I realized that I felt sorry for CC Sabathia the fifth inning of game three of the ALDS Detroits/Yankees series . He had allowed five hits and walked the same number, and was about to be seen as partially responsible for the end of the Yankees season. C.C. begins intentionally walking Miguel Cabrera in the most awkward game of catch I have ever seen. One of his terrible throws to Russell Martin got away and Ramon Santiago advanced to 3rd base. At this moment, CC had this very specific look on his face in that moment that provoked a visceral, maternal reaction in me immediately.
You ever watch a kid try to do something and not be able to work it out? They just watched some other kid do the same thing, but they just can’t get their chubby, tiny hands around the pieces to do the thing themselves” Or when an older woman starts digging for change in a tiny coin purse and she just can’t pull the pennies out because her hands are shaky? That look. Helplessly watching someone struggle with something they know they should be able to do is in my all time bottom five of feelings, right next to when I make a special trip to 7-11 and the coke side of the slurpee machine is broken.
There’s a disconnect between my brain-brain and my brain-heart on this one, because the former knows full well that C.C. Sabathia just signed a contract for 161 million dollars and that he is a successful starting pitcher on the most popular team in baseball and also has a very attractive wife, cute kids, and is friends with Jay Z. In other words: CC is the 1%.
But the feeling was there, overpowering against all odds, wanting to wrap the doughy blank-faced man up in my arms, straighten out his stupid akimbo cap, and tell him that everything was going to be okay. I was cheering for the Tigers and couldn’t have been happy theoretically if the Yankees had lost by much more than they actually did. If I had just read the box score instead of actually watching that game, I would have been over the moon. And as soon as the game was over, I was ready for A.J. Burnett to fail miserably the next day and I was disappointed when he didn’t. But for that one moment, all I wanted was for C.C. to get his groove back, and go out there and be all that he can be!
This Little-League-mom feeling has proven fairly problematic for me before — anytime I’ve ever witnessed a rout, or that time when Dan Uggla committed three errors in the All Star Game. I’m starting to wonder if I’m cut out for being a sports fan at all, and especially for being a baseball fan, because what I’m realizing is that I hate seeing someone try and fail. If I get the sense, however arbitrary, that they’re not trying (see: Barry Zito), it’s no big deal. But if I can tell that they are truly giving it their all and just screwing it up (see: Rick Porcello)? Heartbreak.