... Another June has gone by
And when they light up our town I just think
What a waste of gun powder and sky
Well, Aimee may feel that way but I've always liked a good fireworks display, as long as I'm not involved (I hate the stink and clean-up of those things). Living in the D.C. area has afforded me the opportunity to see some grand displays on the Mall but I've never done so; it feels like a tourist thing to do. If you live here why would you want to go down to the Mall, somewhere you've been a thousand times, only this time there are 100 times more people smashing up against you and reeking of sweat and egg salad? No thanks. The best firework display I've seen here was out in Hagerstown at a Suns game (that's the local Farm Team there - we're talking baseball in case anyone's confused). They have fireworks throughout the season anyway after certain games (usually Friday games) but the 4th of July one was great - and LOUD! Because it's a small stadium and the fireworks, which are of the big professional variety, are shot off just past the bleachers you can feel soundwaves hit you and rumble through the stands. This year they're playing the West Virginia Power on the fourth in West Virginia and I'll be in Vermont so neither I nor the Suns will be missing each other's company.
Now I know what you're thinking (you're probably not thinking it but just pretend you are to make me feel better). You're thinking, "You live a skip and jump away from not one but two Major League Teams, the Nationals and the Orioles, and you go to the Hagerstown Suns?" Yes. Yes, I do. Know why? Because, with all apologies to Dennis Cozzalio, Major League Parks just don't do it for me. They're big, imposing, cost a fortune and have no feeling of intimacy at all, not even in the best of the old parks (I'm sure many will disagree with that).
For me, the difference between a big Major League park and a Farm Team diamond with bleachers on two sides is the difference between the big, corporate Multiplex and the locally owned revival house or drive-in theatre. One is big and splashy and looks sterile and the other is, well, kind of trashy, but in a good way.
One of my favorite sporting experiences came from a couple of drunken fans seated behind me at a Suns game. I can't remember who the Suns were playing but I'll never forget the name of their opponent's Third Base Coach: Forbes. All through the game the two guys behind us mercilessly lofted one heckle after another at poor old Forbes, that name emblazoned across the back of his uniform (much to his regret I'm sure). Some favorites of my wife and I: "You're the backbone of this team Forbes!" "I want to have your children Forbes!" "Forbes, I can't resist you any longer. Marry me!" Just like a favorite line from a movie my wife or I will occasionally trot out the "backbone" line when mocking someone's efforts.
Now, sure, you get hecklers at the big parks too but they usually don't have the ability to entertain the entire stadium. At a small park the "Forbes" hecklers could be heard... well... everywhere. They were getting laughs from the other side of the diamond. And if they're not entertaining, don't worry, everyone will tell them to shut up. It's like one big loud, drunken, trashy family. So if you're in a town with both a Major League team and a Farm Team support the Farm Team. They need your support more. Keep rooting for the big team of course (wouldn't want them to leave town) but occasionally drop by that bleachered field and say "Hi" to your local Forbes. And if the mood strikes you, ask him to marry you.
Happy Fourth of July to my fellow American Yankee readers and Happy Friday to everyone else across the world.