Thursday, January 29, 2009

I now own a Ryan Vogelsong jersey

Something that's really been draining on my psyche as a fan the last few years: I'm not a season-ticket holder. I go to games when I feel like going to games. I walk up and I buy a $9 ticket, sit in the right field grandstand for an inning or two, then go see one of the ushers I've befriended down in the field boxes. I've been doing this since I was about 14, and I'm 26 now. I go to between 30 and 50 games each year.
There's really nothing stopping me from buying a small season ticket package, apart from that for me, part of the fun of watching a ballgame is the spontaneity deciding to go. Once in a while,
I'll buy tickets in advance, but more often than not, I'm a walk-up buyer, and I've been as devoted to this team as anyone. I know I can't be the only one. The trouble is that, much like when Pittsburgh hosted the last two All-Star Games, once this team does succeed and tickets become a more desired commodity, it's probably going to be people like me who won't be able to get tickets to meaningful games. As a grad student, I've thought about trying to figure out how I could allocate money to buy a partial package, maybe go in on something with friends. But seeing as how I've spent the last few years either as a student or in limbo, always facing the prospect of leaving town for a new job. I guess the point of it all is that I'm worried about being shut out when the rapture comes.
Well, I was perusing the vending station today that contained all of the game-used memorabilia. I'm sure a lot of you saw it -- a nearly complete line of game-worn jerseys with names like "Barthmaier", "Beam", "Whiteside" and "Koonce". And then I found an authentic Jason Bay jersey. Last year's model, home white and non-game-worn for $50. It was the last one -- a great find. And I nearly bought it.
But then, I started thinking about all these years of suffering that we've gone through. I thought about the unwavering, borderline insane support that the most hardcore among us have shown during the absolute worst of times. So I walked up to the girl at the register and asked her, "Do you have any Ryan Vogelsong jerseys?" Without so much as an awkward look or a qualifying question, she went right to the inventory book and found record of one, and said she would go back and check the box. It should be there. Ryan Vogelsong was the key prospect in the trade that sent future Cy Young-winner Jason Schmidt to San Francisco, and in true Bucco form, was as patently awful and disappointing as he could have possibly been. He blew more than his fair share of chances and stuck with the club way longer than he should have before being relegated to mop-up duty and, eventually, sold off to Japan. Ryan Vogelsong: easily one of the five worst pitchers in the history of professional baseball. Ryan Vogelsong: false prophet. Ryan Fucking Vogelsong: I can't imagine another player better embodying the angst I've felt these last 16 years. I hate Ryan Vogelsong. I waited for the clerk for 25 minutes.And when she came back, she did so carrying a 2006 game-used Ryan Vogelsong batting practice jersey. Twenty-five bucks. Best $25 I've spent so far this year. So now, when I walk around PNC Park during the hard times that are sure to continue the next couple of years, and long into the time when I'm relegated to watching post-season games in bars, anyone who sees me will know. I WAS THERE. All those years. I WAS THERE.

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