12
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Ray’s first Indians Spring Training

 

I had the unique privilege of bringing one of my closest friends to Cleveland Indians Spring Training this year. He had always wanted to go, so damn right I was going to be the one to make that happen. Unfortunately, he went to Goodyear Ballpark in my purse. You see, my friend Ray passed away very suddenly in November. Ray was my baseball buddy. That was always our thing. When I met him 15 or so years ago, he was impressed with my ability to engage in spirited baseball debates. He referred to me as a “lumpy boy” and laughed as I’d make off the cuff remarks about pitch count or how many men were LOB… While I was rocking stilettos. 


It was customary to ask “Were you DFA?” or “demoted to the pen” when discussing relationships. We were both baseball nerds, which is a beautiful thing. I gave it a lot of thought, and initially wanted to scatter some of Ray’s ashes at Progressive Field (it’s still “the Jake” to us) I eventually landed on Goodyear Ballpark as the final destination for my boy, Ray for more than one reason. #1- there was potential that I would be immediately arrested for my renegade behavior and I figure that the Arizona penal system is slightly more tolerable than Cleveland. I totally Googled “scattering a dead guy at a sports venue” and it’s not legal. I was willing to take my chances to fulfill this last wish. The main reason, however is what Spring Training represents. It’s a new year…  New hope. Every team is on an even playing field. There’s a special magic in the air during the spring. It’s exactly what Ray would want. He had a social media countdown each and every year. He felt that everyone should know how many days until pitchers and catchers reported. After that came the countdown to opening day. I can’t even explain how much I missed that this year. 

I had the huge honor of writing Ray’s obituary. I included the Cleveland Indians in the “left behind” portion because Tribe baseball is such a huge part of who this man was. He took it very seriously, which opened up some opportunities for me over the years. Ray was what I refer to as a “potato chip manager”. He was really gifted at making managerial decisions while sitting on his couch with a bag of wavy Lay’s chips… Almost always AFTER the situation had played itself out. “Oh… You would have pulled the starting pitcher before he gave up that home run? You’re a genius!” He would mumble under his breath, second guess the lineup and question pitching changes. On one occasion where he was being particularly vocal, I had the server deliver a piece of chocolate cake while proudly exclaiming, “congratulations on your promotion to Indians manager!” 


I can’t tell you how much he hated it when I’d place an imaginary call to the bullpen or the front office on his behalf. “My friend Ray doesn’t think so and so should be batting lead off. In fact, is there any chance he can just make all the management decisions going forward? Is he good at making decisions? Well, it only took him 20 minutes to decide what kind of beer to order. Does that count? No? Ok, I’ll let him know.” He’d just smirk and shake his head. 


I found the perfect spot for Ray in Goodyear. It’s a place where nobody cares who’s in the lineup or coming out of the pen. New talent is showcased and the future is prominently on display. If you’re not winning, it’s no big deal. It’s baseball at it’s very best. It’s hope and that’s what we could all use in Cleveland right now. I know Ray would be complaining with a bag of Cheetos because the 2015 Indians campaign didn’t get off to the best start, but it was his team no matter what. His family. That’s what I miss about him the most. His loyalty to this team, and essentially everyone else he considered near and dear. I keep hearing him in my head, “they’ll turn it around.” 

Yes, yes, they will.


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1 Response to “Ray’s first Indians Spring Training”


  1. 1 dan king
    May 13, 2015 at 6:54 am

    thanks


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About the Broad

A humorous look at dating in your mid-thirties and the other hilarious things that happen around us on a daily basis.

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