Last Wednesday, the wonderful people at Beer Mug Sports posted a GIF of a marvelous slice of baseball. (The original GIF was made by the lovely @TPBderek.) A fifth-inning Andrew McCutchen homer sent the fans beyond the fence into a tizzy and we couldn't help but be reminded of one of the most popular GIFs of all time, the sometimes-named "Yankee Enthusiasts dot GIF."
Last year, I set about to tell the hypothetical stories behind the individuals who comprised "Yankee Enthusiasts." I really hope you can see where we're going at this point.
First, the moment in question:
Next, a handy key for you to tell the primary characters apart. Click to embiggen.
And now, the stories behind the Pirates Enthusiasts. Apologies for any accidental facts I may make up.
He was kind of off in his own little world. He did that from time to time. His teachers back in school would always say to him, quit'cher daydreamin'. Quit'cher daydreamin', Eric. Stop horsin' around and playin' grab-ass. Give me 10 laps around the goalposts. That sort of stuff.
School was a long time ago (or at least it seemed that way), but Eric was still prone to daydreaming. Even at work, where he had to engage with customers on the phone all day, he was able to disappear inside his own head. Even while he was actively talking to people, finding out their problems, creating tickets for the technicians. Eric wondered whether that was weird. To be simultaneously present and disengaged. Quit'cher daydreamin', they used to tell him.
Eric was lost in his own little world since the second inning, thinking about everything and nothing at all. What am I gonna do about money? What if I won the Powerball? Wouldn't that be something? Should I get another dog? What would I name him? Hot dogs sound kinda good right now. That sort of thing. A constant stream of questions and scenarios and mundane fantasies from a tap he could never seem to shut off. He didn't hear the crack of the bat, but he stood along with everyone around him, almost entirely out of some slight hivemind cimpulsion. He barely even understood what was happening until everyone around him was scrabbling for the ball. It was only after he established the ball was away from him and his beer was safe that Eric chuckled, against his will.
He was replaying the home run again in his mind, which was weird, because he hadn't been paying attention at all until the ball was in the stands. He was watching everything, but he was a million miles away. He wondered whether that was weird, to have your eyes open and be looking at something without seeing anything at all, but then being able to remember the entire sequence of events, like they were stored on a different cassette that he just had to pop in if he wanted. It probably IS weird, thought Eric, but being alive is pretty weird if you think about it.
Still though, that was a hell of a home run.
Eric went back to daydreaming.
"Hm? Home run, huh? Pretty cool, I guess. Seen one, y'seen 'em all. Go Bucs."
Emilio prided himself on his ability to keep from looking like a fool under any circumstances. A normal person might misjudge the flight of a home run and jump up in the air to try and grab it, only to realize it landed 20 feet below them and 15 feet in front of them. Emilio wasn't normal though. He was thinking he could write a book on how to quickly adapt to any situation in order to avoid looking like a doofus.
He could see it now:
Chapter 4: Sports
If you accidentally jump up for a ball, but it isn't near you, just KEEP JUMPING like you're really excited about the result and that's why you were jumping all along. Here are some excuses in case people ask you why you're jumping and you really need to seal the deal (of not being a dummy):
- Home Run: "He just hit a frickin' home run! Hooray!"
- Home Run (opposing team): "Awwwww I thought [outfielder's name] was gonna catch that one!" ALTERNATE: "I'm just 'hopping mad' at that dumb [pitcher's name]!"
- Foul ball: "Boy, he just missed that one! Way to stay alive, [batter's name]!"
- Foul ball (opposing team): "That's a strike! That counts as a strike! Just [one or two] more of those, baby! Yeah!" [NOTE: do not say the last sentence in an "Austin Powers" voice.]
Emilio would probably start writing the book when he got home later.
He'd been worried for days before the game. For days. Robert Cleary didn't want to be seen as any sort of "bandwagon" fan; he'd been following the Pirates since he was about seven years old.
He kept pushing clothes back and forth in his closet. Not one thing? Not one item of Pirates clothing? He tried to think back. He could vaguely remember a T-shirt with a caricature of Bobby Bonilla on it. That would probably get a lot of positive comments, but it was probably a size Youth Medium. It was also probably thrown out or donated by his mom like 10 years ago.
Robert sighed and tugged the shirt on. Six Steelers shirts. SIX. And not a single Pirates shirt. I'll be the laughing stock of Three Rivers. Crap. I mean PNC. PNC Park. Why am I being such a dummy?
When his buddies picked him up, he nervously chuckled and joined in their conversations as best he could. They didn't seem to care much what he was wearing, but he kept his arms crossed over his chest as much as possible, just to be safe. A real faux pas, Robert, he told himself. A Steelers shirt at a Pirates game. What a disgrace.
"Yeah, I like Neil Walker. I don't care. The shirsey was on sale! Like 16 bucks! I'm gonna pass up a perfectly good clearance Pirates shirsey just because it's Neil Walker? Get outta here. The font ALONE -- pure class!
"Oh sure, sure. Give me crap about Neil Walker. Guess what? He's an important part of a first-place team. Yeah, that's right. Can't believe you guys are breaking my balls about this. You bunch of dicks. Robert's wearing a STEELERS SHIRT FOR CRYING OUT LOUD."
Everyone laughed at Sonny's rant. Everyone except Robert, of course. Robert looked like he wanted to die.
