Tag Archives: NYC

Clean Underwear

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I know my underwear is in there somewhere, nestled gently and warmly at the bottom of the dryer. I can see the dryer, it’s on the top row of a long line of dryers. It sits idle, its job finished. They are all finished, every machine at ease after a hard day’s work of washing the dirty underwear, soiled rags, pubic-hair lined towels, period-stained sheets and bedbug-harboring comforters of Brooklyn.

If you ever want to know the makeup of a neighborhood, go to its laundromats. Mine is a melting pot and everyone comes here to wash their clothes, immigrants from Mexico, Poland, Bangladesh, the West Indies, some Puerto Ricans, a random smattering of Blacks and Whites—everyone but the Hassids. One by one the machines yawned open to offer their last loads to mothers, daughters, bachelors and bachelorettes, college grads and retirees. Maybe each of these people surreptitiously smelled the armpit of their favorite yoga shirts, the arch of their socks, the crotch of a pair of boxers to confirm their garments’ most recent baptism. Clean laundry is an unparalleled smell of accomplishment. Perhaps the clean laundry is the only thing they accomplished today, or maybe one of many accomplishments so numerous as to be called chores.

I think of the people I saw when I did my laundry. They are all home now, with clean clothes. I am not. My fresh clean laundry is resting at the bottom of a dryer and I am outside the laundromat rattling at the locked front door like a madwoman. I grab the metal door handle and forcefully yank it too and fro; if it were an infant it would surely be dead. The lights are out but the metal gate has not been drawn so I still have hope I will get my underwear. Maybe the attendant is using the bathroom? It’s not yet ten, so the expectation that I can retrieve my clothes is not unfounded. Soon someone deep in the bowels of the laundromat, maybe looking for light bulbs, will come out soon. They have to. I am not wearing underwear and I have places to go.

But no one comes out. They only thing I accomplish is seeing how truly insane I look. I see it in reflection in the glass door. My antics have exacerbated my cowlick and my unbound boobs wobble gently under my tank top. I actually don’t know the exact closing time of the laundromat. It is not my favorite laundromat for this reason, but it is the closest. Once, a few months ago, I came a little after ten to get my laundry from the drier thinking the place was open until eleven, like the other place is as indicated conspicuously on the front door. But this place posts no signs.

“At ten we close,” said the attendant the next morning when I picked up my clothes before work. They were not fresh and warm, but cold, wrinkled and resentful.

“Okay, I didn’t know that. I tried to look for your hours but they’re not posted?” I tried really hard not to sound angry and when I filter my angry sentences they come out as questions or exclamations.

“Yes, at ten we close.”

“Okay! I wish I had known that!”

“Yes,” said the woman. She was Mexican, with short wiry white hair. She is good at maintaining the flow of the laundry—making sure one does not have to wait too long for a drier. But she comes and goes as she pleases. She’s definitely not there when the coin machine is not working and you need to exchange your dollar for some quarters. With all the coming and going and maintaining the laundry flow I guess she hasn’t found time to post the hours.

Tonight I look for the hours and they’re still not posted. I rattled the door again. Expletives rattle around in my head, but stay there. I may not know where this woman is, or when this goddamn place closes, but I do know that I will not leave here without my laundry.

The attendants must live in the neighborhood. There is nothing else to explain their constant coming and going. I will rattle on this door until it is the only sound in the street, or at least until I figure out what to do next. I do not rattle long before I hear shouting.

“Is closed!”

I turn around and see a family of Mexicans across the street. Some sit on their front stoop, others lean on their neighbor’s fence. There are mostly men, but among them is a woman holding a baby. Are they the owners? Is the attendant among them? Or are they just annoyed by the rattling?

I cross the street to find out. I must gather the loose folds of my skirt against my thighs lest a car’s breeze lifts it up to reveal the reason I am desperate to get my laundry.

My mother always said you can catch more flies with sugar than you do with vinegar, but I choose a neutral flavor for this interaction. If I am too nice they might get the false impression that I can be convinced that I don’t really need my underwear today. If I am too mean they might not help me at all.

“Hey,” I say. It seems like a neutral way to start. “Do you know where the woman went who works at the laundromat?”

“She left. Is closed,” says a man in a red shirt.

“When is she coming back?”

“She come back in the morning.”

“I can’t come back in the morning. I need my clothes now.”

The red-shirted man looks at the man nearest him, a man in a Mets cap.

“She left,” says the man in the cap.

Since they are speaking for the laundromat they must know the employees, but how well?

“Do you have her phone number?”

Again they look at each other. I am a random, apparently desperate stranger and they don’t know what to do with me.

“No,” they say in unison.

“Is she the owner?”

“No.”

“Where does the owner live?”

The red-shirted man shrugs.

“He lives nearby, right?”

I pretend to know this truth to be self-evident. If the movies have taught me anything, it’s that the more information you purport to know, the more you’ll get in return.

“I no know,” says the red-shirted man. “You can come in the morning?”

“I cannot come in the morning.”

The red-shirted man exchanges more looks with the capped man.  The woman on the stoop says something in Spanish—nothing to do with the owner’s domicile or the employee’s whereabouts. She simply wants to know what the heck it was I want.

As the red-shirted man explains things, the capped man leans towards me.

“He lives around the corner, third building,” he says in a hushed conspiratorial tone, as if he were explaining where the local crack house was.

I nod, thank the man, and hurry off before his companion decides to renew his effort to convince me to come back in the morning.

I turn the corner, past a small apartment complex and a house, and stop in front of the third building, a narrow three-story multi-unit home with a gate, a small postage stamp sized patch of grass for a yard, and wide porches on the first and second floors.

There are three doorbells and three mailboxes. All windows are bereft of light except a large window on the first floor that faced the street. I try to spy movement in the window. This might not be the owner’s window, or even his house. I’ll ring every doorbell I could find, and if this isn’t the house I’ll try all the others on the block until I procure someone who can help me procure my underwear.

I stare at the house, mentally fortifying myself to canvas the whole block if I have to.

“Hey!” A male voice shakes me to attention. I turn and see a short black man of indiscernible age approach me. His accent suggests he is from the West Indies.

“I hear you’re looking for your clothes.”

“Yes, yes I am.” Apparently my racket had alerted the whole neighborhood to my quandary.

“You’re at the right place. Try the first floor. The guy’s name is Mohammad.”

“Wow! Thanks!”

“Yes, do you see how the grate is open? They do that when they know someone still needs their clothes.”

“But how are people supposed to know how to get in? Why can’t they just stay open?”

“Everyone knows where Mohammad lives!”

“Well, I didn’t know where Mohammad lives!”

“You must be new to the neighborhood.”

“I’ve been here for almost two years,” I protest.

“That is new,” he laughs. “I’ve been here almost thirty years.”

