I'm not Irish. I just hang out at a little pub near my house, from time to time. The owner of the place, Rob, is in my fantasy football league.
Lately I've been going in there quite a bit. So much so that they consider me a 'regular,' and I've got a bigger beer belly.
The other night I was there with a couple of high school buddies, watching college football. The pub doesn't serve hot food so Rob let's us bring food in. Luckily, there's a taco shop and a sandwich place nearby and one really nice italian place that delivers.
We opted to get some cheap mexican, and while one of my buddies went to get the food, we sat down at a table. The conversation turned to my car, which I had just gotten back the day before. (see the post 'convertible diaries') This guy I'd never seen before sits down and starts telling me that he's a mechanic, gives me his card and offers to buy me a beer.
I thought he was gay. So, of course, I said yes. I'm straight, but I love the gays. And I love beer.
When the food arrived this guy--I'll call him 'Mooch,'--just hung around. He didn't leave, like I would have done. After a few minutes, he asks me if he can have some of my food.
'Sure. You bought me a beer,' I said.
Then he wanted more. And more. And more. He ended up eating 3/4 of the plate. I was mad until I remembered how big my belly has gotten.
'You're really doing me a favor,' I said.
So last night I cruised in after work to catch a few innings of the Astros/Cardinals game. Right when I walk in the door I see 'Mooch.' He's all like 'Hey Buddy, what are you doing here?'
We exchanged pleasantries and then, as I turned my back to walk away, I hear him mutter under his breath, 'are you gonna buy me a beer?'
I turned around and said 'No I'm not buying you a beer because we're even, Dude. You bought me a beer and you ate most of my food.'
I sat down at the bar, ordered a Bass Ale and started talking to the guy next to me.
This guy, Tracy is a true baseball aficionado. He knows players, teams, stats, the whole thing. You should know that I could really care less about baseball. I kinda get into it during the playoffs and then I watch the World Series, but that's it.
Which actually is kinda sad because I used to follow the box scores in the paper every day. I knew all the players, I knew the E.R.A.s of all the pitchers, the batting averages. I was a student of the game.
I used to love everything about it, even the pace of the game. Now I think baseball is so slow. I can drive back and forth to Los Angeles during one game. It's a waste of time.
Not suprisingly, Tracy took umbrage at my comments, so we did what any two guys in an Irish Pub would do.
We ordered another round of drinks, opened a bag of hot & spicy pork rinds and Tracy began telling me why I was wrong.
'Mooch' suddenly appeared. Tracy and I were talking, so I never once looked away from Tracy. I just tilted the bag of pork rinds toward 'Mooch.' Hesistating for a second, he must have realized he wasn't getting a beer out of me and that the pork rind was my best offer. So he took one and walked away, completely defeated.
Bastard. I bet he's a Democrat.
'Baseball is the smartest game around,' Tracy said. 'And it's accessible. You--the fan--can 'manage' the team right along with the manager. You don't have to learn a bunch of plays with fancy names like in football, like yellow orange foxtrot 788.'
'What about basketball?' I asked. I love basketball.
'My least favorite sport. All it is is a slam-fest.'
Then Tracy diagnosed my baseball problem. It's one simple thing.
I don't have a favorite team. I like about ten teams, and root for them all.
'You can't do that,' Tracy said. 'Pick one. And then you live and die with your team every day, every game.'
We talked about baseball collectibles. We talked about ballparks. We talked about the Angels and the stupidity of calling them 'the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.' We talked about steroids. We talked about how hot the pork rinds were. We talked about the Oakland A's, how they were 'my team' back in the 1970's when I lived there. Those were the glory days, back when Charley Finley owned the team.
Then he quizzed me about the guys who have 500 home runs. And while I was able to name about ten of them, he obviously wanted me to remember the entire list because he scribbled all 20 names on a napkin.
Ken Griffey, Jr.
This is your homework over the weekend...memorize the members of 'the 500 Club.' There will be a quiz bright and early monday morning.