Sunday, September 30, 2007

Racing, scoring and watching the Mets on a special day

Pedro: I'm worried about this season, John. Some of the other guys in the pen kind of suck.

OK, Sunday wasn’t a good day.

But Saturday, that was something special.

It started early, getting my son on the school bus for his water polo tournament at 6 a.m. But then I got ready for my one race of the year – the Komen Race for a Cure.

I’ve been doing this 5K for six years. I’m not what you call fast runner any more, but then, neither are the vast majority of the people in this race, a fund-raiser for breast cancer research.

The first year I ran, I told people in the office that I’d paste NASCAR-style on my race shirt the name of anybody who sponsored me. Several co-workers approached with money, and most had a story of someone they knew who was affected.

Then one of the guys came by, put some money down and said, “I’m a fan.” Of what, races? “No, breasts.”

Joking aside – and there are indeed some light moments and messages in the race -- it’s very emotional. Survivors wear special pink shirts and other people pinning to their shirts the names of friends and relatives who either were lost to the disease or are were fighting it .

There are others running in groups, sometimes holding signs with photos of relatives. I get choked up reading them.

This year, I was humming along pretty well, with Relient K on the iPod helping to keep the pace. My shin splints started barking around the 2-mile mark and I tried some fast walking for a while. But it seemed like they hurt more walking than running, so I picked it up a little.

Typically there are a lot of people waiting near the finish line, and I started hearing cheers and applause as I got near the end.

This was pretty cool. I was feeling pretty good about myself. And I could see that my time was about 6 minutes better than what I usually do on the treadmill for 3 miles, and this actually 3.15 miles.

Then I looked over my shoulder and saw a woman in a pink shirt – a survivor – finishing just behind me. Naturally, they were cheering for her. Very humbling, in multiple ways.

Panera Bread had special cranberry and vanilla bagels waiting just past the finish line. The results were online on Sunday. Apparently I finished 928th out about 5,000. More importantly I raised $28 to help find a cure.

So after some post-race snack and crusing the vendor tents, I headed out to the high school to catch up with my son for his water polo tournament.

My boy is a sophomore on the junior varsity team. He doesn’t get a ton of playing time, but he really loves being part of the team. And the other players are very supportive.

But one thing has been hanging over his head – he’s never scored a goal in a game that counts. This year he’s been able to increase his assists, but goals have remained elusive. His shots are better, and he’s had a couple hard ones clang off the goalposts. But still, none have slipped into the net.

The second game on Saturday was against a team that included a bunch of juniors, and they were pretty rough. Water polo, I have learned, is very physical. I’ve learned a lot of things, actually. We’ve had a butt crack scandal, but you don’t want to know the details.

Water polo action from last season.

I’m also pretty quiet in the stands. I don’t know much about the sport, and the coach does, seeing that the varsity team has won the last four state championships. So the last thing he needs is some guy in the stands shouting things to the players. And yes, I’ve seen plenty of that from parents from other schools. Makes me cringe.

So late in the game my son was in there, and again, took a shot without scoring. I remember saying to the dad next to me, “My boy is going to feel so much better when he finally gets one in.”

And a minute later, Andrew was on the left side of the goal, accepted a pass – and promptly pumped it right in the corner of the net beyond the reach of the goalie.

I remember jumping to my feet and pumping both arms in the air with a “YES, YES!!” My son made eye contact with me as he swam back toward the other end. He was beaming, my eyes were welling up.

The other parents turned and smiled. They, too, knew it was his first one. And Andrew continued beaming through the remaining minute of the game and through the post-match handshakes with the other team.

We had about a four-hour wait before the next game, and this particular school has a huge flat-screen television mounted to the wall of the pool lobby. ESPN was playing, but being a fall Saturday, college football was getting all the airtime. I did catch that the Mets were up 2-0.

We ran some errands and came back a couple hours later. This school also has wi-fi, so I fired up the laptop and caught up with the game on I did this with some fear, because, well, you know what the week had been like. It could easily have been 6-2 in favor of the Fish.

Then I saw the score – and the line score, particularly the 0 where the Marlins’ hits should have been. No. Way.

I slid the laptop across to my son, but first explained the rules about jinxes. “I’m going to show you the score. Do not say anything about it. It’s a rule.”

I spent the rest of the time flipping back and forth between’s Gameday and the Crane Pool Forum.

Being a Mets fan in Michigan can be pretty lonely, and it was fun to be able to cyber-converse with the Crane Poolers throughout the game. It was like watching it surrounded by friends.

And even after the Marlins ended John Maine’s no-hit bid with that cheap-ass grounder, it was still a thrill – especially as we could see that the Phillies were losing and the season was still alive.

Well, at least for one more day.


Bob said...

That's great that your son scored. I know how proud a dad can feel at times like that.

Anonymous said...

I am still in shock!! How Glavine gave up seven in the top of the 1st is beyond me. At first I couldn't even think about it. I certainly didn't think it was because I wasn't wearing my lucky (green) Mets cap, which I did wear on Saturday. But, now, after hours of pondering their inevitable fall from grace, I'm thinking that was it! I am responsible!! It was me all along!! I know this smacks of grandiosity (something I usually associate with my Dolphins nemesis) but now I am finally aware of my incredible powers. I have only one mission now. To wear my Yankee Haters t-shirt with the green Mets cap and see if I can stop the Evil Empire in their well worn tracks!! Maybe then and only then, will my hopes be lifted and I can utter the unthinkable for this year; "maybe next year Tim, maybe next year... ouch, that hurt"!!
Legal Disclaimer: The above was written by a distraught Mets fan that can not be held accountable for any damaging statements made about Dolphin fans and the entire Yankee organization given the nature of this recent disaster.