Last (Jewish) year, the Lugs were up 1-0! A memoir
From 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, I called the Lugnuts' 5-4 win over the West Michigan Whitecaps. It was on the road, it was a slim win, and it put the Lugs within one victory of advancing to the Midwest League Championship Series. It improved Lansing's record to 3-0 in the postseason. It was pretty awesome.
At 10:30 a.m. on Sunday, I drove in to Cooley Law School Stadium to get a head-start on the day's media needs: statpacks were compiled, credentials were created, game notes were updated, and rosters were copied for the benefit of fans and coaches alike. 3 p.m. marked the arrival of Chris Vosters, the Voice of the Great Lakes Loons. I showed him how to work the equipment and gave him a brief orientation. At 5 p.m., I left the ballpark, two hours before the scheduled Lugnuts/Whitecaps first pitch for Game 2.
Sunday night was the start of Rosh HaShanah, the two-day observation of the Jewish New Year. There's no working on the New Year -- although there is a lot of eating. (The dinner I was invited to on Sunday night in West Bloomfield featured these courses: gefilte fish, matzoh ball soup, salad, kugel, pickles and roast beef, fruit, cookies and cherry cobbler. I may be forgetting four or five dishes.)
Before sundown, I received a pair of text messages from the ballpark -- metaphorical fires that needed to be put out. West Michigan's excellent team photographer, Emily Jones, needed a place to set up, allayed by a referral to the Lugnuts' head groundskeeper. West Michigan's excellent broadcaster, Dan Hasty, needed a working phone line. Of all days in the entire season, suddenly the visiting phone line had gone dead! I hurriedly messaged a Plan B shortly before dinner began.
Departing the dinner at about 9:30 p.m., I might have turned the broadcast on while driving back to Lansing... and in the interests of fairness, I might have switched back and forth between Chris's call and Dan's call. But the true might on this night belonged to West Michigan's wonderfully-named Joey Pankake, who went 4-for-5 with a double and a two-run homer in an 8-3 Lugnuts Game 2 loss.
A decisive Game 3 would be necessary to decide the Eastern Division champion.
I did not listen at all to Game 3. I attended synagogue services in the morning and napped through the afternoon, taking a break to read this story and this story. The evening was spent over a lovely spaghetti and meatballs dinner -- some people prefer Chinese food, but my vote for Jewish holiday cuisine nearly always tilts toward Italian. And that was that, with all talk of baseball absent and unnoticed.
That might not be entirely true.
As I was dutifully about to prepare this dinner, my family called me up from back home in Maryland to share with my oblivious ears, "The Lugnuts are up, 1-0!" And when my significant other made her arrival, ready to share the dinner with me, she came bearing the news, "Someone is leading, 3-2, but I don't know who." And then later my family called up again to say, with doom in their voices, "They're down 6-4!"
About an hour afterward, my baseball season was over.
(I subsequently learned that final score was 14-5, and that the Whitecaps had collected 22 hits. What happened?!)
The Lansing Lugnuts are all heading home now, except for the ones who have instructional league ball in their future, or the Arizona Fall League -- I'm looking at you, Justin Shafer. The next steps for all of them are also the next steps for me. Decompress. Sleep. Reconnect with family. Eat favorite foods. Sleep. Watch a little football. Hang out with people you haven't spoken to since last winter. Get away from baseball for a little bit.
And then dive right back into baseball, because it's pennant-chase time and the national pastime is awesome.