I concede that it is, indeed, a very long time and open the gate to Mohammad’s yard. The man nods at me as I make my way to the porch and ring the bell.

Mohammad’s frame quickly fills the doorway. He does not seem fazed by me, a complete stranger, standing on his porch.

“Hi! Mohammad?”

The man, who is tall, doesn’t look directly at me, but over my shoulder at the thirty-year resident and waves. His neighbor waves back. I have been vouched for, and Mohammad directs his attention to me. “Yes?”

“Hey Mohammad! Sorry to bother you, but I really need to pick up my clothes—I thought you guys closed at ten, so I got to the laundromat ten minutes before and it was locked!”

“Okay,” says Mohammad. “Let me get my key.”

I join the neighbor on the sidewalk as Mohammad retreats into the house. While I wait for Mohammad he tells me about a DJ gig he has tonight in the Lower East Side. He shows me a postcard and tells me I should come and bring friends. He saunters into the night when Mohammad ambles up nonchalantly swinging his keys.

I wait to see if he would address the issue at hand here, that his business had closed prematurely, putting me in the precarious situation of wandering commando around the neighborhood—a place full of children and people who subscribe to religions that forbid them from showing the face, hair and ankles, but he did not.

“So…what are your normal hours? You close at ten, right?”

“This month is complicated. It is Ramadan, so I cannot be there so late.”

“I see. But it was a woman who was there?”

“Yes, sometimes she leaves early.”

“Yes.”

We cross the street and I hold my skirt down again. I stand behind Mohammad as he unlocks the door. His numerous keys clap against the glass. The person I see in the reflection now is composed and collected, an ordinary customer waiting to pick up her laundry.

I do not wait for Mohammad to turn on the lights. I rush to the drier and quickly dump my clean clothes into my granny cart. I do not hold them up to my nose or bother folding them. Mohammad turns on the light and passes by as I grab a wad of underwear as colorful as collection of tropical bird feathers.

I should not have felt sheepish about my underwear. Undergarments are to a launderer as vaginas are to gynecologists, but I treat them like contraband anyway and quickly stuff them into my bag.

Mohammad is sitting at his desk, counting the day’s earnings by the time I’m done.

“Thanks!”

“No problem!” He looks up and waved at me.

I drag the granny cart through the door and into the night. I look across the street and see that the Mexican family is watching me. I wave and they wave back.

It is good to have clean underwear.

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How to Make a Baby

 

madonna-and-child

The boy made a big entrance, talking about jungle fauna as he tripped over his shoelace and nearly felling his mother as they came onto the train together. His mother scooped him up, stood him straight, gently grabbed his hand and put it on the pole. She was short, only a head taller than her son, who could not have been older than six. She did not wear heels, but a giant pile of hair that balanced precariously on her head, like a bird’s nest in a windstorm.

The two were playing a guessing game. Tumbling on the subway floor did not faze the boy, who did not miss a beat as he rattled off his clues.

“I look like a spider and I’m small and I’m a monkey. What animal am I?” He looked at his mother, trying to determine if he had stumped her. His giant eyes were made even more giant by giant blue glasses that snapped around his head to hold them in place. His backpack was twice as big as his torso.

“Hmm,” the mother tapped her cheek with her index finger. “Are you a spider monkey?”

The boy was amazed at the depth of his mother’s zoological knowledge. “How did you know!”

“I know things.”

“Mommy?”

“Yes honey?”

The boy placed a hand on his mother’s stomach. It was a taught stomach, but he tried to knead it anyway, like playdough.

“Is there a baby in there?”

The mother laughed.

“Are you calling me fat?”

“No, it just seems like there’s a baby in there.”

“Well, there’s not.”

“Why not? Can’t you put a baby in there?”

“Babies are a lot of work.”

“No they’re not!”

Another laugh from the mother, and from the depths of the tightly packed train came more laughter from random clusters of matronly folk who, in their collective mirth, became the mother’s de facto Greek chorus.

“What? Are you going to help me put it to bed? Feed it? Pay for it?”

The boy was not prepared for this line of questioning and looked at his untied shoes. “No.”

“Well then.”

“But I want you to have a  baby. Maybe daddy can help you?”

Even more laughter, even louder, from the mother and her chorus. “Hmmm, yeah, why don’t you bother Daddy about it?”

“But you’re the girl so it’s your job.”

The chorus quieted. The mother crossed her arms. Ever since he was born there was a bucket list of questions and issues that she knew she would have to eventually talk to her son about, like why there’s no women on any dollar bills, why men actually should cook and clean the dishes, why you have to wear a condom, what consent is. She knew this was a conversation that needed to be had, and she probably thought she’d get to it all in good time, but her son forced her hand and here she was, talking about it on a subway full of people.

“Who told you that?”

“The baby goes here, in your belly,” said the boy, keeping hand on his mother’s belly. “Is Daddy supposed to help?”

His mother laughed and rolled her eyes, as did her chorus. “Yes.”

“How? How does Daddy help? How are babies made? What happens?”

The mother looked around the train. Her chorus had dissipated and everyone else looked away, waiting to hear what she would say but pretending not to care. She smiled at her son, a forced smile but a smile nonetheless, and brought her hands together with a big  clap.

“Like this!”

The boy clapped his hands.

“Now what? Tell me all the instructions.”

Suddenly the chorus was back. They laughed even though the mother didn’t. She shook her head. Her pile of hair wobbled to and fro. “Oh lord. I can’t. I just can’t right now.”

The boy did not share in the laughter either.

“Later? Can you tell me later?”

“Someday you’ll know.”

“Okay. Let’s play the jungle animal guessing game now!”

The mother shared a conspiratorial sigh of relief with the chorus.

“That sounds like a great idea!”

 

 

 

 

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FONY: Freaks of New York

New York is full of people. Many of them have appeared on HONY, and many of them are crazy! I decided to share some pictures of the freaks that New York harbors. I take the word freak rather lightly, and I don’t mean it in a derogatory way, because I am a weirdo myself. Consider this mostly an homage. Also, while I could use gentler words like weirdos or eccentrics, FONY is just a really fun acronym.

These pictures will exhibit the many types of freaks and weirdos out there. After being a weirdo myself for some time and documenting them as both a denizen of the city and as a reporter for a tiny community newspaper, I’ve come in close range of many types of freaks. There is the kind that go to mustache and beard contests at Coney Island (which highest concentration of freaks in the city), the kind that do merciless things to their bodies, the kind that runs for office. Some freaks just want to live and let live, others want to make you smile and others and some…run for office. Again, this is only mostly an homage.

Let’s take a look at some of the FONYs out there!

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The Coney Island Polar Bear Plunge is an annual New Year’s Day tradition. Some people are in coats because it was sub-freezing on this day.

 

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Nothing draws tattoos and beerbellies like the Coney Island Polar Bear Plunge!

 

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Some freak made this during Coney Island’s nicer weather.

