“Goddamn it, they put his dumb ass in there again… I’m going to bed!” my mother says as she jumps out of her La-Z-Boy and tosses the remote control at me.
“He might do it this time,” I say as the goon in question meticulously blows another tightly contested/hard-fought contest in the ninth. There is nothing worse in the baseball world than a closer who embodies a dumpster fire.
Mom by no means is a knowledgeable baseball fan, but she knows what she doesn’t like…and she didn’t like Brian Fuentes. I knew how she felt. It got to be frustrating sitting there for 3 hours and change just to see this big-eared, goatee’d goofball with a lame-duck delivery and an inflated contract desecrating your team’s chances of winning. It hurt even more to know that he was forsaken by the Angels, the terrible team from Orange County that famously sticks with terrible closers until the apocalypse freezes hell over. If that smug blockhead Mike Scioscia is fed up with a reliever than there is reason for panic.
I had been to the Oakland “Mausoleum” merely days before, proudly sporting my green cap with the gold, gothic “A” on the front. The night began with a few nips from a flask at the BART station and ended with fans staying after the game to verbally try to rip Fuentes a new asshole as he blew yet another save; becoming the physical incarnation of our dwindling hope as fans. I sat there stunned, quietly giving in to shikata ga nai: the Japanese habit of surrendering to fate. When the A’s finally released Fuentes (STILL paying that contract off by the way) my mother could only say with a dismissive wave, “Well, you can’t make chicken salad outta chicken shit.”
I am trapped in my own thoughts–trapped in a no man’s land between feeling and articulation. The air is stale and dry. I’m watching the Athletics and the White Sox on the tube when Brandon Moss strikes out on a wicked “Uncle Charlie.” (Hitting coach Chili Davis didn’t see Moss as a “Punch and Judy” hitter, taught him to open up his hips and the power came naturally. Now he’s a dead pull hitter and one of the better home run hitters in the A.L.)
“Goddamn it!” I say as the remote hits the ground with an uncommon zeal. Why do I care so much? Is this a character flaw? I know that the owners are egregious little shits that want to extort the most money they can from municipalities. (and nothing is worse than the person who magically becomes broke the second they have to spend money on something that isn’t to their immediate and unequivocal satisfaction) I know that stadiums don’t return their investments to their communities. Yet, despite my contrarian attitude…I still care. Perhaps because adult life consists of boredom, routine and petty frustrations that I enjoy this form of entertainment and escape. Perhaps I am like most Americans and I like to celebrate the inane. Perhaps I am just bullshitting myself to give this one-sided conversation some “lather.” I get tired of these tedious romantico-absurdist soul-searchings and it makes me feel like an incorrigible sack of shit.
I watch this game because it makes me feel safe for a moment. No amount of information regarding ice melting in Antarctica can faze me. (and no amount of dipshit Republicans denying it either) This game brings back memories of people that I have lost. Some people feel like they don’t deserve love. They enter empty rooms and close the door of the past behind them.