Monday, June 21, 2010

The girl who loved Ryan Braun

(Left: BEST PHOTO EVER! A walk off untuck 'em for Ryan Braun.)

Ryan Braun became my summer boyfriend and favorite Brewer in 2008, thanks in large part to my friend Maren. Maren and I went to Macalester and played on the softball team together. Maren is Scandinavian and swears like a sailor—which is awesome. She has had about 10 baseball players that she referred to as her “boyfriend” over the years. Maren is from Minnesota and a Twins fan but because she spent a year after graduation in Baltimore, she has had a number of Oriole boyfriends, as well. Brady Anderson and Mike Mussina were two boyfriends. I can’t remember all of the others. She just called them her boyfriend … you sort of had to guess which one she was talking about. I notice now that she’s married, she doesn’t refer to her boyfriends as often (as opposed to me).
After hearing Maren discuss her boyfriend(s) at one of our coed beer league softball games, I announced to the women on my team (that’s the Ladies of Cobra Kai “LOCK” for those of you scoring at home) that I was going to select a boyfriend, sort of to mock Maren. I decided to use Annie Savoy’s criteria: No one batting under .250 … unless he had a lot of RBIs and was a great glove man up the middle. It was a toss-up between Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun. I had never been much of a J.J. Hardy girl and Ben Sheets was hurt too often. Based on one of the best rookie years I had ever seen (.324 BA and 34 HR), I selected Ryan Braun. And then I discovered he was 24 years old. I felt sort of creepy. I was 10 (or so) years older. A quick scan of the roster was not especially helpful in finding someone my own age. When the hell did this happen? I had been younger than the players for so long, I hadn’t noticed that I had now transitioned into being older than most. Maybe I had to settle for Ned Yost. I had a conference with LOCK at the next game. They all assured me that not only was it not creepy but it was actually desirable to have a younger boyfriend.  So, Ryan Braun it was and is and forever will be because he’s my summer boyfriend now.

Two thousand and eight was a remarkable year for the Brewers as they made the playoffs for the first time since 1982. It was less remarkable for me. A few years before, I had decided to embrace exercise again after being pretty inactive since law school. (I played basketball and softball in college and coached basketball for years so I was somewhat active for a while. During law school, my only exercise was walking to the printer or lifting my constitutional law book. I ate so many donut holes there was a trail of powdered sugar between my desk and the printer.) I did my first 5k on my birthday in 2006 and my first triathlon later that summer. In 2007, I did four or five triathlons and a 10-mile race. In 2008, I had several triathlons planned as well as the Twin Cities marathon. I was going to run the marathon with my sister Megan. I was thrilled. I loved competing again. There was something so wonderful about running…the feeling that I got as the miles went by. I used to hate to run in basketball practice but there was something so peaceful about it now. It made me less anxious about life. I would count down the hours during work until it was time for my workout.

And then I hurt my knee—IT band syndrome. It was sort of my own fault. I should have stopped running but I decided that I could train through the knee pain. I limped through two triathlons and kept up my marathon training schedule—limping home in tears about once a week. At the beginning of July, I had to concede, I couldn’t do the marathon. I could hardly walk. I was bitter and angry but I found a lot of joy in watching the Brewers. And Ryan Braun—especially Ryan Braun. The kid can hit. And, yes, he is attractive, too, but that’s hardly the point.* His flair for the dramatic during the 2008 season is something I will never forget. His homerun in the eighth inning against the Cubs on the last day of the season to break a 1-1 tie made me cry. Seriously, I cried.  My biggest fear in life is that I will never do anything extraordinary; that I will waste my life sitting behind a desk examining title to real property; that I will never do anything special. Being a Brewers fan that year made me feel like something special was happening to me.  

I’m sure it’s no coincidence that the day that the Brewers were eliminated from the playoffs was the same day as the Twin Cities marathon.  I tried to TiVo the game so I could host a marathon finishers’ party for my sister but someone told me the score (Seth must not have been around) and a really crappy day became even crappier.

On many levels, I realize that putting all of my energy behind a baseball team is silly but yet I do it anyway. I know that having a summer boyfriend when you are a happily married 37-year old is silly, but I do it anyway. I realize that telling your husband that you want to have Ryan Braun’s babies is probably crossing the line.** I know all of this, and, yet, I refuse to stop myself because it makes me happy.  

Randy Wolf pitched seven strong innings and the Brewers broke open a 1-1 tie with 5 runs in the top of the ninth inning to avoid being swept by the Colorado Rockies on Sunday.

Brewers 6, Rockies 1
Game played 6-20-10

*OK, it is sort of the point (or a lot of the point). I shamelessly objectify him on most days. Hey, if you can't appreciate your summer boyfriend, you picked the wrong summer boyfriend.

**For the record, Seth says that he is OK with this as long as Ryan Braun pays for the babies.

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