Down and out former potential superstar not searching for but finding pure redemption? Check. Unlikely but unbearably root-for-able athletes? Check. C'mooon...who's a bigger underdog in sports than women? Jon Lovitz starring as a...my bad. But Mom and Dad Save the World should be your next NetFlix pix.
The point is when "You da Main" Lovitz's (it seems likely at this point I'm going to petition for "s" not being the only character in the english alphabet to deserve a "'" after only it without an addional "s" to emphasize possessive. It should be Lovitz' dontcha thank? Shit I need another bourbon) character walks Geena Davis' (see?) and...that girl from Free Willy's characters onto the major league field for the first time, he aptly states, "See the grass cowgirls? Don't eat it." Nevermind the hilarity of this scout pinpointing this poignant moment with a perfectly timed sardonic jab to these farm girls, there's absolute truth here. The first time you went to a baseball game (not to play in dude-who-wore-the-glasses-and-pretended-to-be-Chris Sabo), is the first thing you remember not the grass? I mean when you're a kid you should be amazed at the sheer enormity of the stadium. The throngs of people. But I'm willing to bet the first or one of the brightest memories you have of that first game is seeing the field for the first time. It's incredible.
Well back when baseball was something nice and clean in a young boy's heart and mind ...wait, let's stop here for a moment...
Steroids have not had nearly as negative an impact on baseball as, what I'm a big fan of, capitalism. When you introduce that many billions into something that derives it's value plain and simple from its entertainment value, the "purity" that (are they really all this way?) all these older journalists out there, these gatekeepers of ultimate baseball knowledge, the stronger sayers of nay against the naysers, refer to, is actually quite true. It's about winning. It's about doing everything you can for that moment of glory. It's the off-chance you might fucking take it to the seventh game, and you might fucking hit a random ass double and win the fucking game! Only it's not. It's about the money. And shit on you and call you Carlos if you blame 'em. 'Cause I sure as fuck don't.
...okay back. Sorry had to get some smokes. The big dilimna of the night is over and I bought a pack. Do what you want to me and call me Carlos...
...I remember attending my first baseball games. I was always too young or in a place for too short a period to ever really grab hold of a home team. When I was Gilber Arenas I was born in San Antonio, 3 1/2 years later I moved to Germany, 4 years later I moved to Dayton, Ohio - Go Reds! Deion Sanders! Ken Griffey! Barry Larkin! Eric Fucking Davis! Chris "He Fucked My Mom Too, Dude!" Sabo! - Go Bengals! Mm, Boomer Esiasaosaon (no tab browsin), Ikky Woods...uh..! - 2 1/2 years later I moved to Hawaii - Go Rainbows? - then back to the midewest 3 years later to Ft. Wayne Indiana (Hey. Learn some shit. Master P played for our Ft. Wayne Fury. UEEUUEEUGHGHH! Na na na NAA), thankfully a swing to Georgia 3 years later when I was starting my Verve Pipe year of High School, then a comfortable stay in the dirrty where I finally got and clutched my masterbate to every night coveted own home team. And the braves are fun to root for too. Then after 6 I went to Houston. Then a year later to Atlanta. Then 4 years later to Houston. Then a year and half later back to...well I never had my own home team.
So I remember fondly going to baseball games (they were around back then) purposefully to see the double headers. It was always the favorite team of one of my brothers...the Mets vs. the Reds in a double header...the Cardinals vs. the Reds in a double header...so my brothers were batshit crazy for every trip from Dayton to Riverside Stadium. But I was an iconic poster child for ADHD and don't remember a shit damn thing...except the field (and the All Star ballots they handed out to punch. and the pennants [the team banners. that's what they call 'em]). That field seemed so big, and you could smell the grass even from the 3 1/2 miles you were standing away up top. I remember that as my fondest Reds-cap-wearin (and yeah, I got Marge Schott to sign my baseball glove) baseball memory. And this...
