(I’d like to take a moment here to send my wishes to a baseball nation that gained three new angels at the tremendous loss to their families, friends, and teammates. Prayers.)
In the wake of Opening Week there is always much to absorb and reflect on; will offseason moves make the impact expected? Will last year’s stars have repeat performances, and will the duds make a comeback? Will the new big rookie live up to the hype? What will be the first NYY tabloid headliner of the year?
Well this season is no different, if not more so. I spent my spring training preparing for the barage of questions us Cleveland fans would endure, full of unsettled rotations, a post-rehab lineup heart, unproven and untapped farm talent, and how a couple big names would transition from the ivy to Lake Erie.
As most of you would probably agree, this preseason seemed to drag forever, despite the WBC’s futile efforts to curb our “real baseball” appetites. And so without further adeau, I’ll get right into my Opening Weekend story. No need to keep ya’ll waiting any longer.
<tv timeout for me to scream, as iexplorer just froze on me again, therefore losing 1hr+ of writing>
Keeping with tradition I bought the BF opening weekend tickets for his birthday, which so conveniently for him (and me!) lands in the second week of April. Also keeping with the tradition, we sat in our favorite seats in right field, but this year got an upgrade to Row A – front row baby!
The morning of the game we rose early and excited (think 5 year olds on Christmas) to coffee and “it’s Gameday!”s. We layered, and layered, and layered, and smoothed the wrinkles out of our jerseys (him in a navy Hafner, me in a blank throwback) before pulling them on for the first time of ’09.
I sped mostly the entire way to Cleveland, arriving in the parking garage in record timing, which was highly unnecessary as we left quite early. We made a pit stop at the E 9th street vendor to see what kind of goodies they had in store for us this year, but came up empty handed. Guess we’ll have to wait for the season to get underway before they come up with anything clever.
As we stood outside the right field gate amongst the other anxious fans you could feel the excitement of a new season hovering in the atmosphere. Or maybe that was the bone-chilling wind tunnel we were all corralled in. Regardless, I’ll call it excitement. When they (finally) opened the gates we all filed in, grabbed our complimentary fleece scarves (thanks Progressive), and fled to our seats.
Once we came within view of the field we were instantly disappointed to find the previous night’s rainfall sent the teams inside for BP. Stupid Ohio. We took the opportunity to take in the beauty of an empty, cleanly drug, ready-for-baseball stadium, and all of the promises and let downs, memories and future it holds. Have I mentioned I love this game?
It was a gorgeous, unseasonably warm (ha, high 40’s) day, with a clear blue sky and a warm sun shining on us all game. Things were looking good, and I couldn’t wipe the grin off my face. Our seats were amazing, as I knew they would be, and we for once weren’t stuck sitting near a screaming kid, an obnoxious thinks-they-know-it-all, or a perpetually concourse-bound “fan” that sees no harm in making everyone stand up to get to his middle aisle seat in the middle of a pitch. All was right in the world, and I was certain we would be part of the Tribe’s first W of the season.
Our first Tribe-interaction was not ideal. Pavano was running laps on the warning track, and ended each run right in front of us. I felt bad bc either a) nobody knew who he was or b) nobody likes him, so I yelled a couple well-wishes, and was adamantly ignored. The BF yelled a couple wishes of his own, his not so supportive, as he was not impressed by Carl’s latest outting. BF clearly falls into category b) and I quickly jumped ship. Not performing and not acknowledging your (few) fans will not get you far in Cleveland, Carl.
We said ‘forget you dude,’ and headed over to the 3rd baseline to watch the two Raffies play catch. Carl Willis looked on, splitting time between his former pen standouts and watching a former standout starter run off his newly acquired spare tire.
Betancourt handcuffed Perez and we took a humbling moment as we watched him take off his glove and shake out his hand. Turns out taking one off the palm hurts even the big leaguers. Perez paid him back with a short hopper a few moments later.
As catch wound down I told the BF to yell something to try and get the ball.
the bf: “They aren’t going to pay attention to a 25 year old guy. You do it.”
me: “Well they aren’t going to pay attention to me with a 25 year old guy next to me. Go down there.”
As they got ready to run I gave a little “RAFFIE!!” and got a smile and a strike from Perez. Turns out it’d be one of the few he’d throw this series. After their run I tried my luck again with “RAFFIE!” and this time caught the attention of old Mr. ‘Court is in session.’ He came over and signed the warm up ball he almost took off the shins moments earlier, and I made great efforts to improve my post-Omar conversation skills:
me: “You didn’t get him too bad did you? We need him you know!”
