Socializing versus baseball

Every now and then, I’ll go out and do things with other people, whether it be for a work function or just hanging out with friends or colleagues in general.  Certainly this partaking in social rituals is a normal part of being a member of society and the human race, although, introvert that I am, I often do so begrudgingly and with a sense of discomfort and dread.

I went out for dinner on Friday evening with some folks from work, though I was actually looking forward to this particular outing.  It had been a high stress week on the job, so the thought of some good food and a cocktail out with some company struck me as appealing.

The catch to this, I realize in retrospect, is that I am not the kind of person who can go out with just anybody solely for the sake of going out with somebody.  Granted, this is not a brand new epiphany that has only occurred to me in the last couple days — when it comes to dating, for example, I won’t just go out with anyone who happens to be available.  There has to be some level of interest already established, and my date certainly won’t be reaching any metaphorical bases until I deem an appropriate level of worthiness.  In non-dating scenarios, ironically, it becomes a bit more complicated.  Agreeing to go out for a casual not-date drink with a colleague or acquaintance does not generally come with the implication that someone might be looking for more.  It’s just about “hanging out” or “blowing off steam” or whatever-you-want-to-call-it.

The reason I find this more difficult is because it makes it harder to say no.  Saying no to a proposed date is socially acceptable.  If you don’t meet my standards, then I won’t date you, period.  Most people respect that equation.  Simply hanging out, however, comes with a more lax set of expectations.  It is a societal norm to hang out with folks even when we aren’t all that close to them.  We meet old acquaintances for lunch or we go out with co-workers during happy hour, even though we may not even like them.  If you say no to these invitations, you are dubbed “antisocial” or “unfriendly” or, most confusing of all, “stuck up.”

All that said, I agreed to this outing on Friday evening primarily due to the appeal of potentially letting go of the tensions brought about by the workweek.  I should have known better than to go out with a couple of co-workers in the attempt to accomplish this.  I wish I could say there was a high point to the conversation that commenced, but there really wasn’t.  I’ll own up to the fact that I didn’t do much to help matters: I made no effort to try to redirect the conversation, merely eating my food and sipping on my whiskey and Coke in relative silence.  As a quiet individual, I find that trying to steer a conversation being dominated by two or more other, louder people often feels like more effort than it’s worth.

Fortunately for me, we had decided on meeting at a local sports bar, which meant that Game Two of the NLDS was playing soundlessly on all the televisions in the establishment.  So while the conversation devolved from the exasperations of online dating to an all-out gossip/bitchfest about work (that topic I was hoping so much to avoid), I frequently glanced over to see how the Rockies and the Brewers were doing.  I confess that I had largely stopped watching the Royals as their 58-104 season dragged on — even as things started to pick up for them in September, I couldn’t bring myself to watch.  But no matter how distant my relationship with the game might seem at times, baseball always holds a greater appeal for me than listening to negativity from other humans.

I have family members living in Wisconsin.  Combine that with the opportunity to watch former Royals Lorenzo Cain and Mike Moustakas, I defaulted to rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers.  I was pleased to see that they were up 1-0, and the score remained that way until our dinner outing (thankfully) ended.  It made me smile a little to see that they did go on to win the game, and it was good to see both Cain and Moustakas at the plate again.  I miss having them in Kansas City, but I can’t help but be happy for them and their opportunity to play some more October baseball.  I hope the Brewers continue to do well.

All this, I guess, is just a long way of me saying that I like baseball infinitely better than I like most people, even though baseball obviously wouldn’t exist without people.  I meant to write a lot more about baseball itself here, which clearly did not happen, but at least I can still say that the “moral” of this post is that baseball continues to provide a nice escape whenever our lives throw us into these somewhat uncomfortable situations, no matter how distant we might feel from the game.


The end of the regular season

This past weekend saw the conclusion of the 2017 MLB regular season.  Today, there is no baseball.  Tomorrow, October 3rd, the Twins will be in New York to take on the Yankees for the American League Wild Card.  Then on Wednesday, October 4th, the Rockies are headed to Arizona to compete with the Diamondbacks for the National League Wild Card.

The postseason has begun.

For my team, the Kansas City Royals, there is no postseason this year.  And with the futures of players such as Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer now up in the air, things are definitely changing.

 

Hosmer Moose

Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas (Instagram: kcroyals)

Ned Yost has agreed to return for one more year, and mainstay Alex Gordon is signed for a few more years, but Royals fans are in agreement: we are at the end of an era.

I just hope we aren’t staring down the barrel of another 30-year stretch of “rebuilding.”

