This post is dedicated to two very important people in my life: Hilda Tateosian & Lillian Rankins. It is with your patience, passion and twisted sense of humor that rekindled my love of baseball. Never have I met two people with such great enthusiasm for the sport of baseball then these two remarkable ladies. Thank you for reminding me the true value of friendship and for opening my eyes to the wonderful world of baseball. <3
Thank you to the Oakland Athletics for reminding me that the underdog eventually gets the win.
“That’s baseball, and it’s my game. Y’ know, you take your worries to the game, and you leave ‘em there. You yell like crazy for your guys. It’s good for your lungs, gives you a lift, and nobody calls the cops.”-Humphrey Bogart
Passion comes to you when you least expect it. When all hope is lost and the only thing you have left is your undying devotion to something bigger than yourself. When I told people 3 years ago that I wanted to get into baseball, people thought I was batshit crazy. Actually people thought the only thing I cared about at that point was spending money, unnecessary pop culture references, and a caffeine addiction to Starbucks. Of course I was crazy. Of course I find ways to become obsessed with something to the brink of insanity, but baseball? Really?
The only thing I ever knew about baseball was the countless films about the sport. From The Sandlot to Major League and even the recent Moneyball, how could you not be romantic about baseball? The films with their witty one-liners, dramatic scores and yes even dreamboat casting, made baseball one of the best sports on film. What the films don’t tell you is watching the sport live, you needed countless consumptions of alcohol. I’ll be brutally honest, 3 years ago baseball was boring. So boring that I needed alcohol to get through a few games of the sport. I just didn’t understand it, I didn’t have the patience for the it, and I just didn’t care. Of course I always had my favorite team but I couldn’t name a player to save my life. I couldn’t even tell you the starting line up for that current day. But if you wanted to know what I wore to the game I would tell you (American apparel hoodie, vans slip-ons, Marc Jacobs sunglasses). It just wasn’t for me.
Truth of the matter is I have been genetically programmed to love Bay Area sports. Maybe it’s my Dad’s deep alliance to the Coliseum but to him no other teams compared to the Oakland Athletics and the Oakland Raiders. Of course its the nostalgic value of his countless work of improving the Coliseum, his signature practically all over the stadium but to him at one point the Coliseum was a mecca of his work. To hear him recount his stories of the Coliseum game days are just a who’s who of the 70′s and 80′s. It was a no brainer to know that my own alliance would also be Oakland rooted. While my Dad’s stance on Bay Area sports has changed over the years, I still can’t forget how proud he was about working there. Being in that atmosphere he never matched anywhere else.
2012 was a game changer for me. I was physically and emotionally drained from work. I was surrounding myself with terrible people. I was just being absolutely hurtful to myself. It was just this never ending cycle of destruction, I couldn’t get out of. I was unhappy with myself, my surroundings and worse of all I was unhappy with life. I just couldn’t catch a break with anything I was doing. However a chance meeting with an old friend to do a stadium tour of AT&T Park, changed everything. For the first time in my life I was doing something without the judgment of other people. I was with good people that for once didn’t make me doubt anything I was doing. More importantly I was planting the seed of falling in love with a sport I only knew about through films and my diehard fanatic friends. Maybe I was crazy but at that point in my life I had nothing to lose.
The thing about film is while beautifully cinematic, they don’t tell you everything. Sure they paint a beautiful portrait of a sport but they don’t tell you what it’s like to set foot in a ball park. They don’t prepare you for the thousands of screaming diehard fans. They don’t prepare you for how different your day changes from the moment you walk into the park to the moment you walk out. I had been to AT&T park before. I’ve probably even slurred my way down the stairs and to the parking lot. To walk the front gates of the beautiful ball park on an off season and roam the halls where people of all walks of life have walked is truly magical. I wanted to feel the feeling all over again. The feeling of security and warmth of life that you can only get from a ball park. I wanted that feeling for myself from my own favorite team. More importantly I wanted that feeling sober.
You realize your life is about to change when things in your life happen in three’s. A little bit after that tour I ended a 25 year friendship, my job of over 3 years let me go, and on top of that I realized that my countless years of food problems made me develop an eating disorder. I needed something to get me out of this mess. Something to distract me from the bullshit of my life. With a pact I made with a new friend and endless amounts of free time, started my love of baseball.
