girly about baseball

things that are happening:

1. i got a full-time web design job.  as full-time web design jobs go, this is a good one.  i’ll have health insurance and i’ll get to bring maude to work sometimes and i’ll make enough money to start improving my credit score (boring! necessary!).  the biggest bonus, though, is that i’ll be making websites that convey helpful information instead of coding emails to sell crap.  and i’m really tired of using my web design skills to sell crap.

2. i’m house- and dogsitting again, for the same people as last year.  the house is great, the dogs are great, the cable television is great.  the only thing that isn’t great is that they have a lot of cheese and candy in their house.  so until my new job starts on monday i am sitting around watching cable television and eating cheese and candy.  if i don’t stop soon, i’ll have to sew myself a whole new, slightly bigger wardrobe.

3. the cable television in this house gives me daily access to houston astros baseball games.  it may surprise some of you to learn that i really love astros baseball.  i don’t care about any other sports or any other baseball teams, just the astros.  my love of astros baseball comes from when i was afraid of thunderstorms as a kid.  thunderstorms in texas are like chicken-fried steak in texas: they come from out of nowhere all huge and in-your-face, they rattle up your insides, and they disappear as quickly as they came.  my dad would use astros games to distract me from all the thunder and lightning; i’d lay on the couch and watch the games while he explained the intricacies of the infield fly rule and the ground-rule double.

my favorite astros as a child were mike scott, ken caminiti, and craig biggio.  mike scott i liked because he was a really good pitcher, ken caminiti and craig biggio i liked because i thought they were cute.  in 2004 when i heard that ken caminiti had died, the first thing i did was call my friend chris.  he’d been an astros fan at the same time i had, so i knew he would know how i felt.  “hey chris, it’s alison,” i said to his machine.  “ken caminiti died today.  i just thought you’d want to know.”

craig biggio still plays for the astros, and has for nearly twenty years.  he’s my favorite baseball player, and my favorite astro, not just because i think he’s cute (though he is), but because he plays a good game, seems like a genuinely nice guy in interviews and on the field, and really, where else do you find that kind of team loyalty in baseball?  i’m always disappointed when i watch an astros game for the first time in a long while and find that half the players i liked have moved on to other teams.  sure, sometimes they get traded for other players so it’s not their fault, but how am i supposed to be a fan of a baseball team when it’s never comprised of any of the same people?  who do i root for?

after i got over thunderstorms, i didn’t watch much baseball until i was living with ryan and we got cable in 2005.  then, of course, we watched the playoffs religiously.  the astros had never been to the world series before, so when they won the national league title against the cardinals, the first thing i did was jump up and down yelling, “we’re going to the world series!”  then i called my dad.

“dad! dad!” i said, “we’re going to the world series!”

“we are?” he said.  “who’s we?”  apparently my astros fandom had surpassed his.

this is a story i tell often, and i can’t tell it without welling up a bit: the first game of the 2005 world series (astros vs. white sox) was held in chicago.  since the home team always bats last, the astros were first at bat.  craig biggio was first in the batting order, so he was the first person to bat in the first game of the first world series the astros ever had.  it was biggio’s first world series, too, since he’d never played for any team but the astros in his seventeen years as a major-league baseball player.  when he stepped up to the plate to take that first at-bat, he stopped for a second and took a good look around the field, wearing the biggest grin i’ve ever seen in baseball.

i cried.

no, really, i did.  i cried with happiness for a guy i’ve never even met, a guy who makes millions of dollars to hit a little ball with a stick and run around some bases.  i, a girl with abject hatred for most professional sports and their fan culture and money and corporate sponsorships, cried.

i guess that’s what being a fan of one guy for seventeen years will do to you.

(of course the astros lost that world series.  as ryan said at the time, “to be a houston sports fan is to have your heart broken again and again.”)

(p.s. in searching my own website for the word “astros,” i came across the book of alison’s garbageandrew and i talked about it when i was in chicago, but i’d forgotten most of what i put in it.  an oldie but a goodie.)