 

 


Royals vs. Rockies, 08.23.2017

Yours truly finally made it to Kauffman Stadium for a Royals game this year!  My first of the season — yes, I’ve been slacking.  Need to get back on that.  A lady at work had tickets, but then realized she had another obligation, and was kind enough to pass them on.

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Yesterday had been a challenging day at work, which gave me the perfect excuse to splurge on a dog and an overpriced beer.

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The crowd was small, just over 25K, as it usually is at Kansas City baseball games — unless, of course, they make it into the playoffs.  I had forgotten what a stress release being at the K always seems to be for me.  Even though I am very much an introvert, sometimes being in a crowd can be nice.  I think I like the opportunity to blend in and become relatively anonymous.

I enjoy some of the distractions that being at the stadium can present.  The hot dog derby, for example, never fails to bring out my inner little kid.  Relish won this round, but ketchup is still leading the standings — at least at Kauffman.  Go ketchup!

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I love being able to see I-70 from the stands:

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And the fountain display at the K is always worth taking a look.

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However, none of this beats the excitement of sticking around to watch Eric Hosmer blast a walk-off home run off Greg Holland.  No, I didn’t get any pictures of the celebration that followed that event.  I found that I was much too happy and excited to do anything other than grin like an idiot and cheer.  I will say, though, that oftentimes when I go to Royals games, I feel like I rarely get to see a win.  It sure was nice to feel like I brought them a little bit of luck for once.

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The Albuquerque Isotopes

Growing up, I never paid much attention to The Simpsons.  Tragic, yes.  I saw an episode here and there over the years, and always enjoyed the ones that I watched, but never made a habit of consistently watching the show.  It’s not something that I went out of my way to avoid, so much as I simply did not go out of my way to make the time for it.

Recently, I’ve decided to try to rectify this transgression, and I am currently about halfway through season two of this entertaining series.  As with many forms of American pop culture, baseball was bound to find a way to make an appearance, and I didn’t have to wait long for it.  The episode “Dancin’ Homer” features the time that Homer Simpson, drunk at a minor league ballgame, started dancing like a fool for the crowd, and thus earned himself a position as the team mascot.

What I did not realize is that the team for which Homer was hired to make a fool of himself, the Springfield Isotopes, became the inspiration for a real life minor league team’s name.  The Albuquerque Isotopes are a Triple-A affiliate of the Colorado Rockies, having been previously affiliated with the Florida Marlins (2003-2008) and the Los Angeles Dodgers (2009-2014).

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The real world Isotopes play at Isotopes Park, cleverly nicknamed “The Lab,” which seats 11,124.  The stadium stands in the same spot as where historic Albuquerque Sports Stadium once stood, until it was almost completely razed in 2002.  Some remnants of the old stadium were incorporated into Isotopes Park.  The stadium also serves as home to the University of New Mexico baseball team.

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Wikipedia

The Albuquerque team does not have a real-life Homer Simpson to serve as their mascot, but rather features a yellow, orange, and red alien/dog/bear creature named Orbit.

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In 2016, Forbes named the Isotopes the fourteenth most valuable team in Minor League Baseball.  They finished the 2016 season with a 71-72 record, which, interestingly, was good enough for second place in the Pacific Coast League Pacific Southern division.


Always run on a strikeout

One summer, when I was playing competitive girls’ softball, I had a coach who mandated that anytime one of us struck out, no matter what, we were to drop the bat and run to first.  And he made it very clear that this was not optional, hinting at some undesirable consequences should anyone neglect to do so.  Nobody on the team wanted to discover what these consequences might be, so every strikeout, without fail, the batter automatically sprinted for first.  I don’t recall now whether anyone ever actually made it to first — I think maybe it did happen once or twice.

San Francisco’s Gregor Blanco proved last night exactly why my old coach had been so adamant about this.  When it comes to baseball and softball, even the smallest thing can make a huge difference.  Last night, Blanco struck out to lead off the game against the Rockies, but when Nick Hundley couldn’t corral the pitch, Blanco set out for first.  An ill-advised throw from Hundley down the first base line went wild, and suddenly, Blanco found himself on third.

MLB.com

MLB.com

After the game, Blanco commented, “It was weird. I struck out but I got to third base. So I kind of felt like I did my job. As a leadoff man, you’re supposed to get on base no matter what.”

Unfortunately for Blanco, the at-bat still goes down as a strikeout.  However, I’m sure the Giants don’t have too many complaints about how that plate appearance turned out.