For the Birds

An article by posted on July 10, 2013

HitchYou’re late.

My (bloodshot) eyes dropped, not in shame, but in search of explanation. My iPhone read 10:54 a.m.

Where have you been?

No excuses, I thought. I am sorry. I flat out overslept. I was up until 3:45 a.m.

Are you sick?

No.

Why were you up so late?

You wouldn’t understand.

Amuse me.

OK. You have passions outside of work, right? Baseball is mine. Last night I began watching a baseball game that started at 10:00 p.m. The first nine innings lasted two-and-one-half-hours, but the game was extended seven extra innings which tacked on another three hours. I remember shutting the television off at 3:42 a.m.

I knew what my employer was thinking: It’s easy. Shut off the television and go to bed. Act like an adult. Be responsible.

But it’s not that easy. As baseball fans, Mets fans, we understand that West Coast road trips are difficult. A game that begins at 10:00 p.m. (ET) requires commitment. It really separates the fan and the fanatic. Extra innings on the West Coast, well, that’s when our passion begins to blur. Our love of the game – our passion — is often mistaken, and misinterpreted, as a form of psychosis. There is always some madness in love; but there is also always some reason in madness, wrote Friedrich Nietzschie.

Monday night in San Francisco was different. When the game went into extra innings, then deeper into extra frames – 13, 14, 15, 16 – we knew, as fans, this game is, and was, reaching historic proportion for the franchise (and the game). With each passing edge-of-your-seat, pitch-by-pitch, nail-biting inning I could feel myself chasing dawn.

When will this game end? How will this game end? I can’t – I won’t – shut off my television. Not now. No way. For those of us awake and watching the New York Mets and San Francisco Giants from first pitch to Eric Young Jr. to the bizarre Alfred Hitchcock-like sight of seagulls dipping and diving in front of the television cameras and Bobby Parnell’s final pitch in the 16th inning, this was no longer a baseball game: This was an investment. Each of us owned a piece of this game now.

birds

Later, I replayed the explanation in my mind and asked, “What would you think?” Baseball at 3:30 in the morning? Angry, crazy birds? Passion? Investment? The entire story sounded like some wild dream. Was it? Who could make something like that up? There are much better, more plausible, excuses you could use.

It’s really hard to find a single word to describe the look I got. It was one of those I-have-no-idea-what-you’re-talking-about looks. Bewildered? Puzzled? Confused? Disappointed? Are you out of your mind? My wife didn’t understand, how could I possibly explain this to my employer? I couldn’t – effectively — as I was witnessed by watching my employers body language.

Thank you for being honest.

Here it comes, I thought.

Don’t do it again.

I won’t – be late, that is – you have my word. Watching baseball at three in the morning? I’m not making any promises.

About the Author ()

My name is John Strubel and I have been a Mets fan since 1972. Professionally, I have been a working member of the media since 1987. In addition to media relations and broadcast work for the Detroit Tigers and Tampa Bay Rays minor league affiliates, my career spans 25 years in the radio industry as a on-air personality, program director and sports-talk show host. You can reach me at john@johnstrubel.com or on Twitter @johnstrubel

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