It’s a cloudy autumn Sunday, and ace reporter Mitch Ransdell has three tickets to this afternoon’s game between the last-place Detroit Tigers and the White Sox. No one wants to attend the game with him.
To quote Ransdell’s wife: “I’d rather die.”
In fact, Ransdell offers the spare tickets to several people on the street, one of whom spits at the reporter at the very suggestion of going down to the old ballpark. Nevertheless, the intrepid journalist is determined to witness the game, which will undoubtedly be a trademark White Sox winner.
These are his dispatches.
11:57 a.m. I’ve arrived in Lot F. A tumbleweed dances over the pavement. Where is everybody? I enjoy my tailgate, which consists of a warm bottle of Diet Dr. Pepper and a stick of gum that I found in my glove box. I also find a single stale Cheeto. I tuck that in my pocket for later.
1:04 p.m. I walk to over to the stadium, past a dad with several screaming children. I can sympathize. America’s favorite pastime has a way of bringing out everyone’s emotions. I, for instance, always cry at Sox games.
1:14 p.m. I settle into my excellent seat (Section 506, Row 21, Seat 1) just as Dylan Cease strikes out the first batter of the game. This must be the magic that I’ve heard whispered about. I have no doubt that the White Sox offense will be able move in tandem with Cease and lock down this win.
2:01 p.m. A frigid wind gusts in from the lake and I begin to shiver. A seagull lands next to me, amid a sea of empty seats. At last I have a friend. I’m having so much fun!
2:46 p.m. The seagull eats the Cheeto I had saved in my pocket. I wave for the Modelo beer man, several dozen rows below me, but he gives me the finger and waddles away.
3:18 p.m. Yoán Moncada launches a solo home run to left field. I think these guys are starting to get in the groove! Here come the White Sox!
3:47 p.m. It’s still 1-0. Dylan Cease’s mustache leaves the game after the sixth inning. Reynaldo López strides out of the bullpen. It begins to rain. This day just can’t get any better!
3:59 p.m. The Detroit Tigers have scored two runs to take the lead, and I am beginning to grow thirsty. I decide to venture down into the concourse in search of sustenance. None of the vendors are open, but I see a half-open access door in between the shuttered Baines Burger stand and the deserted La Russa’s Liquor Lounge. I tiptoe through the door.
4:02 p.m. It seems that I’ve unknowingly gained entry into the broadcast area. A handsome Asian-American gentleman sits at a table and looks up at me, startled. “Can I help you?” he asks me. I recognize the dulcet tones of announcer Gene Honda. I explain to him that I’m a reporter and tell him about the Cheeto, the seagull, and the Modelo man. I ask Gene if he can help quench my thirst. He looks at me strangely and backs away. “Gene, please,” I say, “Give me sustenance.”
4:13 p.m. Running full-tilt through the concourse, pursued by several red-shirted security guards, I hop over a low railing and drop to the bleachers below. I glance up at the scoreboard and see that the Tigers have scored two more runs and now lead the Sox, 4-1. This is not good.
4:15 p.m. I hide behind the Minnie Miñoso statue near the left-field bleachers. The security guards run right past me. Fools!
4:21 p.m. The game has ended, and so have the White Sox playoff hopes. I slink out through the gate and wait by the Players’ Lot, hoping to snag an impromptu interview.
5:11 p.m. José Abreu walks out to his car. I believe he is crying softly, though it might just be the rain.
5:19 p.m. I miss my wife, so I decide to call it quits for the day. Dry clothes and a warm shower await me. I feel dirty and used, like Jerry Reinsdorf’s Kleenex.
I decide to cancel my planned road trip to Minnesota and then San Diego to watch the next road series. I don’t think I can take the heartache anymore.