How I Discovered Baseball

1/21/11, 4pm PDT - BREAKING DIVISIONAL NEWS: Sources say Angels have traded Mike Napoli and Juan Rivera to the Blue Jays for Vernon Wells and cash. Halos Heaven in full meltdown mode immediately.  More details to follow as they happen!  -EN

Update 2 (6:30 PM): According to Jon Morosi's Twitter account, the Blue Jays are NOT sending any money to Los Angeles in the trade. Let's all stand up and give the Angels a nice big round of applause.  — danmerqury

67M Says: Sometimes timing is everything. Welcome to the front page, Gofro. Seems your story is just what the doctor ordered to keep our minds off those meta blues. Thanks for sharing.


What to do in the 802


Today I woke up, looked outside, and felt compelled to write about baseball.

I miss it. I really do.


My tenure as an A's fan certainly hasn't been long; I only really started following the team in 2005. As a little kid, I grew up rooting for the A's because that's who my parents told me to root for. I went to maybe two or three games as a child, but I was far more interested in playing in the Lego room at the Coliseum than in watching baseball. As I grew older, baseball diminished from an occasional diversion to "just another sport", something certainly not worth my attention. I was only vaguely aware of the dominance of the A's during the early 2000's and I'm fairly certain I wasn't aware of The Streak until well after the fact. I wish I had cared enough about the team back then to experience all that excitement, but those weren't my A's. My A's didn't arrive until I got a cell phone.



My parents were the kind of people who viewed all electrical gadgets as somehow having an unholy influence over the younger generation and therefore I grew up in a house with no video games and very little TV. They finally realized the usefulness of cell phones halfway through my junior year of high school and bought me a pay-as-you-go phone. I really didn't use it much, but it was good to finally have something that everyone else had. Since I wasn't calling or texting a whole lot, by the time April rolled around, I had quite a lot of money left on my account and needed to find a way to spend it. I don't remember how I found it or why it occurred to me, but I discovered a service that would text me game updates from every A's game for the season. At that moment, I decided that I would like baseball and that I would be an A's fan. Thus began a very strange fanhood which involved me anxiously awaiting the buzzing from my phone which would let know that my team was winning. You would think that living 10 minutes away from the Coliseum would have inspired me to actually attend a game, but I could never find anyone to come with me. And so I would sit with my face inches away from the tiny cell phone screen and cheer for Mark Ellis (my first favorite player) and yell obscenities at Kiko Calero (my first least favorite player).


My fandom continued in a similar manner until I graduated high school and decided to go to school in Vermont, which is quite a bit further away from the Coliseum than a 10 minute drive. Luckily I had MLB Gameday to keep me occupied and a freshman roommate from Detroit I could despise when the A's were swept by the Tigers in the 2006 ALCS. But in the spring of 2007, I became friends with someone who changed my entire perception of baseball. This guy is by far the biggest baseball fan I know. Right now he is in law school in order to get into baseball operations with an eventual goal of becoming a GM, and I really wouldn't be surprised if he gets his dream job.


Anyway, in the course of our conversation OPS somehow came up and when I asked him what it meant (oh how naïve I was), he smacked me upside the head and began to teach me in the ways of statistical analysis. In many of our conversations about WAR and UZR and FIP, one of us would make the suggestion to go on a road trip to attend a game or two, but school and work always held us back. That is until the fall of 2008, when we devised the ultimate road trip: 30 stadiums – one summer. And we pulled it off.


The summer of 2009, we drove around the country and attended at least one game in every major league baseball stadium, as well as a few minor league ones. We started in New York and made a crude clockwise loop around the US (with a brief stint in Canada to see the Blue Jays) and finished off with a visit to Cooperstown. That summer I really fell in love with baseball. Watching a baseball game about every other day for more than two months, I marveled at the subtleties of every game, at the history I saw in the stadiums, and at the entire country across which we drove tens of thousands of miles in order to discover the national pastime. And I'm left with so many stories. I was almost in a fight simply for sitting between a Mets fan and a Red Sox fan at Fenway. I got a game ball handed to me by Melvin Mora at Camden Yards. I was one of a few thousand people who braved the rain to watch Randy Johnson get his 300th win. I had a friendly chat with Jeff Suppan an hour before he pitched at Turner Field, where I got a baseball signed by Bob Uecker. I hated Landshark stadium and enjoyed Tropicana Field. I had the best muffuletta sandwich of my life at Zephyr Field. I watched a baseball game on the 4th of July. I sat in the bleachers for a day game at the Coliseum and watched the A's beat up the Tigers while a man and his son shared their lunch with us. I went to a game at the Metrodome with the girl who is now the love of my life.


So as I sit here and stare out my window a la Rogers Hornsby, I look past the snow and the ice and remember all of my favorite baseball moments. Following the trades and the signings and speculating about the future successes and/or failures of our team can only hold me so much. Spring cannot come fast enough.

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