Monday, March 10, 2008

The Troll’s Guide To Madness, Part 1.5 (Spring Training Interlude)

I had planned to have Part 2 up today, but I didn’t get it finished because I sustained a neck injury at a spring training game. Some friends had extra tickets to the Cardinals-Braves game yesterday, and Blogless Jr. and I met them early to watch batting practice. Behind the left field fence there’s a grassy embankment where people can sit during the game. During batting practice though, you can stand in this area and all the kids get to chase after homeruns and keep the balls. The embankment has a pretty steep incline, not quite forty-five degrees, but it’s close, and it was still a little wet and slippery.

We had been standing out there about twenty minutes when one of the last batters, I don’t remember who it was, hit a shot right at us. I took one step forward, mostly reaction, but then I saw a kid about eight to ten feet in front of me who looked like he was going to catch it. He had his glove ready and the ball was coming right at him, but he missed. The ball flew right past his glove and it landed about three feet in front of me. It bounced a little to the right and I bent down and reached out my hand to grab it.

That’s the last thing I remember for several seconds.

Next thing I know, someone had either pushed me or taken me out from behind and I was on the ground at the bottom of a dogpile. To give you an idea of just how many reckless unsupervised children we’re talking about, I’m 6’3” and Blogless Jr. later said he couldn’t see me at all under there. And let me just state for the record, I had no intention of aggressively pursuing a baseball. I have plenty of baseballs. Blogless Jr. has plenty of baseballs. We didn’t need any more. But once I got laid out, there was no way in hell I was coming up empty handed. So I found the ball, still unclaimed, grabbed it, and tried to stand up. I made it about halfway to my feet before I realized there were still a couple of kids hanging on to my back, like some evil giant fighting off an attack by brave townsfolk. Anyway, one of the little fuckers must’ve stepped on my neck, because about the third inning it started getting stiff, and it got progressively worse the rest of the day.

I’m sure I looked like the asshole, robbing sweet innocent children of their chance at a souvenir. Maybe I was, I dunno. But I can tell you my neck would be hurting a lot worse today if I didn’t get that damned ball.

More Madness tomorrow.


Sarah said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sarah said...

Sorry. Didn't like being under the title. I'm a bit picky about people being able to read my words (like I really have something to say ;-) )

Life is full of disappointments and you just taught them a little lesson - bigger, stronger guys can hurt you emotionally or physically or both. Just too bad it cost you to teach them that.

I don't blame you one bit. If I had a bunch of rowdy kids pouncing on me, I'd want to teach them a lesson or two myself. And most of my ideas would be illegal.

Ello said...

Hell no! good for you for keeping the ball. I would do that and also mock the others unceasingly through the rest of the game. Sorry your neck hurts, you big giant you!

Robin S. said...

You fucking go, BT. I'm glad you got the ball. It's a sad mistake to think just because a kid is a kid that he (or she) isn't already fully capable of being a complete asshole, basically an asshole-in-training. So at least you got something for your pain.

I figured you were a big guy- from your picture, you look like you're built like my younger brother. I'm five feet tall and that lucky bastard is 6'3 and built like a linebacker, and we have the same parents. Not that I wanna be built like a linebacker. But I'm just sayin', some height would've been nice.

The thought of a Blogess, Jr., well, that gives one pause! doe she have your sense of humor? If so, he was probably laughing his ass off at the practice, at least until your neck started killing you. Hope you're feeling OK soon.
And if you're not, go see an M.D., please.

Wonderwood said...

Look at the wimmin, sucking up to the asshole bad guy. Figures. Make you feel like a big man, BT, stealing that ball from the little kids? That stiff neck is karma's way of saying you should have let the kids have it. Ha ha!

Just kidding. Or am I?

McKoala said...

Kids are dangerous when they hunt in packs.

Good thing you showed them the mature way to go about getting a ball. There's a lesson for life.

McKoala said...

Actually, BT, what you should have done was stumble over to BT Junior and hand over the ball saying: 'there, darling, something to cuddle during your next chemotherapy session.' Then suddenly you're a hero.

Robin S. said...

Oh, McK. Devious! Devious, and damn right.

ChristineEldin said...

OMG, this is hysterical! Comments especially!!! Yeah, I agree with all the wimmin--you didn't go far enough in teaching those little assholes-in-training a thing or two!
heh heh!!

blogless_troll said...

Holy crap. Y'all are ruthless. I've been feeling guilty about the whole thing, figuring, like Wood said, that my neck hurting was what I deserved. But damn.

And yeah, Robin, Jr. thinks he's funny. My hat got knocked off when I hit the ground, so he picked it up and hid it behind his back while I scrambled around trying to find it. He thought that was hilarious.

Anonymous said...


Chip off the ole' block, huh, BT?


Sarah said...

Women are very ruthless, BT. As well as devious, cunning and much more likely to get revenge in subtle ways. Comes from being the 'weaker' sex.

You guys are too straight forward.

pjd said...

Yet another reason I don't miss being a baseball fan. I used to be, you know, back when the average salary was somewhere below $1 million (I know, ancient history). I grew up with Fred Lynn, Jim Rice and Carl Yasztrzsztzsemski when they went up against Reggie (wed-gie! wed-gie!) and Knoblauch and other names I don't quite remember. We rode, about 19 of us at a time, in the wayback of my dad's Toyota wagon, about two hours to Fenway, and we had a grand time.

Then I moved West, and I joined my roommates in rooting for the Giants--Will Clark, Matt Williams, Bob Brenly. Crowd favorite Jose Uribe teaming up with Robby Thompson to turn tons of double plays. Even Cal alumnus Darren Lewis, a phenomenal outfielder who never could hit much above .225.