 

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Tattoos and big arms during a city council hearing on a tobacco-related advertisement ban. This guy, a Teamster I think, was against the ban.

 

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My friend and I, upstate. We’re weirdos!

 

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This is at a Coney Island beard and mustache competition. I think he’s dancing to heavy metal?

 

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No beer belly or tattoos, but a nice mustache!

 

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Okay so this poor guy was running for mayor. He’s a nice guy! But it takes a different kind of crazy to want public office in New York. But who’s weirder? The weirdo, or the weirdo who follows the weirdo?

 

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Guy on the left.

 

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No caption needed!

 

 

 

 

 

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On Being Done

i love drawing

“Can I be done?”

The little boy stared at me, a complete stranger, waiting for an answer.

Being the only childless grown-up here I must have been a confusing presence to a pre-school aged person. Tuesday was the United Nation’s International Peace day and while the world’s leaders assembled to discuss their goals for 2016, the Four Freedoms Park Conservancy and the American Kitefliers Association hosted kite flying workshops at Four Freedoms Park on Roosevelt Island, right across the East River. The newspaper said the event was going to be fun for all ages, but children outnumbered adults by a long shot.

The conservancy had a number of ready-made kites for participants, who only needed to decorate and fly the things. Markers, cray-pas, crayons, and a place to sit were also provided. The kites’ bodies were made of thin white plastic, of the sort used in throwaway tablecloths. They looked like cooped up doves as they sat in their boxes, waiting to be handed to participants by smiling volunteers.

It was a perfect fall day, the sky a blue you’d want to swim in. Many kites had taken flight already, bobbing above the trees while children and a handful of adults bounced in excitement below.

I grabbed my kite and took a seat at the table next to a nerdy couple who looked like they were at least in their mid-twenties. There were no children at our table, which I felt mitigated the sense of creepiness that a single adult can sometimes lend to situations like these. But soon enough the seats were filled with wiggly rumps and small hands abused the tables, and I learned the couple was not as old as I thought they were when I heard them debating whether or not they should write Class of 2016 on their kite.

My friend Adam was coming later on bike but until then I was a suspicious, solitary stranger. I seemed to fit in easily enough, however. Children and I have a lot of things in common. We enjoy the same things–markers, crayons, cray-pas, and drawing with joyful abandon. Before long I started a precise but simple chevron pattern to match the angles of my kite.

A winsome girl, probably eight years old, joined me at the table. I had seen her come with her mother and the same little boy who was now inquiring about his doneness. Once her children deposited themselves at my table, their mother went to fetch some coffee at a nearby food truck. The girl had curly blonde hair, freckles, and bright blue eyes. I don’t know if anyone’s ever taught her about stranger danger, because she immediately started talking to me.

“I like your drawing.”

“Thanks!” I smiled only a little. I did not know how long her mother would be gone, and didn’t want to appear too gleeful about talking to a seemingly unaccompanied child.

“It’s very colorful.”

“I like colors.”

I hoped the girl would leave it at that, but she wanted to keep talking.

“Can I do what you’re doing?” Back in my day, we called it copying, but I appreciated the girl’s blossoming grasp of euphemism.

“Sure. But I think any design you choose will look nice.”

“Okay!”

Then we both bowed our heads to our work and the girl’s little brother engaged in a short-lived coloring frenzy. If he were my kid, or my student, or my anything, he would most certainly not be done. His kite lay lifeless on the table, an uncertain offering to the sky gods. All most kites is a breath of wind to take flight, but this one looked like it needed an IV drip.

I had seen him as he gripped the blue marker in his sweaty paw and roughly defaced the virgin surface of his kite. For a whole inspired five seconds he scraped the marker across the delicate plastic surface so hard it looked like he was trying to murder it.

Once the blue blob achieved the size of a small fist, he promptly capped his marker and placed it on the table. The kite looked like it had gotten into a bar fight. Then the boy looked at me, his giant blue eyes were like pinwheels caught in a hurricane. He repeated his question.

“Can I be done?”

Though he was looking directly at me, I wasn’t certain he was addressing me. I looked for his mother and spotted her at the table next to ours, drawing on her own kite, probably happy her child was bothering someone else for a change. I waited a second to see if she was aware of the question of her child’s doneness, and when it seemed she wasn’t, I addressed the issue.

“Well, you have a lot of blank space. Why don’t you add more color?”

I’ve been a teacher and a nanny and nothing bothers me more than a piece of paper that is left mostly blank. Too many times kids have come to me, proudly bearing a stick figure all alone in a vast field of white, like it was caught in a blizzard.

“That’s nice,” I would say, thinking it was only the beginning of their work.

Realizing how easy it was to earn praise, the budding dilettante quickly went on to the next fresh piece of paper and did the same thing, until I had seen thousands of iterations of the same drawing. Mommy, daddy, sister, brother, teacher, several versions of me, invisible friends, Harry Potter, Hanna Montana, Derek Jeter and grandma all merged into a singular blur on a white flag of surrender. Something had to change, otherwise each drawing session would have felled an acre of the rainforest.

Also, I did not want to set them up for false expectations about commitment and follow-through later in life. Drawing is always more than just drawing, right? As a grown up you can’t just toss out your life when you get tired of it, right? A fresh, blank page is a privilege, not a right.

My new rule was that they had to fill the whole page, front and back, before they got a new piece of paper. If they protested I told them to think about the trees. I tried the same logic with the little boy.

“That’s a nice start, but why don’t you use more colors? You have so much space.”

But this little boy would not be reasoned with. He shook his head with overmuch conviction.

“I don’t want to add more color. I want to be done.”

“Okay, so be done.” It was not my place to teach the finer points of art and ecology to a stranger’s four-year-old, and besides, I had my own kite to work on.

After determining his own doneness the little boy grabbed his kite and scampered to his mother’s table. I listened, waiting for him to ask his mother if he could get a new kite to draw on, but I soon learned that drawing is not always about drawing.

“Mom! Look! I’m ready to fly my kite!”

fly a kite

His mother lifted her head from her work—an intricate paisley design that was slowly revealing itself on the thin plastic—and turned to his kite.

“You don’t want to add more colors?”

“No! I only want blue. Can I fly my kite now?”

“You can fly your kite when I’m done.” She continued gently working with a red cray-pa.

“Moooom! Just draw scribble scrabble, okay?”

“Toby, I don’t want to draw scribble scrabble.”

Thunder and lighting flashed in Toby’s blue eyes. “But Mooooom, I want to fly my kite NOW.”

Toby’s mother kept her eyes on her kite and held the cray-pa as if it were a talisman for calm and tranquility.

“Toby, just let me draw.”

Toby threw himself into a chair, roughly placed his feet on the edge of the table, and stomped on it.

His mother slammed the cray-pa on the table and brought her face close to Toby’s so her eyes could show his that she could throw a tantrum too. “Get your feet off the table.”

