I received an email from a Canadian pen pal last week. It began with a request that I cover Bob Dylan’s “Tangled Up In Blue” (which I may yet do), and concluded thusly…
My Toronto Blue Jays beat your Mets at home today. There’s nothing like just being there as a fan at a ball park eating hotdogs, peanuts and caramel corn while belting out “Take Me Out To The Ball Game” with a bunch of kids and old timers like you’ve been waiting to do it since your home team last won the World Series… uh, ’93?
While I share her interest in hotdogs, peanuts and caramel corn, and understand the imperative to reinforce civic rivalries, I had to reply truthfully.
I am, in fact, going to a Brooklyn Cyclones game on Thursday. But that’s more for the company and the beer. You’ll probably never meet a guy with less interest in pro sports.
I’ve never been into pro sports, not even a little bit. Which made the school cafeteria that much more difficult, and makes the proverbial “water cooler” conversations that much more awkward. (Worse still, I don’t watch any of the TV shows everyone watches).
It’s always been yet another thing that makes me feel set apart from other men. I can’t talk batting averages, trades, injuries, RBIs, team rosters — nothin’. I don’t play fantasy baseball, I don’t watch games in bars — none of that. Which is fine with me.
But I do love a summer night, a minor league ballgame, and a beer.
I think I caught the minor league bug at a Syracuse Chiefs game way back in 1993. Could be that it was the perfect cool, clear night. Could be that the field was the perfect shade of green. Could be that we got hammered. Whatever. I had a great time. And not because of the baseball. I have no idea what happened. I mean, I like the sound of a good hit, and the grace of a good play, but otherwise, I’m not really watchin’ the game; I’m drinkin’ beer, eatin’ hotdogs, and talkin’ to my boys.
I had a similarly excellent experience at a Newark Bears game five years ago. The occasion was my brother’s bachelor party. My high school buddy Jason Pierson was pitching for the Bears, so he got us great seats behind home base. The weather was perfect, the beer was cold, and we had a great time.
I’ve run past Coney Island’s Keyspan Park a half dozen times in the last ten years, each time promising myself I’d get to a game. What could be a better setting for a ballgame? Green grass, blue sky, the ocean… awesome! So I finally took matters into my own hands a few weeks ago and bought six tickets. I didn’t know who’d join me, but figured, ‘How hard can it be to get five guys to take the subway to a Brooklyn Cyclones game?’
As it ends up, it wasn’t difficult at all.
Five stand-up gents joined me last night: my brother, Christofer; my colleagues Robert (“Boom Boom”) Mancini and James (“Jimmy Mont”) Montgomery; and my buddies Jeff Domanski and Ron Lieber. These are some of my favorite guys: funny, cool, kind, and smart. They’re the kind of guys who would have a good time doing just about everything. And we did.
The third inning downpour didn’t dampen our spirits. Six hot dogs, six spicy sausage sandwiches, four plastic capfuls of Carvel ice cream, and countless Brooklyn Lagers later, we stumbled onto the F train. The Cyclones had lost to the Abereen Iron Birds, but no matter.
“Good game,” Ron said. “I saw some good fundamentals out there.”
I have no idea what he meant, but I had to agree.