Sunday, June 22, 2008

Fortunately He Couldn't Care Less About Dinger

One of our neighbors organized a trip to Coors Field to watch the Colorado Rockies play the New York Mets today. We have a pretty tight group on our street; a lot of us are about the same age, in the same place in our lives and have kids also about the same age.

The response was great -- eight families, 28 people total. We got a group of tickets together in the center-field bleachers, affectionately known as the Rockpile. Most of us took the light rail together and after baking in the 90-degree heat for the first couple of innings we got some relief from wind and cloud cover. We made it all the way to the bottom of the eighth inning, which isn't bad for a group with 13 kids between the ages of two and eight.

I was fortunate to go to a few major league games when I was a kid. They were always a really big deal, since they started with a three-hour drive whether we went to Boston or New York. I remember one trip to Fenway Park in particular. The Red Sox were taking on the Mariners, and my dad's bowling buddy Tommy Shramm came along. Just to bust my dad's chops he bought a Mariners hat and rooted for Seattle. I think the Mariners even won.

Tommy tragically passed away at a young age, I believe from brain cancer. But watching and listening to him and my dad jaw at each other during that game proved to be a good introduction to the fine art of talking trash.

Today was Taryn's first major sporting event of any kind in person, and she correctly identified what watching baseball was good for by falling asleep about halfway through. Zak was also four the first time he and I went and I managed to get him all the way to the end of the game with the lure of different concessions. "Just six more outs and we'll go get ice cream, Zak." We went again when he was five and he was done by the fifth inning that time. Then we were blessed with the opportunity to get to see game four of last year's World Series together.

Zak knows I like the Red Sox and has always been somewhat partial to them himself too because of it. When he was just a year old Derek Lowe of the Sox was the starting pitcher for the All-Star Game. I raced home from work, put him in his Red Sox onesie, grilled up a couple of hot dogs and we ate them together while we watched the start of the game.

The week before the World Series game he said to me, "Daddy, I still like the Red Sox. But I think I like the Rockies a little bit more..." I laughed and told him that was fine, and he could cheer for any team he wants. He already had a Rockies hat, but we went out that afternoon and got him a t-shirt with Troy Tulowitzki's name and number on the back and a hooded purple sweatshirt to go with it.

The fans in our section were great to him, high-fiving him whenever the Rockies did something good (which wasn't often). I told him how special it was that he was getting to see his first World Series when he was only six years old and another guy in the section said, "I'm 66 years old, and this is MY first World Series!"

He decided he had to go to the bathroom during the seventh-inning stretch, of course. The only time during a baseball game that the men's room actually has a line. And six-year-old boys don't give you a lot of warning when they have to go. So he's doing the pee-pee dance at the end of the line when some guy up ahead of us notices his distress. He shouts, "Hey, we got a little kid back here!" and the line parted like the Red Sea to let him to the front. Not sure if that would happen in many cities besides Denver.

When Jonathan Papelbon struck out Seth Smith to end the game and clinch the series most of the Red Sox fans in attendance congregated behind the visiting team dugout. I didn't think the newly minted Rockies fan needed to have his nose rubbed in it, so we just watched the celebration from our seats for a few minutes before heading home.

Zak was more interested in goofing off with his buddies today than actually watching the game, but that's fine with me. The social aspect of sports is part of their immense appeal, even when you're in second grade. He did pay more attention than I thought, though. He said tonight that the best part was when the Rockies hit a home run, which is how they scored their lone tally.

Unlike Tommy Shramm, I didn't buy a Mets hat to taunt him. He's probably still a little young for that sort of induction into talking trash.

But if the Sox and Rox ever meet in the Fall Classic again, all bets are off.

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