It is time, once again, to profess my love for baseball. It is year two of the great Houston Astros TV Blackout, but I still haven’t been able to kick my habit. In fact, I have almost come to terms with the fact that they are now in the American League. So the TV still is tuned to more HGTV than baseball games, we don’t regret giving up our (mini) season tickets, and we don’t often go to the ballpark. But none of that means that there isn’t a lot of baseball love at Chez Drott.
I built my baseball shrine on the mantel this year to appease the Baseball Gods. They must have been mildly pleased, since the Astros opened the season by winning two against the Yankees. The large picture is a print I bought for the husband entitled “A Meticulous Metric of Team Names.” The two smaller framed pictures are prints from the Original Baseball Art exhibit by Will Johnson that we went to a couple of years ago. Very cool folk art -ish portraits of and quotes by historically famous baseball figures. The two I displayed this year are Willie Mays, “Baseball is a game, yes, but what it most truly is is disguised combat. For all its gentility, its almost leisurely pace, baseball is violence under wraps,” and Cool Papa Bell, “They say I was born too soon, I say they opened the doors too late.” The two postcards are from the Hall of Fame showing the plaques of my two Cub heroes, Ernie Banks and Billy Williams. They don’t add much to the display, but I couldn’t resist sticking them up there. The two mini bats are from D#1 and my trip to the Louisville Slugger Factory and Museum back when she was recovering from wrist surgery. The baseball candles were improvised by yours truly because I am so crafty (not). There are two baseballs from minor league games that were part of last years beer and baseball vacation and the visor contains my souvenir pins from minor league parks visited. The ball on the highest pedestal is my prized ball signed by every member of the 1973 Cubs – best get well present ever.
I was feeling pretty proud of myself for getting the shrine up in time this year ’cause I know from past experience that those Baseball Gods do not pay any attention to fans who start paying homage mid-season when their team starts to slump. Good thing I was timely with the shrine because the day before opening day, a friend of mine alerted me to Crackerjack on Ravelry. The goal of Crackerjack is to knit your team’s season into an infinity scarf. Here’s how my project is coming along.
So, yes, I spent that day racing off to the yarn store to buy yarn for myself (and my friend!) so that I could start knitting as soon as the first game outcome was known. White represents home wins, blue is home losses. Yellow is road wins, orange is road losses. The scarf should be approximately one Altuve long when it is finished, before stitching the ends together. Have to admit that I love the concept of Crackerjack and I love working on it, but I don’t think I’ll be thrilled with the end result. I’m already thinking I’d rather have a cotton stadium blanket, knit in panels of, say, nine consecutive seasons sewn together. Maybe extra innings, er, panels, if it’s not proportioned to my liking. I have until next April to find the yarn.
Since I can’t watch the ‘Stros on TV (still….really CSN?….part of me would like to switch back to Comcast so I can watch, but more of me is so irritated that I vow Comcast will never get my business), there are three ways I get my game info. If I am driving, I can listen on the radio. The only radio we have in the house that gets AM reception is in the kitchen, so if I happen to be cooking (ha!) or doing dishes (more likely, but still ha!), I might remember to turn the game on. Sometimes I follow the game with ESPN gamecast, it is what it is. But it turns out that my favorite way to get the pertinent game info is the same way I seem to get most of my news these days, in 140 character tweets. Amanda Rykoff, the new social media manager of the Astros, tweets exactly what I need to know about the games. Like the score (duh), but also what the PA system is playing during reviews (ie, Tell Me Something Good), mound conferences, and for player walk up songs. She shares links to video of sterling fielding plays and home runs – my favorite variety being “Springer Dingers.” And she’s sure to include the locale of her Astros gnome and rally Castro bobblehead. Really, all the important stuff. Let’s face it, 140 characters is often all the Astros info you can take in one dose as they are still obviously in another year of rebuilding. They have the worst record in their division, they have the worst record in the American League, but they do not have the worst record in Major League Baseball (go Cubbies!)
The final bit of baseball news I have from this spring is that I was offered the chance to work at Blue Willow for a rather special author event.
That is me with Nolan Ryan, the Ryan Express, the all-time strikeout leader (5,714), pitcher of 7 no-hitters, and arguably most famously, the guy who put Robin Ventura in a head lock and pummeled him when Ventura charged the mound. Husband had Ryan sign our scorebook from 1988. It was a game that he won, got a hit and 2 RBIs, and scored a run. He was gracious, charming, polite, funny and didn’t attempt to put anyone in a headlock for the entire event.
I’m sure there’s more baseball in my immediate future. Husband and I hope to catch a minor league game or two during our upcoming trip to Boston, NYC, New Hampshire and Maine. And we have some tentative plans to attend a couple of Astros games this summer. But no matter what, in person or via twitter, win or lose, designated hitter or no-hitter, error or gold star play, I’ll always be a fan.