SPORTS ILLUSTRASIAN: Not So Okie-Dokie

October 30th, 2007 | 0 comments | Posted by Jen

Congratulasians to the Boston Red Sox on sweeping the World Series! Enjoy your victory parade today; it’s well-deserved. It was an up-and-down season, what with the addition of new players, the Yankees sucking then chasing your tails, and that nail-biter of an ALCS. I, more than anything, am relieved it’s over.

I had the good fortune of attending Game 3 of the World Series in Denver, thanks to our friend Jess and a Rockies fan willing to unload her tickets at a merciful price. I was there from the time the Coors Field gates opened and in a pinch-me daze for the next 8 hours. I am at the World Series, and the Sox are up 2-0. It didn’t seem real.

During batting practice, I hustled my way over to where the pitchers were warming up and got really close.

I took several photos of reliever Mike Timlin, my baseball Jake Ryan, i.e. I want him to be my boyfriend and he doesn’t know I exist. Dice-K was starting that night, so his warm-up routine was pretty much him sticking his juicy badonkadonk out to stretch and then doing some sprints by himself. Hideki Okajima was throwing lightly next to him. I was so close, I could see the whiskers on his chin.

After about a half hour, most of the pitchers dispersed, and Hideki was the only player who stopped to sign autographs. Anticipating this very moment, I had bought a Sharpie outside the stadium for 5 dollars. I had nothing to sign, but I was going to present the sleeve of my shirt. What could be better than Hideki Okajima’s signature on my shirt sleeve?!?

He signed the brats’ kids’ balls first, and then he even got to the grizzled, emphysematic, professional autograph hounds who were probably going to sell that shit on Ebay from their crackberries at the game. This group of skeezy men kept yelling “Okajima! Okajima!” while I stuck out that Sharpie and said in my girly voice, “Hidekiiiiiii! Hidekiiiiii!” And then a hilarious conversation ensued.

SKEEZY OLD MAN #1: His name is Okajima.

ME: Uh-huh.

SKEEZY OLD MAN #2: You’re right. His name is Okajima. Right?

SKEEZY OLD MAN #1: I’m pretty sure his name is Okajima.

ME: His name IS Okajima.

SKEEZY OLD MAN #1: That’s what I’m saying.

ME: Sweet Christ. His first name is Hideki. His last name is Okajima.

SKEEZY OLD MAN #2: Really? His name is…Hideki…and…Okajima? Huh.

SKEEZY OLD MAN #3: Well, I mean, she would know.

Oh right. I would know, because…well, who cared? I was THIS CLOSE to Hideki. He signed a person’s ball to my right. He signed one of the Skeezy Old Men’s World Series tickets. I was definitely next. I extended the Sharpie. Would he think it was weird to sign my shirt? I tried to remember what little Japanese I knew…it did not include the words “Sign my shirt, please.”

And then, at that moment, without a word, Hideki gave the crowd a little wave and…walked away. WHAAAT?

I almost cried. I almost pulled a Marie Osmond and dropped lifeless to the concrete steps. I haven’t wanted an autograph that badly since I chased this poor semi-famous gymnast through a Limited Express in the 8th grade. None of this personal drama really had an impact on the game, which the Sox won 10-5. It was closer than the final score would make it seem, however. The Sox went up 6-0 in the 3rd, but by the time they brought in Okajima in the 7th, it was 6-2 and there were two men on.

Okajima’s first pitch? Slammed for a three-run homer. Suddenly the score was 6-5. And the next night, he gave up a a two-run homer, making it a one-run game again. Things turned out fine in the end, but I can’t help thinking that IF HE HAD SIGNED MY DAMN SHIRT SLEEVE, dare I say, my magic shirt sleeve, things might have worked out better (and, no, Sox faithful, I did not put a curse on him, though I toyed oh-so-briefly with the idea out of shallow bitterness).

In related news, Japan is proud of Dice-K again, after his Game 3 win. Well, sort of.

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