Posted by: Ryan | September 11, 2011

Game Seven: Doing the Math

Date: July 23, 2011
Score: Vermont Lake Monsters 3, Jamestown Jammers 2
photos from the game

The other day I realized with a start that I am halfway through my working life. Although I’ll garden and putter long after I’m retired – I’m aiming to become a leathery, ageless peasant – I realized that I will turn 65 in 22 years, and that I left college 22 years ago.

Like most people my age, I’ve had a lot of jobs. The one I hold now is a “real job,” and helps me believe that we can somehow pay for our daughter’s college education. I went through a long stretch of underemployment here in Vermont, so I don’t take this position lightly.

But 22 years from now, I doubt that I’ll look back on individual moments at this job with much fondness. Too much of it takes place indoors, in conference rooms. Strangely, it’s moments from the lowest-paying jobs I’ve had that I remember most.

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Posted by: Ryan | August 7, 2011

Game Six: Coney Island, Baby

Date: July 16, 2011
Score: Brooklyn Cyclones 5, Lowell Spinners 4 (box score)
photos from the game

Coming into The City on the cushy Dartmouth bus, on a summer Saturday morning, we passed through the Bronx, which was my home until I was six years old.

I was surprised at how the flat-fronted yellow brick buildings and the chain-link fences brought back distinct memories of my family’s life on Sherman Avenue: the smell of the cigars smoked by the Italian man with the big moustache at the fabric store; the creak of Mom’s foldable grocery cart as we trundled along the sand-colored sidewalks back home from the A&P; the flicker of tenements burning on those nights in the mid-’70s.

My parents had come to New York from rural Pennsylvania as volunteers in the early ’60s, members of an alternative service program that allowed Mennonite conscientious objectors to do humanitarian work instead of serving in the military.

Mom’s family – Lancaster County strawberry and celery farmers – were especially scared about the newlyweds moving to New York. But Mom and Dad liked The City, and lived there for 13 years, while Dad worked as a schoolteacher and a pastor and Mom raised us and led the neighborhood Bible School. We moved back to PA when my brother, Daryl, was three years old, too young for him to have any solid memories of life in the South Bronx.

But now he lives in Brooklyn, and I was coming to New York to visit him and his girlfriend, Deborah, in their new apartment in Fort Greene. I also hoped to see a Brooklyn Cyclones game, out at Coney Island. I wondered if they would join me. Neither is a sports fan, and they had planned to see a Brazilian percussion concert later the same evening.

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Posted by: Ryan | July 25, 2011

Game Five: Le Peloton

Date: June 26, 2011
Score: New Hampshire Fisher Cats 7, Portland Sea Dogs 3 (box score)

Someone has started a blog – or perhaps it is a Twitter feed – that combs through other blogs and presents as its sole content the excuses people use for not blogging.

That’s funny (if not quite as funny as The Blog of Unnecessary Quotation Marks.) But it does hit kind of close to home, as I haven’t blogged in almost two months.

I promise that my excuse is a good one: for the early part of this summer, I spent my weekends training to ride my bike 50 miles to raise money for cancer research. This annual ride in New Hampshire is called The Prouty, and I rode not only to fund-raise for the cancer center at the hospital where I work, but to support a co-worker who recently went through cancer treatment.

I also rode in honor of three different family members who have each battled cancer. One of them, my stepmother, Betty, did not survive.

Maybe 50 miles on a road bike doesn’t sound like much to you. At one time, it wouldn’t have been much for me. But consider that I stopped playing in an adult hardball league five years ago, and that my exercise since that time has consisted of walking from my car to minor-league baseball stadiums, where I consume beer and chicken tenders and sausages with peppers and onions, and you’ll understand that training for The Prouty involved a lot of sweating and swearing and heavy breathing.

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Posted by: Ryan | June 2, 2011

Game Four: Holy Scranton, Full of Grace

Date: May 8, 2011
Score: Pawtucket Red Sox 5, Scranton Wilkes-Barre Yankees 4 (box score)
photos from the game

I have a rough formula to determine whether a ballgame is moving along at an acceptable pace: three innings should take about an hour. At the Red Sox game I attended in early May, I knew we were in trouble when we entered the sixth inning at 9:45 (after a 7:10 start). And sure enough, the game didn’t end until nearly 11:00, which meant I didn’t get home until 2:30, which meant that I got about four hours of sleep before heading in to work.

Rise and shine and give God the glory glory.

It’s strange to want games to move faster, especially when I’ve stated over and over again that it’s the slow things that I enjoy the most about baseball: the pitcher wiping the sweat from his forehead with his sleeve as he stands on the back of the mound; the on-deck hitter taking a few practice swings while idly scanning the crowd; the bullpen pitcher spitting sunflower seeds from under the shade of a tin roof, his work at least three innings – and one hour – away.

But I do like the games to be brisk. My favorite game last year – out of 20, counting both majors and minors – was a 2-0 pitchers’ duel. I believe it’s better to walk out of the park feeling slightly hungry instead of bloated on baseball. You should be left wanting more.

And if I have friends with me – or, say, a wife and a daughter on Mother’s Day – in addition to rooting for one of the clubs, I root for the game to represent itself well.

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Posted by: Ryan | May 26, 2011

Game Three: The Bypass

Date: May 5, 2011
Score: New Hampshire Fisher Cats 10, Reading Phillies 5 (box score)
photos from the game

I promised earlier this year that once the game-time temperatures reached 50 degrees, I would stop being melancholic. I’d shelve the whole winter-of-our-discontent stuff until the last game of the season, save it for that first hint of autumn in the air.

For what could be better than this: it was the first week of May, and we were leaving the brown hills and the bare trees to frolic among the green grass and daffodils of Pennsylvania.

And on the way south we were stopping to see a ballgame in Reading, at Baseball Heaven, the site of my Minor League Conversion. The place where I had metaphorically walked up the aisle and knelt at the pitcher’s mound to be welcomed into the Double-A faith.

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As seen outside Fenway, during my latest visit. I gave him a couple of bucks. Gotta support the creative arts.

Photo of man with sign

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