Apparently it’s difficult being a baseball fan and an atheist.

I had another horrible encounter with someone that couldn’t just let me sit through God Bless America at the ballgame tonight. I remarked earlier in the year about my increasing disdain for GBA, and as a person that goes to 45+ live baseball games a year, I knew I was going to have my hands full this summer. Since the encounter I vented about in 2012, I’ve begrudgingly stood (without removing my cap) in an attempt to alleviate those types of interactions.

In short-season A ball, there’s 38 games a season (barring playoffs), so we get our fair share of poor renditions of The Star-Spangled Banner. The performer tonight was especially lousy — he was off-key, and dragged out every syllable of every word — and he came out during the seventh inning stretch to do GBA. For some reason, the ValleyCats have been playing the song multiple times during each homestand this year.

I’ve been taking bathroom breaks during the song this summer, but I didn’t need to go tonight. I figured he was going to be horrendous as a singer, and it’s a song I already dislike, so I’d be extra miserable through it. Thankfully, Punk was with me, and when I noticed she wasn’t getting up for it, I latched on to her inactivity (which I’d now label as courage) and stayed firmly lodged in my seat. The dude lived up to my expectations, singing the long version of GBA and taking his sweet fucking time with it. I sat the entire duration, catching up on my Wordfeud matches.

If I was someone that believed in karma, I’d say that I earned a free pass for standing so many times over the last two years, but since there isn’t karma I didn’t catch a break. During the final refrain, the comments started up from behind me, and for the next two innings we were berated:

“Wow, how rude! Sitting through that!”

“Some people are just so disrespectful, I can’t believe it!”

“What ignorance!”

“I worry about the world as this generation of self-centered assholes takes over.”

“People like that hate the country!”

“You just can’t fix stupid!”

That’s when I made the mocking mouth movement gesticulation, and yelled out, “Yap, yap, yap! Shut up and let us enjoy the game!”

“I bet they sit through the anthem too!”

That was the final straw. The exact problem I pointed out back in April was spit out to me in person. These fucking morons equate GBA to the anthem and it drives me mad. I spun around to make eye-contact and retorted, “no, because that song actually stands for something!”

“Whelp, ya just can’t fix stupid!”

At this point, my sister was getting pissed, and as the dumb broad went back to the “so rude and disrespectful” comment, she spun around and asked how it’s rude that we don’t believe in god and don’t want to stand up for the song.

“It has nothing to do with that! It’s for the troops!”

Excuse me? The song says it’s a prayer, so presumably the person being goaded into standing beside and guiding America is god, right? Maybe I’m missing something? Regardless, we again attempted to focus on the game and move on.

“They deserve each other. What a pair.”

“They should drop dead!”

“You’re a real piece of shit!”

“What a bullshit attitude!”

“Get out of the fucking country if you hate it so much!”

With increasing fervor, I requested that she leave us alone. She didn’t, so we went to the ushers for help. They didn’t do a fucking thing. I’ve had season tickets for four years, and before that my father and I had partial season-tickets. It amounted to absolutely no support, even though they espouse a “no tolerance policy” for profane, sexist, racist, or otherwise abusive remarks.

Guess that doesn’t cover scumbag atheists, huh? Good to know where we stand. This happened around 9:00 pm, I sent an email to the fan relations person at the ValleyCats around 12:30 am, and I’m typing this at 4:00 am. I’m still perturbed by the experience, so I’m going to try and close with a few funny observations.

  1. She kept calling us rude and disrespectful. I guess harassing the living shit out of two other people isn’t rude?
  2. She repeated the, “You can’t fix stupid” line at least fifteen times. Apparently we’re incredibly stupid and beyond repair, but she can’t formulate more than one phrase to keep repeating.
  3. Sitting through GBA is offensive. (How offensive is it?) So offensive that the only suitable punishments are dropping dead or leaving the country.
    1. Whether she likes it or not, the troops are fighting for me and my sister too. It’s the first fucking amendment to the Constitution. Amazing how dudes in the 1700s knew this was going to be a problem and wanted to protect us from it, isn’t it?
  4. My sister and I have matured greatly over the last two years. The remarkable level of restraint we exhibited would have been unprecedented to our younger selves.
  5. I’m leery of another altercation tomorrow. We both have season tickets, so I’m fully expecting a remark shortly before, during, or after the anthem about me rising for that.
  6. The season’s almost over. This cunt has been riding the umpires about every single call she didn’t agree with all season long. We’ve drowned her out with cheering, and never confronted her about how obnoxious she is. With two regular season games left, it finally boiled over. Awesome.

The real tragedy in all of this is that I want to avoid her now. In her mind, that’s saying she’s right and I’m hiding like a dog that just ate cat shit and spilled litter all over the floor.  I was already experiencing consternation regarding the renewal my season tickets before this, and the way I was treated tonight is really pushing me over the edge on skipping out on them next year.

I’ve tried to have a “live and let be” mindset, where you do your thing, and I’ll do mine. People like this make it really fucking hard to not engage with that militant atheist urge.

Fucking hell, man. Seriously. Fucking hell.

Later, Zim.

Don Zimmer (1931 - 2014)

Truth be told, when the Yankees hired Joe Torre and Don Zimmer in 1995, I didn’t know much about either guy. The extent of my knowledge came from my baseball card collection, and borrowing baseball almanacs from the library.

I quickly fell in love with both of their styles — Torre making more tactful, tacit comments, and Zim with his blunt, “old school” remarks. I’ve always tried to be a straight shooter, and Zimmer was the epitome of that.

