Everyone loves baseball, except the umpire.
I love baseball. I've played it, scored it, treated player injuries and coached aspects of it. During almost every stage of my life, I have been involved with the sport—if not with a player or two—in some way. So, I was thrilled when the good-looking guy from a dinner party asked me out to an upcoming local Minor League baseball game! I hadn't spoken of baseball at all that evening and I took some liberties in assigning a deep significance to the fact that Jack had seemingly pulled my dream date out of thin air.
Between the party and game day, I sought some background information (known in baseball as a scouting report) on Jack from my friends who had hosted the event. No, he wasn't married. No, he didn't live with his mother. He owned his own home, worked out regularly, had a couple of degrees and worked in a family business. He was back to dating (let's call it free agency) after he and his long-time girlfriend called it quits over a rapidly ticking biological clock. Dating Disaster: I Kissed My Cousin
We began a comfortable conversation over burgers and beers near the ballpark. This was too good to be true. I hadn't tripped over anything, trashed his alma maters, got pepper wedged between my teeth or knocked over any drink or condiments onto his lap. Our conversation didn't focus on stupefying details about his work (or his workouts) and I never had to monitor my expression for boredom. Game time arrived before we knew it and in the rush to pay the bill, Jack casually mentioned that his brother would be at the park and he could introduce us after the game. I somehow barely registered this information: His brother was a player? A coach? The announcer?
Jack and I easily found our seats, close to the field and behind home plate, and prepared to cheer on the home team. We looked up players in the program he'd purchased on our way in, and I continued to wonder if Jack would finally point out his brother to me. But it was getting harder and harder to concentrate on the date and easier and easier to focus on the inept home plate umpire. After yet another pitch was called a strike as it sailed by the hitter's nose, I was in full fan mode and began calling out the usual insults (and some clever homemade ones) loud enough for the umpire to hear. Insults that involved his vision or lack thereof, his intelligence and total lack of skill. A white cane and a seeing-eye dog were even offered. The crowd around us enjoyed the show and joined in. Dating Disaster: His Name Wasn't Scott, Evidently
I turned to Jack to share a laugh after a particularly funny remark was called from somewhere behind us and found him stock-still and stone-faced.
"Everything okay?" I asked.
"Just fine," he replied. "Enjoy the game."
And so I did. As it ended, I ran to the bathroom. When I returned, Jack was standing at the bottom stair, speaking through the backstop fence to the umpire. As I came down the steps, Jack turned to me. He had an odd look on his face.
"Lewis," he said to the umpire, "this is my date, Susan." He looked at me and finished, "the heckler." Strrrrrrrrrike.
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