Oct 11

Writers Watching Sports: To 39, With Love

Writers Watching Sports: Amy Rossi

A Interview with Amy Rossi

1. What is your favorite baseball game snack?

Generally, I’m a purist and stick to hotdogs at a game. Though if there’s something a ballpark is famous for or something unusual, I’ll give it a go–like cheese curds or waffle fries covered in nacho cheese served in a mini baseball helmet. When life gives you waffle fries in a mini helmet, you eat it.

2. Who do you think is going to win the 2017 World Series?

Cleveland or Houston. If the Red Sox are eliminated, I’m pulling for Cleveland. I will have always a soft spot for Terry Francona. (You can definitely edit all this out, but after the Red Sox fired him, I ran into him at my gym in Boston. He was blocking sign-in scanner and I got really annoyed before I realized who it was. I swiped myself in, walked toward the gym floor, realized that the chance to thank the person who brought the Red Sox a World Series would never come again, walked back, and expressed my gratitude in the most awkward fashion, barely making eye contact. He chose an elliptical next to me and I got to show him how to work the TV.)

3. Do you think the Brewers will ever win a World Series?

Yes. While 2011 seemed like the best chance in my time pulling for them, you still gotta believe. And hey, given that they came so close this year when no one gave them a chance, there’s a lot to be excited about. (Now, if you asked: do you think the Brewers will ever win a World Series with Ryan Braun, my lower lip may have started to tremble and I might have looked sadly off into the distance.)

Amy Rossi repping The Brewers

To 39, With Love

June 2005, Chapel Hill, NC

I don’t know why I’m sad, just that I am. Later, like years later, I will realize it is not sadness at all but depression, and something I have to learn to manage. For now, for college, in a town full of beautiful girls with toned legs and honey hair and boys with popped collars and neoprene cords for their sunglasses, I am sad and also alone.

I play fantasy baseball with some people from an online message board and am mostly terrible at it until I pick up a pitcher off the waiver wire. His name is Chris Capuano and he pitches for the Brewers. I have never heard of him.

Through a cable company glitch, I have the baseball package for free. On a night the Red Sox aren’t playing, I tune in to a Brewers game to see Capuano pitch. The announcers make me laugh, the energy and possibility of Corey Hart, JJ Hardy, Bill Hall, Prince Fielder, and Rickie Weeks is infectious, and that lefty pitcher gets to me.

It really is that simple. One game, and they are mine.

July 2006, Boston, MA

I have lived on my own, eight hundred miles from home, for less than two months. I am old enough to move without a job or an apartment past August and young enough to believe it will work out. After my first day of real, adult work, I call my parents but they don’t answer. My brother’s appendix had ruptured. This is the first in a long string of things I will not be home for.

I live in walking distance to Fenway Park, but I am also looking west. Chris Capuano is preparing to repeat last season, one in which he led the league in quality starts and became the first Brewers pitcher to win 18 games since 1987. He rides a Segway around Milwaukee and reveals that as a youth, he went to space camp—the real one. (His distinction, according to the color commentator.) He is a Final Vote contender for the All-Star game and I make my friends vote for him. They are older than me, old enough to maybe understand what it looks like when a person channels herself into something small as a means for control.

Capuano does not win. He ends up at the All-Star game anyway, as a replacement. He stands next to Nomar Garciaparra during introductions, a Massachusetts native next to an erstwhile Boston hero, like it was scripted.

May 2009, Milwaukee, WI

My roommate and I are in Wisconsin for roughly twenty-fours, which is enough time to see two baseball games and collect a commemorative Ryan Braun bobblehead. She is moving out soon, so we’ve decided to celebrate the three years we spent together by watching her hometown Diamondbacks play my adopted Brewers. She is going to move in with a wonderful man, and I have not yet begun noticing that people who started dating after my boyfriend and I did are taking bigger steps.

Miller Park is glorious, but it is missing one thing: the person who brought me here. The years have been unkind to Chris Capuano, riddled with injuries, including a second Tommy John surgery, and an unfortunate string of over twenty games, spread out across seasons, where the Brewers have lost every time he has stepped on the mound, regardless of his role in the game. I hope he does not mine things too deeply for metaphor.

