Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Traditions Times Two

Team WestEnders continued our own personal Maryland Festival o’Fun with a family get-together on Friday. We chatted and caught up with my dad and sister…the cousins got to run amok all afternoon…my brother fired up his new toy—I mean “grill”—to cook everyone’s dinner…and a fabulous time was had by all. I snuck out for a few hours around noon to meet a couple of my college girlfriends nearby for lunch, which besides being enjoyable and relaxing in its own right, was also a delightful break from the aforementioned adolescent antics that were simultaneously occurring at my dad’s house. (An interlude of peace and quiet…nah…more like “gabbing and guffawing”! But it was definitely a treat to have yummy food and adult conversation, so it totally worked for us!)

When I returned to the scene of the…shenanigans...I found the resourceful quintet of cousins (ages almost-10 to 17) trying to beat the Summer heat by McGyver-ing a makeshift slip-and-slide in the back yard, using a tarp, a garden hose, and some dish soap. They would then fling themselves down the hill in a vain attempt to travel as far as possible--before inevitably veering off into the grass after only a few yards. All of this was “supervised” by my brother (aka “the biggest kid of them all”), so what could possibly go wrong? Fortunately, there were no…low-budget-thrill-ride injuries, and the gang soon enough moved on to safer pursuits…like full-contact basketball, and later, highly competitive flashlight tag.

For once, we didn’t even have to be sad when we left, since we’d be seeing most of the clan the very next day for an Orioles game—whoo hoo, Bonus Family Time! I hadn’t realized it when we’d planned our trip, but the game I just happened to choose included a giveaway: Zach Britton bobbleheads. If you’re not familiar with that particular player, he’s the team’s preferred closing pitcher (currently on the DL, but the 2016 AL Reliever of the Year, so still a pretty Big Deal). But the reeeally important thing is: free collectible! From (sometimes bitter) experience, we knew this meant that we’d need to arrive at the ballpark earlier than usual, to ensure that we were among the first 25,000 fans through the door, before they ran out of the souvenirs.

So we hit the road at 1:30 for the 4:05 game…and just happened to meet up with the rest of our group making their way to the stadium at the same time. And lemme tell ya what a slowsticky walk THAT was. I’m just saying: it was steamy outside, y’all. But it was all worth it when we spotted those orange and black boxes, stacked high and ready to be placed into our waiting—and grateful…and damp—hands. Sooooo, there we were…having successfully obtained our objective…and with a full hour to kill before the first pitch. (Okay, so maybe we didn’t actually need to be in quite such a hurry. Who knew?)

We decided that we could at least find our seats and get settled, since we knew they were situated in the shade of an overhang, and we could get the Heck. Out. Of. The. Sun. (Major thanks to my sister for arranging that for us!) No sooner had we sat down, however, than a message appeared on the Jumbotron.
What the WHAT? Did I mention the blazing yellow thing, clearly visible in the sky? I mean, sure, there are a couple of clouds that look as if they MIGHT be developing something of an…unpleasant attitude…but surely that’s an over-reaction, yeah?

Still, we watched as the Grounds Crew dutifully wrestled the tarp onto the infield to protect it from…I don’t know…UV rays? Impending…potential drenching? We were still skeptical…and keeping our fingers crossed…when suddenly the wind began picking up noticeably. Next, those formerly light and fluffy clouds got a whole lot darker and more serious. Aaaannnnd then, with no further warning, the heavens opened up in dramatic fashion and commenced dumping breeze-blown sheets of chilly rain down on the world below. Oh, about that roof we were under? It didn’t matter one bit, when you were smack in the middle of an onslaught of droplets being buffeted in all directions.

Suffice it to say, in a remarkably short time, we became…rather drippy…baseball enthusiasts. On the plus side, there’s nothing like an impromptu natural shower to cool you down, for sure…but…let’s just say that sitting around in wet…skivvies…for the several hours afterwards isn’t terribly comfortable. (We did make sure our precious bobbleheads were sheltered from the storm, in case you were wondering. Hey, we have our priorities straight! Or whatever…)

Anyway, the weather event was actually pretty spectacular while it lasted, which mercifully wasn’t too long. Better yet, the Baseball Powers That Be determined that the game would begin after about an hour-and-15-minute delay. However, that turned out to be the last good news of the day, as the Orioles quickly fell behind by a couple of runs, and proceeded to spend the entire contest on the losing end of the score.
Given that fact, and also the extra hours we’d already spent on this excursion, we made a Collective Executive Decision: we’d stick it out until the 7th inning stretch—which is mandatory as an Orioles supporter, so you can participate in the unique trifecta of musical entertainment comprised of America the Beautiful, the standard Take Me Out to the Ballgame…and John Denver’s Thank God I’m a Country Boy, which to the best of my knowledge occurs ONLY at Camden Yards. (It’s a goofy, beloved hometown tradition that dates back to the ‘70s, what can I tell ya? Come to think of it, maybe that explains it well enough…)

Let’s see…annual Os game with the fam, check. Mementos, check. Junk food, check. Well, look at that, our baseball goals had been met! So we felt free to pack it in and call it a night, wishing both our team and our relatives farewell until next time. Even though we didn’t get a victory out of the squad on the diamond, it was definitely one in the Win column for Team WestEnders!

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