Monday, February 1, 2010

Leper Appreciation Day

Baseball season can't start soon enough. I don't think that I can watch the Cars DVD ever again - it turns out that 647 times is my limit. I need to find another video distraction for Finn and I'm going to do my best to make it baseball.

This is going to be no small feat, given that Finn's attention span is too short to even make it through a toy commercial - we can only watch Cars/Sesame Street/Yo Gabba in 5 minute increments - and given the fact that the average Yankees game is 4 1/2 hours long to ensure that we're all getting our money's worth.

To start the process, Finn and I joined Spiro and True at Mariners Fan Appreciation Day at Safeco Field on Saturday. Finn's allergy/leprosy/elephant-boy-syndrome had returned briefly, so I figured it would be good to bring him to a crowded stadium filled with other kids. Other parents love that stuff.

We showed up at the park at 10 AM, just in time for the traditional opening of the gates, to discover a line that covered two entire city blocks. We then learned that they wouldn't be opening the gates until 11:30 AM this year; only season tickets holders were allowed in at 10 AM. The thought of convincing Finn to stand in line for over an hour did not bode well, however Spiro - being a deviant savant - managed to locate a secret staircase in the team shop with a door that was manned by a genial (and perhaps confused) gentleman who scanned our tickets and let us right in to the stadium.

It was like being let into the chocolate factory. The place was empty. Don Wakamatsu was signing autographs. Chone Figgins was being interviewed by Dave Niehaus on the roof of the dugout. You could borrow a mitt to shag flies in the outfield, run the bases, or pitch to the bullpen catchers. We sat in the dugout and walked through the clubhouse.

(Incidentally, this offseason's marquee acquisition - Cliff Lee - has the locker closest to the door. This does not bode well for Seattle's chances at re-signing him as a free agent in 2011.)

Finn was in shock the entire time. I don't think I heard him utter a single word and he spent most of the time on my shoulders. I was hoping that he'd be a little more talkative, since I had worked out his new baseball catchphrase, "Bye baseball, see ya," which he would shout out immediately after launching one into the cheap seats, Kenny Powers style. This is a derivative of his current favorite sentence, which he uses to say goodbye to me (Bye Daddy, see ya), the cats (Bye Tango/Cash, see ya), his trucks (Bye diggers, see ya) and his diapers (Bye poop, see ya).

So he could practice, we went out to the batting tees in left field. They're set up close enough to the wall to allow you to pop one out and feel great about the fact that you can hit a baseball 20 feet. It turns out that Finn isn't quite big enough to swing the bat, so I figured I'd take a couple of chops while Spiro hung on to Finn. From watching the other dads, it was clear that there was a predictable pattern:
  • First swing: duffed into the ground
  • Second swing: picking up some distance
  • Third swing: launched into the seats
Prepping for that, I stepped into the batters box and took my first cut. Predictably, it rolled weakly into the outfield grass. I stepped out of the batter's box, adjusted my imaginary batting gloves 342 times, stepped back in and took another cut. This one shot up into the air, but I got under it, so it dropped short of the wall on the warning track. But now I was warmed up. I adjusted my gloves again. Dug my imaginary spikes into the artificial turf, reared back and swung with all of my might. And boy did it go flying. The tee, that is. It went about 15 feet out into the outfield, while the ball rolled about 6 inches. I think the 5 year old girl at the next tee was laughing at me.

Bye pride, see ya.

Next year I'm wearing real batting gloves.

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