Monday, May 29, 2006

Yesterday I went to my first baseball game of the year. I brought along the wife, daughter, and our friend, Larry.

Daisy isn't a big baseball fan, but the enthusiasm of fans in the ballpark is infectious, so there are always moments where she's screaming happily with all the might her six year-old body can muster. One such screampportunity occurred in the fourth inning.

Barry Bonds stepped to the plate for the second time in the game. Every single one of the 42,935 ticket holders got up out of their seats and stood to watch the man bat, just as they had in the 1st inning and all season long. It's always exciting watching Barry bat, but it's especially good when he's on the verge of hitting some milestone home run.

A few days earlier Barry had hit his 714th home run, tying Babe Ruth on the all-time career home run list for 2nd place. One more home run would leave Barry in sole possession of 2nd place (although still 40 behind Hank Aaron). The fans in the ballpark knew that they had a chance to see a little bit of baseball history.

The opposing pitcher, Byung-Hyun Kim throws with a wicked sidearmed motion that makes it look like the ball is rising as it approaches home plate. It's an uncommon approach, but he has had mixed results with it. His most famous moments as a pitcher were probably the game-losing home runs he gave up against the Yankees in the 2001 World Series. I still recall him squatting on the mound, after giving up the lead for the 2nd day in a row, with his head buried in his hands.

So, yesterday he faced Barry Bonds and again made history. Barry slammed his 715th home run deep past the center field fence, and the crowd went nuts. Tens of thousands of people screamed while Daisy accompanied them by squealing at a nearly inhuman frequency. Fireworks exploded while black and orange streamers fell from the upper deck.

It was quite a moment.

My feelings about Barry Bonds are mostly negative, but it was great to be at the ballpark at that moment. Watching his 715th home run was a little slice of baseball history. It was kind of like watching the odometer on your car hit 100,000 or maybe 100,715. It's meaningful if you believe in the power of numbers, and I'm a fairly numbers-oriented guy.

The Giants lost, 6-3, but I had a great time.


Siôn said...

I'm afraid to say you lost me at Yesterday I went to my first baseball game of the year.

zelda1 said...

Baseball is one of those sports that I liked to play but never understood the reasoning. I hit, I run, I make it home. So, I'm glad that guy made his hit, run, and home run, and I'm glad you and your family were there to see it. I didn't realize baseball season was upon us, my son is still watching basketball. Maybe in the South, the winter sports go longer.

Mike said...

Siôn, yes, I agree it's embarrassing that it took me nearly 2 months to finally make it to the ballpark.

Zelda1, basketball season lasts around 18 months, as near as I can tell.

carey said...

Sidearm pitchers are HOT. Maybe not Byung-Hyun Kim in particular, but I LOVE watching them pitch. What they lack in speed they make up for in deception. That's a great way to approach a lot of things in life.

As for BB, though...guess it was good he made 715 at home. Might not have gotten quite the same enthusiastic response elsewhere.

Mike said...

Carey, no kidding. You'd be hard pressed to find a more despised player than Bonds.