I think it's safe to assume everyone who reads this blog — at least all the people I know — has grown rather comfortable over the years watching sports with one of their own kind in the room. By own kind I'm talking red blooded males. Sports is just something boys and men alike have learned to connect through. It's just natural to watch alongside each other.
And along the way, a female (and maybe even two or three) have joined the sports viewing fray from time to time. But last night marked a significant moment in my 22-year-old life. The 2008 Home Run Derby will go down as the first sporting I've watched with a room full of girls and no other male along side.
See, all my friends in the city had somehow gotten their hands on tickets to the festivities at Yankee Stadium. I had covered the event's build-up, but was SOL in obtaining a press credential for any of the goings ons. Through complicated circumstances, I ended up watching Josh Hamilton's coronation as heroin addict-turned-national phenomenon with a whole troupe of girls. These are the chronicles of how watching sporting events with women can be the most annoyingly entertaining past time a male can partake in:
8 p.m.: Well, the first fifteen minutes of the Derby were spent with Jess and Becca's dad as they reminisced about old time Yankee and Phillies players (obviously they are from New York and Philly). This wasn't so bad, since they were atleast talking sports.
8:05 p.m.: I announce my winning prediction of Lance Berkman.
8:10 p.m.: Reggie Jackson, Mr. October, comes to throw out the first pitch. Oh and look, the ultimate conceited prick (ask anyone who covered or worked for the Yankees back when he played) is, shocker here, being a conceited prick and re-creating his home run swing from the pitcher's mound while bowing to the crowd. Reggie, hate to break it to ya buddy, you're old, graying, balding, and washed up. Oh, and you're a conceited prick who played for the Yankees. See, there are showmen in decaying states that make you sad and sorry after years of entertaining the masses (Muhammed Ali for instance). Reggie's the other kind of showman, who no one will feel pity for when he's hobbling on a cane in ten years. (Too mean?)
8:15 p.m.: Jess sits down to enjoy the Home Run festivities. Dan Uggla is up to bat and all I can think about is my fantasy baseball team. See, I just made a pretty risky trade in my league. I gave up Jose Reyes, Dan Haren, and Mark Buerhle in return for Uggla, Manny Ramirez, and Mike Mussina. I don't think I've ever rooted against someone in the Derby since it isn't actually a real game, but if Uggla hurts his ankle I will throw something through this new 40" HDTV I'm watching.
8:25 p.m.: Jackpot, Uggla didn't get hurt. And the parents left.
8:30 p.m.: Grady Sizemore is up and the only thought that comes to my mind is where did my Sizemore jersey shirt that I bought discounted in Cleveland a couple years back go? That thing was awesome, but it got lost along the way. Maybe in 20 years I'll see it in on a poor Somalian boy in one of those Christian charity commercials where we're all supposed to save the African children.
8:36 p.m.: Oh good God ... it's a commercial break and four girls — all of which are no doubt not interested in this — just walked in to join us.
8:40 p.m.: The first sign this viewing experience is going to the shitter happens almost instantaneously: The girls aren't really paying attention to the home run hitters. For them, the real competition is which player has the cutest little boy handing them gatorade between swings. The initial vote appears to be for the boy in the Hanley Ramirez jersey, presumably his son.
8:45 p.m.: I'm still bitter that Greg had an unfair advantage picking up Evan Longoria. And of course, we've already had the obligatory "Hahaha Longoria like Desperate Housewives" comment from the girls.
Also, they begin talking about sexual harassment in the workplace. Apparently one of the girls was wearing something revealing and her boss called her out about it at a board meeting. How embarrassing? It got me thinking about a good joke: Women's rights. But seriously, I had nothing to add on this issue. It was one of those situations that had I'd said anything, it probably would have been discounted or I would have been called insensitive right away. And they wonder why men in large groups almost always make sexually harassing comments. We don't get to do it anywhere else.
8:50 p.m.: I'm having trouble hearing the announcing on ESPN because the ladies are talking, but I'm going to take a wild stab and say Berman is being a moron and Joe Morgan is talking about how this generation's players suck compared to the other generation.
Oh and apparently, according to the girls, it feels like you're in a dorm when you live in the same area as a lot of other people in the city. My only problem with this theory is that New York City happens to be a rather large town and yet, most of these girls decided (not randomly) to congregate in the same area. So didn't you want it to feel like a dorm?
8:56: Oh terrific, Reggie has joined the ESPN broadcast. He and JoeMo are talking about, another shocker here, how good the players of the past were. Oh and Reggie just announced that he wouldn't have been like the collection of spoiled players today that decided not to partake in the Derby this year and would have participated every year if they had it while he was playing. Not to beat a dead horse here with Reggie, but isn't this the same guy that almost got in a fight with his manager in the dugout and then decided not to try for half the year until he was put in the cleanup spot?
Mind you, this is all going through my head as four girls yammer away about coffee table and TV stands from Bed Bath and Beyond.
