Baseball makes people do desperate things, especially in the playoffs. That’s really all I can say to explain how I found myself clinging to my cell phone in an attempt to listen to the conclusion of Game Four of the Yankees-Twins series.
It’s not really the same with other sports. Because of the length of the MLB season, and the 162-game schedule, it’s so easy to get attached to your team. You can watch games everyday and really feel the ebb and flow of the season. It’s not really the same with your NFL team. You might love your squad, but you only watch them once a week and 16 times all season. I don’t think I need to get into basketball or hockey. The NBA and NHL have a sizable number of games, but nobody actually watches them. If you actually do, you should get a special award, or maybe a Purple Heart.
Bottom line: I may or may not have watched 160 Yankee games this year. I can really only think of two that I completely missed: May 23 at Texas, because I went to Class Day, and Oct. 1 at Toronto, when I went out to dinner for my brother’s birthday. Obviously, this statistic might paint a bleak picture of my social life. I accept that. But, in any case, the point is that you don’t become invested like that and then miss the fourth game of an intense Division Series.
Unfortunately, the rest of the world doesn’t stop for baseball, even if it should. So there I was on Saturday night, boarding the 7:51 MTA train to New Haven. I had to take it. There was no way around it.
The timing really couldn’t have been worse. I had to leave the car, and its very reliable radio service, maybe 10 minutes after Ruben Sierra had tied the game in the top of the eighth inning. The three-run blast silenced both the fans in the Metrodome and my dad, who with Game Five tickets in hand was already making travel plans of his own.
Other people, perhaps slightly less discombobulated than myself, would have contingency plans for this scenario. For example, it might have been a good idea not to forget to bring along some sort of radio device.
Instead, I called my parents and got them to travel home holding the phone right next to the radio speaker. Not an entirely unconventional solution, but I still had my doubts.
You see, I tend to not fare too well with technology, especially in tight spots. I go to Europe, my ATM card stops working. Meanwhile, the router in my apartment is shakier than Felix Heredia. And, of course, my cell phone has been known to inexplicably take its own life from time to time.
Also, I’m running low on battery. Yup, I didn’t charge the phone, didn’t bring a radio. Only I do these things. You’d think I would know that my phone doesn’t need much convincing to call it quits. By the bottom of the ninth, I’m holding onto one bar and decide to hang up in between innings to save the battery.
In the dead time, I’m listening to one guy tell his buddy about how he bamboozled his parole officer and the district attorney with a scheme I never heard the punch line for. Not ideal for someone who likes to watch big games alone, but so it goes. Other than that, the whole experience was pretty great. There is something wholesome about listening to baseball on the radio. Sure, it may lack the visual, but there are also no flashy FOX graphics or digitally generated advertisements behind home plate to worry about. I’ve always liked Yankees radio broadcaster John Sterling, though I can see why he infuriates all non-Yankee fans with the whole “Thaaaaaaaaaaa Yankees win!” thing. Meanwhile, everyone is looking for updates. Suddenly, I’m a hero, even for the parolee.
By the time A-Rod had scored the lead run on a wild pitch and Rivera had set the side down in order to close it out, I was willing to do ads for my phone service provider. Sure you guys hit me with roaming when I’m home and I can’t get service in my own room, but you came through when it counted.
Caught up in the thrill of victory, my dad picked up the phone to celebrate. I couldn’t help reminding him that he would have done well to scalp his tickets two hours earlier. It didn’t really take the wind out of his sails.
Anyway, maybe you can’t relate to a story like this. Maybe you’d rather be watching “Desperate Housewives” than the ALCS. At the same time, I know people who are scrambling for excuses to get out of night seminars. Sometimes it seems like there are no sports fans on this campus, but from my window I can still hear people arguing about the Yankees and Red Sox every night. I guess it’s nice to know that, with the biggest playoff series ever (or since last year’s ALCS), there will be people out there looking for updates — and you can bet I don’t have any travel plans anytime soon.