23 August 2006

Diamonds and Pucks

I went to a baseball game, and a hockey game nearly broke out.

Err... a fight nearly broke out. The Hick (my recovering Badger friend) and I went to the Twins game Saturday, and, while the Twins sucked it up on the field, Hick and I were enjoying the company of not one, but TWO bachelor parties who were sitting around us. From our seats high atop the Metrodome upper deck (roughly at the same elevation as Mount McKinley), we observed these lovely gentlemen drink lots of beers, throw things at people, and jaw back and forth with someone who did not like things being thrown at him. It was fun.

But this isn't hockey, I realize. HOWEVER, while bemoaning the Bill Buckner-eqsue play of Nick Punto and the sad offense, I thought a bit about hockey. Of course, it was hard to fit in hockey, there was just so much about the things going on around me that I couldn't wrap my mind around. I mean, there was a guy making giant paper airplanes, who had booze-filled binoculars. And I had the following conversation with a person who had one eye sewn shut (seriously).

Hick and RWD enter stage left, filing into row with ice cream cones.

One Eyed Guy: That doesn't look like beer.

RWD, with nervous laughter: Ha ha, oh, well, I'm driving.

One Eyed Guy: Oh, that doesn't matter! Just close one eye! That's what I do.

RWD: ...

I am not lying. Good lord, what does that even mean? Is he referring to the one eye, that is perpetually shut? Or does he close both eyes? And man, does he have some accuracy when it comes to throwing a bag of peanuts!

Anyway, baseball and hockey fit together so well, you'd think it was designed with my entertainment involved. In early October, just as the hockey season is starting, the baseball season is ending. And then in March, when hockey's over, there's just a handful of days until baseball commences. You know how some crazy hicks divide their seasons into Hunting and Fishing? Well, my seasons are Baseball and Hockey. (This seamlessness doesn't apply to people who are fans of, say, the Gophers and the Yankees, who are often still playing in April and late October, respectively. But those people will also be living out an excruciating afterlife in the fiery underworld, so I guess it all works out in the end.) (Oh, one note of importance, last time the Twins were playing in very very late October, in 1991, they won the World Series on my birthday. Here's hoping the 'Dogs AND the Twins win a series on my birthday this year!)

It's easy to love baseball and hockey, even though they seem so different. I mean, if I were Michael Cuddyer and Bobby Jenks hit me in the elbow with a pitch, I would definite check that guy into the baggie so hard he would think a freight train had hit him. But, hello! You can't do that in baseball. Justin Morneau and Corey Koskie would have already done it.

Baseball is a game of anticipation, and hockey is a game where anything can happen. It is so easy to love them both.

In baseball there's the upper deck, and hockey, top shelf. The fastball and the slap shot, the breaking ball and the wrist shot. The Texas Leaguer and the lucky bounce. Carom and deflection. Wooden sticks sending hard objects flying at homicidal speeds. An overwhelming portion of the game's burden lies on the shoulders of one person, who's usually just a little on the crazy side.

Sometimes minutes in a hockey game feel like forever. Baseball could theoretically go on forever. When my team's ahead, I'm always anticipating that breakaway, that bad pitch, that could change the entire game. Tiny moments, big mistakes. A fraction of a second, a fraction of an inch, and it's a whole new ball game. Forget about what you did last night, last week, last year. You can't count a guy out because you think you're better than he is. Gene Larkin. Tony Quesada. Alejandro Pena and Don Lucia counted them out.

And, when my team's behind... well, it's best to tiptoe quietly away.

I didn't mean to fall in love with two teams who are so infrequently successful (three, if you count the Red Sox, but now it's getting harder to love them. Success has changed them. But at least they don't have *ugh* Johnny Damon anymore.) You can blame my parents, I guess. The default excuse. I know winning doesn't get old, winning is good, everyone would prefer to win rather than lose. But the 1991 World Series was so much more incredible since the Twins had been the last place team the year before. I'm sorry, Yankees fans. You'll never feel like I did then. And that first NCAA championship for the 'Dogs, oh man is that going to be sweet. Oh man, I just can't wait. The 8th title, or the 4th or 2nd, it's just not going to be the same for those folks. Victory is just so much sweeter if you're usually the also-ran.

One team is in a pennant race. The other's season is six weeks away. It's almost September, and anything can happen.

4 comments:

LetsGoMavs said...

Good post. I think you've got good points linking the two sports. The only thing baseball has over hockey is the hottie players. As much as I love hockey, they looks leave a bit to be desired. I'm with ya on cheering for the underdog teams...obviously since I'm a Mavs fan:) Also, that one eye guy sounded like a hoot. I bet he's one of those skanky Sioux fans!!

Runninwiththedogs said...

Or potentially from St. Cloud...

Baseball has more hotties because there are LESS CANADIANS.
Although my #1HotHottieBulldog is Canadian...

Roy said...

How about your boy LaPanta doing play-by-play tonight on the Twins broadcast? He's BIG TIME now. Bert may punch him in the mouth by the end of the broadcast.

Runninwiththedogs said...

OMG, LA P DID PBP AND I WAS SLEEPING. WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME??????

Thanks to the diligence of people like you, Roy, the world is a better place.

Thanks to La P, Don Lucia's hairstyle is seen in the hockey off-season.