Tuesday, April 01, 2008

My Losing Streak Continues

On May 23, 1991, my Dad took my brother Dan and I to a Braves-Padres game at Fulton County Stadium. The Braves gave up four runs in the top of the tenth inning at which point my Dad decided that we had seen enough, so we drove back to Macon. This was not the first time that my Dad had decided to bail on a game early. (The concept of getting up early to go to work was still foreign to my teenage mind at the time.) On June 20, 1990, Dad reached a similar conclusion after the immortal Rick Luecken walked Mariano Duncan to lead off the tenth inning after the Braves had blown a lead in the eight and ninth innings. Somehow, Luecken and Joe Boever were no match in the late innings for Randy Myers and Norm Charlton. I digress.

In the car on the way home from the Padres game, we listed as the Braves improbably scored four in the bottom of the tenth to tie the game. (Incidentally, a clip of David Justice's home run to tie the game in the tenth is used in A Few Good Men while Tom Cruise is working at home.) My brother and I got to experience the odd occurrence of watching a game in Atlanta and then seeing the conclusion in Macon.

I mention this because I had the same experience last night. I left the Braves game along with most of the rest of a large crowd in the eighth inning as Manny Acosta's meatballs turned a 4-4 game into an 8-4 deficit. Cue all the "it's a crazy game!" cliches, because I got to listen to Pete van Wieren lose his mind in the ninth as the Pirates allowed the Braves to score five times to send the game into extras. Just like the 1991 game against the Padres, the Braves had an amazing comeback and then lost the game in the 12th. I should have known that it would not be the Braves night when Blaine Boyer pumped his fists excitedly after striking out the Pirates' relief pitcher in the top of the 11th, then Brayan Pena lined out with a runner on second in the bottom of the 11th. I watched the Pirates get the leadoff man on in the 12th against Boyer and then promptly turned off the light and went to sleep. The lesson: we all turn into our parents.


irishdevil said...

I still hold it against my Dad (a little) that he made us leave early from a game with the Braves trailing 6-2 going into the 9th. It was particularly painful in that it was capped by a 3-run walk-off HR off Rob Dibble from my favorite Brave at the time, Ron Gant, that actually bounced off the top of the fence. Add in the fact that this was mid-September 1993, in the midst of arguably the greatest pennant race in the divisional era, and I still can't bring myself to leave games early with the Braves behind.

Tom said...

I have a long-standing policy of never leaving a game early. Ever. If I attend a game with family or non-baseball fans, I'm usually despised for it, too. But I hold my ground.

I was at an early 90's game that was rain delayed and Otis Nixon charged the mound - cleats first IIRC - late in the game. Everyone had wanted to leave, tired of the rain, but I refused. The place went nuts. It was total vindication.

You never know what you may see - a grand slam, an amazing comeback, a triple play, a bench clearing brawl, some future hall of famer getting his first major league hit. Or even an injury or something crazy like a bird getting hit by a Randy Johnson pitch (poof!). You might even catch a foul ball or a home run ball, or get on the jumbotron. And you'll never know unless you stay.

Funny thing about baseball - you don't always remember the games, but you do always remember the special plays and special moments, and they could come any time, even in the bottom of the 9th. That's why we go to the ballpark, after all.

But now that I'm a parent too, maybe I'll start to see the other side and have to soften my stance for a few years. Tired kids are tired kids, and they are more important than baseball. But I will make sure to instill my belief in them that you should always always stay to the end - just in case...

Taking the kids to their first game this summer, by the way - Braves-Rangers in Arlington! Go Braves!