Monday, August 5, 2002

Josh the Ripper

I had worked late on Thursday night, so I left early on Friday to head over to the ballgame. I figured I had as good a chance as any to be made into a bobble-headed doll, but as I had to attending the game to have a chance at all, I might as well take the opportunity and go. I asked for section 115, but was told they only print that section for fireworks nights, so she gave me 114 and told me to move over one.

"You’ll be the only one over there," she tells me.

"No I have a friend that sits with me. We were going to buy season tickets there next year."

"They’ll be waiting for you!"

Ragged on Izzo for not being there the past few games, bought a cheeseburger and a draft beer (the beer patio was not open yet) and was just settling down in my seat to eat my cheeseburger when they announced that Josh Rennick would be signing autographs in the concourse for another ten minutes. I carefully folded the foil back over my cheeseburger, and headed up to the concourse again, spilling my beer in the process. I wondered who to ask about where Rennick was signing and then figured guest services would know. As it turns out, he was with Andy "the perpetually injured" Persby at a table right next to guest services.

I try to juggle the cheeseburger, the beer and my program and finally set my beer down on the table.

Andy ogles my beer. "That beer looks really good."

"You can have one after the game, son," I tell him. Even offer to buy him one if he looks me up. I try to find the autograph page, get frustrated with having my hands full, and so just hand the program over. "Isn’t there a generic autograph page in there?" I ask.

"There is," Andy replies, "but we have pictures in here. We can sign our pictures." He proceeds to find his picture and sign it.

"He doesn’t have a picture in there, does he?" I say meaning Rennick. "Those are mostly the old guys."

"I’m an old guy," Josh protests.

"You’re not that old!"

By old guys I mean mainly all the ones from last season who have all now graduated to New Britain. Gabby Torres even has a picture in there, as if we’d be lucky enough to see Gabby in Fort Myers this season.

"So now that Rabe left," I tell Rennick, "you’ve become my favorite player."

"Yes!" he jumps about on his seat and nearly falls off. "I’m finally someone’s favorite player!"

"It helped that I got to see you stalking about in front of the dugout in Jupiter, swinging your bat around like an axe murderer. I really like that in a person."

Josh hoots and laughs. He thinks that is really cool.

I left then to the people behind me could have a chance to get autographs.

I wander about and rag on a few people about becoming bobble heads. "Don’t you think Don would make a good bobble-head?"

"Yeah, I’ve seen him in the bar with his head bobbling already!"

End up talking to Will, one of the locals who’d been up in North Carolina about the team, the impending MLB strike and the state of baseball in general until Aaron finds me.

Jeff Lincoln got off to a shaky start on the mound, finally settled down and started throwing goose eggs. They announced that the Kevin West fan club was in attendance, but I neither saw nor heard them, so I don’t think they were there. I explain to Aaron about wanting to talk to someone who belonged to one of the clubs to find out about them. I further go one to explain about the demise of the Florida Everblades Booster Club and how I wonder if these so called "fan clubs" might be an alternative.

I told him I got Rennick’s autograph. He says "Josh has a fan club."

I laughed. "I’ll have to join that one!"

"It’s the Josh Rennick Thirsty Thursday Fan Club."

I start laughing. That is SO appropriate. "Rutgers has a fan club too!" I think I will have to join that one too. (Rutgers is the Miracle Mascot. He’s a golden retriever.)

We both agree that Josh needs better music when he comes up to bat. He likes rap, and I’m sure there are tougher sounding rap songs then what he has picked out. I suggest maybe Ozzie, but then Rob Bowen comes up to bat and he’s got the Metallica/Ozzie stuff wrapped up.

Bowen knocks in a homer. It would be the only score of the game, which the Miracle would go on to win 1-0.

I think maybe a bit from "Out Comes the Evil" by Lords of Acid, but now how to convince Rennick of this…

Somewhere in there Aaron suggests that Rennick needs a nickname. We had Mad-dog for Josh Rabe. "Too bad his name is not Jason, that would have been perfect," Aaron points out. We bat around some serial killers, really and fictional when I finally hit upon Ripper. Instead of Jack the Ripper, he can be Josh the Ripper. Aaron likes that too.

Josh comes out to bat. "Hey Ripper!" I scream. "Rip one out of the park, Rennick!"

"How do you supposed we’re going to tell Josh about his new nickname?" I ask Aaron.

"I think you just told him," he points out. (By the end of Saturday’s double header in Charlotte, everyone was calling him Rip or Ripper, so I guess it’s a good nickname.)

Jeff Lincoln starts to struggle again, so they pull him. Rennick is up playing around on the mound while they are waiting for the relief pitcher to come in. "Hey Rennick! You gonna pitch now?" Aaron joins in on that one too and we heckle him unmercifully. The kid sitting a few rows in front of me turns around and says "Hey, are you his Mom?" Aaron nearly falls out of his seat laughing. Well, I did call Andy "son" earlier. They’re all about old enough to belong to me!

Having no idea how they were going to choose the bobble-head winner, I was pleasantly surprised when they brought out all the ticket stubs they’d collected at the gate in a big fishbowl, took them out on top of the dugout and pulled at random. A gentleman above us in section 216 turned out to be the winner.

So, okay, I didn’t win. I’m not going to bobble my head, except maybe in a bar. But it turned out to be a fun night anyway!

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