Observations from a Jays-A’s game

(Yesterday, I went to the Jays-A’s game in Oakland, and this is exactly what I wrote right after. Another lame-out post; sorry)

On the BART after a Jays-A’s game. So much fun. Details:

  • got stadium food. Awful hot dog where the only thing that matches the price was the sodium content
  • sat was literally right in line with the home plate, 15 rows back. Not quite as good as TV, but I could mostly call balls & strikes. Saw a couple very dirty curveballs
  • empty on either side with a British man (in a sweater vest) alone 2 seats down who I talk to from about the 3rd to the 7th inning. Details include:
    • on vacation for 2 weeks, so went to 7ish baseball games up the west coast
    • actually a Boston fan, so not sure how I feel about that
    • also into horse racing
    • sports reporter back in England for (a little privacy), covering greyhounds
    • very very knowledgeable about baseball. One of the most delightful conversations I’ve had in a long, long time. I need more friends who watch baseball
    • talked a lot just about the differences in sports
  • game itself was disappointing
    • Jays lost Rolen (traded to Cinci just before the trade deadline), but McDonald at 3rd should’ve been a killer infield anyways
    • didn’t really matter since Scott Richmond got maybe 1 groundout in 4 inning (officially got 2 groundouts)
    • 3 errors (1 ball lost in sun), 1 broken double play, 1 poorly handled ball in the corner, and 1 boneheaded throw
    • No one was hitting except Hill and Lind (I guess Scutaro was hitting, too, to get on base for Hill and Lind to drive him in). 2 run HR by Lind makes the game look a lot closer and Braden’s start only so-so for great work
    • Richmond’s control was awful. Couldn’t find the plate in the first inning, and was just throwing meatballs after that
    • Tallet came in & was bad for his first inning as well, walking 2 batters
    • Jesse Carlson looked great. I realize it was because he actually got 2 groundouts & a strikeout. Nice work
    • Richmond is very tall. Rios is very tall
    • Scutaro is pretty short
  • kid in the row in front of me about 5 seats to my right was hilarious
    • every foul ball backwars he yelled “I got it!”
    • on close calls, “Do you have dust in your eyes?”
    • was actually sharp on the game, with “A walk’s as good as a hit”
    • I wish I was that much into baseball when I was a kid
  • Coliseum is a pretty non-exciting stadium. 12,000 fans, nothing special in design. AT&T Park is much better
  • Just a great feeling. Seeing the highlight is good. Watching the game in person is better. For a change. Takes a damn long time & can’t really get pitcher-batter faceoffs, but still fun
  • camaraderie is good. Would’ve enjoyeed the game on my own, but the British guy made it better. The guy right in front, a Math professor at a local community college, also chirped in, so strangers prove to be just as good as normal people. Even better than on an airplane, because you have something to talk about
  • fans go(ing) after foul balls are hilarious
  • the game is a lot better when you’re invested and know the organization. Astros games were good, but just kind of meh sometimes since I didn’t care
  • I’m a much smarter fan than I was even a year ago. I know when location is good, recognize baserunning, know how much better groundouts are than flyouts. I appreciate the game so much more now
  • that still doesn’t help the pain of your team losing
  • weird to think that this happens 162 times over a couple months For some fans, a game is just something they do daily, but I’m still awestruck by it all. I have to wander the stadium and just suck in baseball culture. Because being at the stadium is all about stupid traditions and the trashy stadium feel. It’s like kraft mac & cheese
  • hearing and singing along to the recorded O Canada was just kind of a good feeling. I think it was more nostalgia than patriotism
  • I’m really glad I got the seat I did. Most of the baseball sates I’ve gotten have either been high or in the outfield. The game looks a lot different when a pop fly goes sky high away from you instead of coming up to eye-level
  • I wish I could justify sitting around & watching baseball more

Sports and fun

Now is a fantastic time for American pro sports. The NHL is in the middle of the Stanley Cup playoffs, with the Pittsburgh Penguins advancing past the Washington Capitals in a showdown between Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin, perhaps the two most talented players in the game. Maybe two weeks ago, both managed hat tricks in a single game.

