"I'm taking John, Jacob and Jacob, Jr. to Opening Day on Friday. I have to teach them how to appreciate the game of baseball. The men in dimly lit halls think we need to relearn how to appreciate the game."
"Where did you get the money for that!? Did you tell your boss you are taking off? What about school? Jacob missed enough high school this year with Jacob Jr. in the hospital?"
"I've been saving since last October and I always have the Discover card if need be, I think there's a few hundred dollars on there. The boss wasn't happy about it but I haven't had a day off in four years, so I think he'll understand and I called the principal and told her my uncle died."
"You're so fucking stupid, you should be working not spending money and you better not use the Discover card…I have a hair appointment with Jill next Tuesday and we're going out for drinks after."
"We'll take some more out of my 401k, I really think the kids need to appreciate the game, it'll be good for them."
In reality, Carl had been saving for years to have surgery for a health issue he had been hiding from his family but on his most recent visit to the doctor he was told that he only had four months to live and that it had spread. He just wanted a day in the sun with his boys.
That Friday morning Carl went to fill up the tank on his Chevy Corsica and discovered that the price of gas had risen two dollars overnight on reports that a janitor might have heard a congressman in the hall of the capital building say, "Iran." He used his Discover card to fill up the tank and it cost him about $120 so he still had maybe a hundred dollars left on there for hotdogs and pops for his two sons and his grandson.
After forcing the kids out of bed and pouring them Fruity Pebbles, they finally got on the road at about 10am. They lived in a far suburb of Chicago so it would probably only take them about 2 ½ hours to get within sight of the park.
After blowing though the toll they immediately hit traffic and weren't able to move for 15 minutes. Thank god for the good citizens of Illinois that there was a trooper watching the toll booth with binoculars. So after 20 minutes with the state trooper's cherry's on full tilt two cars behind him, traffic finally began flowing because the old piece of shit two miles down the road had, at last, awakened from his nap. Carl quickly realized those sirens were meant for him and pulled over.
With gun drawn, the 21 year old fascist trooper approached Carl's Corsica and yelled, "Put your hands on the wheel where I can see them. Do you have any weapons or drugs in the car!?"
"No, I'm taking my kids to the ballgame, its opening day."
"It's not opening day! The Cubs opened last week! Why are you lying to me? You kids okay?"
"NO! He's forcing us to go," chided John.
"Officer, we aren't going to Wrigley…we're going to the Cell."
"Ohhhhh! A White Sox fan, I didn't even know they still played baseball. I should take you to the real cell for being a White Sox fan. License and registration and don't try anything funny."
After a half hour of waiting the cop came back to the car with a stack of citations and told him he needed to appear in court next Tuesday at 11am. Poor Carl, he was going to have to miss his first shift. Maybe he could trade for the third shift but who was going to watch the kids when Cheryl went out for drinks with her high school boyfriend at the local sports pub.
Traffic was flowing smoothly and it looked as if Carl was going to get to the game in time for the beginning of the second inning. He glanced in the rearview mirror, did a double take and really really did not like what he saw.
"Where the fuck did you get that Tigers hat, Jacob?"
"I've had it for over a year but of course you didn't notice, you never notice anything. I am a Tigers fan now."
"When did this happen!? Your grandfather would be grief-stricken if he could remember his name."
"I've always liked the Tigers but you were too fucking thick to notice. Don't you remember Mom bought me that Fick jersey when I was in second grade?"
"Widdles, Widdles, Widdles! Yo Dabba Gabba! Yo Dabba Gabba! Dubble-buppies! Dubble-buppies!" exclaimed Jacob Jr. barely two years old.
Carl popped his meds and washed them down with a XL carb-free Monster half filled with Skoal vodka.
As they approached the ticket gate, fireworks were bursting overhead. Apparently Konerko had gone yard with De Aza on second in the bottom of the first.
"I'll have four tickets for the upper tank please."
"We're sold out. Goldman Sachs bought the whole upper tank for today's game, its Goldman Sachs Appreciation Day."
"Sold out? Fuck!"
It became clear that Carl was going to have to scalp some tickets, he hoped he had enough money to even begin to negotiate. He reached for his wallet, noticed it was missing and almost had a brief heart attack until he spied John purchasing, with Carl's wallet in his hand, the whole tray of cotton candy a vendor was carrying around. John walked over to Carl with a huge smile on his face, "Thanks Dad! This is going to be a great day!"
