Play Ball

Tuesday was not an auspicious day for a baseball game. The forecast called for rain to start in the later afternoon and progress after 6 pm. Granted, it was set for biblical floods the following day, when any outdoor activity would almost certainly be cancelled. So we braved the weather and pushed on. Things started rocky when the my university club (the meeting spot near Grand Central) refused to serve my girlfriend and me. They were just doing their jobs, really–it was a sadly rude awakening that all the other times that I was able to get spirits and victuals was thanks to my friend K., who was always a paying member. I felt a little like a little kid whose dad has been hanging already caught fish unto his hook when he turns around, just to make him feel good. Bah! Our spirits were lifted by my friend’s arrival; we got seats, beers, and burgers. All the while checking our phones to see if the game would be postponed. But it looked like old Hal Steinbrenner was going to play ball.

By the time we got to the stadium and sat down in the right field bleachers, the game was one or two innings in, and we caught the Yanks scoring 2 consecutive runs (the high point of the game, which they went on to lose 6-3). The sky was overcast with gray clouds but it wasn’t pouring yet. But it was starting to dribble a little, so we unfurled our 2 ponchos (thank you, SO!). One of the Bleacher Creatures behind us even helped us smooth the poncho over the seat. Wow, New Yorkers sure are nicer than everyone says they are! After watching the Yanks send a couple of runners home, I went for a beer (yes, one beer, because you can’t get more than one per person) and returned to my seat only to feel a slight touch on the back of my head. I didn’t think much of it, but soon another touch followed. I figured the guy behind us, who was the poncho helper, was just being playful, so I let it go. But another brush or two signaled that this was something else, so I turned around to face an early 20s, puckish young guy who was visibly drunk.

“Everything alright, pard’nah?” I inquired.

Maybe it was the way I said it, but the kid was not happy with the question. “You got a prahblem?” he slurred, close-talking into my ear the way assholes used to do in middle school (some things never change).

For a split-second, my id, egged on by those sucky middle-school years of taking shit from people, fought against my super-ego, which was telling me to turn around until the guy calmed a bit.

“I don’t have a problem.”

He challenged me again, clearly to drunk to come up with new wording.

“Do you want to get removed?” I found myself asking. Oh, brother, I really am an adult now. The elusive satisfaction of punching a jerk in the face was now slipping away from me.

The kid got up all the way now, putting up the dukes and going through all the false bluster and bravado. Luckily, his friends, who were clearly amused, had the mental clarity to pull him down. I sat stewing, my manhood feeling deprived but also secretly happy that I probably wouldn’t have to absorb a drunken blow for the one I would have thrown.

The friend restraint did not last for long. Suddenly, two women in staff uniforms were next to me asking if I was OK and if this dude was doing something to me. I looked over at the kid, who for a moment seemed under control.

“I think we’re OK now.”

The kid, not smart or sober enough to stay down and let things blow over, got up to challenge the two minders, approximating the same question and gestures he had used on me a minute earlier. No sooner had he gotten in their faces than a meaty representative of the NYPD swooped in to execute his removal. It was an impressively quick and decisive response. A couple of his friends, shocked and annoyed, were taken with him, while the rest followed, presumably in solidarity or because he was their ride.

“It wasn’t even my Mets jersey, bro, he was just being an idiot,” the last guy explained excitedly to someone on the phone before chasing after the rest of the group. The Spanish kids around us discussed and debated the measure of the response for another inning or two. The rain picked up and I opened my umbrella over the SO, who, fully fluent in Spanish, was eavesdropping on the nearby conversations. The row behind us was almost fully empty now, but the Bleacher Creatures closed ranks. They lost a few soldiers, but the war would go on.


Ex-Soviet immigrant turned wanna-be scribe. I bite off more than I can chew, but at least I've got good teeth.

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