Saturday, February 23, 2013

February 22 (late)- Baltimore Orioles

Back on January 3 I had written about a hat very similar to this in lieu of the University of Oregon Ducks taking down the Kansas State Wildcats in the Fiesta Bowl. After the vicious drubbing the Ducks gave the Wildcats I was hoping this version of a custom 1901 Baltimore Orioles cap would give the Duck baseball team the same luck for their home opener against the Loyola-Marymount Lions. Even with my girlfriend Angie Kinderman in attendance with me, luck was certainly not on our side.

I’ve made it a habit not to mark up my custom hats as they are than until itself, customs. No team ever really wore the hat, but based on the color and logo scheme one can draw their own conclusions from it. I saw this hat about three days after I had received the original black panel, yellow “O” and green bill hat thinking the same thing as when I purchased the first, “This hat is awesome!” I had it sitting with the rest of my hoard for the last month and a half, all the while waiting for today to roll around. Going into tonight’s game the Ducks were ranked fifth in the AP poll, their highest in team history. Not too bad after rejoining the PAC-10/12 in 2008 after a long hiatus. Rain had been pouring all day long, but the Oregon Baseball Twitter account assured everyone that the game was still on. Angie and I stopped for a beer at Max’s Tavern and headed on our way to PK Park.

It was especially cold tonight, but not freezing. The rain was still coming down at a light drizzle as we entered the park. The grounds crew was removing the tarp the covered the pitchers mound; oddly enough the only spot of real dirt on the field. The national anthem was just getting underway as we headed down to our seats. It was around this time that the rain miraculously stopped; not showing itself again until after the game. The game started out fine, but not exactly in an utmost favorable way for Oregon. At the end of the first two innings the Ducks had left six runners stranded while Jake Reed, the starting pitcher, did what he could to keep the Lions at bay. Angie and I bundled up with one another, trying to keep warm. As the game progressed the Lions drew first blood in the fourth, and then tagged on four more runs in the fifth. Despite the Ducks’ best effort, they lost to the Lions 7-2.

This was not how I imagined my last night with Angie would go after the wonderful week I spent with her, but this was the least of my worries. We got in the car and headed north to my parents’ house in Portland to crash for the night so I could get her to her plane which heads back to Miami at noon on Saturday. Angie had done her best to keep things together, but I could see teardrops falling from her eyes as I drove into the wet night. I tried to come up with something, but I was still stewing about a recent blog post from 3UP 3DOWN, a group of friends of mine I had made over the last year based on our MLB Fan Cave applications. I asked he about the situation: They had written a draft style post about all 30 of the new batting practice hats, something I was about to do starting on Monday one at a time. My issue with this merely came in the form that all of them have been aware of my hat a day post and they wrote it and sent it to me without asking if I was going to write about any of them. I realize that I don’t own the market on talking about New Era hats; however, if someone you know, who is vying for a prestigious position you held the previous year with Major League Baseball, writes about a similar topic and then says that they were merely trying to “compliment” what you’ve done without consultation, wouldn’t you be a bit stewed about it? Angie and I looked at every angle of this problem, all the while trying to keep the focus off of our impending separation.

We got to about the halfway point, Salem, when I noticed that my car was losing velocity. I quickly down shifted and moved off of the freeway to a safe area. I got to about ¾ of the way up the off ramp when my car keeled out. We were stuck. I got on the horn to AAA, got a tow truck out and the guy at the wheel checked things out. After trying to turn the car over we both came to the conclusion that my timing belt had snapped. The feeling of absolute failure had washed over me. He hooked up the car while Angie and I waited in the truck. He hopped back in and we headed back on our way to Portland. I stared out the window, thoughtless and stroking Angie’s hand, for about 10 miles before the silence was broken by the driver. We chatted about the car for a moment and then the conversation somehow shifted to where we were from. He had mentioned he was from the West Bay while I said I was from the East. I then made a remark about his San Francisco Giants hat and the conversation carried on amongst all three of us from there. All the worry and stress slipped away over the next 35 miles.

Baseball, I’ve found, unites people. It doesn’t matter if you’re rivals or comrades, the mere love of the game can turn the worst of situations into a positive. Without baseball I wouldn’t have met Angie last September. Without baseball I wouldn’t have met my friends. Without baseball I really wouldn’t be the person I am today. I’ll get over my differences with my friends, because that is what they are, my friends. Differences may break out, but I’ll find a way to come to a resolution after a good night’s sleep. In the morning I’ll bid Angie a safe flight, but not a goodbye, as we’ll see each other again soon when I visit her in Miami around the start of the regular baseball season. Life is just weird sometimes, but we cope with adversity and move on. Just like tomorrow I’ll get my car situation and get back to Eugene to write my next post just as Angie makes it back home. Things always get better if you want them to.

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