I went to the game last night with my 81-year-old Grandpa. He has had several strokes over the years, so he talks in a craggy, staccato pronouncements. He still speaks much better than Kirk Douglas or Col. William Ludlow, the Anthony Hopkins character in “Legends of the Fall.” Also, P-House told me that lately G-Pops has developed an admiration for Obama.
Col. Ludlow: “Screw’m! Screw’m all! Screw the gov’m’nt!”
The game started well enough. Suppan got three Reds to ground out. The Brewers came to bat and got a walk and a balk, before two Reds collided on an infield fly, dropping J.J. Hardy’s popup. Prince singled in a run, but then they left the bases loaded.
Then absolutely nothing happened for the next very long seven innings. We went to get a bite to eat — Grandpa recommended the Polish sausage. Nothing else happened, except of course, for the Reds to hang up four runs on Suppan. Second half pitcher, my ass. Villanueva came in to replace Suppan.
“This is my one of my favorite guys,” I told my grandpa. “He’s younger than me.”
“Wow, you are old,” G-Pa joked.
Bill Hall made a diving catch of a line drive, and the runner on first took off and was standing on second before Hall could pick himself off the ground. Hall stood up, but then he seemed to start his trot into the dugout. A couple of Brewers started walking in as well, until they saw Hall did not seem to know his catch was only the second out, not the third. Prince was standing on first base waving his arms for the ball to make the force out. Baseball for Dummies, Part 1: Know how many outs there are. Anyway, the power of the Brewers lineup was up to bat, starting with Ryan Braun.
“Braun, he’s due,” G-Pa said.
He’s more than due. He’s past due. He’s overdue. Braun has hit around .250 in the last 10 games, but yesterday his average for the year dipped below .300, and that’s more conspicuous when the Brewers lose. Ryan Braun struck out. In the next inning, Ray Durham came up to pinch hit with two men on base.
“Let’s go, now!” G-Pa shouted.
Let me pause and give you a little background on Ray Durham. He’s a solid veteran player, and he plays Rickie Weeks’ position. You’re gonna love him. That’s about all you need to know. Here P-House talking about when the Brewers traded the Giants for him, while they were in San Francisco, conveniently:
The story goes that the Crew and the Giants settled on the deal but weren’t going to announce the trade until after that Sunday’s game. But, during the game, Durham and his San Fran teammates pretty much know what was up. So Durham, who wasn’t starting that day, sat in the dugout for the first three innings. But finally…
“I couldn’t take it anymore,” said Durham. “Guys were looking at me, like, ‘What are you doing here?’”
“Hi, I’m Mark Attanasio, the owner of the Brewers. We’re glad to have you.”
The following conversation was undocumented, but based off of that introduction, I imagined the conversation to be like Hank Scorpio on the Simpsons.
Ray Durham hit a three-run homer to right field. The remains of 30,312 fans in attendance jumped to their feet and stayed there until Ray-Ray hopped back to the top of the dugout stairs and doffed his batting helmet.
G-Pa and I are still pretending to be grown-ups, so we left after the Brewers failed to score in the bottom of the ninth. I was worried he was getting tired — we had just sat watching intensely for four hours — and he was concerned I was getting cold feet in my flip-flops. We could still hear the crowds as we walked through the very cool night to my car in the preferred parking section, and we listened to the radio call as we cruised back to his house. G-Mother was waiting up for us at their house and we watched the end of the game on television.
These are nights I know well and enjoy — this time of year, coming inside with rosy cheeks and brisk breath, staying up too late, with your elders, who are also up past their bedtime, but for a very exciting reason. These are nights in which your school wins the homecoming game, or your buddy comes home from war, and everything you do makes a burnt-orange ripple in spacetime.
But the best part of these crisp, phantasmagoric September nights is the promise that there are still a few days of sunshine yet to come, and a few more nights of madness.
Here are some other “Legends of the Fall” quotes, applied to baseball season!
Samuel: “Still hung over?”
Tristan: “Still drunk!”
Col. Ludlow: “Don’t talk at me, boy, as if I’ve never seen a war!
Susannah: “Forever turned out to be too long (for Cubs fans).”