Of course people ask me why Oakland? What is it about Oakland that does is it for you? Of course I could tell you it’s my deep alliance to all things Oakland. That it’s this huge nostalgic value for me, because it’s where my Dad worked and loved. I’d be lying. Truth is it was more deep rooted then that. They say you when you fall in love all you can ever see is the person you’re in love with. The whole world stops around you and the only thing that exists is you and this other being. When you walk back into life after a lifetime of being clouded with self doubt and misery you miss everything that’s surrounding you. The moment I walked back into the Coliseum, I felt the Coliseum. Something I never felt after countless drunken tailgates, after countless times I dragged my feet behind me to my seat. For the first time I walked in sober and into the heartbeat of that stadium. It was in that moment that I walked through Gate D that any self doubt I felt I left in the parking lot. The moment I took those steps into the Coliseum and started to see the hustle of people, it finally made sense. In that moment of walking up to the WELCOME sign, I knew for the first time I was home.
It wasn’t just about the Coliseum that did it for me. It was the people. The atmosphere. Of course it was the team itself. A team of mismatched broken parts that somehow defied the odds against them. They weren’t a perfect team. They didn’t have any big name players that the Yankees or Red Sox have. They didn’t even have the payroll to pay for the big named players. They didn’t have anything except a undying love of the game and the mantra of proving people wrong. It didn’t matter how many games they won, they would constantly be bashed for the countless games they’ve lost. They were their own worst critics but the unconditional love of the game and countless support of their fans always reign supreme. That’s what made me fall in love with this team. They were an absolutely mental team that cared more about playing the game by their standards as a team then anything else.
I could relate to that. A team that felt broken and just a complete joke to people. I could full heartedly relate to that. Mainly because people have shut the door in my face countless times. Because people have treated me as the misfit on numerous occasions. Because everyone cast me aside on numerous occasions. Time after time I have gotten myself out of dark situations to prove countless people wrong. It didn’t matter. No matter how many accomplishments I have its never good enough. I am never good enough. Finally it all made sense under the dark confides of concrete and the rush of a thousand chants. None of that mattered being in the ballpark. Every game just like every day was a chance to turn your fate around. With every loss comes a win, and with every win comes a few victories. Some more triumphant than others. That’s what made me fall in love with something bigger than I could ever imagine. With every game I went to nothing matched the love I felt going into the Coliseum. For every game I went to a piece of myself slowly came back together. It was bigger than hearing my favorite song sung by my favorite band. It was bigger than seeing my favorite film. It was seeing my life finally come together and banding together with other great people.
These past seasons have been nothing but a learning experience. I can’t help but soak it all in. The people, the places, and even all the things that happen. To the countless people I have dragged with me to the games that in turn learned to love my team just as I love them. I only want to show everyone what its like to feel exactly how I felt on my return to the Coliseum. That heartbeat, that passion and even that love that you only get from people that truly understand what you’re feeling. If I could show everyone what love is, it’s going out to the ball park and rooting for your favorite team. It’s bullshitting with the people in the crowds and knowing exactly how they are feeling. It’s leaving everything your feeling out of the gates of the stadium and walking out a different person.
Baseball brought back a passion I thought I had forgotten. It brought back so many elements of hope that I didn’t think were possible. It finally gave me something to root for. Something to put my mind back at ease and something to love again. Something I never would have thought possible if I didn’t take that chance to rekindle a friendship with an old friend. Something I never thought possible if I didn’t take a chance on making new friends. It was through this twist of fate that made realize that at the end of the day there really are good people in this world. People you would have never imagined who could have impacted your life in so many ways.
People are always going to judge you no matter what you do. It doesn’t matter how many accomplishments you make, your past will always haunt you. As with most things in life you have to learn to roll with the punches. Realize that at the end of every day there’s a day to turn it all around. Just as a season comes to an end there’s always the hope for the upcoming season to change it all around.
People are always going to call me crazy for loving this team. For going into the broken mass of concrete that is the Coliseum. Maybe I am crazy. But you know what? So are all the fans that go into the Coliseum hoping for a miracle. We are as mental as the misfit team of broken parts that still believe there is magic in Oakland. I could give a rats ass about what anyone has to say about that. This is my home, this is my team, and more importantly, I will never stop rooting for you Oakland.
LET’S GO OAKLAND