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A fan’s life as a dad learns an important lesson

The finish to the 2005 baseball season was disappointing for Cleveland Indians fans. The night of September 30, 2005 was very bad for one in particular.

The Cleveland Indians were 55-51 (14.5 games behind the Chicago White Sox) at the end of July. That put them four games behind Oakland and 1.5 games behind New York in the Wild Card.

To say they heated up in August and September would be an understatement. They went 37-12 through September 25.

At this point the Indians were 1/2 game ahead of the Red Sox and Yankees. One of that evil pair would win the AL East. The other would hopefully finish behind the Tribe in the Wild Card race.

The Indians last seven games were one at Kansas City (on their way to a 56-106 season), three at home against Tampa Bay (headed to 67-93) and three at home against the White Sox (who would hopefully be resting their regulars).

The Yankees and Red Sox had the misfortune of playing each other for the final three games.

You already know how this Greek tragedy is going to end…

After losing at Kansas City the Tribe came home and dropped two out of three to the Rays.

At this point the White Sox had 96 wins. The Yankees had 94. The Red Sox and Indians had 93 each.

If the Indians won two of three they would be no worse off than tied for the Wild Card.

A really bad outcome…

Friday, September 30, 2005 – The White Sox and Mark Buehrle came to Cleveland to face the Indians and 2005 AL ERA champion Kevin Millwood.

And I was at a Cub Scout overnight campout.

Normally I prefer my critical baseball games closer to a TV or radio, and less in the great outdoors.  When life gets in the way I have a backup plan. In September 2005 the plan was for my wife and middle son to stay overnight and camp. My older son (age 10) and I would take the youngest son (age 3 and too young to camp) and I would head home after the campfire.

As part of my sacrifice I would get home in time for some baseball.

As I got in the car and turned on the radio, my older son reminded me that mom promised them I would take them to Frisch’s for a snack. Great. No radios there.

“Did you guys want to get the food to go?”

“No, we want to eat in the restaurant.”

Of course.

As I started the car I heard the White Sox put together three singles to take a 1-0 lead in the fifth.  Great. Mark Buerhle was ahead 1-0.

I was so upset about the turn of events I turned the wrong way coming out of the camp.

Of all the bad things that happened that night, turning out of the camp in the wrong direction was probably the third worst. I didn’t know exactly where I was – but I knew the road from the camp would lead to the interstate in any direction. The problem was that this direction took us away from home, and right toward a Frisch’s.

The Frisch’s I wanted was five minutes from home. This one was 30 minutes away. As soon as the kids saw it, there was great rejoicing on their part.

Well, Frisch’s is Frisch’s. I’m going to miss the same amount of game either way. And if I don’t stop now, I won’t get to hear the game for the next 25 minutes anyway because of all the screaming.

So we stopped. The oldest son got a sundae and milk, I got a hot fudge cake, and the youngest son got French fries and root beer.

When I got back in the car the score was still 1-0. It stayed that way to the bottom of the ninth.  Then a Travis Hafner single followed by a Victor Martinez double and a Ronnie Belliard single tied things up.

Nothing could dampen my excitement…

Well, almost nothing…

The next day, as I explained the events of the night, my wife would say “You mean you didn’t know that root beer made him throw up?”

No. I did not. Apparently, there was this (unknown to me) rule that, 25 minutes after ingesting root beer, my 3-year-old son immediately emptied the contents of his stomach.

Had I known that I wouldn’t have let him get root beer – and I certainly wouldn’t have let him get a refill.

Did I mention that the Frisch’s we ate at was 30 minutes from home?  Three miles away from home, he went off like a lawn sprinkler. Suddenly his Hires Root Beer became Barq’s Root Beer… then it became Dad’s Root Beer.

The game (and the car cleanup) went into extra innings.

After I cleaned up the car I discovered that the radio in the house was not working, so I sat in the car and listened to the game. This also convinced me that a second round of air freshener was needed.

If cleaning up your son’s Technicolor yawn isn’t the worst thing that happened to you, that’s a bad night. That was the case on this night. The White Sox put up two runs in the top of the 13th. The Indians responded with one in the bottom of the 13th, losing 3-2.

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Next: Our top stories from the month of September

The Indians lost the next two games and finished at 93-69, two games out of the playoff picture.

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