Sunday, June 11, 2006

Take Me Out To The Ball Game

When I was a kid, my dad used to take me and my sister and brother to see the Tidewater Tides (now the Norfolk Tides) play minor league baseball. It was there that I developed a deep and abiding love of baseball and there that my brother, somehow, didn't. (Or maybe he just hates baseball because my dad likes it, I don't know.) Collectively, these Tides games with my dad are some of my fondest childhood memories. I remember how the anticipation would build as I rode to the games in the back of my dad's green VW bug. I remember scampering up to the cheap seats when it began to rain, waiting out the rain under the narrow overhang in the hopes that play would resume, and moving down to the abandoned expensive seats to enjoy the remainder of the game once it finally did. I remember dragging my mom to a game and looking at her like she had fourteen heads when I discovered she'd brought her cross-stitching in case the game got boring (boring?!). I remember bringing my glove (which I had to share with my sister) to the games and praying that I'd catch a foul ball. I remember being terrified that a foul ball might come my way and hit me in the face before I could get the glove up, and that my dad would be disappointed his little girl hadn't been keeping her eye on the ball. I remember seeing Darryl Strawberry (who we later cleverly took to calling Darryl Strawbaby, although I don't remember why. Coke?) play before he became famous. I remember getting lots and lots of promotional Tides and Mets stuff (the Tides are a Mets farm team), including a sweet Tides duffle bag that years later I let my now-baseball-hating brother have.

When I was older and we lived in DC, not Tidewater, I became a die-hard Orioles fan. I cut many a class in college to watch an important game, emailing my understanding professors: "Sorry, I can't make it to class this afternoon -- it's Opening Day. . .the O's might sweep the Yankees. . .it's game four of the ALCS." This lasted for years until Peter Angelos traded away half the team in 2000, scattering my favorite players far and wide. My beloved Mike Mussina willingly defected to the fucking Yankees, Harold Baines went to the White Sox, Mike Bordick to the Mets, and BJ Surhoff to the Braves (he cried when this was announced, and I cried the first time I saw him play for the Braves). Only Cal Ripken, Jr. remained, probably because that bastard Angelos knew he'd be assassinated if he so much of as thought about trading Cal. Even after this shake-up I hung in there through the signing of Albert Belle and the manager-ships of Ray Miller and Mike Hargrove. But it's been years since I really loved the Orioles and years since I've followed baseball religiously. I miss it.

And since I now live a mere five minutes from Harbor Park, home of the first baseball team I ever loved, I feel a Tides game coming on.

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