GNAVRT Day 45 – 9 little Indians

IMG_0584Well, the first appearance of the official GNABRT t-shirt did not go so well.  Not only did the Indians lose the game but the weather for tonight’s game in Pittsburgh is ominous.  Nothing against Pittsburgh, but to be there for 5 days and not be able to tick it off the list will be mighty disappointing.

It wasn’t all bad news for Day 45, though.  The Great North American Baseball Road Trip had the good fortune to offer me yet another opportunity to visit with an internet-only friend in person for the first time.

Back before my writing, even back before leaving Corporate America, I was playing fantasy sports.  Baseball and Football only.  In some cases, I would even run my own leagues.  During that time, I might have 4 or 5 teams in each sport.

I can’t recall how I originally came to be in my friend’s league.  Maybe it was by invite; maybe it was by random inquiry.  In any case, it turned into a keeper league (maintaining some of the same players year-over-year) and it’s going into its 11th season.

The commissioner of the league was a friendly and even-handed sort (not always a given in these things) and he had a few of his family in the league as well, including his wife.  In fact, I remember feeling quite the intruder for the first year or two.  Thankfully, they all made me feel “part of the family” in a short while.

Beyond the usual banter and trash talk that goes through fantasy sports, we developed a fun pen-pal relationship outside the league, so when he offered to join me for my game in Cleveland, I was happy to accept and get a chance to shake his hand in person.

He further surprised me by bringing his son along and we stopped at his son’s house for BBQ before hitting the game (thus the low “tab” for the game).  He wanted to pay for my ticket, but the terms of the GNABRT don’t allow that, though he did spend more than what I reimbursed him and he paid for the parking.

Equally as wonderful as seeing all these baseball games has been meeting these people I’ve only known over the internet in person for the first time.

The city:  Cleveland, Ohio.  15,000 years ago…nah, that’s silly.  Let’s talk about something relevant.

When General Moses Cleaveland arrived at the mouth of the Cuyahoga River in 1760, he knew right then that this was an excellent place for a city.  In honor of his exceptional foresight, the city was named after him.

Unfortunately, that honor took second place to practicality.  The Cleveland Advertiser, one of the city’s early newspaper, found the city name one letter too long to fit on their masthead and dropped the first “a”.  Strangely, this act had the effect of changing the name of the city forever.  Talk about your power of advertising!

After the Ohio and Erie canal created a navigable path between the Ohio River and the Great Lakes, the city began to prosper and grow.  Next came railroads and their usual explosion of growth.

Speaking of explosions, similar to Minneapolis history, Cleveland had its own battle over bridges, with an early bridge link, built by John W. Willey to connect his own land, was the source of violent protests by citizens of (then) Ohio City.  As in Minneapolis, the dispute was settled and the two cities joined later on.

Once organized, Cleveland became a major manufacturing point for steel firms due to the convenient location linking coal and iron.  Like many cities, the Great Depression took its toll on Cleveland and the ensuing times created the chance for much of the corruption that riddled most cities’ politics to be aggressively attacked.  For a time, Eliot Ness (yes, that one) served as Cleveland’s Safety Director as the city struggled to clear the bad from its ranks.

The 40’s and 50’s were great years for the town’s sports teams, with the Indians claiming their last World Series victory and the Browns dominating the NFL, behind Hall of Famer Jim Brown.  Sadly, the current state of those teams leaves fans pining for the old days.

The Game:  Cleveland Indians vs. Oakland Athletics.  In reality, neither team is going anywhere this season, but Cleveland has some notable achievements (such as being the first team with four pitchers of at least 100 strikeouts before the All-Star break).  The Indians have spent the season trying to match their hitting with their strong pitching, to no avail.

The pattern followed in this game, which was a tightly contested low-scoring affair until a disastrous top of the 8th when the A’s scored three runs.  Though the Indians put up a two-run homer in the bottom of the inning to draw within one, they couldn’t overcome the A’s closer and went down quietly in the 9th.

The loss created the first two-game losing streak for the GNABRT (another inauspicious first for the GNABRT t-shirt) and the record now stands at 12-6.

The Tab:  Ticket, $35; Hot Chocolate, $3.75; Total – $38.75

Miscellany of Day 45:

– The Indians scoreboard did something I’ve not seen before.  As each batter came up for the second time, the scoreboard showed the previous at bat and the ball flight of where their batted ball went (similar to when they show golf ball paths on TV or video games).  It was a cool visual image that I think all teams should consider using.

Today’s trip to Pittsburgh begins my extended stay and chance to do nothing for a while.  It’s needed.  I hope to get rid of the nagging cough thing and also just rest a bit.  The time should also allow me to check into future game tickets and decide whether to pre-purchase.

However, today’s potential rainout proves that making those advance purchases remains risky.

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