Her voice was dangerously low when she spoke. “You don’t have to fly a kite today. I can take it away from you.”

Toby folded his arms and dropped his feet, letting them dangle off the chair. His mother drew herself up and spoke louder. “Besides, we also have to wait for Katie to finish.”

But Katie was oblivious to Toby’s plight and proceeded to talk to me about her new design idea. She opted for hearts and flowers instead of following my pattern and held up her kite to show me.

“That’s lovely. And very colorful.”

“And I’m going to draw on both sides of the kite so everyone can see my design better when it’s up in the air!”

“Sounds good.”

Toby could only sit and fold his arms for so long, so he hurried over to Katie .

“Katie, are you done yet?”

“No, I need to fill all the blank space, and then I need to color on the other side. See?”

Katie flipped over her kite, so he could see the side she hadn’t even started working on.  Toby pouted, sighed heavily, and stomped his foot.

“But I want you to be done!”

“But I’m not going to be done right now.”

“But I just want you to.”

Their mother glanced up from her work.

“Toby, come here. Don’t bother Katie.”

“But I’ve been waiting for a long, long time.”

“It hasn’t even been five minutes. Come here. I’m almost done. Katie can join us later.”

Toby joined his mother again, and stared ponderously at every line she made until she stood up, collected her cray-pas, returned them to the communal tray at the center of the table and smiled at her son.

“Okay, let’s go and get tails for our kites!”

Toby smiled too, grabbed his bruised kite and scampered away with his mom. Katie, meanwhile, diligently worked on her kite for another ten minutes before she decided she was done.

That’s when Adam rode up happy and sweaty on his bike, wearing the same manic grin that so many of the kids here sported as they gamboled in the sunshine.

“Hey Robin! When can we fly your kite?”

I was two-thirds done with my kite and couldn’t leave it blank even though I was itching to get it up in the air.

“Don’t you want to color your own kite?”

“But you’re going to be done with your kite soon, and it’ll take me forever to finish mine.”

“Well, you don’t have to do a design like this. You can do something quicker.”

Adam shook his head.

“I don’t want to draw on a kite! I just want to fly a kite!”

He also pointed out that he wouldn’t be able to take his kite with him on his bike. I looked down at my kite. The only thing that separated us from flying was me and some blank space. But it was so close to being exactly how I imagined it would look.

“I can’t just leave it like this. You are just going to have to wait. Or help me.”

But Adam didn’t want to help. “I’ll just mess it up.”

“Okay, hold on. Just give me five minutes.”

I stood up as I drew. The less sedentary I felt the quicker I worked. I saw all the other kites taking flight in the sky. Now, instead of looking like a flock of jailed doves, they looked like a flock of tropical birds let loose over the park. The East side of Manhattan loomed large across the east river and the boom of the FDR ricocheted off all buildings adjacent to the river, but did not drown out the flutter of the kites as they thrilled in the wind.

I bent my head and steeled my hand for the final rush of colors. I, too, wanted to be done.

 

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Adam flies my kite!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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WORLD SERIES GAME 3: High and Inside, Down and Out

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Enemy territory! (photo by John Murphy)

Adam and I were supposed to meet at Foley’s, where we saw the first game of the ALCS, which already seems like a million years ago. It was a place where there were so many Royals fans, where I felt I had allies, where Paul Rudd and Jon Hamm were photographed sitting at the bar together. Did I recall seeing any Mets memorabilia on their walls all those weeks ago? No. But was I looking for any Mets memorabilia at the time? No. Should I now be surprised to see a giant Mets flag hanging outside? I guess not. I’m not sure why I didn’t see being surrounded by Mets fans as an inevitability here in New York City, but it certainly wasn’t part of my plans.

I got to Foley’s before Adam and it was packed, a sea of orange and blue and elbows and knees. My being stopped at the door had nothing to do with my Royals shirt, which was ensconced in several layers of sweaters.

“No room,” said the bouncer. “Gotta get on the waiting list.”

There was another Irish bar down the block that was less of a mosh pit and Adam and I squeezed through the Mets fans to back where we found a table.

And so here we are, in the belly of the beast. It’s the top of the second inning and the first thing I see is Escobar stealing second base. There is a unanimous grumble erupting from the Mets fans. It sounds like the stomachache of a sleeping dragon. I let my cheers bubble in fizz in my own belly and am so, so glad that one of the few things Mets and Royals fans have in common is their blue shirts.

Adam and I give each other conspiratorial smiles. The score is 3 – 2.

Due to all the necessary bar hopping we apparently missed one of the most exciting moments of the game—with Escobar, instead of the pitcher, being at the receiving end of some more first at-bat drama. Replays show him nearly losing his head to a 98 mph fastball from Noah Syndergaard that came high and inside.

Ahead of the game Syndergaard, who seems to be living up to his Viking moniker, had been hinting that he had “a few tricks up his sleeve.”As a baseball neophyte I had no idea what that could possibly mean. Will he be using a lazer pen to distract batters? Will he have pine tar up his sleeve? Did he choreograph a dance to rival Johnny Cueto’s shimmy?

It turned out what Syndergaard had in mind was a lot more boring than anything I could have come up with. A “statement pitch” is what the commentators called it. Luckily the statement didn’t cave in Escobar’s head.

escober high and inside

Splits better than a spatter!

The Royals stay up, but only briefly. After a two-run homerun by Granderson in the Mets lead 4 – 3, and now, in the fourth inning, they have two men on base and no outs.

Anyone who saw Ventura pitch in the World Series last year knows what he is capable of. His stellar pitching in the World Series last year helped keep the Royals alive to reach Game 7. But his great pitching performances last year were at home, and now he’s pitching in front of 44,781 World Series starved Mets fans—and every other one of them seems to be a famous person. This is on top of the fact that Billy Freaking Joel sang the national anthem.

“Hey look, it’s Seinfeld!” Says Adam. “Oh! And Chris Rock!”

Fucking great!

Ventura is pulled from the game after another guy singles and scores in a runner. Now the Mets lead 5 – 3, and the Royals bullpen must carry the game on their shoulders again. Duffy got the Royals out of the fourth inning and Hochevar pitches a clean fifth inning, and now we’re at the bottom of the sixth.

Much is said of the Royals’ vaunted bullpen, but no one talks about the guy who is up to pitch next: Franklin Morales. The last time this guy pitched was in the 14 – 2 blowout that the Royals won in Toronto, and before that was the 11 – 8 blowout the Blue Jays won in Toronto. He’s the guy that comes out when the Royals are either losing really hard or winning really hard. He’s not a changer of fate. He is the wood pulp in your parmesan, the yoga mat fiber in your Subway sandwich. He’s the guy you put in when you need to get through a full game and the outcome has already been determined. Even though the game is tight by Kansas City standards and there’s still lots of it left, I feel like Yost has conceded the whole thing when Morales comes to the mound.

In a way I get it, you don’t want to give the Mets too many looks at your game-changing pitchers. But this is also the World Series! You never know how things are going to turn out! You really, really don’t know if Cueto is going to pitch an entire, nearly scoreless game again, and you really, really don’t know how Volquez is going to pitch after his dad died. And you don’t know if the Dark Knight or the DeGrominator will start pitching like the playthings of the gods that everyone says they are. And do we really want to find out?

The inning starts decently enough with Morales getting the first batter out, but Lagares, the author of the epic battle against Herrera in Game 1 that turned the game briefly in the Mets favor, delivers a single. Up next is Flores, whom Morales promptly hits with the baseball. The Mets fans around me are booing and hissing, but soon they are cheering because some random pinch hitter singles, scoring in Lagares. And the bleeding does not stop. Granderson hits a liner towards Morales, who scoops it deftly enough, but doesn’t know what to do next. He can’t seem to get rid of the ball. He stares at Flores, halting him at third, but then pivots his body from second to third and back again, kind of like a basketball player trying to shake the defense and even more like someone who has forgotten who they are, where they are, what they are supposed to be doing and how to breathe. He could have helped turn a double play, but instead the ball never leaves his hand.

“Yikes,” says Adam.

“Oh man.” I almost bury my face in my hands, but one who is in the belly of the beast must keep her sorrows to herself. The whole thing is entertaining for the Mets fans, though.

“It’s like the Three Stooges!” I hear someone say.

While I think forcing Morales to buckle down and scrape his way out of the inning in front of a hostile crowd would be a good character building experience, Yost is not in the habit of torturing his players and brings out Herrera to pick up the broken pieces, which is in itself a different kind of torture. Herrera is not good at dealing with other people’s messes. He’s great at keeping the bases clean during his innings, but dealing with inherited runners is not his forte. I’m not nervous though. The Mets already have this game in the bag. I have truly accepted it, and I know I’m not lying to myself because I order an entire shepherd’s pie and eat it without any help from Adam even though he offers it once or twice or three times.

captain america

The Captain and Crew. (I am not responsible for this great photo-shopping job!)

Next up at bat is David Wright, Captain America, longstanding hero to Mets fans. He had a hard time against the Royals pitchers’ fastballs in the first couple games, but tonight has been his big night. He hit a two-run homerun in the first inning, and now he has another chance to perform in front of an adoring audience.

And perform he does, hitting a single to center field. Two runs score. The crowd’s eruption of joy ricochets off the walls and pummels my soul. I hope my sigh of resignation is interpreted as a sigh of relief.

“Hey, it’s only the sixth inning!”  Adam says.

“Yeah. Whatever. We don’t need to win this one.”

The inning comes to a merciful end after Herrera gets Cespedes to fly out and Duda to strike out, there is no offensive action from the Royals.

“Hey, there’s still six outs left!” says Adam after that the seventh inning ends with more of nothing.

But six outs turns into three, which turns into none, which turns into a Mets victory.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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WORLD SERIES GAME ONE: Behind Enemy Lines

daily news

Last year my fellow Royals fans and I spent the World Series exchanging high-fives in bars with baseball fans throughout the five boroughs. They came in many hats and with varied allegiances from the Yankees and the Red Sox to the White Sox and the Cubs. They were excited to see a new face in the postseason and an underdog is easy to cheer for. This year is not a World Series of bar-hopping, but a World Series of hiding out in other people’s homes and staying away from mine. While some Yankees fans are not cheering for the Mets my roomies, all native New Yorkers, don’t have a problem throwing in the towel for another hometown team.

The colors of the Halloween season this year are orange and blue and those are the colors that have painted this town from the light-strung stoops of Katie and Colin’s neighborhood in Carroll Gardens to the top of the Empire State Building. Before I head to their apartment I go to a nearby grocery store to buy beer. A dozen Mets fan with the same idea wait in line with me.

My family wonders what it’s like to be entrenched behind enemy lines. My dad asks me if I have conflicting loyalties, and I assure him that I sure do not. My mother implores me not to advertise my Royals fandom. My sister Ellen, in Portland, tells me to be careful. Beanie, the most provocative member of my family, is all the way in Belgium right now and is thus mute on the subject—though I’m sure she wouldn’t be against me tattooing my face with the Royals colors.

I’m not sure what to do, but luckily the weather leaves me no choice but to button up and hide my shirt. Besides, there is less glee in showing my colors to fans who have experienced a parallel trajectory of suffering in the past three decades.

Ever since the Royals won the pennant I’ve been undercover, especially on the train. The Mets fans have brought out their hats and their jerseys and on the subways they grip the poles with a renewed sense of purpose. Instead of ignoring each other New Yorkers are looking at each other (but never too long) with a sense of solidarity.

At the office I’m greeted with a life-size poster of Duda taped to my coworker’s cubicle and the doorman who steadfastly wished the Royals well during the pennant has now taken to hollering “GO METS” at me. At least one college friend, a native New Yorker, has suggested that I move back home.

Shit has gotten serious. But to the Mets fans’ credit no one has yet called for local stations to ban Lorde’s Royals, and no one has been as outwardly venomous as the Giants and Cardinals fans I encountered earlier in the postseason. And my barista still makes me coffee.

friendlyfoes1

Friendly foes!

He was crestfallen and confused at seeing my Royals shirt. But why? He wanted to know.I wondered if he would tell me to go back to Missouri, but instead he took a deep breath and wished me luck.

“May the best team win,” he said.

“Let’s shake on that.”

And we did. And then he made me an Americano.

That was all earlier today, when I was sure we’d be the no-contest winners of not only the series, but this game. Earlier today I wanted to apologize preemptively to all the Mets fans who would be heartbroken at the end of the series. We are just destined to win it. But now there is no bravado, no swagger anymore. We’re not looking for a winning run right now, we are looking for the tying run.

The game started in an epic and bizarre fashion with an inside-the-park home run from Escobar. It was the Royals’ first at bat,  Matt Harvey’s first pitch of the series, and the first inside-the-parker to happen during a World Series since  1929.

Alcides-Escobar-inside-the-park-homer-world-series

 

Then the Mets chipped away at Edinson Volquez and we felt bad for him for that, and then felt even worse for him when it was announced after he left in the sixth inning that his father died that day and that his family was heading towards the Dominican Republic with the game still underway. And then I wondered if it right for us to continue watching this game, for us to even care. I mean, it’s just a game! But it must be so much more because so many people care, right? And if it’s not just a game, then what is it?

Well, all I knew was that it was something I was going to keep watching. But there were so many moments when we were challenged and even forced to look away: a blackout in the fourth that lasted four minutes, and then there was Eric Hosmer’s error in the eighth inning.

The blackout wasn’t so bad, especially since we got a reprieve from Joe Buck.While I sat on the couch twiddling my thumbs Katie and Colin start pulling things from the oven and soon we are eating cookies and drinking beer, wondering if we’re going to have to hide ourselves away like a bunch of lepers for this whole World Series.

The beer stopped being recreational in the eighth inning. After a nine-pitch at-bat, with two men already out, the Mets’ Juan Lagares singled off of Herrera. It was an epic at-bat. A heroic one if you’re a Mets fan, a grievous one for Royals fans because Lagares stole second base in no time and then made it home when Hosmer missed a grounder that Flores sent to first base (At least it wasn’t a two-run home run!). Hosmer, owner of great hands (commentators’ words, not mine), three Gold Gloves and a hairdo replicated by grade schoolers throughout the Kansas City metropolitan area, has made an error on a an innocuous grounder. The ball was so close, inches from his glove, and then so quickly gets so far away. And then we learned who Bill Buckner was—the Red Sox first baseman who let a grounder get away from him, thus allowing the go-ahead run in the World Series. The Red Sox went on to lose the World Series to…the Mets.

The eighth inning seemed like it would yield something for the Royals too. There were  two men down and two whole runners got on base with Mets reliever Tyler Clippard of the aviator goggles pitching. And then Terry Collins decided to swap him for Juerys Familia, the fearsome closer who hasn’t blown a save since July.

It’s okay, he’s not Madison Bumgarner, we tell each other.

But it was quickly not okay because Moustakas grounded out to end the inning.

And now it’s the top of the ninth and Familia is pitching again. The first batter Familia faces is Salvy, who hits a blooper that doesn’t make it past the infield.

Okay, two outs to work with. Now comes Alex Gordon. It’s a different game, a different ninth inning, but it feels uncomfortably similar to Game 7 last year. Since then Alex Gordon has existed in two different realities. One is the Here and Now, Tuesday October 27, 2015. The other reality is in a parallel universe. Sure, he’s at Kauffman Stadium and it’s the ninth inning but he’s not at home plate, Jeurys Familia is not pitching, and Salvy did not just bat. Instead Alex Gordon is standing on third base waiting to score. He’s been there since October 29th of last year.

The Here-and-Now Alex Gordon wields the bat, shifting his weight from foot to foot with his batter’s cadence. With his beard and wad of pink gum he is half lumberjack, half little leaguer. There is the usual smear of pine tar on his helmet, like the remnants of a fresh, well-aimed cow pie.

It is only the first game, there’s many games to go, but the first game controls the tempo of the series. Rally now or never. We hold our breaths. The first pitch Gordon meets from Familia is a ball. Then he fouls off the second pitch. The third pitch he meets with a mighty smack.

alex-gordon-home-run-world-series-kansas-city-royals

AG goes home

You know those people who always seem to know when a hit is a home run?  You hear them at the games—their whoop or groan always precede the stadium’s collective whoop or groan.  Some of the early whoopers and groaners are just the excitable sort, but others whoop and groan early because they know. They are fluent to the sounds of baseball. Zack and Muneesh are these such people.

But how do you even know? I’ve asked them on several occasions.

The sound, many will say. That’s the most important thing. It’s something I don’t think I’ve understood until now. A home run sounds like an exclamation point.

Katie, Colin and I stand upon hearing the smack. We look at Gordon, who looks up at the ball, which the cameras don’t seem to have found yet. His eyes are wide, like he just saw Haley’s Comet. Now we wait. The disappointment of last year and the hopes and dreams of this year are all compressed into the millisecond it takes for the ball to reach its apex and crash behind the outfield wall and through a wormhole. In that parallel universe, Alex Gordon perks up (the waiting has made him despondent), and starts trotting home. Here on this planet he is rounding the bases.

Alex Gordon has sent himself home, and the Royals and their fans are sent into a frenzy. We’ve been waiting a whole year for this to happen, after all. Replays focus on Hosmer, who is now off the hook. His eyes are wild and wide and he celebrates in every way possible. He is jumping, he is doubled over with joy, he might kiss the ground, no, he is back up, hugging everyone within arms-length. Jeremy Guthrie happens to be standing next to him, and receives a mighty tug on his sweatshirt.

hug

The happiest guy

I am tugging at my own shirt, and Katie, Colin and I tugging at each other and our leaps and bounds add some percussion to the soundtrack of the downstairs neighbors’ lives.

TWELFTH INNING

Okay, so far this game has gone through ten pitchers in eleven innings. Hochevar had a clean inning, Wade Davis struck out the side, and Madson pitched out of danger in the eleventh inning. The game is now a pitching duel between the Royals’ Chris Young and the Mets’ Bartolo Colon. Height versus mass. 81 mile-per-hour fastballs that are optical illusions versus well-placed bullets. Young looks like gumby, and Katie and Colin call Colon the pitching potato. He sure looks like one. Young could have been picked off the bench of a Division III college basketball team and Colon, with forearms the size of tree trunks, looks like he was snagged directly from the streets of Queens—from behind the counter of a pizza parlor, whisked from a construction site, or recruited from behind the wheel of a mafia getaway car. Young strikes out the side, and Colon pitches out of trouble—not batting an eye after loading the bases when he intentionally walks Hosmer. My dad texts to say that it was a ballsy performance—pun intended!

On a different note, Alex Rodriguez is now commenting on the game, to the almost certain dismay of Mets fans and anyone else who doesn’t want to hear from a juicer.

young and colon

A pitchers’ duel (photoshopping intentionally horrible)!

THIRTEENTH INNING

Nothing. Nothing is happening this inning, except that Katie and Colin have already packed their lunches for tomorrow and are now brushing their teeth. My mom texts that this is madness and she’s going to bed. Ellen texts that there’s sure a lot of Mets fans in Portland. I remember Beanie is in Belgium. Why is she in Belgium during the World Series?

FOURTEENTH INNING

Chris Young is in cruise control and the Mets batters go softly in the top of the fourteenth. The top of the fourteenth. Yep, that’s what inning we’re in, which merits another seventh inning stretch. Kauffman Stadium is as packed as it was in the first inning. Time reveals itself to be a beast that we have no control over. It’s running in circles, eating its own tail. The score is as even as it was in the first; it’s not the end if the game, it’s just the beginning. Two more outs for a Mets victory turns into a game that could last forever. Chris Young, like the starting pitcher that he is, is pitching like he’s planning to pitch a whole new game and Colon does not seem to be tiring either. The Royals have already proven that they could play baseball for days. The extra innings, where you don’t get second chances, is where the Royals find their Zen. I don’t get it.

Katie, Colin and I have stopped talking. If the Royals want to go on forever, we will go on with them, but without words. We have none. They have become as meaningless as time. We are slack of jaw and sunken of eye.

Here comes Escobar again. What is this, his twentieth at-bat? C’mon Escobar. Another inside the park home run! Please. Or a conventional one. I don’t care. Can you just please?

