Take Me Out

I was at a Provo Angels baseball game last week when I had an alarming thought: Provo has a baseball team?

Yes, while you were preoccupied with polygamy trials, smutty Victoria’s Secret posters and crackpots in La Verkin who for some reason think the United Nations wants to go there when in fact no one wants to go there, Provo was getting a minor-league baseball team.

Now, I’ve never been much of a jock myself, but I am an athletic supporter. When the Founding Fathers slapped together this great nation of ours, they intended for baseball to be the Great American Pastime, even if watching it is often as dull as watching paint dry. (Unless you’re drying the paint by putting a gallon of it in the clothes dryer, in which case it’s actually pretty fun.) I figure, “Hamlet” and “Citizen Kane” are kind of boring, too, but they’re still treated with a lot of reverence, mostly by people who haven’t seen them.

So last Friday, I headed down to the Angels’ temporary home at the BYU baseball field to catch a game. I took my brother Jeff with me, as he is an enormous fan of the sport — I mean seriously, the guy is huge — and has an encyclopedic knowledge of it. Our family was baseball-oriented enough for me to know a few things, like the infield-fly rule (“If there are runners on first and second, or first, second and third, and less than two outs, and it’s a Thursday in August, and the wind’s blowing from the southwest, and both teams are named after animals, then buddy, have a drink”), but Jeff knows EVERYTHING. You name any player or team or year, and he’ll tell you everything about them, and then ask you for money.

Jeff also played Little League and high school baseball in Southern California for many years. As a pitcher, he struck out 18 batters in one game, and did that twice in one season. He also claims never to have struck a batter accidentally, having always done it on purpose, including once when he hit noted local crybaby Tommy Gibson just to see if he would cry about that, too. (He did.)

It’s critical you have someone entertaining with you at the baseball park, or else you’ll be stuck just watching the game, which is no fun for anyone. Jeff and I had a stupid good time, mostly making jokes about players’ names. (One of them is named Gillitzer, which made us think of “Gillitzer’s Island.” You get the idea.) I love that you’re allowed to sit down during baseball, which is one of my favorite activities, and that you’re allowed to talk, too. Not like church, for example, where you can’t yell “chatter” at the players (“Hey, preacher, preacher preacher, he’s no preacher!”), and where only a few of your more liberal sects permit the eating of nachos.

The Angels won the game 4-0, easily defeating the lackluster Great Falls Dodgers, who had more errors than hits. Several of their players, I suspect, were merely fans who had wandered onto the field by mistake.

My question to you, the reader, is this: Why aren’t you at that baseball field? Friday, the attendance was 1,695. The stadium seats 2,400. Granted, 1,695 is pretty good, and granted, the game’s short duration and victorious outcome helped make it a pleasurable experience for me. (There’s nothing worse than something that drags on forever and then ends badly anyway, like “Titanic,” or the Vietnam War.)

But considering how many people live in this valley — well over a trillion, if the traffic on State Street is any indication — that place should be packed every night. It’s cheap, it’s wholesome, it’s summertime, and you’re an American. (My apologies to you who are not Americans. Work on that, will you?) TV is nothing but “reality” programming and reruns right now, all the movies in the theaters are full of cuss words and bosoms, and none of your neighbors like you. Get down to a Provo Angels game and partake in some Americana, darn it. And if you get hit with a ball, take it like a man.

You'll recall I visited the baseball park once before, to witness the auditions for national-anthem singers. I figured I'd see a game sometime, and figured I'd get a column out of it when I did.

I believe this is the first time Jeff has been mentioned in a "Snide Remarks" column. I should mention he also once struck the same batter four times in one game, all on purpose, and all because the guy was a major jerk.

Note the return of the line about the Founding Fathers slapping together this great nation of ours. It was that specific phrase that angered Sue Maxwell of Provo when I used it in my July 4 column, so I thought I'd use it again. Yes, I did it JUST to make someone mad -- which, contrary to popular belief, is not how I usually do things.

The polygamy trial and Victoria's Secret have been addressed before in "Snide Remarks," so I won't explain them. The deal with La Verkin: It's a tiny, backwards southern Utah town that had recently passed an anti-U.N. ordinance. The United Nations is not welcome in the town, and its residents aren't allowed to support it, for example, by posting pro-U.N. signs in their yard. Anyone who supports the U.N. has to register with the town and update their status annually.

Is this fascist, paranoid, and stupid? Yes, yes and yes. Does it take away the same freedoms the La Verkin town government is afraid the U.N. might take away? Yes. Is southern Utah the strangest place on the face of the Earth? I really think so.