Most of the people who know me know very well that a good portion of my life revolves around hoping and praying that the Boston Red Sox win the World Series.
Six days after the Red Sox did exactly that for the third time in 10 seasons, you’d think I’d be on Cloud 9. Instead, I am somewhat uncomfortably stuck on Cloud 8 and feeling a little guilty.
It’s not so much that I feel guilty about the fact that the Cardinals and Butte native Rob Johnson won’t be receiving a 2013 World Series ring. I feel bad about that.
What makes me feel worse, though, is how I acted during the series.
The worst of that was my reaction to an obstruction call that ended Game 3. I still contend that was the wrong call. I will get into that in a moment.
First, I feel bad that I didn’t devote the passion that I gave for 25 guys who don’t know that I exist to the team that had a catcher in the bullpen who has my cell phone number.
I have known Rob Johnson since back when I felt bad for him thinking he could never grow out of his sister Kellie’s shadow. KJ is one of if not the best female athlete Butte has ever seen, and I remember little Rob watching as his sister dominated on the softball field and basketball court for the Butte Central Maroons.
When Rob played American Legion baseball I often ran the scoreboard while his kid sister Carley played the role of the announcer. We had a blast every time.
I remember talking to Rob on the day when he was drafted by the Mariners in 2004. On the same day his Legion coach Glen Granger guaranteed that Rob would make the big leagues.
Later that summer Rob and I stood on the bleachers at Alumni Coliseum while I interviewed him for a story about signing with the Mariners.
Two years later and Rob was in Triple A Tacoma. My dad and I fought the traffic just in time to arrive late at a Rainiers game at Cheney Stadium to see Rob not in the lineup.
It didn’t even damper the night one bit. I ran down to the bullpen and got Rob’s attention. He met me by the dugout for a little bit after the game and made sure that I let everybody back home know that Rob said hello.
He also signed an autograph for every fan who lined up, and it took a while. Not one other player signed an autograph after that game.
A couple years after that, Rob was in the “Show.” So, as a member of the Butte media, I was able to cover the Mariners’ home opening series two years in a row. We had full access to the clubhouse and were allowed on the field during batting practice.
There, I got to kind of know Ken Griffey Jr. to the point that he extended his hand to me for a handshake. How cool is that?
I also accidentally got to stand shoulder to shoulder with Ichiro outside the Mariners dugout before batting practice. I got to sit and BS with 1996 World Series MVP John Wetteland about the disgusting old Yankees hat he wore in that series.
That isn’t even a joke about the Yankees. Wetteland wouldn’t wear a new hat with a patch on it. Instead, he had some poor person sew a patch on the hat he wore every day that season. That included running the stairs for a workout.
Wetteland, by the way, loved Rob as a catcher. He said he was blown away by how smart he is.
So, covering Rob’s career from a youngster to a big leaguer is about as rewarding as it comes for a small-market sports writer.
Still, when umpire Jim Joyce called obstruction to end Game 3 of the World Series, I almost lost my mind. I was cheering that hard for my beloved Red Sox.
I taught my kids — and one of my daughter’s friends — some new swear words and I screamed for about an hour that the call was B.S.
On social media, suddenly everybody was a baseball expert and a lawyer. It doesn’t take Johnnie Cochran to poke holes in the obstruction rule, though.
I will allow that the call might have been right according to the book, but I don’t think it is as cut and dry as the umpires’ propaganda campaign that started with the a rare post-game press conference.
I contend that Joyce could have used his judgment to rule that there wasn’t obstruction on that play because the fielder had no way to get out of the way. He could have ruled that he was still in the act of trying to field the ball.
Plus, that was the only obstruction call between third and home in the history of baseball that took place inside the baseline. Look it up, every obstruction call on the third-base line has come on the outside.
More than a week later and without the emotion tied to the argument, I still contend that that call was, at best, in doubt.
Of course, had the same obstruction call benefited the Red Sox, I would have argued the other way until I was blue in the face. I am nothing if not a hypocrite, and so are a bunch of those anti-Red Sox trolls on social media.
Therein lies my guilt. Looking back, I can’t believe I got mad about a call that benefited Rob’s team, even though the Butte Central graduate didn’t play.
Rob, who was on the Cardinals’ active roster from July 9 through the end of the regular season, was in the dugout or bullpen for each game. He caught the bullpen for every reliever who went into a game during the playoffs and World Series.
Rob would have been part of the parade St. Louis had the Cardinals won. He would have had a World Series ring. He would have been a world champion, and Rob and his family would have been on Cloud 9 for years to come.
I wasn’t thinking about that during the classic World Series, and I cheered against Rob’s team.
That’s why I am now stuck on Cloud 8.