Escobar does not hit the first pitch, or even the second pitch. He fouls off another three pitches and hits the sixth. The ball bounces obligingly into David Wright’s glove.

But David Wright’s glove does not want ball! It spits ball out! Wright still gathers ball and sends it sailing towards first, and it looks like Escobar will be out. But! Wait! Wright’s throw is too far from Duda. Doubtful Duda must leave bag to catch ball and Escobar is safe.

Yay. Earlier, we cheered uproariously in the twelfth inning when the bases were loaded, and then quickly remembered that some people in this city were not watching baseball and might want to sleep. We stifled our cheers again when Moustakas got a single in the thirteenth inning.

But fourteen innings in, our tone is more sober and business-like. No stifling needed.

Okay, great. Awesome. You can do this. Keep the line moving. Move that line.

 Zobrist is up next.

Can you please get a home run right now, Ben Zobrist? You got this Benny Z.

 Zobrist does not get a home run, but he does get a single that sends Escobar all the way to third with no men out.

Okay! Great! Well done! 

 We are now standing again, but with the loose limbs of people drunk on tiredness. The commentators, who have spent the past couple of innings talking about how Colon could go on forever are now singing a more somber tune: “And now Colon is in a jam.”

And now Cain is up. Colon wants no part of Cain, wants to give him no part of any baseball. He walks him. And now Colon’s jam is jammier because the next batter is Hosmer. He’s hungry for victory, but also for redemption.

When people get hungry for victory and redemption, they tend to try to outdo themselves. We hope Hosmer takes an easy-does-it approach.

Just keep that line moving!

 First he takes a ball, then fouls off the next two pitches. Then another ball. And the next he does not take easy. He offers it a mighty whack. It does not sound like an exclamation point but it sails far—into Granderson’s glove, but far nonetheless, far enough for Escobar to tag up and tear his way towards home.

Granderson’s throw home is quite spectacular and Escobar would have been out if it were even a foot closer, and if Escobar had been just a little bit slower. But as it is, Escobar is fast and the throw is long but short. He slides home, adding an extra embellishment of victory dirt onto his uniform. The Royals storm onto the field and into each other, a mosh pit of brotherly love.

We are all tired, but we still have strength to jump and hug and rejoice quietly, emitting muffled hollers of mirth. And then I quietly head downstairs, buttoning my jacket before I head out into a joyless Mudville, a city that is just getting to know the Royals. Joe Buck, though I still begrudge him for turning last year’s World Series into a long-running monologue about Madison Bumgarner, summed it up best: Kansas City is Comeback City.

game one yay

yay

I am a Royals fan living in New York City. If anyone wonders why I didn’t post anything in October, there’s your answer. The following entries detail the experience of watching the postseason far away from my hometown, in a much different place where fans from all over this huge country converge. Immigrants proudly display flags of their home countries in their windows and dwellings, but during the postseason, signs of national migrants’ provenance appear on heads and hearts in the form of caps and shirts. Giants fans scowl at Dodgers fans as Yankee stadium looms in the distance–it’s always looming, literally and figuratively. You can see it from the plane as you leave the city for wherever you’re from, and again when you come back. Meanwhile, in stretches of Brooklyn and Queens, and especially on the 7 train to Jackson Heights when you need to eat momos, you’re reminded that, hello, the Mets are here, too! I see lots of Orioles fans, Phillies fans, and yes, even Red Sox fans. There are not many Royals fans here, but the postseason as an expat is never a lonely experience, just a different one.* 

*Disclaimer: These posts might contain cliche images of athletes. Writing about sports means I have to deal with levels of kitsch I am not used to accommodating. I’m sorry. Also, I’ll get back to my Craigslist stories after this.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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ALCS Game 5: Baseball on the Radio

I am a Royals fan living in New York City. If anyone wonders why I didn’t post anything in October, there’s your answer. The following entries detail the experience of watching the postseason far away from my hometown, in a much different place where fans from all over this huge country converge. Immigrants proudly display flags of their home countries in their windows and dwellings, but during the postseason, signs of national migrants’ provenance appear on heads and hearts in the form of caps and shirts. Giants fans scowl at Dodgers fans as Yankee stadium looms in the distance–it’s always looming, literally and figuratively. You can see it from the plane as you leave the city for wherever you’re from, and again when you come back. Meanwhile, in stretches of Brooklyn and Queens, and especially on the 7 train to Jackson Heights when you need to eat momos, you’re reminded that, hello, the Mets are here, too! I see lots of Orioles fans, Phillies fans, and yes, even Red Sox fans. There are not many Royals fans here, but the postseason as an expat is never a lonely experience, just a different one.* 

*Disclaimer: These posts might contain cliche images of athletes. Writing about sports means I have to deal with levels of kitsch I am not used to accommodating. I’m sorry. Also, I’ll get back to my Craigslist stories after this.

baseball on the radio

 

 I’ve parked the car, but I can’t bring myself to turn off the radio. I’ve never listened to a baseball game over the radio, but there’s a first for everything.

I spent the whole day driving to from Binghamton to New York City. We drove through the rust colored fall hills of rural New York on Interstate 81, and then through the marshes and highways of northern New Jersey. It was much colder upstate than it was downstate and I was sweating by the time we got to the city.

Extra grime adds a few more measures of good luck on a sports shirt, right? I was looking forward to finishing my day at the office and heading home, and was definitely looking forward to giving my Royals shirt a break.

But when I walked into the office my coworkers were congratulating me about the Game 4 victory (yes, I had a lot to do with it), and asking if I was ready for the game this afternoon.

The game this afternoon?

“We’re not playing until tomorrow,” I told Stewart. Stewart is a Yankees fan who seems to be an in-the-closet Royals fan this postseason.

“Are you sure about that?”

“Um….I think so?”

“You better check.”

I checked. Stewart was right. The game was in an hour.

It’s moments like these where my dearth of postseason experience really shines through. I knew the ALCS was the best of seven. But the pattern I had seen in the ALDS was two games at home, two games away, and a game a home. I assumed there would never be more than two games in a row until the World Series. And last year, well, we only had to play four games in the ALCS!

“Fuck.”

I didn’t have a game plan to watch the game. My unit has a fleet of cars we use if we have workshops in the distant reaches of the outer boroughs. My next workshop was in the morning, in Staten Island. I had no choice but to use a car. There were plenty of bars to watch the game around the office. But drinking cranberry juice at a bar during a baseball game because I’m my own designated driver is lame. It was best just to take the car home and try to catch as much of the game as possible there.