In this republished Esquire article from 2001, Scott Raab has a great passage about him.

Zimmer managed Tom Yawkey’s Red Sox from 1976 to 1980. Between parties, the Boston media and fans roasted him without mercy.

“Every day,” Zim says. “I left the ballpark one night, and sittin’ right by the dugout is my wife and my daughter–she lives up in New Hampshire, but it’s only, like, forty-five minutes north, and I’m drivin’ her up to her house. My wife’s sittin’ in the front, and my daughter’s in the back and she’s cryin’. I turned around and said, ‘What’s wrong with you?’ She said, ‘Daddy, I’m so tired of people booin’ you in this town, and I’m worried that yer gonna get fired.’

“I said, ‘Don’t go to the game no more. Stay home. If it’s gonna bother ya, stay home.’

“Don’t tell me it didn’t hurt–day after day, hour after hour, the same shit. It’s gotta bother ya. But it’s baseball. If you don’t like it, get out. Get a job. That’s the way I looked at it. And that’s the way it was.”

There is old school as a slogan of self-advertisement and then there is old school as the baseball way of life Zimmer still loves too much to leave behind.

“Yeah. Yeah, or I wouldn’t go back. When last season was over, I got the goddamn flu, last day of the World Series. I was on my back for three weeks. I was sick, and my knee still wasn’t right, and I was ready to give it up. I got over the flu. My knee I can manipulate–” and I’ll be damned if Zim doesn’t roll up one pant leg to display a bony spur jutting just south of the ruined joint. It’s a tame phrase, “knee replacement,” but this looks ghastly. And painful.

“I can get by. I get by,” he says.

That’s how he always was. You play 162 games a year, and if you have a tough loss, it’s time to move on and look at tomorrow’s game. Something you planned didn’t work out? Tough shit, it happens, and you can’t let it bug you.

It’s refreshing to find a guy like him. Sometimes players don’t relate to the fact that they make a living playing a game, but Zim knew. He was humble about it too.

“I didn’t wanna make no big thing of it,” he explains. “I came in very quiet, and that’s the way I’d like ta go out.”

“Hey, it’s been a great ride for me, a great life. Everything I have I owe to baseball. Baseball owes me nothin’. Ain’t nobody has to give me nothin’. I would be embarrassed if I had a day somewhere. I don’t want no day. I want friends, to live my life the way I wanna live it.”

It’s great advice, isn’t it? Keep your head down, do your thing, and be happy with what you could accomplish.

I get melancholy when ballplayers pass away. I’ve never met the guys, but when you spend so much time involved with their professional lives, you feel really connected to them. One of the great things about baseball is that it’s perpetual, and the names live on forever.

That makes it so much harder when one of the guys you really cherished moves on.

I never understood booing players.

Look at all these douche bags.

I love how quickly they change their tune when he steps out from behind the picture. What a bunch of inconsistent babies. They’re the guys that watch a bar fight from across the room, and then carry on for half an hour about how those guys were lucky they didn’t come over here and start something with them. Oh yeah, you’re such a big man until the action actually comes to a head.

The bigger problem I have with it is the booing of Robinson Cano as a sellout. Let’s reflect on that for a moment. Yankees fans booing someone for being a sellout. Yankees fans. The Yanks are the team that always overpay to steal talent away from other teams. The one time someone does it to your guy, you flip shit? Get a grasp on reality, moron.

I love Robbie as a player, but the Yanks have signed so many bad contracts for that duration/amount of money for people on the wrong side of thirty. I applaud their discretion for once.

Ballpark Panoramas

I’ve got a pretty decent point and shoot camera that I picked up a couple years ago, so I made it a habit to bring it with me when I went on roadtrips following the ValleyCats around last summer.

This year, I’ll make a better effort to capture daylight and night time shots from the same spot, since I like the way the the dynamics of the field change in the lighting.

Here’s shots from Aberdeen, Connecticut, Brooklyn, State College, and Williamsport.

MLB Over/Unders

Just stole this from Grant Brisbee’s post, and I’m doing it because I want to see how bad I was at the end of the season.

We have different over-unders, this time from Bovada, so let’s do a lightning round. First, the over-unders:

 

MLB Regular Season Win Totals (in Alphabetical Order):

Arizona Diamondbacks – 80.5 - under

Atlanta Braves – 87.5 – over

Baltimore Orioles – 80.5 - over

Boston Red Sox – 87.5 - under

Chicago Cubs – 69.5 - under

Chicago White Sox – 75.5 - under

Cincinnati Reds – 84.5 - over

Cleveland Indians – 80.5 - under

Colorado Rockies – 76.5 - under

Detroit Tigers – 89.5 - over

Houston Astros – 62.5 - under

Kansas City Royals – 81.5 - over

Los Angeles Angels – 86.5 - under

Los Angeles Dodgers – 92.5 - over

Miami Marlins – 69.5 - under

Milwaukee Brewers – 79.5 - under

Minnesota Twins – 70.5 - under

New York Mets – 73.5 - over

New York Yankees – 86.5 - over

Oakland Athletics – 88.5 - over

Philadelphia Phillies – 76.5 - over

Pittsburgh Pirates – 83.5 - over

San Diego Padres – 78.5 - under

San Francisco Giants – 86.5 - under

Seattle Mariners – 81.5 - under

St. Louis Cardinals – 90.5 - over

Tampa Bay Rays – 88.5 - under

Texas Rangers – 86.5 - under

Toronto Blue Jays – 79.5 - under

Washington Nationals – 88.5 - under