Bad day at ballpark is still pretty good

In so many ways, we are a simple people.

When folks decide to go to a sports event, many hope for just two things: That the home team will win and that it will be a good game.

Nothing metaphysical here. It's much like a recently reported observation regarding hotel standards: While women have a variety of expectations, men generally are satisfied as long as the television works.

And so it was the other day at the Major League Baseball game here between the Colorado Rockies and the New York Mets. While some purists went to the game interested in a variety of subtleties, like seeing how Rockies pitcher Masato Yoshii would do throwing his split-finger fast ball, for most it would be a good day if the Rockies won and the game was good.

The Rockies lost and the game was dreadful.

The home team was crushed, 13-6. At one point in the sixth inning, the Rockies trailed 12-2. Yoshii, who has had brilliant days and unquestionably will have more, only pitched to 16 hitters; nine got hits. The various Rockies relievers performed up to Yoshii's standards.

Yoshii confessed afterward, "If you look at the results, the results were not good." Therefore, he said, "I'll make an adjustment if these results are consistent." That would be an excellent idea.

When the game ended after 2 hours, 56 minutes, the Mets had bashed 23 hits. That ties for the most for the New Yorkers in a nine-inning game since 1964 when Casey Stengel was managing the Mets.

And there were severe storm warnings during the game. And there was a stiff, chilly wind out of the west. And the biggest Met star, catcher Mike Piazza, didn't play. And the dispirited Rockies played without passion or even much effort.

And it was an excellent day at the ball park.

Here's why: There is just something special about going to a ball park - or a stadium, coliseum, course, field, whatever - and seeing competition live. It doesn't matter how many times you've been. There's always a joy in making the plans, an exuberance in the going, a fascination in the anticipation of what might happen.

Besides, in the worst of games - this one being the poster boy - there is much that brings pleasure. Early on, a group left its seats at the game and retired to a table for lunch. It was great fun. Turkey sandwiches and salads got raves. It was even OK that what amounted to a slice of pizza and a small soft drink cost $8.50.

It was OK because the group enjoyed conversation and friendship and laughter; because we still could watch the Rockies on the television monitors; because we also could watch on other monitors how the Colorado Avalanche was doing in the hockey playoffs; because we got to enjoy the ambiance of one of the best baseball facilities in the nation; because we got to gaze out on the Rocky Mountains.

Really, everything was OK because we were there. Bestirring oneself to go to an event is routinely rewarding. This applies not only to sports but to concerts, lectures, museum exhibits. Even opera, perhaps.

Being a part of a goings on is a big part of living. Participation in something by being there is superior to being a detached and dozy television viewer. Surely if someone were to compose a list of the 10 or 50 or 500 best events in life, watching a Seinfeld rerun and then switching to Home Shopping Network would not be among them.

High above the game, Rockies owner Jerry McMorris sat glumly and, often, by himself. We were having a wonderful time, but evidence was he wasn't. He sat frozen, looking down at this debacle, and he had to be wondering how he could be spending so much money for, well, this.

That's his problem, not ours.

Leaving the park, the banter and conversation continued. It had been a perfectly awful game and a perfectly delightful day. It wasn't long before our attention shifted to doing it again. The next game, we agreed, was bound to be better. Such is the optimism of sports fans.

Besides, a bad day at a sports event is still better than a good day doing most anything else. A nearby fan walking to his car, grumbled, "I'm not sure that was worth paying $32 to see." Sure it was.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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