December 4, 2018

How A Game Can Change Your Life

“I’ve got a surprise for you…it’s two stages and now that the ball is rolling it can’t be stopped.”

Those who know me know two things; I like structure and I hate surprises. My wife knows this and has learned to deal with it. So when she came out and said that, I got scared. I’ll never forget September 3rd, 2018. It was our 4th anniversary. Normally, I was the one who made a big hoopla over the day and my wife treated it like any other day. After 3 years of going big, I took this year off…the one year she goes out and does something. First, I felt like an idiot. Second, I felt major anxiety. I had questions… I had a million of them. She said she would answer one and that was it, so I had to choose carefully.

So, let’s backtrack just a bit. The Blue Jays have been the one major constant in my life since I was about 8 years old. I knew no matter where in the world I was living, there was a constant every April until September and that was that the Blue Jays would be there for 162 games… and if I was lucky there would be more. It was a major bonding point for my father and I as he taught me how to play the game and coached me throughout high school.

The first Christmas that I had with girlfriend (now wife), she bought a flex pack of tickets for the 2013 season. I was like a kid in a candy store. That was the year of the Dickey, Reyes, Johnson, and Buehrle trades. We all know how that season worked out; major disappointment. However, I got to teach my wife about the game I loved even though she had no clue about the game. She was a quick student and got to learn more about the game and became a fan of Munenori Kawasaki. Even though I tried to point her in the right direction, she was a sucker for the underdog like most in this city.  We had some great times at games over the years even though 90% of the games were either losses or games that Dickey started. I knew from the moment we started going to games that this was the girl I wanted to spend the rest of my life with.

Back to September 3rd. The only question I could come up with was, “Do I have to wear anything special for the occasion?” It took me about 5 minutes to think of that. The moment she said “Well…you could….” as soon as she hesitated, I knew that it had something to do with sports and when I followed up with, “the Jays,” the smile on her face said it all. I knew we were going to watch them. Their opponent on that night was the Tampa Bay Rays. Now, I don’t like to harp on the Rays but like RA Dickey, it seemed like almost every game I’d randomly gone to in the last 3 years had been versus the Rays. I tried guessing what the second part of the surprise was but she wouldn’t let up. She gave me one hint, “Who is your favourite player?” That year, I couldn’t tell you. All of the main guys were hurt and the guys that were healthy weren’t playing well. All I could come up with was Devon Travis. We met him a couple of years ago at the Tampa Airport and he was gracious with his time and talked to me for a couple of minutes and just seemed like an all-around good guy, which is why I cheer for him. If you’re a good person, I want to see you do well no matter what you do.

The rest of the afternoon was anxiety filled.  Tried to get my wife to budge but couldn’t get a single answer from her. She had a sly smile and knew full well that she was in control and had all the power. A funny thing happened… the closer we got to game time, my wife got more and more anxious. When we got close to the stadium she said, “You’re going to need a beer with dinner and a beer when we get inside the stadium.” Now I started to worry. What did she have planned? Was I going on the Jumbotron? Was I going to have to do something stupid? I had no clue but I was going to turn down having a beer or two before the first pitch.

Figuring out the Plan

She picked out great seats. 4 rows up right behind first base. I was thrilled. We always opt for the cheaper seats because… well, I’m cheap. So when she decided to splurge on our anniversary, who was I to argue. At around the 3rd inning; I caught on. I noticed that in between innings she was always glancing up on the Jumbotron to see if something was happening. I turned to her and said, “Please tell me you didn’t announce our anniversary on the screen. You know how lame I think it is when couples do that.” The answer I got back, “The ball is already in motion and there is nothing I can do to stop it.”

I was not impressed. It drives me nuts when people have to share their anniversaries with 18,000 strangers. Now I was going to be one of those people. Yuck.

Ummm Pardon?

It didn’t happen until the middle of the 5th, or so I think. I’ll be honest… it was a bit of a blur. The sign turned blue and it said “Birthdays and Anniversaries.” I knew it was only a matter of time. My wife was fumbling through for her phone to get my reaction for eternity and then the sign came up: “Happy 4th Anniversary Mike….” I paused as it was multiple lines and I couldn’t take it all in at once. The second half of it read, “…Surprise, I’m Pregnant!” I think I blacked out for a second.

I had to look at her for confirmation that I was the Mike on the board and that she was indeed pregnant. She nodded and started to have her eyes well up with tears as we’d be trying for a couple of minutes and then I don’t know what happened but I shot up out of my seat and screamed a couple of times so everyone around us could hear, “She’s pregnant, I’m going to be a dad for a second time!!” I got a lot of high fives, I even had a beer bought for me. Thank you to the guy who bought me a beer and pointed out that the only way to get a foul ball at games was to have a cute kid and for also joking that my wife was not allowed to have one. The game plan is to have a second cute kid for double the chances at a game ball.

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