RB: “He hurt me too!”
me: “Haha” (Oh we need you too! Would have probably been ideal here) “Good luck this season”
RB: “Thank you” <continues signing>
At this time Perez is down a little further signing for a big group, but I am fully content with my ball and sig, since I figured my days of autograph seeking were long passed me. And then the 12 year old pony-tailed tomboy snuck out of me, and I decided to head over to the crowd to see if I couldn’t get the full “battery” on my ball.
I climbed a few seats, but waited patiently in back and avoided trampling any small children. I saw a little opening and siddled up to the fence, and decided if I wanted to catch him before he left I was gonna have to do more than stick my marker and ball in his face.
me: “How’s your hand Raffie? He get you good?”
RP: <looks up from current autograph. walks over and grabs my ball and marker> “Oh it’s just too cold.”
me: “You’ve got a good start, good luck this season!”
RP: “Yeah, thanks.”
I head back to our post by the foul pole, careful not to smudge my Sharpied treasures.
the bf: “Must be nice to be a pretty blonde at a baseball game…”
We head back over towards our seats, him in search for a beer and me gloating ever so slightly. ‘It’s gonna be a good day…’ I say for the hundredth time.
We sit down at our primo VIP sunshiney seats for a few moments, and see a briggade of Cliff, Kelly, and Mr. Willis trotting towards the bullpen. The bf and I trade glances, throw our shame and inhibitions out the window, and head over to scope out the reigning Cy Young winner from close range.
I’m playing super photog and taking in all the action through the screen on my camera. Turns out midway through warm up Cliff wanted a fresh ball, so he looked up for anyone that was paying attention, and found the bf. Apparently being a pretty blonde pulls little weight if you’re incessantly snapping away and changing digital settings on your Sony Cybershot. The fruits of my labor paid off though, as you can tell…
We’ll fast forward through the game, because at this point ya’ll have heard all about the superb start my Tribe is off to, and I’m tired of analyzing and dwelling on it. DeRosa’s 9th inning, 2 out, bases clearing double that brought us within one did well to excite the fans that were sitll around, but unfortunately we came up short again. The silver lining is that double snapped a 1-21 skid my beloved cubbie-turned-indian was sitting in, and I was able to silence threats of dropping him from all three of my fantasy teams. Check out those stats baby.
So the game is over, and it’s still a beautiful day, and we’re bumming about the loss. We again decide to go a little retro and head down to the player’s parking lot, ala 3rd grade I know, but we were having a great time and didn’t care what our inner critic thought. I swore to myself a while ago I’d never show my face at those fences again unless it was whilst climbing into Grady’s Audi with him, but we both get a teensy thrill seeing players dressed like “real people.”
Our first close encounter was with newcomer Trevor Crowe. It’s always unfortunate when a player gets his chance at the sake of another player’s injury, but Crowe has been making an impression regardless of the cause. He also made quite an impression with the girls at the fence, what with his piercing green eyes and very GQ-esque jacket and denim.
He was very pleasant, but not overly friendly. Fair enough, we just lost and he didn’t play. Tally up autograph #3.
I’ll quickly recap the rest of the afternoon. A shadow crept over E. 9th and Carneige as the sun set behind the Prog…
– The bf runs to the other side of the parking lot in hopes of getting Cliff’s sig on his warm up ball. He succeeds.
– Amidst the cries and screams for Victor, nobody seems to notice little Asdrubal exited with him. I give a little yell and I’m quite certain if the bf wasn’t there, I would have left with his number. I settled for an autograph and a pleasant conversation. Next time, next time…
– The next (and last) to appear at our fence is Masa Kobayashi, and at this point there are only about 10 cars left in the parking lot (including the security guards’) and 5 other people with us at this end of the lot. I attempt a conversation with Masa about our coinciding birthdays, but due to my lackluster Japanese and his broken English, it was a supreme failure. He tried to say something about “you… 5, me… more.” The only deciphering we figured was that I was 5 when he started playing in the bigs? The world may never know…
I apologize for wrapping up this post so abruptly, but due to the quite lengthy nature and the fact that I just watched the replay of today’s 10-2 routing at new Yankee stadium (** and MLBlogs timing out my session, I luckily saved midway through but still lost quite a bit. Can we do something about the autosave feature?? **) I think it’s time to sign off. More to come soon, the drought is hopefully over for my blogging as well as the Tribe.
On the bright side, two more wins and we’ve got a streak on our hands! 🙂