Then, and you knew this was coming, The Strike. I boycotted baseball for one year. After that year, though, I realized how little I actually missed the game, how little I respected the players, and how f'ing much money it cost just to sit at about the same elevation that 747s start thinking about deploying their landing gear.

I still occasionally go to college baseball games. The Six Pac has become the Pac-10, but it's still a damn good product, and you can sit right behind the dugouts and heckle opponents where they can actually hear you, and respond.

BT, I think you're missing a golden opportunity here. This hurt neck isn't about penance for taking a $3 baseball away from some kid (who will, frankly, get a better memory out of almost getting the ball than he would have out of actually getting it). It's about getting yours in the perveted money love-in that is Major League Baseball. Sue the crap out of the stadium, the home team, the visiting team, Major League Baseball, the company that made the sod that was installed on that slope, the company that made the sprinklers that wet the sod, the player who hit the ball, the guy who supplies that player with his steroids, and the company that printed the tickets to the game.

This is f'in AMERICA and you are due your fair share of America's Pasttime. Which, near as I can figure out, consists of dropping large amounts of $20 bills into the superstretched pockets of crybaby millionaire children who can't play a friggin game because they have a bruise on their shins.

Sorry, usually I save the spittle-spewing rants for late night SportsZone airings.

blogless_troll said...

WOW. Amen brother Pete. I quit following baseball after the strike too. If those guys didn't care that there was no World Series, why should I? I tune in regularly every five years when the Marlins win the World Series, but that's about it. That was the third spring training game I've been to since '94 (I used to go all the time), and the other two were business related schmoozing. The only players I knew out there were Chipper Jones and somebody named Poo Holes.

Growing up in pre-MLB Florida, the Braves were my team. Dale Murphy, Glenn Hubbard, Claudell Washington. You know, real men. Not these, as you say, crybaby millionaire children. I still love the atmosphere at spring training games, but I couldn't give a shit about the teams. Great rant, Pete.

Oh, I did seriously think about suing, but it's actually a $10 ball. So I'm good.

Sarah said...

I was at the 69 World Series and watched the Mets take the pennant. Tom Seaver, Duffy Dyer. Yep - names no one remembers.

pjd said...

I foamed at the mouth so much in my last rant that I forgot to share this tidbit.

A few years ago I spoke at a conference for practitioners of corporate philanthropy. My presentation was a lowly breakout session, but the keynote dinner speaker was the estimable Ken Burns.

If you get a chance to hear this guy speak, go. Even though he read his speech from papers at a podium, he was engaging, entertaining, informative, and insightful.

One of the things I remember him saying is about why baseball is such an important part of America. I will paraphrase:

When people talk about a football game, they say, "Remember when Jerry Rice caught that touchdown?" When they talk about basketball, they say, "Remember when Miller sealed that game with that trey?" When they talk about baseball, they say, "Remember when Dad took us out to Fenway and we all got those souvenir bats?"

The point is that baseball in America is much less about the game (which, let's face it, is four minutes of action tucked neatly into a three-hour time slot) than it is about the shared experience. Which I thought was fascinating. Because except for a few outstanding moments (Bobby Thompson's home run, Bill Buckner's croquet wicket impersonation, Pete Rose's parlay card), our memories center on everything except the game action.

Unfortunately, MLB is killing that aspect of the game with money and steroids. Personally, however, as a soccer fan I am hoping that the US catches up with the rest of the world and in 20 years soccer will be the dominant sport here.

Except for March Madness, of course.

blogless_troll said...

Yeah, that's a great point about the game being the least important part of the experience. (Although there IS a lot going on in the game even when it looks like nothing, but i won't get in to that). Once when I was in high school I skipped school with a couple friends to go catch a spring training game. Problem was, it was raining most of the day and most of them were rained out. We went all over from Haines City to Winter Haven to Lakeland to Plant City and back again trying to find a game. At each stadium we would hang out and talk to some of the players since they were still trying to get some practice in, but no other fans were there because of the rain out. There wasn't even a game involved in that experience, and it's probably my favorite.

I agree about the money ruining the game, don't really care about the steroids.

But it's funny how the money aspect damages baseball, but it's actually helped the NBA. The NBA has drilled into players' heads that they're in a business and in order for that business to continue to thrive they need to conduct themselves a certain way. There's a lot less thuggishness in the NBA than their used to be, all because they've used the money aspect to their advantage.

pjd said...

That would be a cool spring training day. Plus, I bet a lot of the players trying to get in extra practice were the ones on the bubble. Which for me would be cooler than chatting with the superstars, unless of course the superstars were down-to-earth, nice guys.

My favorite in-person baseball play that I ever witnessed was in a Cal v Stanford game. I think the batter was Chris Clapinski (whom you might have heard of since he played two years with the Marlins, apparently). Clapinski had two guys on base as I recall, and it was a tight game, maybe 4-3, in late innings. Both teams were in the top 10 probably, and it might even have been in a year when Mike Mussina was still pitching for Stanford. Clapinski went down 0-1 and then hit a towering shot over the left field foul pole. Virtually everyone in the park knew it was a home run directly over the pole except the third base umpire, who called it foul. Lots of yelling, a lot of piss and vinegar from the Cal dugout and fans. Clapinski now at 0-2 fouled off the next eight or ten pitches, eventually drawing a walk. The next batter doubled in three runs, and Cal went on to win.

That, for me, is playing the game well.

Funny the moments that stick with us. I know I saw grand slams at that park, and I remember a 21-run game by UCLA there, and some great plays at Candlestick. But that's the memory that's clearest in my mind, and it still gives me chills.