#247 -- Dog Days of Baseball
October 7th, 2011
I woke up one morning a few years back feeling the affects of an epiphany. Yup, after I shook off the sleep seeds and downed some strong coffee, I knew my life had changed forever...you see, I had turned into an avid Red Sox fan sometime in the night. It's a function of things like geography, heredity, drinking water...a real Vermonter simply has to be a Red Sox fan whether he wants to be or not (and I did not as I had always hated sports). Since that fateful morning, I have religiously watched or listened to my team and when they win, the high I get rivals my first draw-off of fancy maple syrup. A loss, on the other hand, is awful. Take the other night, for instance, when Marco Scutaro had both a sharp broken bat and a lightening-fast grounder coming at him...he let the grounder escape to save his life and I was peeved! That's when I made my decision..."gotta quit...This is gettin' outa control!".
Realizing the "cold turkey" approach might not work, I searched for a viable substitute and all of a sudden the two Black Labs Averill and Fern came to mind..."They both need exercise and are up for outdoor activity." I thought "Maybe I can satisfy my addiction vicariously through those two guys.". All it ever takes with them are three words "wanna play ball?" and they're on their feet quicker'n a packed stadium after a grand slam. Betsy has a mesh bag full of new tennis balls hanging up in our foyer but there are lots of abandoned ones out and around. Just like the big leagues, Averill and Fern expend huge numbers for every single game. When I say "Where is it?", they both hot-foot it to the bushes and one of them always quickly emerges with a ball.
I get control of it and the three of us head for the parking area where our driveway goes downhill. My two friends reach peak excitement on the way out but the first pitch is important to me. I keep the ball until we get there. I throw like "a girl" these days but despite the source, gravity makes my first throw fast. Averill, the "Dustin Pedroia" in our family, is after it like greased lightning. Fern's more like Big Poppy, huge, gangly and almost aloof. She knows, however, that it's important to both Averill and me so she'll always "play along".
The game is much simpler with the dogs than the Red Sox...I throw, they catch...I throw, they catch. For the sake of my "therapy" though, I have to figure out small ways their game compares to the real thing. For instance, they do "talk strategy" similar to the way catchers and pitchers do; you see, Averill has a problem giving up the ball once she's got it. She'll catch it and bring it back but to pry it from her bear trap jaws is impossible. She's obviously embarrassed about this but she can't help herself (it's a "dog" thing). Fern, on the other hand, will dutifully drop it right at my feet every time. A while ago they got together on this problem; Averill catches the ball because she's the better player but after a quick conference, she hands it off to Fern who gives it to me!
Recently Betsy injected her own strategy to our game. She's a "healthy dog" person who believes in walking them for miles every morning. She loves it when I, a "lazy dog" person, take them to play ball but her ulterior motive always includes a little doggie hygiene..."work 'em till they, you know, go to the bathroom" she says. Lately I've been kind of "keeping score" every time one of them heads into the tall grass for a little "personal time". When our game ends and the three of us head back to the house, I'm always quick to announce the score..."We had one pooper" or, the grand slam of doggie baseball..."We had two poopers!".
I'm very pleased to announce that my "therapy" is working. I'm really enjoying my sports time with Averill and Fern. My blood pressure is down and I lack the dreadful "morning after" feeling following a Red Sox loss. I have not watched or listened to a Red Sox game now for two weeks but from what I'm hearing, they're worth about as much these days as my dogs' final score! Oh brother...I'm starting to get shook up..."C'mon guys. 'wanna play ball?'".
Folks...Since I finished writing this column, the Red Sox have had their final loss and our foliage season here in Vermont is on the wane, too (both indicate that "Ol Man Winter" is pressin' on.). Now it's time for our "seventh inning" syrup sale here at Morse Farm: From now through October 21, all gallons, half gallons and quarts in all grades of Morse Farm maple syrup are 15% off! That's right...whether you want to get a jump on your holiday giving or just stock up on your own winter supply, here's your chance. Just go to http://www.morsefarm.com/maple_syrup to get some world's best Vermont Maple Syrup at World-Class prices.