I seek trip advice from Brewers fans online, and they invite us to their tailgate. I’m blown away that we can carry our beers to the stadium from the parking lot. We sit near the radio announcer’s booth and the smooth tones of Bob Uecker wash over us, gentle as a breeze. It would be impossible to need anything more.

August 2011, Boston, MA

The roommate who I went to Milwaukee with is married and the roommate who moved in after her has just gotten a new place with her soon-to-be fiancé. I’m sitting in my boyfriend’s living room, having recently finished a summer writing course, and I’m thinking about applying to graduate programs in creative writing. We both know this will take me away from him, and we don’t talk about it.

The Brewers are excellent this year. Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun are having MVP-caliber seasons, and Nyjer Morgan has introduced us to his alter ego, Tony Plush, and the concept of Plushdamentals. I follow three teams now because Chris Capuano has signed with the Mets. Every fifth day, I fire up Gameday and live and die with each pitch. Tonight, it is all living. Tonight, Cappy, he of the two Tommy John surgeries, is throwing a complete game, two-hit shutout.

I can almost see it, the finesse of his pick-off move, the tension of his jaw as he works over his bubblegum. When the final out is recorded, I am trying not to cry. Across the living room, no questions are asked, and I know that counts for something.

October 2013, Baton Rouge, LA

This October belongs to the Red Sox because this is our fucking city. I was not at the finish line in April but at work a mile away, across the street from the complex of hospitals. The sound of sirens still echoes in my ears.

This is our fucking city, even though I left it for Louisiana, for writing, for a move I am not sure is the right one. This is our fucking city, but the games still have to be played before the inevitable conclusion, and tonight the Dodgers are on. Chris Capuano appears in relief. My entire life is a question mark right now, and it is smoothed momentarily by this familiar face. He pitches three innings and records the win, the first and only postseason victory of his career. I will weep baseball tears for the rest of October, but these are the ones I can explain.

March 2016, Baton Rouge, LA

A book written, a defense passed. I am no longer surprised by the places where I can carry an open beer or by the fact that running away did not solve my problems, only put them in sharper relief.

The news of the spring, passed on by my friend who ensured I saw a proper Brewers tailgate seven years ago and who also facilitated my purchase of an autographed Capuano jersey, is that Cappy is may be coming back to Milwaukee. After watching him pitch against the Red Sox in a Yankee uniform and cheering when New York outfielder turned a home run into out, I look forward to the end of cognitive dissonance and seeing him back where he belongs.

He works from the bullpen mostly these days and has grown a thick beard. In interviews, he is humble and energized, knowing his career is winding down. He’s not guaranteed a spot on the roster, and no one knows what 2016 will hold.

I book a one-way flight home to North Carolina for after graduation. It is, I am sure, only a stop before I get to where I am really going.

October 2017, Raleigh, NC

Another season in the books, one that began with a charge from Milwaukee no one saw coming and ended not in the way we’ve grown used to, but with a promise for more. Perhaps it’s dramatic or an exaggeration to say I needed Chris Capuano this year more than ever. Maybe it only feels true because it is impossible, as his name never came up but neither did the word retirement. For the first time in over ten years, there was no stat-checking, no tracking every fifth day or learning the rhythms of bullpens to try to catch him on television. I tell myself to think about how much has changed since the dark night I first saw him pitch. (Too much, and also not enough.) I tell myself to be grateful to have been that inspired by a player for that long, to have such an unexpected answer when strangers (usually men) ask me (a woman) with skepticism how someone who has lived the majority of her life in Massachusetts and North Carolina came to love a team in Wisconsin.

Still, I hope:

An August night, warm, thick with the sound of crickets. A lefty called in from the bullpen, happy to take the mound, to play the game for one more inning. That slick move to first to check on the runner. The bubblegum. A reminder about drive and will being as important as talent.

A chance to offer a thank you that will go unheard, possibly, but not unfelt.

About The Author

Tasha Coryell is originally from Minnesota, home of some of the worst sports losses in history. She now lives, writes, and runs in Tuscaloosa, Alabama where she rolls with the Crimson Tide every Saturday in the fall. More from Tasha can be found at tashacoryell.com.