9:05: Chase Utley just got booed by the crowd. Lovely. Oh shit, girl terminology is even floating into my insults of Philly athletes. Notice the gap in time here, as well. The conversations about dresses and who hooked up with who have completely obliterated my focus from the Derby.
*Postgame I found out Chase told the fans to go f-bomb themselves after the booing. That tells you a lot about Philly athletes.
9:23: My first text message of the night goes to Graham and it reads "Watchin the hr derby with four thetas...shoot me."
9:30: Josh Hamilton is up, and the girls want to watch Weeds. As they hit the guide button on the remote Hamilton's first moon shot goes 505 feet. I didn't really see it because the screen was tinified (I just made that word up) and in the right corner of the tv.
9:32: The girls want to watch the previous episode of Weeds before the new one at 10 pm. Hamilton just hit another bomb. And another. And another. Holy shit, dilemma time for the ladies.
9:37: For some reason it's taking the ladies some time to decide what to do with the Weeds conundrum, so I finally step in and say something for one of the first times tonight. I point out to Jess, the one semi-functional sports fan of the bunch, that Josh Hamilton is destroying the leather out of the ball. Somehow, someway, the Gods answer my prayers and we're staying on the Derby.
9:40: Alright, this is just getting absurd. I don't think I've ever seen anyone this locked in for the Derby. He's doing it with such ease, too. Everyone has been praising the current Rays personnel staff, but if they hadn't given up on Hamilton, he'd be in a Tampa jersey this season. At least it's partial redemption for Greg getting Longoria in fantasy.
9:50: I'm going to take you through the progression of how Josh Hamilton became unreal in the baseball universe. First he captured the attention of diehard sports fans with his first couple of homers. Anyone who watches baseball regularly knows how tough it is to get the ball to the bleachers at Yankee Stadium. Hamilton was hitting them to the back of those bleachers. Then, he captured the attention of the casual fan when announcers started mixing in comments about his inspirational story. The rise to No. 1 draft pick, subsequent heroin addiction, followed by a reclaim to fame. This is what I like to call Chris Berman excitement, because he likes just about everyone.
Then, he captures the attention of girls. I saw this first hand as over the seemingly endless amount of time Hamilton was homering with eight outs the ladies in the room with me actually started watching something other than the little boys in oversized jerseys. Speaking of which, why isn't this considered being a pediphile. Would R. Kelly have gotten away with such talk if little girls were carrying the Gatorade. The girls were also impressed when I told them they are definitely going to make a movie out of his life, especially now that Rick Ankiel is apparently roided up.
The next step in baseball's unreality is getting your name chanted by the Yankee fans. Getting adopted by an opposing fan base is pretty unique. And here's the sad thing about Joe Morgan. He's such an old timer with no conception of just how good the modern player is that girls and opposing fans realize how great a performance is before he does. I lost count of which home run it was, something like the 23rd or 24th when Hamilton mishit a ball that Berman thought was going to die on the warning track in right center field. But Morgan accurately called it gone, and from there you knew he realized something special was happening.
And the last step in baseball immortality, well it happened after Hamilton hit his last home run in that first round. I'll just show the text message I sent Graham: i think erin andrews wants to give josh hamilton dome. I'm assuming I wasn't the only one to notice this blog's favorite sideline reporter out of breath when she interviewed him after the game. I don't think EA gets winded for anyone ... only a true icon.
9:55: Three of the girls leave the room after the Hamilton heroics. We decide to watch the new episode of Weeds.
10:30: We're back on the Derby after a relatively entertaining episode of Weeds, and it's already the finals. I had a strange feeling Hamilton might not make the finals because he tired himself out, but apparently they've got a new rule that takes the total into account. A smart move on MLB's part.
10:35: I'm not sure who to root for. I've got Morneau on my fantasy team, and he's been rock solid for me all season. But who can root against Hamilton after that first round. Btw, a new girl walked into the room, but she's a Yankee fan and actually knows some baseball. But because she hasn't been watching I've had to explain the true awesomeness of what Hamilton has done.
10:50: Hamilton goes into the obligatory "Thank you God" routine which really annoys some people, including the girls in the room. I'm not a religious man, but I feel the need to stick up for my new favorite, Hamilton. See, the whole Christian religion is about spreading the gospel of their man (or woman), Jesus Christ. And what better way to spread that message to the masses than in front of a stadium full of people on national television after you've captivated the sporting world. If he truly believes in Christianity, the only thing he can do is the Thank God routine.
11:00: Well it's over. My deadly experiment with woman is complete. But what a bummer. Hamilton didn't win and we didn't get our happy ending. I feel bad for my man, Morneau, because Erin just passed over him in the interview circle for her new crush Hamilton. This teaches American kids a valuable lesson ... get hooked on heroin, recover, and then lose the Home Run Derby and you might be the one to woo Erin Andrews.
Oh yeah, and remind me to never watch sports with just a room full of girls ever again.