At what point the Reds-Giants seventeen-inning marathon did you realize that this was dumb and you hated yourself?

Probably about the same time both teams made the same discovery: “Both these teams hate you,” someone confirmed on Twitter.

As inning after inning wore on, Twitter became that one table at the bar everyone wanders up to at 2 AM because everyone else is gone and you look lame standing there by yourself with your beer but you cannot bear to leave your beer. It was maybe five fans, two beat writers, and Marty Brennaman.

West Coast games are the test of fire for the adult Reds fan. As Redleg Nation’s Chad Dotson much-liked observation proved, most Reds Fans Of A Certain Age have fond memories of falling asleep to Marty and Joe Nuxhall calling nine innings late into the EDT night.  Adulthood now forces most of us to learn the outcome as soon as we can grope for our phones in the morning, but a few of us put the coffee pot on the automatic timer and force our ways through to the end.

And, my friends, what happens when those West Coast games and their 1 AM-or-so finishes go into extra innings?

That is where the girls and the boys are separated from the women and the men.  That is when nations are formed, relationships are forged and broken, and legends come to pass.  It is The Ten Commandments of baseball and you had better be on the side of the Lord. But in a social media age, at least we don’t suffer alone.

Everyone was struggling:

Marty Brennaman expressed hatred for everyone and everything:

At one point it became a horror film:

As Billy Hamilton began grimacing in something like his 87th at bat and it looked like pitcher Bronson Arroyo would have to go stand amongst the seagulls in the outfield, everything short of Taco Bell started sounding good for the soul:

In the aftermath, all that was left was the bitterness and the recriminations:

Where was I in the middle of all this? I am old and had exhausted myself in the act of driving to the grocery and back and also doing some light typing. I was in bed by the second inning. The Reds were winning then. We were young and free.

Staying up to unholy hours is an art form I have perfected from conception. It was well enough in college, but I now teach college and have an electric bill in my name and probably should act like it every now and then. Adulthood as a self-employed person means I battle late-night tendencies constantly, sitting down to early-evening work with the best of intentions, then sliding down a scale of slow but consistently growing failure:

PHASE ONE: “I will go to bed at 10 PM and arise at 5 AM for early yoga. That way I’ll have the rest of the day to work and won’t need to battle traffic.”

PHASE TWO: “Well, if I make it until midnight I’ll have this chapter done and then that’ll be less I’ll need to do tomorrow.”

PHASE THREE: “I might as well grade the rest of the papers so the other students don’t get mad. There’s a noon Pilates class I can hit.”

PHASE FOUR: “…Why is the sun out?”

This is a lingering form of self-destruction, the end result of which is not intended but disastrously kind of happens anyway, much like every single Congressional bill. To marshal on through a multi-inning West Coast game past the age of 22 is to rise above and beyond the call of fandom, rising to a single purpose you hadn’t planned to fulfill that day.

Myself, I was proud of myself for overseeing the entirety of a recent Reds-Yankees debacle outside, in the cold, amidst wooing and also Yankees fans. But then, and out-of-town friend was visiting and we were spending most of our time discussing student plagiarism, nachos as a hat, and The Power of Myth (we are both, in case you haven’t guessed, MFA’s) and I knew I was going home after 54 outs. I don’t even want to consider what life was like inside AT&T Park at 1:14 AM Pacific Daylight Savings Time.

I should probably try harder to be a little less old next time. You too. If you find yourself in a similar West Coast extra innings emergency someday, it’s important to remember the following:

-Do not panic. By the simple laws of statistics, the game cannot actually last forever. Someone will either win or die or run out of pitchers, whichever comes first. Probably dying.

-It is helpful to shout encouragement to the broadcasters. They are grateful to know you’re there.

-Do not attempt to watch an extra-innings West Coast game alone. The endless at-bats are less terrifying when faced down with a friend or trusted family member.

-Beer sales are cut off after the 7th inning for those in the stadium, but not for you. Don’t try be a hero.

