Oh Baseball, You Had Me at Hello

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Oh Baseball, You Had Me at Hello
Over the summer I fell in love.

A head-over-heels, make-me-want-to-shout-from-rooftops-and-dance kind of love. It's a love great enough to put even Baby and Johnny from "Dirty Dancing" to shame and I can't help but gush about it.

My new lover? His name is baseball.

I have never in my life been wrapped up in sports, no matter how compelling the game. In my pre-teen, ponytail wearing years I went to NFL, MLB, and NBA games with my dad.
I've met Warriors basketball players after the game before they pulled away in their over-sized black SUVs.
I've sat in the black hole at an Oakland Raiders game with the most over-the-top, scream-your-head-off fans.
And I went to my share of the Oakland Athletics games seeing excitement exuded by fans as the players took the field.

Last summer I met Nick Swisher, who came in to the grocery store where I worked to sign autographs and take pictures with the employees.
Even then, I didn't understand the excitement of the game and meeting the players. I was only excited about meeting him because he was so cute, even more attractive in person than he is in pictures, I might add.

You would never find me watching sports on TV. I just never got the hype of it all. It seemed completely irrelevant to me. But this summer, that all changed.

When the summer began, I went to a few games. I saw the A's take on the Baltimore Orioles in May with my best friend. I saw the A's battle the New York Yankees in June with the Express staff. The A's won both times.

The sport had me at hello.

Between the overwhelming aroma of garlic fries, the sea of green and gold, and the infectious smiles after a great play, I was hooked and there was no turning back.

The weekend following the game with the staff, I decided that after work I was going to relax and watch the A's take on the San Francisco Giants. Though I knew I would likely turn it off after 10 minutes in favor of Sex and the City re-runs on TBS. But before I knew it, nine innings had passed and the A's beat the Giants in a 4-1.

I couldn't believe what I had just done. I watched an entire baseball game without a second thought.

Crazy, I know.

I even ended up watching the entire series. It could have been the fact that the A's were winning. It could have been because the series featured a pitching duel between the Bay Area's best pitchers, Tim Lincecum and Justin Duchscherer.

After that I couldn't stop.

I bought ticket after ticket and I realized that I was attending a game a week with my little sister and draining my bank accounts to do so. I actually went to Barnes and Noble and bought a book called "The Baseball Geeks Bible" as my sister rolled her eyes behind me at the cash register.

I found myself watching the scores on my cell phone during every game that I couldn't attend. I had become an official baseball addict. Our relationship was almost to the point of being unhealthy, but not quite.

I watched the All-Star game in July as the American League won in extra innings, I watched team USA win bronze in the Olympics. I even found myself watching the little league World Series with the Jonas Brothers hosting the event.

Some may call it an obsession. I call it love.

I found myself picking up the sports section of the Contra Costa Times everyday and actually reading and enjoying it. I found myself Googling the players and alternating between shortstop Bobby Crosby and outfielder Ryan Sweeney as the background on my laptop.

I went to the mall on a day that I knew designated hitter Jack Cust and pitcher Justin Duchscherer would be meeting fans, to at least get a glimpse of them in all of their baseball glory. And they didn't disappoint.

I waited patiently near the field before the games started, hoping to meet the baseball men of my dreams as they took the field to stretch.
I met new record holder, pitcher Brad Ziegler who went 39 shutout innings to start a career, breaking a 101 year old record.
I also met third baseman Jack Hannahan by doing so. As I met him I was actually speechless at he looked in my eyes, I had to avoid screaming out "Jack, you are sooo cute. Marry me?"

My sister, Miranda and I went out to as many player appearances as possible and we met two of the best rookies on the team, first baseman Daric Barton and Ryan Sweeney in downtown Oakland in the sweltering heat of July.

I fell in love with the players, the coaches, the managers, and the other fans. I fell in love with the coliseum, old as it may be, it gives me an at home feeling.

I fell in love with the art of baseball, the actual game and all of its history, stats, and intricacies. Now I really understand why Americans love the sport. They have a way of bringing people together, through a common-love of the game, the team, and the cities the teams represent.

Baseball isn't just a sport. It is a form of unity.

And yes I see that big, rugged, muscle-filled sport lurking just around the corner, calling my name.

Cassie.

You may know him as football and he looks tempting. But baseball and I, we are in love and I don't see us breaking up anytime soon. Not even for football.

OK, well maybe just a little fling on the side.
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