The baseball block is back. It’s not that there isn’t a wealth of issues to discuss right now. My baseball block isn’t from not watching games. I have been at a game, and been able to watch quite a few, as it’s my vacation week. My baseball block is from fear of what I may write.
I was at the game on Tuesday and left the game early. Many fans left early on Tuesday. Although some newbies, were encouraged to stay to see the Sweet Caroline debacle. Not because anything is possible in a game without a time limit. But because watching drunk people sing Sweet Caroline is just so awesome. I don’t leave games early, and shockingly, it has nothing to do with songs or traditions. I don’t leave early, because there is always a glimmer of hope. If the fans can dream it, it can happen.
But on Tuesday the fans weren’t dreaming.
I was learning to use a scorecard for the first time. A nice Italian couple was watching baseball for the first time. I got beer spilled on me for the millionth time, but for the first time I got angry.
The men behind me at the game, proudly told the Italian couple, they were the ‘bleachas’. Their accents were as fake as their knowledge of the sport. But because they were drunk and offensive, they somehow felt they were the ‘bleachas’.
Usually in the bleachers, you do get beer spilt on. You do hear profanity. These are things I don’t mind. Because when beer is spilt, it results in an apology, and in rare instances even a free beer the next inning. And the profanity, it’s all about baseball, and mild compared to my own hockey mouth. Racist remarks aren’t usually made about Latinos right after Tiant waves to the crowd. But this is how the ‘bleachas’ or khaki entourage rolled.
The Italian man, who asked all the right questions about the game of baseball in the first inning, began recording the khaki clan.
His girlfriend asked, “Why is no one cheering? In futbol, we cheer. We cheer the whole game. But here, nothing. No, let’s go Red Sox. Why is this?”
She was right. Not that there was a whole lot to cheer for, but as there always is in such a long game, there were a few moments that deserved cheering.
Atchison had a good inning. The crowd was unmoved.
Tiant waved to us. The crowd was unmoved.
A beach ball was thrown in our section. The crowd moved.
Melancon, with an already high ERA throw out a pitch that resulted in a homer. The crowd was moved. The crowd was so moved, they stood up and cheered as they watched his ERA get higher on the screen. Another homer, the crowd moved even more. Now, they stood. ‘Fans’ were finally on their feet. Some were even cheering now. They were chanting “50” in hopes of another homer. In hopes to see even bigger failure out of their own team.
We have spent months complaining about the Red Sox. Their behaviors from last season. How could they? In this city we breathe baseball. So how could men who get paid the big bucks stomp on our baseball hearts like that? How can our new manager complain to the press about one of his very own?
And for a while, our complaints were justified. Some fans still are weary to return to the park. But if you are a true fan, we need you more than ever. We need to take back the bleachers. We need to be fans in the park that know baseball, who aren’t just there because it’s been 100 years, or there was a good deal. We need fans that spill beers because they jump when a double play is made, not because they are fighting about how to pronounce Medford.
We need fans that know one hundred years isn’t just about the Park. It’s about the legends that found ways into our hearts and our history. We need fans who even in a bad game, know who Tiant is, and they stand.
Fans who don’t do the wave, even when the game is bleak, because some people a row ahead are trying to do a scorecard.
Fans who aren’t just ‘fanatical’. They love baseball. Even if they aren’t loving the game, they love the promise of games to come. And for those reasons they encourage success rather than failure.
So if you love baseball like I do, let’s bring baseball back to the bleachers. Because in one hundred years, baseball was never as embarrassing as it was Tuesday night. Put away your khakis and get your jerseys on, and let’s take back the bleachers!