-Children should be placed in a separate, secure location, possibly Kansas.

-Any unpleasant smells are probably you.

-Attempts to consume any post-game media following the end of the game should be supervised by a medical professional.

Honestly?  Suffering any and all of that is still preferable than going to school in the morning.  See you June 9, when the Reds play the Dodgers in LA.

17 Responses

  1. hoosierdad1

    I’m more of a “The suspense is killing me……I hope it lasts.” kind of guy. Also, pay for one game and you get two! What a bargain!

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      Marty is always so happy when that happens.

  2. NorMich Red

    Nope, I didn’t watch. I usually pass on these Left Coast games as a rule. And I don’t like SF, so seeing them win in anything is added annoyance that I willfully forego. But the ponderous drag-on of this marathon loss as described here is kind of reminiscent of the 40 day/40 night single baseball game marathon written about by iconic baseball novelist W.P. Kinsella in his book, “The Iowa Baseball Confederacy.” (He authored “Shoeless Joe,” the novel that spawned the movie “Field of Dreams.”) That one is full of all kinds of allegorical additions to “real baseball,” surreal additions to the normal baseball lineups, and things that go far beyond reality…typical Kinsella. Statues come to life and enter the game as PH’ers, etc. A fun read if you’re a baseball fan and can suspend reality for a while. Kinsella’s prose is a gift to the ardent baseball fan.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      I was thinking about that book as I wrote this. Been a while since I read it–all I remember was a player named Gabriel and a lot of rain, which is pretty much the only thing that didn’t happen in that game.

      • NorMich Red

        And I’d be remiss if I did not add how much I enjoy reading your columns and perspective! One of a myriad of reasons why I enjoy this web site as a Reds’ fan living elsewhere…as well as a baseball fan in general!

  3. George

    Mary Beth; As I fell asleep in my desk chair around the 13th inning and suddenly awoke in the 16th, I wondered what I missed. They were still playing and the clock on the screen read 3:25am. What was I doing!!! I was being a fan, no stats, no Red Jersey, just a desire to see the Reds win in any fashion. “Fox Hole Humor” takes over and I started to wonder when “Price” would appear on the mound to hold onto the one run lead the Reds had taken in the top of the inning when a sacrifice bunt was fielded by “Posey” and thrown into the right-field corner and the runner scored all the way from 1st base. Yep, all 17 innings were put into the memory bank with a vague promise of “never again”, knowing it was a vow that would soon be forgotten.
    Oh, last thought, thank you for the off-centered, non-statistical observations of a fellow fan.

  4. daytonnati

    Mary Beth, you either “drink your tomato juice”, or “follow your bliss.” Those extra-inning West Coast games are all part of the “hero’s journey”. WWJosephCampbellD?

    Thanks for the fun read.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      And Luke Skywalker, what would he do? (Probably whine.)

  5. kphilippe

    I am a Reds fan living in the San Francisco area. I can tell you that this game was torture for us too. Because I was at the game. With my two boys (8&6 yrs old). And we took the ferry to get to the game. The problem was that the ferry departs either 20 minutes after the end of the game….or at 11:30. We heard the 7th inning stretch twice before we went home. Towards the end, chants of “Let’s go Reds” became “Let’s go home!”.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      You have my immense respect. You were one of those intrepid few actually there!

  6. cfd3000

    I rarely watch games live, for many reasons. TiVo and the fast forward button allow me to watch so many games I could not otherwise have time for. So on a Saturday morning I just watched 17 painful innings and even with that FF option it was grueling. I said to my girlfriend in about the top of the 13th – “games like this often come down to who hits the next home run”. If I had known it would be Buster Posey I’d have stopped watching right then. I can’t imagine touching this one out in real time, live. A tip of my Reds cap to all of RLN that did just that. Now I need a nap.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      I mean, when it takes a while even when whizzing through the commercials…

  7. Mary Beth Ellis

    When even Joey Votto can’t save you…

  8. Mary Beth Ellis

    So you did get a full game in!