In Ohio anything that has a crowd must be a flippin fuck occasion, or from what I remember dosed with a bit of stereotype. But when our dad took us to a card convention, it must be the coolest thing I did while I was in Ohio. Mind you, the Ft. Wayne layover was years later, so the Cedar Point (best fucking rollercoaster park in the world [remember Step By Step? Patrick Duffy? Susanne Summers? TGIF? That park.], down heavy) visits are not included. There were fucking people everywhere. I'll grant you I have not been to many card conventions, and I was young, but everyone seemed so boner over baseball cards and periphinilia, I thought it was the greatest thing ever.
My dad bought all of us tickets to get in, which doubled as raffle tickets for whatever the fuck they were offering for this Ohio crowd that probably would've been impressed with a toaster oven that works as well as a wide receiver in training camp that thinks he's worth more money. I'm mentioning Terrence Edwards because I may not have another shot. Probably an ultimate complete opposite analogy. You da main too, TE. Moving on. My older brother had just come from a soccer game. Dude had mud and shit all over him. Still wearing the cleats and shin guards, who the fuck cares? It's not like he was going to meet the sweetest swing in baseball history or anything. He was in a card convention in some barn on the outskirts of Dayton, Ohio shittin Christ.
Now my ass don't remember much. But I remember walking around. Vaguely I remember my mother bringing home baseball cards and me running out into the field of our 11-acre back yard and sitting down, going through all the cards. Didn't occur to me until years later that my older brother had always traded me, offered the gum and left me with the George Steinbechs that I was convinced were awesome, and always got my best cards. Whatever. Our combined heroism built a noteworthy sports card collection. Read about the '94 Fleer Ultra summer sometime. 'Freal. But I do remember huddling around my family as much as possible being a youngin. I remember several raffles going off and us looking at our tickets, 'cause everyone got to hold one.
I remember the end of the raffle prizes, and it was a Grand Prize. I didn't know what the fuck didn't care all that much. I was fucking young dude. YOUNG young. Gimme a chile dog and let me throw up on the Himalaya at a carnival, young. Super Mario Bros. 2 is awesome young. Showbiz Pizza where a kid can be a kid young, young. But he was calling out the numbers. And my family was getting excited as the numbers continued. And when the count ended? My father was holding the ticket. Everyone can talk about them not winning anything in their whole lives, so I guess I can too.
It's cloudy, but I remember my father passing off the ticket to my dirt-clump covered brother, telling him to hurry and claim our prize. I remember him sprinting off, in what seemed like a giant venue but was probably fit to hold a few thousand, maybe a few hundred yards circumference. I remember him running right back past me, and I recall a bit of drama as the dude over the PA started counting down from 10. If he didn't get wherever the fuck in this hoondiggler he was 'sposed to go, the Grand Prize went ahead. At this point it's no longer my memory but my brother's cherished story. And his name is Josh, you happy now turtle fucker?
Josh ran up to the table, not knowing what he was claiming. He found a jovial Ken Griffey, and an even more jovial pimple-faced Ken Griffey Jr., at the table. It was the Kid's rookie year. "Dad, c'mon. Don't make me give it up!" my brother recalls Jr. saying. "Son, give him the bat," with what I'm sure was a wish-it-coulda-been-my-memory-humorous-exchange-lob-back-to-JR his father said.
"It's not the bat dad. This glass case I just can't give up."
"Son, just give him the case."
My brother shook hands with his dirty ass soccer playin paws with Ken Griffey and Ken Griffey Jr. Junior eventually handed over the bat he hit his first Major League home run with to my brother, signed by him in the glass case, bacon grease fried cherry on top in the form of his rookie card to boot.
Over the years my brothers and I have not and nor will we ever agree on who the bat belongs to. I hold hopes of the Hall of Fame. Yet other fond memories of the bat persist...my dumbass taking it out of the case and trying to bat with it in our monstrous front yard where we had a, if we wanted to, to-scale playing field...my brother's friends attempting to break into our house and steal it. The point is, it sits still in my home, something that nobody else has. And it's Ken Griffey Jr's, in my opinion the greatest modern day baseball player. Let me expound on him on other nights when I'm feeling more horny. Damn that smile. That swing. Am I the only one that thinks of that swing if I'm closing my eyes when I perform the opening stages of the Superman?