It’s not all about wins and losses. Maybe that’s something losers say, but I’m going to stubbornly believe that it’s true.
I had my first chance to attend a Cleveland Guardians game on Friday night and I took my four-year-old, Elliot, and my two-year-old (about to turn three), Auggie. Just three men out on the town, you know, as my wife and six-month-old daughter held down the fort at home.
What follows is a brief account of our experience at the game, going back and forth between my kids speaking, me speaking, narrative, and my internal dialogue. (They call me “daddo”, something my oldest son started during his early period of talking when he struggled to form words). My goal is to help us all remember the big picture as we continue through what has been a disappointing season so far.
After all, baseball is for the kids.
“Daddo, did you bring snacks?”
“Yes, I brought your sandwich, animal cookies, dried fruit, and peanut butter crackers.”
I wonder if they’ll pay any attention to the game?
We park in that one lot on Carnegie that’s always blessedly $5 and high-tailed our way to the stadium using our double-stroller. The guest services folks looked at the stroller as if it was a spacecraft asking for earthling permission to demolish a cornfield for the night, but eventually, we find a place to gate-check it and then I led the boys off to our seats in 554. They are so excited about riding the escalators that I decide to forego my usual Killer Kilbane dog at the Happy Dog stand and snagged a regular dog from a stand on the way to our seats.
We arrive just in time to see the Guardians score a run in the only way the Guardians know how to score a run, a sacrifice fly.
Wow, we scored off a lefty who looks awfully hittable. Will this be the game we can score more than 2 runs in an inning? Why do I even bother thinking these things?
“Daddo, he hit the ball!”
“Yes, he did. But, that’s the wrong team, buddy. We want him to strike out.”
“Oh. ... Can I have a big pretzel?”
Logan Allen has his first real hiccup as a major league starter, but I still believe in him. Nick Sandlin, always a favorite of mine, comes in and gets a patented double-play. I need to work on that article idea I have about him...
“Daddo, do you remember that big slide? Can we do the big, bouncy slide?”
“That was at the Rubber Ducks game, Auggie. We’ll do that another time, but we can go to the kids clubhouse and we’ll get a pretzel, too.”
Karinchak’s coming in. He’ll walk a couple guys and that’ll give them plenty of time to play before the 7th inning stretch and we can then go out and they can sing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” one of the first songs they ever learned.
“Daddo, do you like my hat?”
“Yes, I have the same hat! Don’t we look great. ... Oh, thank you [to a random person saying the boys are cute]. No, they’re not twins. They’re Irish Twins.”
I do not know how often Tito is going to play with fire in regards to Karinchak before he gets burned, but there is no way Mr. Tight Pants should be celebrating like that after that kind of inning ...
“Look, Daddo, I made you dinner!”
“Wow, thank you, Elliot! I love play pizza, broccoli, and spaghetti for dinner! Do you both want to go down the big slide so we can go get a pretzel and sing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” now?”
They’re bringing in Matt Moore?? I hate that the Angels seem to be under smarter management these days. Unfazed by Anderson looking shaky, they realize the best way to subdue the mighty Guardians offense is with unrelenting waves of lefties. Maybe David Fry will get to pinch-hit...
I look down and realize that Elliot is clapping and cheering with the crowd, without me telling him to do so. He’s watching the game and getting excited when everyone else is excited. He asks to go play in the whiffle ball field, but we don’t have time. Their bedtimes can’t be stretched quite this far just yet, so we need to make our way to the exits.
“Daddo, next time, bring LOTS of snacks. I mean, LOTS.”
“Ok, buddy, I will bring bags and bags of snacks. Look, Josh Naylor is up! Naylor is one of Daddo’s favorite players.”
WHY IS HE BATTING AGAINST A LEFTY RELIEV...
*CRACK* A no-doubt about it blast receives the adulation it deserves from a jubilant Tom Hamilton. No matter what else happens, Josh Naylor has hit a go-ahead homer late off a tough lefty. Oh, and Gimenez hits a triple that would have been a homer in 9 major league parks shortly afterwards. It’s ALMOST like Gimenez should be hitting 6th in today’s lineup...
“Where’s our car, Daddo?”
“It’s just another block, buddy. Listen to hear if they set off the fireworks.”
Why aren’t there fireworks? There should be fireworks by now, Clase’s been electric and it’s the freaking Angels, SURELY there will be celebration fireworks soon.
“Daddo, I want you to bring me to a baseball game again tomorrow.”
“Me too, Elliot. Do you want to go again, Auggie.”
“Yeah, that was FUN.”
You know what? Even when the fireworks never come. Even when the best player in the world ruins your night as best players are wont to do ... yes, it was fun. And I can’t wait to do it again.