My middle school science teacher was a die-hard Giants fan. Our class listened to the ’89 NLCS game 5 clincher against the Cubs and Mark Grace on a portable radio while she scored the game on the chalkboard. (do these specimens of archaic learning still exist? and does anyone actually score a game anymore?) I pretended to read about black holes and sun spots while my eyes glossed over, staring at absolutely nothing with a slack-jawed bovine expression, my fingers tracing the hieroglyphs gouged into the wooden desk, blackened by grime. Someone had drawn a heavy metal logo and the words fuck this class on one of the pages next to a supernova. I stared at that primal expression for quite a while. I can’t really explain why.
“Yesterday we explicitly agreed to quietly do our work as long as we could listen to the game,” she said.
We knew that this was a faulty agreement as she was going to listen to the game regardless of whether we agreed to the shoddy terms or not–and besides, some of us weren’t Giants fans. I couldn’t give a toss about the Giants or the wonders of the cosmos at that time as I was more interested in girls and boobs–and not necessarily in that order.
We had spoken about Carney Lansford a few days earlier and his time with the Red Sox. Her boyfriend was a “Southie” from Boston; a second-generation working-class, red-haired Irish Mick from a long line of drunks, thieves, and lowlifes. He had escaped the sludge and went to some long-forgotten East Coast university, and he and his stoner buddies would go to Fenway Park on weekends where they had acquired an affinity for Lansford. Of course, she thought all of this was cute and clever and was terribly pleased by it.
“No offense Mrs. Carpenter, but besides Will Clark, your team just isn’t very likable. Rick Reuschel looks like a fat, middle-aged divorced dad and Scott Garrelts looks like a skinny, nose-picking dork.”
It was true. Both starting pitchers looked like the antithesis of an athlete but resembled the perfect working-class early 20th-century farm boy/sandlot/baseball player. Some fans–probably the nerdy, isolationist type–can get behind that “average joe” persona and root for them passionately, but in the era of super athletes like Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders, I would always inexplicably choose the latter over the former.
“Let us not forget that your friend Carney Lansford looks like an accountant,” she said as she swallowed what was supposed to look like aspirin to the general viewer. A few classmates had theorized that she popped Vicodin on occasion because of her seemingly more “relaxed” state as the day wore on. This wasn’t a great choice as it ultimately led to bouts of throwing up in the garbage can.