23 02 2009

February 20th brought two important events to the forefront of my life: 1) baby brother Mark’s 22nd birthday, and 2) opening day of college baseball! And as luck would have it, I got to celebrate BOTH at the same time! Oregon State opened their season on the road, travelling 3000 miles through 3 time zones to Knoxville, Tennessee, to play the University of Tennessee Volunteers. Knoxville being an easy 3-hour drive from Atlanta. My friend Hillary rowed for the Lady Vols Crew team at UT a few years ago, so she came along for a home-coming of sorts. Her Toyota 4Runner has a magic attachment that allows you to plug your iPod directly into the car, thus guaranteeing hours of road-trip-tunes enjoyment! First up was “O State Ballaz” followed by “We Still Ballin (2007)” and the baseball staples “Put Me in Coach” and “Back Home in Omaha.” Then I stopped being mean and we had sing-along tunes for the rest of the trip.


Friday’s game started at 4 p.m. It was chilly, without a doubt, and did get a bit less comfortable when the wind whipped through Lindsey Nelson stadium. But it was fairly tolerable. And I was purposely (and brilliantly!) delaying the addition of extra layers to my person. I started with a tank top under a long-sleeved shirt under my orange #18 jersey with Beavers across the chest and a College World Series patch on right arm. In the 4th inning, I added a white hooded sweatshirt between the long-sleeved shirt and the jersey. Gloves went on in the 6th, shortly accompanied by a set of disposable hand warmers. At the 7th inning stretch, my black pea-coat became my final outer layer. Then the fun began…


Finally in the 8th inning (just about the time the temperature dipped into the high 20’s) Mark made his 2009 season debut. And he was great! Stats: 1 inning, 1 “hit” (a blatant E-3 that the home-town scorekeeper gifted to a Vol who must have been either his son or favorite nephew), 1 K, 0 BB. Happy Birthday to Mark! Even happier birthday if they’d have left him in to finish the game and get the win instead of handing the ball over to the losing, save-blowing closer. Too bad I was the only smart (and least biased) baseball strategist at the field that night.


I’m sure I would have gotten infinitely better photos if I could have tolerated moving from the one warm spot on my seat to stand up and face the frigid winds head on. Those who did so are better people than I. But I had brought a bouquet of balloons (black and orange with a Happy Birthday mylar balloon for my brother) that were tied to the top of the stands at the base of the Georgia SEC flag, which I thought was appropriate. And I did bring Mark a birthday present, too. So there are likely very few better sisters than I. Right, Mark?! And Scott and Jill?!


Saturday’s 2 o’clock game felt practically tropical! Fifty-plus degrees, bright sun, crystal blue skies. I even came away with pink sunglasses lines on my face! Why they didn’t play a double-header in the glorious sunshine? No one can guess. And snow was on its way. And everyone knew it. Sunday morning the predicted “dusting” had dusted, and the non-asphalt ground surfaces were white. The temperature crawled slowly toward 30 as I abandoned my previously successful delayed-layering protocol. And it’s lucky that I did, because it was C-O-L-D outside. Snow flurries continued throughout the morning, though mostly it looked like the very end of a ticker-tape parade or New Years Rockin’ Eve, with swirls of fluffy flakes whirling around in the wind. Truthfully, it was the wind that did you in, not the temperature. Well, I suppose it was the malicious combination of the two.


We arrived to the game and couldn’t even bear to unload our arms of the blankets and coats and extra layers we had brought. It was too cold to go empty-handed. I was wearing 2 long-sleeved shirts, a t-shirt, a black #18 (duh!) OSU jersey (that’s Hillary in the orange one!), my white hooded sweatshirt, tall-socks, and gloves with disposable 7-hour hand-warmers already activated inside them.


I hate to say that I wasn’t really all that disappointed when the called the game at noon. It was not going to be pretty. Or warm. Or even anything close to being compared to warm. So we had our photo-op at the bus. And said a few “see you in L.A.’s” since I’ll be heading west in April to catch another series. Should be a bit nicer weather out there, don’t you think?!