Wednesday, September 5, 2007

My Good-Deal Goggles

We went as a family to the penultimate Orem Owlz game, unless they make the playoffs, but there is no fancy word for 5th game before the last. It was drawstring backpack night, and you know when there’s a Orem Owlz giveaway that good we had to be there. I’m still really regretting missing water bottle night. So we decided to get there an hour early, when the gates open, in hopes of being one of the first 750 fans.

We did not tell the kids about the backpacks. Which, as it turns out, was a stroke of PURE PARENTING GENIUS because, naturally, there were no backpacks to be had. It wasn’t that we fell prey to the greedy Utah Valley cheapskate syndrome that causes vast hordes of people who otherwise don’t care about baseball to show up, collect their free stuff, and then leave, not even staying for the game. On the contrary, we fell prey to the less than professional management that typifies minor league baseball.

Let’s recap some of the more frustrating trinket nights:

2005 - baseball caps – they didn’t get shipped in time, and we had to go back the next day and show our ticket stubs to pick them up.

2006 – t-shirts – these were supposed to be for kids 12 and under and even though we showed up an hour early, there were literally hundreds of people there before us. We saw plenty of older teenagers being handed the shirts, lots of people getting the shirts and leaving, so that the people in front of us ended up being the last ones given t-shirts. Fortunately, that year they saved some trinkets for season ticket holders, so Brad and Noah were able to get the shirts (size 14-16) but the other, what, 8 kids we brought for Brad’s birthday party were out of luck.

2007 - the great backpack disappointment

To be completely fair, though, these are minor annoyances compared to how much fun we have at the games (especially when we employ our PURE PARENTING GENIUS! Is it too late to change the name of my blog? I really like that one.) Plus, we regularly come home with a freezer’s worth of bread, which has got to more than make up for the backpacks and the t-shirts.

Since we were there so early, I took Zacky to the playground (with Ryan and Darcey) while the older boys went down to the dugout to ask the players to autograph their baseballs. They were so happy to get the autographs that they didn’t even realize that the Owlz pencils they were handed as we walked in were a shabby substitute for a potentially cool backpack. They thought the pencils were a bonus! Oh to be young and easily impressed!

I have to say that this was one of the most exciting games I’ve seen. Unlike my dad, who somehow can sleep through Pirates of the Caribbean but thinks a pitching duel is the height of entertainment, I prefer sports with a lot of stuff going on. There was intrigue, suspense, action, anger, and more than a little violence, and all of that in the first two innings. It was the bottom of the second and the Chukars were ahead, one to nothing. Our first batter, Julio Perez, gets up and the very first pitch smacks him right in the helmet! I didn’t see this, because I mistakenly took four children with me, and so I was distracted, but when the entire stadium gasped as one, I looked up to see poor Julio laying face down in the dirt! (My mom-like thought, “He’s getting his white pants dirty!”) He took off his helmet and chucked it at the pitchers mound, and I got the sense that if he wasn’t such a manly man, he’d be crying. Maybe he was, we’ve got good seats but not that good. He lay there for a couple of minutes, and then slowly he got up and the crowd burst into applause. It made me wonder, if he hadn’t gotten up, if he’d been carted away on a stretcher like that other Owlz player earlier this year, would they still clap? Would they clap more for the guy who can stand up and shake it off, or for the guy who might have actually put his life in jeopardy for the game?

Anyhow, Julio went to first, then Gordy Gronkowski, my kids’ favorite player, got up and got a single. Then a bunch of other stuff happened which I don’t know about (because I was in line for a couple of frozen lemonades for Brad and myself and a churro for Zack, which he refused to eat about one millisecond after we sat down and only wanted my lemonade, so Brad got a lemonade and a churro, Zack got a lemonade, and I got nothing. The upshot was that Zack spent the next 30 minutes working on the lemonade, so he was quite happy.) When I got back to my seat, four runs had scored, and wouldn’t you know it, here comes Julio Perez back for a second go at it. We went through the entire lineup in one inning. Unfortunately, Julio didn’t do so well the second time, struck out pretty quickly, and I had to feel guilty for thinking maybe he should just throw himself in front of another one, we’d get another run.

The other piece of violence was less entertaining, for our family at least, although I think the people sitting around us got an eyeful. This was before the game started and we were sitting in our seats. Zack had demanded something, in that lovely pushy way he does when he hasn’t had a nap and it’s already his bedtime, and when I didn’t give it to him he gave me the standard “I hate you, mom!” That rankles somewhat but I’m trying for the ignore-it-and-they’ll-stop theory that everyone recommends but doesn’t seem to work in practical applications (it certainly didn’t work when Paul Lichtinger made fun of my glasses and various other things every day on the school bus home for three years of middle school and then on into high school until he finally got some of his bully friends to take him every day.) Zack then escalated the incident, he cocked back his fist and attempted to hit me, which would have been cause enough for my instant rage, except that I was holding Darcey at the time and he hit her right in the face.

No matter how horrified you are right now, trust me, I was more horrified. Really, way, way more horrified than you could ever be. Darcey starts crying and I say to Ryan (nice and loud, of course, because I get loud when I get upset) “He hit the baby!” Well, naturally everyone around on both sides turns to stare at us because there was nothing going on on the field yet, and even if there were, it wouldn’t be nearly as interesting as this white trash family whose three year old is beating up the baby. Ryan takes him and kind of drags him over to Ryan’s seat so he could talk to him. I’m on the verge of hysterical now and I say (again, with more decibels than was necessary) “Ryan, get mad at him! He hit the baby!” Because all I could see was that Ryan was not currently beating the crap out of that kid and I was so mad at Zack that I could barely contain myself. What Ryan could see was that I was not on the verge of hysterical, but actually full-fledged hysterical, and that there were probably a hundred people (no joke) staring at us, waiting to see whether the boy had learned this behavior from his father and if they would get to witness DCFS taking the children away from us and giving them to good parents.

The upshot of it all, if there could be an upshot of any of that, was that Ryan did not embarrass our family further, as I would have done, and after about 15 minutes of sitting quietly Zack, of his own accord, said “Sorry, Darcey.” Do 3 year olds have a conscience? Is it too early to expect him to understand the gravity of the situation? I’m thinking he does understand – he loves his baby sister, all of the boys just adore her. But that had better never happen again. Yikes.

In the days since I started writing this blog entry, Ryan took the older boys to the final game, which was called on account of rain with the Owlz ahead, clinching a spot in the play-offs. The boys came home with collapsible Angels laundry hampers which they thought were the coolest things ever, and I’m peeking through my Good-Deal Goggles at possibly getting the backpacks at the play-off game on Saturday. Plus, Ryan talked to Julie, the woman who plays the sound effects and animations on the Jumbotron during the game, and she is definitely going to work with him for one more year at least, so we’ve got our season tickets for next year in the bag! There’s nothing better than a cool summer evening at the ballpark, preferably with lots of action on the field, none in the stands, and a pile of free stuff at our feet. See you next season, Owlz!

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