Friday, August 05, 2005

Take me to the river (dogs)

I've been jonesing to see some live baseball, and finally got my fix last night at Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Park in Charleston. You might know the Charleston River Dogs from such promotions as "Nobody Night," which intentionally set a record for lowest attendance at a professional baseball game. Or wacky co-owners Mike Veeck (responsible for Chicago's infamous "Disco Demolition Night") and Bill Murray (yes, that Bill Murray).

I didn't see Bill Murray, but I did get the South Atlantic League version of Yankees vs. Red Sox. Well, it was the Class A minor league affiliates of the Yankees (River Dogs) and Red Sox (Greenville Bombers). And I don't think there was quite the intensity between the two teams that you'd get in New York in Boston. But it was still damn fun. What looked like a snoozer of a game turned out to be a good one, with the River Dogs coming back from a 5-0 deficit to win 6-5, in 10 innings.

And since I went to the game by myself (Mama Cass and Lil' Sis weren't interested, probably because it was hotter than a pig on a spit, roasting over an open flame) and there was a small crowd on hand, I scored probably the best seats I'll ever have at a professional baseball game, sitting right behind home plate. (Section 112, if you're truly interested.) The only way I'd have had a better view is if I was playing catcher. But maybe I could get that seat virtually every weeknight in Charleston. I don't know. And does it really matter? Eight bucks, baby. Eight bucks. What else was I going to spend that money on, Must Love Dogs? I'll take baseball, even without Diane Lane.

Other musings from the ballpark...

▪ At how many other ballparks can you get a view of a marsh while you're kicking back with a beer and hot dog before the game?

▪ Charleston, you have a beautiful ballpark. And it's cute you've nicknamed it "The Joe." But on behalf of us northerners, I do declare the real "Joe" is in Detroit. Sorry, them's the breaks.

▪ Okay, I know I'm in the south. But BBQ sauce and cole slaw on a hot dog seems wrong on so many levels. You can keep your "river dog." Just give me some mustard. (The lady at the food stand says they're a big hit. I didn't see anyone else eating one.)

▪ Toward the end of the game, a half-dozen kids filled most of the empty seats in my row. And that caused a dilemma: How much of an @$$hole would I have been if I'd shoved one of those kids out of the way to get a foul ball? Hey, I've never caught a foul ball. In all my years of going to baseball games, the closest I came to a ball was in Toronto, back in 1990.

I was sitting along the first-base line at SkyDome, Kelly Gruber hit a foul ball, it smacked off the hands of a guy three seats away from me, and caromed into the row in front of me. As I dove forward (something I would probably never do now), another guy slid underneath me to get the ball. Curses!

And I've come nowhere near a foul ball since. 15 years! Fifteen, b!+%#es! It is my time! Those runny-nosed, ADD-addled brats have dozens more years to get foul balls. How many more do I have? (How many in which I still have reflexes and can move relatively well?) You're damn right I'd have pushed one of them kids out da way!

Unfortunately, it was never an issue. You don't get many foul balls behind the plate. After the game, however, those kids got a bunch of baseballs by hanging out behind the Bombers' dugout. How ageist is that? Next time I go to a ballgame, I'm bringing a kid with me. Can I find any to rent in the classifieds? But I'm tying him to the seat during the game because there's no way I'm watching him. And I'll be damned if I run to get him a hot dog or soda every 10 minutes. #@$% that!

Hmm, I seem to have digressed into a bit of a rant. Pardon my manners. Not very southern gentleman of me. C'mon, I love kids. They're our future.