Friday, March 30, 2018

Opening Day-iversary

I hope everyone can excuse the lack of cardboard related posts lately.  I actually have a backlog of packages and mail to show off, but there have been some other topics that I wanted to knock out first.  

Regardless of what happens in today's game, Opening Day 2018 is a special occasion for me.  It's my Opening Day-iversary.  See, in February of 2008 I met this girl.  Later that month we went on our first date, and things took off from there.  A few months later, baseball season started.  On the scale of "deciding relationship factors," "Going to a Pirates game" ranks ahead of taking her home to meet the parents or introducing her to my friends.  If I'm taking a girl to a baseball game, you know things are getting serious. 

I already had my season ticket package for the 2008 season, and the home opener was always one of my favorite events of otherwise uneventful Pirates seasons.  We were both in college, and a short 15 minute walk from PNC Park.  I'd rather not own up to how many classes I cut to attend day games.  Let's just say it was for the best I was in Pittsburgh and not Chicago.  The Cubbies day schedule would have flunked me out of school.
Our first baseball game.  Please excuse the atrocious late 00's fashion.

The home opener was Monday, April 7th.  I asked her if she wanted to go, and plans were made.  Kate had only gone to a handful of Pirate games before we met.  And by a handful I mean like 2 or 3.  Her family has zero interest in sports, despite their daughter being a D1 athlete at the time.  I still can't totally comprehend the concept to this day.  Heck, there were plenty of home series where I went to more than 2 or 3 games.  So this was going to be a big test in my eyes.  It's impossible to be around me and not have some sort of Pirates related topic or reference slip into casual conversation.  So dating someone who isn't interested in the Pirates?  That would be a deal breaker.

The game went on in typical Pirates fashion, giving up one run in the second before the Cubs put up a 6-spot in the 3rd.  Losing 7-0?   Sounds about right.

I think I spent the better part of the first few innings explaining what was happening.  At the time, she didn't even know the names of any of the other teams.  The Cubs are from Chicago.  No, I don't know why the bear is blue.  Just go with it.  It would be into the next season before she would finally have all the teams down, and probably a while after that before she could finally embrace that yes, there are Giants in both baseball and football, no they are not from the same city, but yes, they used to be.  Oh and the football ones don't actually plan in New York.  Maybe this sports thing is tougher than it looks...

The Bucs put out their best and brightest for the home crowd.  Doug Mientkiewicz was at first.  The Pirates had a lengthy period where they thought any catcher or first basemen who at least one working knee could handle the hot corner.  Luis Rivas was the shortstop, and actually managed two hits on the day.  I think they were the only ones he that entire season.  Pre-IHitaTonofHomers Jose Bautista played third.
The Pirates responded with 5 runs in the 4th, and suddenly we had a game again.  The Pirates knotted it up in the 7th at 8.  We had an Opening Day shootout, and I was in heaven.  If you are going to your first baseball game with a non-baseball fan, a high scoring game definitely helps move things along.  I don't know that things would have gone nearly as well in a 1-0 pitchers duel. 

With all of the scoring, the game had dragged on.   The 1:30 start time had now into dinner time.  As I said, I didn't mind skipping a few classes in the name of baseball.  But Kate had a once a week evening class.  I think it was from 5-8 or 6-9.  Not fun.  The professor had some sort of policy that you could miss one class, and after that your grade dropped.  Or you failed.  Something ominous happened.  And young love be damned, Kate wasn't going to burn her one missed class on a baseball game.

She looked at the time and said she needed to get going so she could walk back to campus and get to class.  Leave?  A baseball game?  Opening Day no less?  The concept was still working its way into my 20 year old brain.  It's a tie game! 

I'm a little ashamed to admit that instead of doing the sweet thing and leaving the game to walk back to campus with her, I stayed and watched the end of the game.  It's a tie game on Opening Day!  The Bucs would go on to lose 10-8 in extra innings.  Neither her clear lack of commitment to the National Pastime nor my less than stellar date etiquette were apparently a deal breaker.

Ten years, three states, a wedding, and a house later, leaving Opening Day is still something I hold over our head during the occasional argument.  I guess we have some real knock down, drag out fights.  But that's love, when the worst thing you can hold against someone is leaving a baseball game of a 95 loss team a decade earlier.

Anyone else have any good game stories with their significant other?  To everyone else whose game got rained out yesterday, happy Opening Day!  I promise I'll get back to actual card-related content this weekend!


  1. Good stuff (and not just because of the happy Cubs ending)!

    My current girlfriend is not into sports at all. After I explained it was like a 162+ episode season of my favorite show, with backstories and bad guys of the week (opponents) and heartbreaks and redemptions and everything else, she tolerates it more, haha. She buys me Cubs stuff I wouldn't buy for myself but love to have. She even has her own Cubs gear now.

    1. Yep, sounds pretty familiar. Within a game or two she had one of those shirt-jerseys, and quickly warmed up to baseball and my collecting. She enjoys going to games, but is still more interested in the pierogi race between innings than the actual game.

  2. You stayed at the game and she went out with you again? You are the man! Congratulations on 10 years!

    1. Thanks, Fuji! I know, right? Guess it's better to be lucky than good!

  3. Can't blame you for staying (I really can't imagine ever leaving a baseball game, even if the score is 22-0), but hey, it made for one of the better first-date stories I've ever heard. Happy Opening Day-iversary!

    1. It's funny that you mention that. I was at a Brewers-Pirates game where the Brewers clobbered us 20-0. And yep, I stayed until the very last pitch.

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