Take Your Slacker to Work Day

I would like to thank Mark Fagan and The Austin Chronicle for hooking me up with a press pass for the Memorial Day Texas Rangers vs. Boston Red Sox game. I would also like to thank all the incredibly nice and helpful people who work at the ballpark in Arlington, without whom I would have been totally lost. Essentially, I went and watched a live baseball game in somebody’s office. The press box is sterile and quiet with an occasional joke. Every now and then an announcer with the tone of a bus driver would call out how the play was scored. “Score that E6, E6. Now arriving in Sioux City; this bus is now arriving in Sioux City. Please be ready to disembark.” I’m not in any way saying he does a bad job. There’s no room for the morning zoo guys here because this is all business.

The night before, the Red Sox started Daisuke Matzusaka. When Daisuke pitches, the press box is full of Japanese press, which leaves no room for anyone else to sit, so the poor Rangers, through no fault of their own, have to assign seats in the press room. They then post these assignments on the wall. I show up and see a notice stating if your affiliation is not listed on the seating assignment, which it was not, you have to watch the game in the cafeteria. Fuck that. I didn’t drive all the way from Austin in the intermittent rain only to get kolaches in West and spend my first day in the press box watching from the cafeteria. It was here I got yelled at. The bus-driving scorer guy sternly asked me to “find a seat” of which there were plenty. I started to explain that my affiliation was not listed on the seating plan, when I noticed everyone was staring at me. Who brought the cool guy?

After that little debacle I was sure I was overthinking, I found a seat and watched the game with the other sportswriters. I took out my laptop and pretended to write. It was the same awkward feeling you get on the first day at a new school. I watched and listened intently trying to pick up any nuggets about what I was supposed to be doing. The game went by in front of me like the live feed of broadcast. In between innings, the other sportswriters flipped over to the Spurs’ final loss to the Jazz on their monitors. I chewed on the remnants of my iced tea and jotted down the following so I would look busy:

The opening ceremony consisted of a color guard from three branches of the military at first, second, and third base. I couldn’t tell from where I was which branch other than the Coast Guard was left out. It was an emotional ceremony that helped remind everyone this wasn’t just a day off on Monday or an extra day to float a check for your cell-phone bill. The moment of silence definitely stuck in the wet air forced still by 37,974 citizens as we were reminded of sacrifice of the few willing and the folly of their leader's lies.

Tim Wakefield, whose knuckle ball frittered merrily with the wind behind it, teased hitters with the promise of slow, easy delight and dropped most of his pitches outside the radius of determined Ranger swings. He would go on to win, and the Rangers would continue to perplex their fans for, barring a friggin' miracle, another season. It will be Ron Washington’s job to explain where they are going wrong again.

After the game everyone got up from the press box and left while I continued typing some bullshit to make it seem like I was suppose to be there. I looked up to find I was the only one left. How did I miss this? I ran over to the elevator and picked up a couple tips from the guy running the elevator before I descended backstage toward the Ranger’s press-conference room. He gave me directions to where I was suppose to be and told me to hurry. He would be my one lifeline of the evening.

It was the first wake I had ever been to where the corpse was allowed to answer any questions you might have about why he did what he did while he was alive. I started to feel bad for him. He stood up for his guys and tipped his cap to the other team. The Sox were hot, and they would not lose here. Not till the billionaire that owns this team decides to go Mark Cuban on them and ponies up a little more than you-will-have-to-try-and-make-the-playoffs-with-Kevin Millwood-as-your-ace money or sells it to someone who will. I shuttered at the split-second thought of a properly bank-rolled Billy Beane in Oakland. The final question asked that evening was, “Do you get tired of answering the same questions night after night?” Ouch. That’s got to suck. It’s not even June, and they are calling for your head.

Actually, you know what has to suck? Our good friend Joe saw Kevin Durant standing in line at the new Pok-E-Jo’s in the Hancock Center with his friends when a report comes on the TV he was standing under. The report that came on was the one where he ranked the worst out of all the other draft hopefuls and that he was the only one there who could not bench-press 185 pounds. Maybe it doesn’t rank up there with getting yelled at your first time in the press box, but it still has to suck pretty bad.

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