- Faith and Fear in Flushing - http://www.faithandfearinflushing.com -

The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Fan

So this afternoon (California time) I straggle back to my hotel room after a long day about equally divided between work and technical problems trying to prevent me from work, plop down on the bed, look at the clock and do the away-from-home math. Whoa, I think to myself, it's like 8:30 in New York. The boys are on.

A while back I'd signed up for MLB.TV as the opening gambit of a bid to evade the Cablevision blackout, a plan that happily never had to be put to a real-world test. I realize that, of course, I haven't remembered to cancel MLB.TV. Woo-hoo! Saved by my own disorganization! Time to see some baseball! And indeed, after a bit of fiddling, there's FSNY on my computer screen. It's 4-3 Braves, but with me supplying karmic power, surely that will soon change. Ain't technology from the decade of the 2000s wonderful?

And then, just as quickly, I'm looking at a still picture of Rafael Furcal frozen in mid-walk toward home plate from the on-deck circle. BUFFERING, the computer tells me. Now Furcal is standing at the plate. Then he's standing there but it seems no one is throwing a ball toward him. (Such a distinction is sometimes lost on those of us who've endured the Era of Trachsel.) Still picture. BUFFERING. Being stubborn, I start an ultimately vain battle with MLB.TV. Marcus Giles's home run makes it 7-3, but the full import of this doesn't sink in — I'm dealing with so many technical problems that this just seems like one more. BUFFERING. TRYING TO RE-ESTABLISH CONTACT WITH SERVER. I THREW A FLAT FASTBALL AND IT GOT HIT OVER A FENCE. BUFFERING.

It's only after I give up on MLB.TV that the pilot light that burns fitfully in my brain emits a feeble glow: This game is probably on TBS, dumbass. I flip around the hotel channels and whaddya know — there's beady-eyed Manny Aybar pitching well at garbage time. Ain't technology from the 1950s wonderful?

Only here's the thing. By now it's a bit after 6. I've only played some mild hooky at the end of a day so far, so no big whoop. But I have a dinner to go to at 7, and it can't be missed. What the hey, I'll watch the boys until 6:30 and then get ready. 6:30 turns into 6:45, and by now the game is interesting. Wright's single makes it 7-4. Then he makes an eye-popping play at third to keep me interested. Now it's the 8th, and really slightly past the time I should be heading for the lobby to meet my party, as they say in airports. But Reyes singles off some Anonybrave name of Adam Bernero, Pete Orr makes a fairly grotesque error, and we're making some noise. It's like 6:48. What the heck, I can walk fast. Mike Cameron has a long at-bat, which normally would be saluted by me but now makes me agitated. He walks. 6:51 or so. I can walk really fast sometimes. Cliff Floyd pops out, and I'd be angry, except Cliff is angrier than I am anyway. Hang with 'em, Cliff. 6:52 or so. I'll run. Or fly, or figure out how to teleport myself, but I'm not leaving, because David Wright is hotter than lava, and my favorite Met, and clearly something wonderful is about to happen. 6:53. No one is ever on time for these things — 7:01 won't kill me. Wright walks — see Cameron, above. 6:55. You've got to be kidding me, they're changing pitchers. Once again Bobby Cox is determined to kill me. 6:57. Mientkiewicz's in danger of falling below the Mendoza line, but I have faith. He hit .300 not so long ago. He's due. He's overdue. It gets to 2-2 and I think, This is the first pitch of the rest of your life, Minky. Jack one and send me sprinting to dinner mildly apologetic but wildly happy.

Smack! Uh-oh. That one's tailor-made. Except Wright takes out Furcal! And the ball is thrown away! That means it's 7-6! No, wait! It's 7-7! Yes! 6:59. Time to run like hell.

What the…? Hold up with that remote finger. Wright is arguing. Willie's on the field. The Braves are leaving. Oh no. No. They never call that. It can't be. Wow, Wright is furious. I've never seen Wright furious. He's out. That means it's just 7-6. Oh wait, no. It's 7-5. 7:00. I'm officially late. But what the hell? What just happened?

TBS shows the replay. I feel my fury wither into grumpiness. Wright pretty clearly deserves an interference call.

7-5. 7-5 and I'm late. I slink out the door grumbling. And when I finally get to check on things, much later, the final outcome [1] seems preordained.