Sunday, February 12, 2012

A Great Catch

My wife used to be a baseball fan.
More specifically, she was a Cardinals fan growing up. She discovered baseball during the Whitey Herzog era, growing up in Missouri, and she was a fan of Ozzie and Willie McGee and Vince Coleman. She watched games, and she listened to night games on the radio as she was going to sleep.
Then Whitey got canned, and eventually Tony LaRussa came in, and she stopped being a fan. She'd watch baseball with me on occasion, and she'd occasionally come to the ballpark, and she was always happy to have my fantasy league run its annual draft out of our home (roughly once every four years), but she wasn't a fan any more. She could admire a great catch or a drop-off-the-table curve or a long home run, but that was pretty much as far as it went.
The last straw came this off-season; she'd said many times that the one thing that could get her to come back would be if Tony went bye-bye and Jose Oquendo got the managerial job instead. She was a big Jose fan growing up, and we once spent a very pleasant evening watching the documentary about the attempt to get Jose into the Hall of Fame. Putting Oquendo in the manager's chair would be a way for her to get back to the Cardinals of her youth, the team she loved and the way they played. And when they hired Mike Matheny instead, she emailed me with "I GIVE UP. GOING TO BECOME A PHILLIES FAN INSTEAD!!!"
She didn't, of course. Some lines can't be crossed. But a funny thing happened the other night. She came in while I was watching some countdown show or other on MLB Network - the 75 Greatest Catches That Probably Didn't Involve An Infielder Not Running Into The Stands, or some such - and she got into it. A Robin Yount diving layout? Junior going over the wall to rob someone? Tony Barron's face-plant*? And of course, all the Ozzie Smith plays. "I saw that game," she'd say. Or "I listened to that one on the radio."
And maybe, for a few seconds, she was a fan again.

*Most of the catches involving Phillies seemed to involve people doing bad things to their faces. See also: Rowand, Aaron.
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