If he was being honest with himself, it seemed like Danny's entire life was like this: one hand grabbing at a home run baseball, while the other hand tries not to spill his beer. Really made you think.
I wore camouflage because I didn't want to get hit by a baseball. I thought it would make it harder for the ball to find me. Basically, my personal mantra is this: I don't want to be hit by a baseball.
The ball was coming right for him. He couldn't believe it. A home run ball, headed square for his darn hands. Will stood, waiting, his entire being fixed on the ball in flight. Directly at him. This meant something. Is this a sign, Lord?
Then, suddenly, he was being punched in the stomach by the meaty, leather-clad fist of Matt Holliday. The ball deflected away from Will. Everything happened so quickly after that. He was stunned for a fraction of a second, but then that disbelief turned into pure rage. He didn't know what to do with his hands. He didn't know what to do with anything.
He glared at Matt Holliday as the toggle in brain switched from "neutral" to "fight." That ball should have been HIS. He couldn't remember a moment in his life when he'd ever been so angry. He probably never had been. He stared down at Holliday, looking for something to say ... to yell ... to SCREAM. The only thing his brain was filled with in that moment were cusses.
So he said a cuss.
20 seconds later, Will was mortified. He wished he could apologize to Holliday, but he knew that even if he could, there was nothing to say. He couldn't explain what had happened to him, but it troubled him. No one should get that angry. And this was only baseball. Will said a silent prayer to ask God for forgiveness. He wondered whether, the next time he led youth group, he would explain to the kids what had happened to him; why he had done what he'd done.
He hoped he'd find some answers between now and then. He had a lot of thinking to do.
LOOK OUT! A BASEBALL!
Oh, I guess I was wearing a glove that whole time.
LOUIE SAVE ME
ENNNNHHHH INNHHHHH NYIH
Sorry, Tammy; was too far away from that one. Too far. Not close. You safe? You're safe. Where's the ball.
where'd these sunglasses come from
Caleb Barnes was the most popular kid at Grandview Elementary School. None of the kids could believe that Caleb's parents would be cool enough to let him have a real, honest-to-gosh mohawk. Caleb just shrugged and smirked his half-smirk he was so famous for when they brought it up. "I pretty much do what I want," he'd say. The other kids would nod solemnly, or perhaps give a whispered, "Wow." Then Caleb would almost invariably say, "Well, I've gotta jet. Catch you later." Then he'd hitch his backpack up on one shoulder (only losers wore their backpacks using both straps) and scoot down the hall, whether he had someplace to be or not.
He was pretty cool that way.
He was way cooler than his dumb, stupid dad. That was for sure. Any time anything happened that was remotely exciting, his dad would just stand there, arms akimbo, completely immobile. Geez, dad. The ironic part was: maybe that's where Caleb learned his cool, collected, brooding stoicism that made him so popular at school? Perhaps he learned to be impassive while observing his father from afar. Could it be that Caleb was more influenced by his father than he let on? Was it possible that what Caleb considered his most admirable trait had its roots in that which he disliked the most about his own father? Could all of his success be due to his old man? Maybe.
Or maybe it was the spray tan.
Oh my goodness is that Caleb back there? Don't let him see you, Nicholas. Don't. For god's sakes, keep your cool. You don't want to look like a horse's patoot in front of Caleb Barnes of all people. Does Caleb think this is cool? I'm gonna try to see if he thinks this is cool out of the corners of my eyes. Just don't let him see you.
Oh man, this looks like a home run! Is Caleb getting excited about this? Let's sneak a peek -- hmmm, he doesn't seem to be reacting to the ball in flight. It's cool; that's Caleb. He plays it cool like that. Man, how can someone two grades younger than me be so much cooler?
Get it together, Nicholas. Sheesh.
Okay this is definitely going to be a home run. Is Caleb excited? AW THE HECK WITH IT, NICHOLAS; BE YOUR OWN MAN.
"YEAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH! WOOOO, PIRATES!"
Whew. That felt GOOD. I love baseball. I love life. Caleb Barnes can go take a hike. I'll have fun on my own.
Is he looking at me? Don't let him see you.
Don was always quick to anger. Not that he was a violent man; he was just frustrated. He had never gotten into any fights and he never got so angry he had to hit something, but he could fly off the handle with the best of 'em. He really had to keep it in check when he brought clients with him to these sweet bleacher seats at PNC Park. "First row, right by the fence," he was quite proud of being able to say. Being a real estate developer for Outback Steakhouse had its perks, obviously.
So when Matt Holliday gut-punched that poor kid, Don was real, real glad that none of the bigwigs were around to hear him yell "YOU STINK."
Don couldn't help it; sometimes he just had to get things off his chest. Sometimes getting a little bit peeved helped everything else feel a little bit better. They don't call it "blowing off some steam" for nothin', he mused.
Plus, it was true. Matt Holliday really did stink.
His short jaunt into anger behind him, Don settled back down onto his uncomfortable bleacher seat, smiling because he knew the Buccos were gonna pull this one off quite handily. He thought he might stop somewhere for a tasty treat later on to celebrate. Heck, maybe he'd cut out a bit early to make sure he could stop in at his favorite place for dessert.
Nothing tasted quite so good as victory, but the Cinnamon Apple Oblivion came close. Oh; or maybe the Chocolate Thunder From Down Under. That would really hit the spot.
Don chuckled to himself. "You stink," he repeated to himself under his breath. Where did THAT come from?