"...there's a market for a curveball."

My story of player interaction isn’t a touching moment between a wide-eyed youngster and RIGHT-HANDED POWER BAT Cory Snyder, before being a RIGHT-HANDED POWER BAT was in the demand it is these days. Nor does the story involve opponents in the players-only parking lot and how the idea of professional ballplayer as role model was dashed.

No… mine involves a Cuban defector and Shooters on the Water.

It was the summer of 2002: Hot in Herre was being rocketed out the car windows of every white suburban teen, and I was working grounds maintenance at Canterbury Golf Club while some (most?) of my fellow recent University of Dayton (#beatCUSE, #fuXU) graduates were in the infancy of their degree-relevant career. Working course maintenance was fun when the next semester was on the horizon, not so much when graduation was in the rearviewmirror. Alas, it gave me one last summer to be an outgrown kid before gaining employment at the firm I still work for today, nearly 14 years later.

The great thing about attending Dayton was I met a great group of native Clevelanders, one of whom is an extremely attractive blonde. This is not me being a pig; it’s relevant to the story. We remained (just) friends after moving back to northeast Ohio, and would hang out on occasion. While out on a Thursday night, she was courted by two older-than-her, younger-than-me-now, tan-skinned gentlemen; one of them, none other than Danys Baez, major league baseball player. My friend was not a cleat-chaser, rather, the cleats chased her. Alas, a phone call from her on Friday informed me that she met someone Thursday night and had 4 free tickets to that Saturday’s Indians game, which Danys would start (a search would say it was either June 1st or August 24th, a win according to both my recollection and B-Ref; hooray!) and I was invited. We had a great time; "we" being me, my female friend, and two other dudes, much to the chagrin of Danys’ bilingual personal assistant, who at first I thought was Einar Diaz. He was not. Despite his thinly veiled disappointment, not-Einar invited the group out for drinks that evening at Shooters on the Water, west bank of The Flats.

Fast forward to that night, when my female friend redeemed herself with her new buddies by inviting other female friends, and I invited another friend from Dayton to join us out. He was in between Dayton and Cleveland State in finishing his degree, and was working that summer as a roofer. My summer job was hard, but fun; his was harder, and excruciatingly boring. This is relevant.

So we arrive at Shooters, meander through the packed hallways near the inside bar and restroom queue, and find ourselves in front of the outside bar, with my attractive female friend, her attractive female friends, one dude friend who attended the game with us, not-Einar, and Danys.

I do not remember most of our conversation; I talked some baseball, but also about how he liked living here, specifically Cleveland. What I do remember is that for a guy who was clearly interested in the female friend he met 2 nights prior, he could not have been more engaging, gracious, and entertaining spending time with me and two semi-random guys. That scored high marks with me, because I was a nobody, but he kept feeding me Coronas and shots of Patron like we were old high school friends. Again, while most of the night is a blur, I succinctly remember Danys looking at the group of us, pointing down the line, as he said "Corona, Corona, Corona, Corona, Corona, Corona!" and then back in the other direction, "Tequila, tequila, tequila, tequila, tequila, tequila!" He would return 2 minutes later with 8 Coronas and 8 tequila shots.

The other clear memory is this: my friend, the roofer, did not start drinking upon arrival at Shooters; nay, he started around noon after a few hours of roofing work that morning. Needless to say he was… loose. While discussion around baseball was light-hearted, and in an admiring fashion towards Danys, my buddy decided to ask him this: "Danys, how can it be fair that I’m up on these black-top roofs, sweating my ass off for 10 hours a day in 90 degree heat, getting paid just enough to make a decent living, and here you are from Puerto Rico (edit: whoops!) making millions of dollars to play a game for a living… how is that fair?"

With a sly grin overcoming his face, Danys takes a quick breath and as clear as anything to me on this day, says "Hey, what can I say, there’s a market for a curveball; fuck it, let’s drink!"

And that is why Danys Baez, Einar Diaz, and Shooters on the Water will always hold special places in my Tribe fandom.

FanPosts are reader-generated, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Covering the Corner or the Covering the Corner staff.