Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Ball Game

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Sunday all the guys went to Safeco Field to watch the Mariners take on the Twins. The Twins had been giving the Mariners some problems over the previous few games so we went for the experience of a different stadium, not expecting much from the home team. It turned out to be a decent game. I remember we won and the pitching was tight , a few big hits, a tense moment when we were down and Ken Griffey Jr. was up to bat with the bases loaded, he struck out.

I have learned with Shane along for the ball game we have to expect his attention span to dictate our stay in the park. I had hoped with Grandpa along he would learn a new respect for the game and enjoy the outing as a spectacle.

Shane's usual trip to a ball game would have been broken down by the foods he was offered. A hot dog would start the game. He usually broke down in the second inning and a cotton candy would hold him until the fourth. He would whine through the fifth and sixth and a soda would distract him to the seventh inning stretch. After the seventh inning we had to just dig in until we could no longer tolerate his complaining and asking when the game would be over. I tried to get him interested in the game, explaining the pitch count, the positions on the field, the stats on the giant boards, but he never enjoyed any of it. Baseball was a tedious background to his snacks.

An interesting twist to the game was the popcorn start. Shane ordered a small popcorn and the server placed a small cardboard popcorn box in the center of a four hole drink carrier then she dumped popcorn over the entire contraption creating a mound of yellow snack. Shane was impressed. He felt he had gotten more than he deserved, more than he asked for. He was challenged to eat the entire mound. I learned the popcorn start could take us into the fourth inning. He worked the popcorn and watched the game for four entire innings.

The other new thing was backyard baseball. The only time a video game may have paid dividends. Shane and I had played backyard baseball on playstation. I quickly compared this game to the video game and a faint light lit in Shane's eyes. He began to recognize the plays, the positions, some of the stats. Shane enjoyed the play of the game, briefly, but it was there.

It was my turn to buy food and drinks. I went to the vendor to get Shane a cotton candy only the vendor didn't take debit. An ATM was a short walk down the concourse. There was a line in front of one ATM and the other ATM was free. I walked up closer to it thinking I wonder why all of these people in line for the other ATM are ignoring the ATM with no line. They must not see it. It's right here and I will get to use it without standing in this long line. I approached close enough to see the small paper sign attached to the card slot declaring the ATM was broken. I guessed all the stupid people in the line could read a small sign a little better than I could and sheepishly joined the end of line. It became an entertaining event when another person would walk up, see two ATM's, see the long line, pull out their card and approach the open ATM only to find the small sign. I laughed at them as I had just been there doing the same thing. They would usually shrug or curse then walk off or solemnly join the line.

The man in front of me in the line and I were watching the game in the small monitors. The Mariners hit a double then a home run. In the next half inning Ichiro threw a rocket from right field straight to the catcher's glove, it was a huge throw but the runner was safe. The man in front of me finally stepped to the ATM. It was interesting, every time the line moved up and someone approached the ATM everyone in line stopped and watched the person negotiate through the first part of their transaction. Everyone watched to see if the person would break the machine or take the last twenty from the machine. Once the transaction had been successfully initiated the line went back to watching the game or talking to each other. The man in front of me pulled out a card, looked at it closely and then frantically started patting himself down. The line stopped watching the game, stopped their conversations, waited to see what would happen to the man in front of me. I felt like we were watching a serious drama play out. We had each stood in that line for at least twenty minutes during a sporting event which usually lasts three hours, one ninth of the entire game spent standing in that line. We watched as this poor guy couldn't find his debit card, the agony spreading across his face, the line murmured a little. Then he found it and a collective sigh went through the line. The man announced something about grabbing the wrong card at the wrong time and the line chuckled then went back to watching the game.

I completed my transaction under close scrutiny from the line. The drama preceding me had created a new fascination with the whole transaction. I looked over my shoulder to see the line looking at me but my transaction was uneventful. I grabbed a cotton candy, a Mariner's hat and an Ichiro shirt for my brother in-law and went back to my seat. Shane and Grandpa informed me I had missed the Mariner Moose performance, a couple of good hits and some good fielding. I tried to counter with a good line at the ATM story but the moose dance and baseball plays were much cooler.

Shane started his campaign to get out of the ballpark a little early. He finished his cotton candy by the seventh inning and started asking how much longer the game was going to be. He would soon be asking so much about when we could leave that leaving would be easier than placating him. Then he and heard the announcement. After the game all children twelve and under could run the bases on the field. After the game. I looked at him and he had heard it.

'I want to run the bases' not 'When is this going to be over?'

He was set. He didn't ask again when the game would end he just sat there imagining what the dirt on the infield felt like under his shoes. What the stands and scoreboard looked like from second base. What the bases felt like when you stepped on them. He was hooked.

We waited in the throngs of adults and children meandering down to exercise their privilege as children to take on the bases at Safeco field. Shane ran the bases and crossing home he had stayed in the ballpark for an entire game.

Thanks Grandpa.

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