Didn’t See That Curveball Coming

I like to shop at thrift stores. Not because I’m cheap, but…

OK, fine. It’s because I’m cheap. Though I prefer to call it “fiscally responsible.” Why should I go to Kohl’s and pay twenty bucks for a shirt when I can go to Value Village and pay $2.00 for that same shirt? I’d rather spend my hard-earned discretionary income on important things.

Like cocktails!

Chances are, that shirt has barely been worn…if it has ever been worn. Truly, you can find some great bargains in thrift stores. Considering I’m also a fan of garage sales and vintage shops, it should come as no surprise that I value thriftiness.

On a recent visit to Ye Olde Thrift Emporium, I picked up a brand new Boston Red Sox t-shirt for a song. (OK, not literally. It cost me a couple of dollars, though it would have been cool if the cashier handed it to me after I’d belted out a few verses of “Hey, Jude”).

Now, I’m not much of a baseball fan; my heart belongs to the NFL. I have always liked the Red Sox, but I couldn’t tell you where they are in the standings today if my life depended on it. Maybe they’re in first. Maybe last. Who knows? Not this guy. I am aware that they won the World Series last year, which is cool – though I never watched a single game of that series. Or the playoffs. Come to think of it, I haven’t seen a baseball game, either on TV or in person, since I lived in the Bay Area. The ex and I used to ride BART up to Oakland to catch the A’s, but this was back in the day when Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire were popular. America’s Favorite Pastime is not Mark’s Favorite Pastime.

Why the Red Sox, when I live about as far from Boston as you can get in the U.S.? I’m not really sure. My first baseball glove had Carl Yastrzemski’s name stitched into the inseam. He played his whole career with the Red Sox. And before Jimmy Fallon was the king of late night he was an actor, and starred in that movie with Drew Barrymore called Fever Pitch about a die-hard Red Sox fan. That was a pretty good flick. I dunno…maybe I’ve just always been drawn to the underdog.

Turns out there was one unanticipated downside to wearing a Red Sox shirt. My boss is a huge Red Sox fan. We’re talking pennants on the wall and bobble-head dolls. I hadn’t stopped to consider this when making my purchase, and it never crossed my mind until I wore it to work one day.

“Great shirt, Mark!” he exclaimed, beaming at me proudly.

“Thanks,” I said. “I knew you’d like it!” (Not really).

“Who’s on the back?”

At that point I remembered my t-shirt featured a player’s name on the back, but for the life of me I could not remember who. It started with an M, though.

“You tell me!” I replied, turning around. I’m nothing if not quick on my feet.

“Dice-K!” he exclaimed.


“The one and only!” I said, wondering what Andrew Dice Clay had to do with baseball.

“So, you’re a Matsuzaka fan?” he asked.

Because I’m quick on my feet, I realized that Dice-K must be a nickname for Matsuzaka, the player whose name graced the back of my shirt. Sherlock Holmes ain’t got nothin’ on me.

“Yeah,” I said. “He’s great!”

My boss literally groaned. If you want to know why, here’s the answer. It seems that Daisuke Matsuzako is one of the most detested men in Boston. The Red Sox paid big money to land this much-hyped Japanese pitcher – we’re talking over $100 million – and he turned out to be a bust. He had one good season, followed by five  disastrous ones. Fans couldn’t wait to ride him out of town once his contract was finally up.

This man is not very well liked in Boston.
This man is not very well liked in Boston.

Hmm. No wonder this t-shirt was so cheap…

At that point I just shrugged and said something like, “Well. Once upon a time, anyway.” That, at least, was the correct answer…even if it was nothing more than a lucky guess.

Even when I don’t wear the shirt – and I try not to anymore, now that I know what it means to any die-hard BoSox fan – my boss still assumes I know everything that is going on with the team. Just the other day he was talking about the game the night before, raving about some huge come-from-behind victory. “That was amazing!” I gushed, agreeing with him.

I had no idea what he was talking about.

And yesterday, he asked me, “Hey, did ‘our boys’ re-sign Lester yet?”

“Not that I’ve heard,” I responded, and there was more truth in that statement than he would have guessed.

Now, of course, it’s too late to admit that I’m not as big a baseball fan as I might have inadvertently led him to believe. Liking the Red Sox will never be the same as religiously following the Red Sox’ every pitch in every inning of every game. I just have to keep my head down whenever walking past him, and hope the topic of ‘our boys’ never comes up.

Is it football season yet??




Published by Mark Petruska

I'm a professional writer and editor living my best life in south central Wisconsin.

11 thoughts on “Didn’t See That Curveball Coming

  1. Mark, as you know, I’m not a sports fan but my brother and I were talking on the phone last night and he plans to come to Philly next year and see a Phillies game and BEGGED me to go with him, so I am. He loves both football and baseball, but thought I would enjoy a seeing a baseball game more than football because it’s much more laid-back (in his words). I don’t know though because I think football would be a bit more exciting to watch, especially with how the way Philadelphia fans act when it comes to their precious Eagles. OMG…they’re insane!

    Have a super weekend, buddy!

    P.S. Love your post title photo!


    1. Football is definitely more exciting to watch than baseball! My uncle once took me to a Phillies game, and that was a great experience. Growing up, baseball was my favorite by a long shot. Enjoy your weekend, Ron!


  2. I could barely tolerate attending my kids’ baseball, soccer, softball, tennis, basketball, etc., etc. as you might imagine, I have no interest in watching strangers play ball either!

    We must have the crappiest thrift stores here. They smell horrible and all I’ve ever found is stuff for Halloween costumes!


    1. I’ll admit, there IS a certain smell I associate with thrift stores. Kind of a musty odor that is always present. But for me, that sets off a Pavolvian response because I know I’m about to nab some great bargains!


  3. As you know I AM a die hard sox fan. So to keep your water cooler convo flowing and your deception alive I will let you in on the most juicy Red Sox gossip. Lester was just traded to the Oakland A’s. Most of us are hoping he will be signed on the off season but we are not happy bunch!


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