I notice that, over the years, I’ve gradually assumed many of the traits that define a Southern man. First, I bought a pickup truck—American-made, mind you. Then, I started listening to country music, although I do admit these days it sounds a lot like Journey singing about beer drinking and broken hearts.
Indeed, it seems like the only remaining vestige of my Yankee roots lies in my sports allegiances. Not that I’ve ever considered divorcing my hometown team. Guys will often cling tighter to their team than they would their wives. Take King Henry VIII, for example, who had wives beheaded over things like insisting he miss a jousting tournament to celebrate their anniversary. Yet, a man could be counted on to remain true to his baseball team through a lifetime of losing seasons. If you don’t believe me, just ask any guy you see wearing a Cubs jersey.
I personally endured such a period with my team, the Baltimore Orioles. For the longest time, going back to before Apple had an iAnything, their batters couldn’t get a hit if Charlie Brown were pitching. Through it all I proudly wore the team’s orange colors, even if the colors were on a ski mask.
Fortunately, things are different for the Orioles this year. Here we are mid-September, and somehow they’ve found themselves winning their division. And though it was no contest for the last month, still I found myself holed up in my man-cave, ear glued to the game broadcasts on my smartphone, as I counted down the Magic Number of wins needed to make the post-season. It was no matter that only a zombie apocalypse would have affected the outcome. I’d waited a long time, and I rode it for all it was worth.
Meanwhile, my friends haven’t seen me since Labor Day. They think I’d wandered into the swamp and ended up a snack for some gator. The IRS thinks I’ve left the country. The only assurance my wife has that I haven’t walked out on her were the occasional cries of, “going, going, GONE!” emanating from the man-cave. Whenever I emerge to use the bathroom, I’m forced to carry my souvenir bat in order to fend off the dog, which thinks I’m an intruder.
If they make it to the World Series—still over a month away—I might end up with my picture on a milk carton.
Maybe I should have thought it through more before deciding to become a baseball fan. Baseball teams play every day, never affording their fans a break. Mark Sanford, the cheating politician from South Carolina, might have gotten away with his infidelity if he’d used the excuse that he was watching baseball instead of telling that lame story about hiking the Appalachian Trail.
I also wish that my wife had thought it through more before deciding to have her birthday right at the start of the baseball post-season, particularly give that peanuts and Cracker Jack are not her idea of a romantic dinner.
Maybe she believed she would end up marrying a Cubs fan.