Friday, April 9, 2010

D'Light: At the Old Ballgame!

I figured I could knock out tributes to Detroit and the Tiger's home opener without doing much work by just reposting something I wrote in 2007, when I was a semi-employed myspace blogger living in the city. Remember when Granderson and Polanco were first up to bat and Magglio Ordonez was our deliciously swarthy, superslugger all-star? Sadly, baseball families don't last forever and neither do hair styles, but I'm hopeful for the season ahead. Still, I shall reminisce (and hey, note the shout-out to our latest acquisition, Johnny Damon - this information will be important in five days...)

My Special Moment With Magglio

See that sign I'm holding in my profile picture? It came to me in a vision sometime in May. Dan must have been at that evening's Tigers' game because I distinctly remember watching it alone in our apartment, marveling at some great play that Magglio Ordonez had just made. How did this guy, who had seemed so ridiculous in the second half of last season, turn into such an amazing player? And what was with that endless A.C. Slater-style mane? I thought about something Manager Jim Leyland had said at the beginning of the season, when a reporter asked him if he approved of Magglio's coif. Leyland, being a very no-nonsense sort of dude, said something along the lines of, "He's a grown man. I'm not going to tell him what to do with his hair" (Alas! if only the Yankees had shown that wisdom with Johnny Damon, there would be a lot more women watching baseball). Leyland then added, "Hell, if he bats .300 this season, I'll wash it for him".

Well, as we near mid-season, Magglio is well beyond a .300 batting average. He's somewhere around .380 right now. Back on that day in May, I thought about the .400 average he had in April and I looked at that hair hanging out the back of his cap, and then I saw the words, "Magglio, Your Hair Is Magical" beside a floating batting helmet full of curly, dark locks. I determined that I would put my vision to paperboard and take it to the next game that I would attend.

I forgot about this until the Memorial Day weekend, when we heard that the Sunday game would be floppy hat day. It was also the ESPN game that night and I realized that this would be the perfect time to bring my sign. I guess that just like any other retarded American I get really excited at the prospect of being on national tv.

Anyway, it turns out that ESPN isn't that interested in broadcasting the crowd's signs, especially when you're in the nethermost region of the upper deck. We could actually see one of their cameramen very near us and tried to get his attention. On our way to the concessions stand, I stopped and waved my sign at him. He laughed and then gave me a look as if to say, "Dude, come on!", because Magglio had just hit into a double play. Fair enough.

In search of a better view, and maybe a better camera angle, we wound our way to the ground level. I didn't notice that we were in right field until we got to the end of an inning. Suddenly, Dan and I knew what we had to do. He grabbed my arm and we made our way down the bleachers. A stern usher held guard at the very front of the aisle. Fearless, we made a beeline toward him, showed him the sign and asked if we could stand there for just a moment, please? He nodded stoically and stepped aside.

It was the top of the inning and Magglio and Curtis Granderson were jogging across the field. I started waving my sign while Dan shouted, "Magglio!" He stopped for a moment to look, wore a baffled expression and then began tossing the ball to Curtis. As he got closer, I was laughing so hard that I felt a little bad because it suddenly occurred to me that this might seem insulting or maybe just completely mystifying to a guy who just recently learned how to speak English. But then Dan made it all better by shouting, "Te amo, Magglio!" Though certainly confused, he bore his customary serene expression as he lifted his glove and gave us a gentle wave. And that was our special moment with Magglio.

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