But this afforded me an opportunity to do something I’ve never done before: listen to baseball on the radio. My dad used to fall asleep to the sound of Vin Scully’s voice as he stayed up to hear the Dodgers games as a kid in Orange County. The thought of listening to a pennant game while driving over the Brooklyn Bridge in afternoon traffic seemed like a fun throwback to a different era, and an interesting way to round out my postseason spectator experience. I’d be really well-rounded if only I could somehow make it to a game…

I clocked out right as the game started and tapped my foot as the elevator went down 34 floors, spitting and swallowing people at at least five stops. I jogged towards the revolving door but skittered to a stop when I heard a shout from the reception.

“Go Royals!”

I turned to see the afternoon doorman waving at me. I have never spoken a word to him before, but I guess my shirt said enough.

“Wow, thanks!”

“You guys got this!”

“I sure hope so!”

He needed no explanation as I ran out the door and to the car. Stewart, being an inveterate radio listener and overall sports fan himself, gave me a hefty list of stations I could choose from. He wrote them all down on a post-it note I stuck to the steering wheel.

That is what I’m staring at it right now as I listen to the bad news coming from Toronto. It is the sixth inning. So far Volquez has kept the Blue Jays to one run, but already Revere has been walked and Donaldson has been hit by a pitch. There are no outs. I had to listen to this as I merged onto the Prospect Expressway from the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. My heart is pounding and my palms are sweating. You would think I was on amphetamines but, no, I was only driving under the influence of the postseason.

MLB: ALCS-Kansas City Royals at Toronto Blue Jays

Sad Volquez / Mandatory Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

Now Bautista is at bat, and thankfully I’m parked. The first pitch is a strike. Hassidic children cross skip past me as the second is a ball. A Bangladeshi woman in a colorful head scarf hurries by with groceries as he gets another ball. But apparently this one doesn’t have to do with command. The men in the radio say the pitch had been called a strike for the entire game until this point. A pitch later it happens again. Three balls, one strike. The commentators say Volquez looks confused. I wonder what that looks like. Where is the strike zone? It has become an oasis in the desert. He needs it more than ever, but he can’t seem to find it.

Bautista fouls off the next pitch, bringing it to a full count. Then he fouls off the next four pitches. Volquez has thrown a total of nine now—all sinkers, all in the same location. The men in the radio speculate that Volquez is afraid to let the ball wander to the outer edges of the plate due to the suddenly diminished strike zone. The tenth pitch could be a big one. Salvy and Volquez confer about it. What is the grand plan? The grand plan is a knuckle curve that passes through the bottom of the strike zone. It is a good pitch, a great pitch, say the men in the radio. I don’t remember the words they use. Probably nasty. Anything that’s beautiful in baseball is called nasty.

But it’s a mirage, says the umpire. The nasty pitch is called a ball and Bautista walks. It would have been Volquez’s most glorious moment—a ten-pitch duel that vanquished Thor, the biggest strike of the game yet.

volquez pitches

Visuals

I’m glad I made it home before any of this happened. I wonder how many accidents occur because of road rage caused not by the road but by a game happening miles away.

I still don’t move from the car. The men in the radio have me captivated. They hold a complete sensatory monopoly over how I experience the game. There are no visual checks and balances.

It is also very surreal. The reel of the game that plays out in my head is fighting with the reel that my immediate reality urges me focusing on, and sometimes one reel is spliced into another. Eric Hosmer was at first base and then suddenly he’s among the tourists walking over the Brooklyn Bridge. Alex Gordon did not catch a baseball, he was hailing a cab. Jose Bautista didnt’t use his turn indicator as he cut me off on the BQE. I can almost see Volquez in peyas.

I wonder what he looks like as he struggles to grasp the reality of the situation. The Blue Jays haven’t gotten a single hit in the inning yet, but the bases are loaded.
Encarnación is now at bat, and it’s a full count.

A leaf lands on the windshield, next to a Jackson Pollack splatter of bird shit. I can’t sit in this car for the rest of the game. I turn it off and head home. It is a few-block walk, plenty of time for things to take a turn for the better.

I walk briskly but can’t help but marvel at the trees, whose golden leaves and dark trunks make me feel for a second like I’m in Lothlorien. If it weren’t for the game I would have taken some time to wander in the park and catch the sunset.

But being one game away from the World Series is not something to be taken lightly. I take a deep breath as I unlock the door. My roommate’s dog, Tyson, barks at my entry, and then greets me with a wagging tail and a knee-high trail of saliva on my pants.
I turn on the TV to find that Volquez did not work his way out of the inning. He was driven from the inning after walking Encarnación, allowing Revere to walk home. Herrera is pitching now and strikes out the first batter he faces, but the next thing I see is Tulowitzski swooping in like a carrion bird on roadkill and hitting a double. Two men score. Herrera strikes out the next two batters.

We have three more innings to catch up, but we don’t. We do finally drive Marco Estrada, who has been as stingy as Ebenezer, out of the game when Salvy hits a home run and the two Alexes follow with singles. Although at that point the score is 6 – 1 Gibbons decides the Blue Jays can’t afford to let Estrada finish this game. The reliever strikes out Escobar, and Osuna is brought out in the ninth to end the game, 7 – 1.

That is fine, but nerve-wracking. I remember Muneesh saying that it’s best to win the pennant in six games. That way, the players get enough rest, but not too much. The thing is I just kind of want to get to the World Series already and this whole pennant thing is standing in the way…

When my roommates come home they all want to see the Mets play the Cubs. They are Yankees fans, but they’ll cheer for a New York team over a Chicago team. I still don’t know who to cheer for between these two. The Cubs are three games behind but have the Back to the Future prophecy on their side. Plus, if they are able to come back from being three games behind they’ll be like the 2004 Red Sox, and everyone knows how that ended. But if the Mets win, that means I’ll be surrounded by people who are cheering against the Royals. Also the Mets have orange in their uniform, and I haven’t written off my dream quite yet. Usually my dreams are complete absurdist nonsense—like the time I took a hot air balloon over the Alps, or when the Beatles came to play in the empty wading pool at the park across the street from my house. But nothing can be written off as nonsense in the postseason.

As it turns out the Cubs are not the 2004 Red Sox, and the Mets win 8 – 3, and we will play them when we go to the World Series, knock on wood. My only relief is that they are not as orange as the Astros. I flitted in and out of the game after the second inning, when the Mets had already scored six runs. When tuning in I tried to listen for the name Flowers—the guy who had the last at-bat in my dream, the guy who either struck out or had a game-winning two-run homerun. The last Mets batter to be retired was Wilmer Flores and I realized to my horror that while there are no English Flowers on the Mets there are certainly Spanish Flowers.

Also there’s that Daniel Murphy character. It hasn’t been since early October that Daniel Murphy and home runs haven’t been mutually exclusive. The man continued his home run a streak, hitting his seventh in six games in the top of the eighth. It is slightly scary, but if we can get to the World Series and survive the Blue Jays then I think we can survive Daniel Murphy. We just have to get to the World Series.

And I just have to never listen to the radio while driving ever again.

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