Monday, August 10, 2009

Baseball Bargain

When there is a two-for-one sale on Tide laundry detergent at Price Chopper, who doesn't come running? The added incentive of getting more for your money is often more than enough motivation to cause a wave of customers looking to capitalize on the bargain.

We inadvertently got a lot more for our money at the Tampa Bay Rays' game last Tuesday night. In fact, we almost got a two-for-one sale. For those of you who don't remember or for the Red Sox fans who are in denial, I will remind you that Evan Longoria blasted a walk off home run in the bottom of the 13th inning in the early hours of the morning to knock the socks off the Sox 4-2. That would not be the last time in the next week that the Sox would have trouble winning in extra innings...

Now I partially bring up this game because most of New England might still feel pain from this, but I also want to bring up the thrill of an extra inning game. This was the longest game I had ever been to, and I must say that it was one of the most fun games I had ever been to.

We were sitting in the left-field bleachers on the third deck. It has been said that the knowledge of baseball increases inversely with the price of the ticket, and now I definitely believe it. Those fans in the bleachers were there to enjoy the game; they weren't there for the side shows. They weren't giants of industry buying luxury boxes to impress potential investors; they weren't movie stars who sit in their box seats and are constantly discussed by TV announcers. These were simply normal people who love their Rays were there to boo Kevin Youkilis (and as a side note, I was wondering if anyone out there could tell me why Tampa Bay fans boo Youkilis more than big David Ortiz himself?)

But, back to the fans, very few in those bleachers left before Takashi Saito threw that fateful pitch in to Mr. Longoria even as the rest of the stadium emptied into the St. Petersburg night. Like I mentioned in my last entry about Disney World, time was no longer relevant. Just as I felt in Disney when it was two in the morning and I was not tired, this stadium was the same way. The people did not care that it was late at night; they bought their tickets, and they weren't leaving until the game was over. I was into it too! When you feel the pulse of the crowd around you, you no longer feel tired. You know that with this type of extra inning thriller, there is no way you're going home until you see the end of it. You can feel your eardrums vibrating; you can feel your eyes widen as that long fly ball might just stretch over the green, padded walls; you can feel your muscles tighten as Ramon Ramirez loaded the bases with nobody out before promptly retiring three Rays to stop the potential game-winning rally, and all of this happens right after your stomach was in knots because JP Howell loaded the bases in the top of the 10th and needed to be bailed out by a 5-3 double play to end the threat.

This is why I love baseball. Games like this bring you from the top of K2 to Death Valley and back up again. At least for me, there is no way to avoid emotions when it's obvious that this game means so much to the players on the field that they are still hustling even after they've already played more than one game at the highest level in the world. Despite the exhaustion and even pain in some cases, they played on for the simple purpose of getting another win for the organization. People say the players are in it for the money, and I'm sure that is a definite incentive. But I think at the end of the day, each and every one of those players wants to win. You can be paid millions of dollars to play for a bad team, and many players do. However, those are often the same players who come around every July saying they want to be traded to a team that can win a championship.

So, I would say I got a two-for-one deal even though it wasn't quite two complete games. The excitement of it well made up for those five innings. I would say that this game was a better investment than that two-for-one Tide; I buy Gain instead.

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