"How much was all that cotton candy?"
"It was only $150! What a steal." and Carl actually did have a minor heart attack. He woke up to Jacob slapping him in the face saying, "Wake up you old piece of shit."
"$150 dollars! I only had $300! I was going to scalp tickets…" Carl sat down next to the World Series statue and began a deep and emotional wail of woe as more fireworks exploded in the sky Viciedo had gone yard with Rios and Ramirez on base. It must be 5-0. At least the Sox were winning.
"Dad?" asked Jacob in a momentary show of compassion.
"I've got some money lets go scalp some tickets. There's a guy over there," as Jacob pulled a wad of cash out of his pockets.
"Where did you get all that dough?! There must be five grand there!"
"You never notice do you Dad? I've been selling dope at high school for five years now! You never notice me, you probably don't even love me."
Jacob spent his whole wad of cash on four scout seats. Carl had never sat in the scout seats so he was excited for once this decade. Jacob explained he had plenty more cash at home, that five grand was chump change for a player like him as he kicked his flat-brimmed Tigers cap to the left and walked into the park with a gangster lean.
As they stood in a never ending line for hotdogs and pops they noticed on a TV that it was the top of the second and the Tigers were actually up 8-5. Apparently Danks had been scratched from his start due to a case of the nom-noms and Zach Stewart was forced into the starter's role.
"That'll be 72 dollars."
"72 dollars for 4 hot dogs and 4 brown waters!? That is just crazy talk."
"Would you like me to schedule a one-on-one with Reinsdorf, you could take it up with him sir," said the great-nephew of a Bertucci brother.
"Do you take Discover?"
"Najcho Hemuht!" screamed Jacob Jr. over and over again.
"Add a nacho helmet…" said Carl, defeated.
"That'll be $100 then"
Carl shelled the cash out with a heavy heart as a pain shot through every bone in his body due to his medical issue.
"Hey dad there's a souvenir stand. You promised me a Lillibridge jersey!" reminded John.
"I've got fifty bucks left, hopefully that is enough."
"You're such a fucking cheapskate, Dad."
After wiping off peanut shells and dirt from the hot dogs Jacob dropped on the ground while trying to light a joint, Carl and John went to the souvenir stand and discovered Lillibridge jerseys were $250 dollars. It was explained that Lillibridge's two great defensive plays last year in Yankee Stadium justified the price. John ended up with a $50 foam finger because he had to have something because he had his heart set on having something.
They finally got to the scout seats, in the top of the third, just in time for a Prince Fielder homerun off of Nate Jones to make the score 12-5. Jacob was roasting his dad gleefully, "boom.steak.dinner, biotch!" as he flashed vague gang signs. Carl couldn't help but notice that there were approximately 100 men in business suits in the uppertank…all the other seats were vacant.
"Appreciate the game boys, appreciate the game." Carl rambled coherently.
After Verlander set down the Sox in order for the next four innings the Sox managed to get the bases loaded in the 8th against Al Albuquerque. Konerko was sauntering to the plate, taking his sweet ass time. Carl silently prayed to the baseball gods for a grandslam. Carl could consider his life complete if he could just see a grandslam here. Dark clouds had been hovering for an inning or two and they finally started to piss bullets. The plate umpire raised his arms up immediately and the crew ran the tarp out over the infield. After several hours of waiting on the freezing concourse, the game was called on account of rain, Tigers win 17-5. Carl's kids and grandchild were fucking livid at him for making them wait for nothing, they wanted to leave as soon as it started to rain and they didn't have any money to do ANYTHING!
They walked sans umbrella to where they had parked the car in an adjacent school parking lot. Carl noticed a yellow boot over his driver's side wheel. He took off his wedding ring, his Casio digital watch and removed his wallet handing them over to Jacob, Jr. He yelled at the top of his lungs, "Appreciate the GAME!" as he threw himself in front of a fast moving CTA bus.
"Dad just hated the game AND the player, yo!" said Jacob.
Next thing Carl knew he was walking through a corn field and emerged at a clearing where a pristine baseball field stood. A group of guys were busy picking teams.
"Hey Carl, we've been waiting for you. Lets plays some ball, appreciate the game ya know?" said what appeared to be Zeke Bonura.
"Appreciate the product, Zeke. Appreciate the product."