And the NBA playoffs are going on, too. My Facebook home page conveyed the ups-and-downs of the LA Lakers playing the Houston Rockets in the previous round of playoffs as my high school friends roared about Rockets wins and my college friends pumped up about Lakers wins. After losing their two best players, who knew the Rockets had enough fight to force game 7? Even more shocking, the Cleveland Cavaliers, 8-0 through the first two round of the playoffs, lost one at home to the Orlando Magic after LeBron James scores 49 points.

And baseball, my true passion. And in that respect, it’s been very good to be me. The Toronto Blue Jays, expected to be the 4th place team in the hardest division (the American League east), currently have the best record in the American League. With 4 injured starters. 3 of their 5 starters are rookies, and 1 is filling in after being in the bullpen for awhile. But it looks like it might be catching up to them. The Jays are currently in Boston playing the Red Sox, who are probably a better team. In this first big test, they’ve lost both of the games so far, and I’m hoping they can salvage the series with a win tomorrow.

It’s been good to really pay attention again. I’m listening to the ESPN: Baseball Today podcast, so I actually know what’s going on with all the teams, not just the Jays. I can even keep the Gameday up in the background to get game information streamed while I’m doing something else, like playing tuba. Probably because of the jazz history class you’ve seen concert reports for, I’ve become interested in music again and thus have picked up the tuba again after an almost year-long break.

And that’s been a lot of fun, too. I’m not as sharp as I used to be. I’ve forgotten the little music theory that I used to know, and I’ve lost more in technique than the state of California has in tax revenue. Less endurance means I’ve had to cut back on my warmup exercises, and I’m pretty much done after that. But it’s been a lot of fun. Even long tones, lip slurs, and scales are exciting to me now. It seems absurd to me now that I didn’t practice more in high school. I had the time to get on the instrument for at least an hour everyday, and it was fulfilling. It’s hard to conceive now that at one point, I didn’t think that playing scales were fun.

Perhaps my newfound enthusiasm stems from the knowledge that this will be short-lived, and I should enjoy it while I can. In high school, I always practiced because I figured I needed to be better for tomorrow, and longer down the road. Having never been away from an instrument for more than a week or two for over 5 years, high school Kevin couldn’t imagine not having music to keep working on. Since coming to college, I’ve had to think more about what’s coming up in the future, and in preparation for that, my activities have shifted away from music. Right now, it looks like I’ll play through the summer and drop it again after that.

So when I practice, it’s absolutely still because I want to get better, but it’s not for the far away future. Maybe I go through all of my warmups because I don’t know any other way to practice. But I like to think it’s about having fun. It’s because right now, it seems like the fun thing to do.

Seeing how well the Jays are doing, I’m very much anticipating them going to the playoffs for the first time since they won the World Series in 1993. When I actually realize that in my mind, though, maybe it isn’t so important. I’ll certainly go through severe angst if it comes down to the end of the regular season to get a playoff spot; I could barely even look at the MLB website today because I was so disappointed that the Jays lost. But my life won’t change because of it. I’m pulling for a Lakers-Cavs NBA finals and have gotten so tense in both the Cavs-Magic game today and the Lakers-Nuggets game yesterday, but even if things don’t turn out that way, it won’t be dinner conversation for even a week after the playoffs end.

It kind of reminds me of a quote from the economist John Maynard Keynes (which I admittedly has likely either misattributed, misunderstood, or taken out of context). In response to the classical economic belief that economic problems will resolve themselves in the long run, he wrote, “In the long run we are all dead.” It’s usually a good idea to keep an eye on the future, but life is just as much a series of short runs, and the most exciting and important things to enjoy are what’s happening right now.