Spring is in the air and for me that means one thing. Not flowers blooming, not complaints of sneezing and watery eyes from allergies, not Easter, not even the Oakdale Rodeo.
For me it’s baseball season. Yes, that time of year when I awake from a sports slumber (OK, a short nap since it truly started after the Super Bowl) and am engulfed in stats of runs, hits, BAs, HRs, DPs, ERAs, RBIs, RISP, LOB, and any other alphabet soup sabermetric The Elias Sports Bureau can come up with.
April is that time of year where I can count on my television being on for a game at a 1:05 or 7:05 start (road trips are different) – that is, if I’m not out at the game.
It’s a milestone I anticipate every year. The official start to the season marks the transition to warmer weather, longer days and following the pennant chase as spousal duties seem to take a backseat.
Knowing that my boys of summer are breaking in their gloves, gearing up for a new season gives me a rush, the pitter-patters of anticipation. Saturdays at the ballpark are around the corner and evenings screaming at the TV that sends the dogs scampering in fear have arrived.
And thus commences the marriage dynamics at Villa Paloma.
First, some little known facts of the wedded bliss between Mrs. Rich and me:
Our first date was Game 3 of the 1974 World Series.
I can tell you many things about that game in the A’s 3-2 victory over the Dodgers that had future Hall of Famers Catfish Hunter and Rollie Fingers pitching. About the date itself? – not so much.
During our honeymoon we HAD to go to a baseball game.
When checking in for our accommodations for Disneyland in April of ’81 – where else would two 21-year-olds on a shoestring budget go – I noticed an Angels schedule behind the desk. I noticed the A’s were in town during the time we were there so of course “we,” okay, “I” had to go.
This “tradition” carried on to future trips to Disneyland once we had kids as well as forthcoming getaways to San Diego, LA, (Missouri this year), and other cities with a major league park including visiting my son in Seattle where he now lives. We first check the baseball schedule then airline availability.
“Honey, we can make the trip to see the kids this year in April, June or September on these dates…”
My wife has learned not to have serious conversations when a game is on and if she does want my attention or need a response, to ask between innings. It’s an assumed defense to deniability when she tells me something I either agreed to or was informed about if I was told when the game was on.
She’s gotten used to my silly superstitions of me being a fan; those unrestrained quirks that occur even though you know have no viable effect on the outcome of the game, but why chance it.
Know that if you say, “Oh, good, they’re going to win!” they will definitely lose and it will be your fault.
Know the unwritten rule about the type of game when the opposing team is posting a ‘0’ in the ‘H’ column never to talk about when it’s in process. (The term, “you may want to look at the box score” is an accepted non-jinxing comment.)
I’m grateful that she doesn’t get upset if fortunes took a turn for the worse when she’s arrived in the room and I claim it was her fault and she needs to get out of there right away. If the team’s fortunes unexpectedly improved when she came in, she can plan on the required presence in exactly that same spot for the rest of her life – or at least the rest of the game.
I know I’m being selfish, I’m being unreasonable, but hey, like the saying goes, “It’s only weird if it doesn’t work.”
I always tell people that the best days of my life are – in no particular order; I cannot stress this point strongly enough – the day I got married, the births of my two children, and Oct. 22, 1972, when the A’s clinched the first of three straight World Series when I was a kid. If I were ever to truly rank these days according to how much I actually enjoyed them, I’m not sure the result would be well received.
I’m a fortunate guy as she’s endured all this time, putting up with my “senseless knowledge” as I quote baseball trivia or buy another jersey because Mitchell and Ness just released a new MLB throwback.
Fashion sense is important to me – especially at the game.
“Honey, I can’t wear that jersey to the game, that’s the road jersey.”
After 33 years we are living proof of a recent University of Denver study that found that divorce rates of baseball fans with a local team were 28 percent lower than cities without teams.
Can marital harmony really be this simple?
Richard Paloma is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News, and The Escalon Times. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.