Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Back to reality

KODAK, Tenn., April 11 -- All good things, the cliche says, must come to an end.

Thus it was at Smokies Park last night. My annual spring baseball extravaganza (three games in three days!) ended with a yawn, a 3-1 loss here on opening night in front of just a few thousand fans. The announced crowd was 3,051. Actual butts in seats was something closer to 2,500.

Speaking of seats, we had great ones, Row 2 in Section 110, literally right behind home plate. Don't know why everybody stayed away tonight. It could have been the school night timing of the opener. But the weather was beautiful -- 70 degrees when the first pitch left Smokies starter Adam Bass' hands at 7:32 p.m.

The game was what baseball people call "a good ol' good one." The score was close the whole way, with the Smokies poised to take the lead on several occasions. But when you strand seven men in scoring position, it's going to come back to haunt you. And the Smokies lived dangerously all night.

One of the great, heartbreaking moments of the game happened in the eighth. With the bases loaded and one out, Smokies left fielder Alex Frazier struck out. Then first baseman Jesus Cota grounded harmlessly to second.

Just like that, it all went up in smoke.

By 10:18, the game was over and reality was setting back in. Time to go home. Gotta go to work tomorrow. Get back to real life.

It's just as well. I'm beginning to like this lifestyle too much. Don't want to wake up and be 40, fat, and alone, with nothing but baseball and ballpark food to keep me warm.

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