Eight-and-a-half Innings

We took three of the children to an Indianapolis Indians baseball game on Monday. The kids payed little attention to the game. (Hot dogs, cracker jacks, popcorn, and peanuts were on the dollar menu.) It was the second Indians game and probably the fifth or sixth professional game I’ve attended. Back in the very late 70s I saw the Cincinnati Reds play the Montreal Expos in Cincinnati. I remember the van ride, the seats (third base), and hoping for a foul ball. I think Tony Perez was playing. I liked his card.

I almost remember attending a minor league game in Louisville, but in any case, I took a long, uninterested, aimless break from baseball. (I like athleticism and competition, but I am not much for fandom.) I did not see another game until I had my own, uninterested children in tow. Exemplifying the aimless disinterest, my most memorable experience sitting in a baseball stadium has little to do with baseball and much to do with a fondness for insects. I remember one night, nearly a decade ago, at a South Bend Silverhawks game. A lone praying mantis (Tenodera sinensis) rose over the seats and the stadium roof. She seemed huge in the evening light and summer heat. Tilting this way and that and hovering, at once a hulking, opportunistic predator and (had there been a bird nearby) easy prey.

At Monday’s game, I did not see any insects. I remembered the mantis, however, when a mourning dove flew up out of the right field bullpen. While the mantis seemed fragile, but dangerous, the dove appeared to be overweight and a poor flyer. It too flew over the stadium, flapping awkwardly to clear the double-deck seating. It would have been an easy target for one of the city’s pigeon-fed, pet falcons.

The Indians (a.k.a. the “Tribe”–the mascot is neither an Indian nor a Tribe, but Rowdie, a red bear with a baseball for a nose; Rowdie is probably a rodent pretending to be a bear) defeated the Columbus Clippers (they cut a lot of hair in Columbus) 5 to 3. Indianapolis had the lead at the end of the game, reducing game time to 8.5 innings. In their first, beginning-to-end baseball game, the kids were eager to leave in inning six … but we stuck it out.

Here are the all-important game stats: 8 hot dogs, 4 bags of peanuts, 4 boxes of popcorn, 3 boxes of cracker jacks, 3 beers, 2 usher redirects (the kids were standing at the wrong time), 1 bag of chips, and 1 mourning dove.

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