In the only capacity I knew how, I supported Anthony during the 2014 baseball season. I undug my heels from the ground, limited my whining about being lonely and bored, and made the trips to Mexico from Tucson as often as I could. Even after shitting my pants on the side of the highway in broad daylight, I continued to show up for him. In my mind, this was the path of least resistance and, my dear God, I was just so tired of fighting it all. Baseball was to Anthony what Brie cheese and white wine was to me: crack-cocaine. I tried to imagine someone telling me I could never eat cheese or drink wine again, and a lightbulb went off. Who could live under that kind of stress every day?? I still get the urge to jump off a steep cliff just thinking about it. And no one wanted either of us cashing out on life so soon, so he played baseball and I got drunk – which turned out to be just the formula we needed to make it through one more year of pipe-dreaming.
Turns out, Anthony just needed me to get the hell off his case a bit because 2014 marked the best baseball season of his life. His stats were steadily climbing and his current team’s owners could no longer shake the hype and interest from higher league’s managers. The next level (finally) wanted him and there was talk about him moving up. With the hype came even greater confidence and Anthony took off on a tear that I dare say that league has never seen before. He was more than doubling the numbers of his closest contender in every batting category, and while I was still acquiring the world’s worst swamp ass in the stands in Mexico, it seemed to bother me just a little bit less that year. We rode the wave and both had great feelings about the next steps. Progress was all I ever hoped to see with this career he chose, and finally it seemed I could validate my decision to repeatedly stick it out. I knew a promotion to the winter league meant more time away from each other, and more than likely more distance, but for some reason the happiness I felt for him outweighed my own pang of disappointment. I was genuinely proud and for the first time ever, I didn’t care what anyone else thought about our journey. This was our path. It was absurd to everyone else on this earth except the girls who sat beside me in the stands and the men who were out there playing on the fields. I was constantly anxious for what was next, and harping on Anthony for details every day. “Who called today?” “Are they sending a contract?” “What team is the best?” “What’s the plan?”
Jesus Christ, I was turning into Mama D.
The All-Star weekend came, which was hosted in Tijuana. I played hookie from work for maybe the 30th time to watch Anthony wreak havoc on the poor souls in the homerun derby, and he did not disappoint. The first round he hit a measly three or four homeruns, but it was enough to move him to the finals and he assured me during the break that he would be winning this thing. When he said it to me, I was somewhat concerned. He said it in the kind of way I would be reacting if someone had told me there would be Brie at a party, and when I showed up it was actually, in fact, Gouda. Homey don’t play that. He walked up to the plate like I walk up to a wine bar, and smoked eight homeruns out of the park. One white girl in the stands went nuts (me), while the rest of the non-English speaking spectators coddled their butt-hurt boyfriends.
The success just kept carrying on. 2014’s season was pretty awesome. The team won the title for the second year and a row and Anthony was awarded the Triple Crown. If you don’t speak baseball, that means he’s the shit. Not the kind of shit you wander upon that was left on the side of the road in the desert by a poor girl annihilated by her bowel movements either. Quite the opposite of that, actually. He dominated the leagues hitting categories, leading every single one except triples. (Hey, you can’t be perfect, and we did eat a lot of al pastor tacos that year). Luckily, the Triple Crown didn’t take triples into account, per se. It was awarded to the player who led the league in RBI’s, batting average, and homeruns. To put it into perspective for you, in 2012 Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers became the first Triple Crown recipient in 45 years. Carl Yastrzemski won it last in 1967. Now, obviously I googled that for effect. No one would actually know that off that cuff except Mama D, and potentially the rest of the D’Alfonso family. Hell, I can’t even pronounce that guy’s last name, but the point is, Anthony killed it. Sadly, they spelled his name wrong on the plaque, leaving out an integral ‘h’ in his first name, effectively renaming him ‘Antony.” But since everyone in San Luis adoringly calling him that anyway, we didn’t make much of a fuss about it.
His efforts in baseball and my efforts not to kill myself with a wooden bat that year paid off. He was invited to play Winter ball in Guadalajara for substantially more money than he was making in San Luis. They even sent a paper contract for him to sign via email! That is truthfully how I knew we had made it – binding clauses and technological advances. When they asked for his direct deposit information, I almost shit my pants. Again.
2015 was going to be one for the books.