When you move to a new city, it’s hard to leave behind your home, friends, family, and all the places you love. It’s also hard to leave behind your teams.
Sure, you can shell out the $$ for MLB Extra Innings (unless they go all asshole and make that exclusive deal with Dish, because I’m not having that shit). You can go to little Italian restaurants for cheap beer and pizza, where the dedicated Bears fans watch the game on Sunday morning. But it’s not the same. It feels like a long distance relationship with someone who doesn’t really like you — they don’t call or write or leave you comments on Myspace. However appealing it is to spend the sunny afternoon alone on your couch listening to Hawk Harrelson talk about another can of corn, sometimes you really miss going to the game — feeling the energy of the crowd, heckling the opposing players, talking shit in bars with a million people who totally understand why the Super Bowl Shuffle was the greatest song ever recorded.
It’s normal that eventually you start seeing other teams. You still love your old teams, and you’ll cheer for the Bears if they play the Broncos, but damn, it’s really awesome as hell to sit outside Invesco on a warm, sunny day with a can of Gordon and gigantic sunglasses, watching all the other Broncos fans (even though, have you seen Broncos fans — there are some interesting characters…and mullets). I’ll be honest — it was easy to fall in love with the Broncos. It was easier still to fall in love with the Nuggets.
But the Rockies? Well, that wasn’t easy at all.
Okay, that’s not exactly true. At first it was easy. Coors Field, even though it’s named for Coors (crappy beer and crappier politics) is really awesome (and you can even get Sierra Nevada, but it’ll cost you). The Rockies aren’t known for being good, but going to games is really fun — you can park for free within reasonable walking distance (hell, we could walk there but I’m always running late), grab a beer at the Tap House, and enjoy the game under sunny skies with no humidity. It’s an incredibly low-maintenance sporting event, and tickets are cheap compared to basketball or football.
It all started to fall apart when I learned about the Bible study. Now, let me say that I have no problem with the Bible or with the study of the Bible. But you know, I’m used to A.J. Pierzynski, who cares more about kicking your ass than talking about Jesus. Kicking ass is what I like about sports.
Here’s the article about the Rockies and the Bible.
I felt kind of alienated from the Rockies. I mean, I’m not Christian — I don’t even believe in God. I think attributing your success to God or Jesus is incredibly lame and, well, they just kind of lost me.
Then, they got me back. Why? I learned about Jose Mesa.
You might not know about Jose Mesa. Jose Mesa is a relief pitcher who, just when I needed him, pitched for the Rockies. He’s kind of old and not always that good, but he wants to kill this guy who pissed him off once.
Jose Mesa and Omar Vizquel, who now plays for the Giants (who I really hate), played for the Cleveland Indians and were pals. Omar later wrote a book in which he blamed Jose Mesa for choking during the 1997 World Series, which the Indians lost.
Dissing Jose Mesa is just a little less bad than dissing Chuck Norris. Jose Mesa was not pleased. He said he wanted to kill Omar Vizquel. He decided to hit Omar Vizquel with a pitch every time he played against him. Here are the best quotes from Jose Mesa:
If I face him 10 more times, I’ll hit him 10 times. I want to kill him.
If he comes to apologize, I will punch him right in the face. And then I’ll kill him. If you’re a writer and you want to write a good book, you don’t write a story about somebody else.
Here is an awesome article about the Mesa-Vizquel feud.
While playing for the Rockies, Jose Mesa was suspended for throwing at Omar Vizquel in April 2006.
So now I have a team consisting of Bible studying guys who live in Parker and thank Jesus for their success and probably hold hands and sing Kumbaya in the locker room instead of talking shit and swatting each other on the ass — and Jose Mesa, the relief pitcher who throws at people and wants to kill a guy. Of course I went with Jose Mesa.
He became my favorite player on the team — ahead of even Byung-Hyun Kim, the goofy pitcher known for sleeping anywhere and everywhere. Jose Mesa is bad ass. There is no theory of evolution — just a list of creatures Jose Mesa has allowed to live.
The highlight of my Jose Mesa glory days involved his appearance against the Cubs, where, as usual, my heckling was in rare form. As you may know, there are more Cubs fans than Rockies fans at the game when the northsiders play here, but my goal was to out-heckle all of them that day. It must have worked, because Jose Mesa didn’t do anything terrible and the Rockies won. As the lone person cheering for Jose in all the world, it was a very good day.
I loved Jose Mesa for being such a badass on a team of Rockies crusading for Christ, but I knew that because of that, he was doomed. I’d joke from time to time about how, one day when Jose Mesa didn’t play for the Rockies any more, I would have to write a compelling letter to the people at Coors Field, explaining why they should give me the Jose Mesa player banner that hung from the wall outside the field. Every time I wandered over to the bullpen to see if Jose Mesa was warming up, I worried that it would be the last time he’d be there. Every time I had too much to drink and screamed Jose Mesa!!!!!!! as loud as I could at a bar after the game, I knew that one day I would be the crazy bitch yelling for some guy nobody’d ever heard of before.
So I wasn’t shocked when they declined his option at the end of last season. I pictured Jose Mesa spending lazy days on his farm in the Dominican Republic, with his wife Mirla and their numerous children, eating beans and rice (his favorite food). I wrote a story about what would happen if I met Jose Mesa and we became pals. I secretly hoped he’d get picked up somewhere — and then he did. Jose Mesa now plays for the Detroit Tigers, which is cool because I don’t hate them, and hopefully I’ll get to see him when they play my Sox. The idea of Jose Mesa pitching to A.J. Pierzynski is so much pure awesomeness I can’t fully comprehend it. Imagine if, one day, Jose hits A.J. with a pitch.
The sad thing is that even now, I love Jose Mesa more than I love the Rockies. I hope I can find another somewhat obscure player who spends more time talking shit than reading the New Testament — someone to whom even a nonreligious, heckling, drunkard like me can relate.
For now, I’ll just do my thing and write as much as I can about sports — especially the under-appreciated, quirky, or over-the-line players I always seem to like best — and say thanks to Jose Mesa, the inspiration for Hit by a Pitch. I hope he takes out half the Minnesota Twins this year.
And then there’s this: