Putting on game face a Major accomplishment
By Denise Crosby firstname.lastname@example.org June 5, 2012 5:56PM
DETROIT, MI - JUNE 01: Casey Crosby #45 of the Detroit Tigers pitches in the first inning of his major league debut during the game against the New York Yakees at Comerica Park on June 1, 2012 in Detroit, Michigan. The Yankees defeated the Tigers 9-4. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
Updated: July 7, 2012 8:48AM
My son admitted he lied ... a fib, he insists, that was told out of necessity.
The day before the kid was to make his Major League debut pitching against the greatest sports franchise in the history of the universe — at least according to his stepdad, who spent his childhood at Yankee Stadium — Casey assured me he was not nervous.
“Not a bit,” he told me. “So I don’t want you to be nervous either, Mom.”
The deception worked. My stomach settled down considerably ... at least it was calm for someone who is described by her children as an emotional spaz. Make that SPAZ in all caps. It’s in my genetic makeup. I can’t help it, I tell them. Deal with it.
They do, by not sitting next to me at any athletic event.
It doesn’t matter whether it’s a son or daughter, what sport or what level of competition: One thing I’ve come to understand over the years is that mothers tend to get overly intense when it comes to their kids performing. For me personally, the stakes were raised to a whole new level when my favorite Mud Hen from Detroit’s Triple A team in Toledo informed me Wednesday he’d received the call. With the Tigers’ number two pitcher on the DL, my child was getting the shot he’d dreamed of since age 6 —around the same time Derek Jeter first made it to the Show.
It’s the same dream of so many little boys across the country, including at least three generations in our family who consider pro baseball the Holy Grail of wishes come true.
We all understood the magnitude of this moment. I knew how much my son had worked to get to this point; how many hurdles he’d overcome. I also knew he wanted this not just for himself, but for all those who supported him on the way to this incredible opportunity.
Now he would get it: Against the Yankees’ ace. On Friday night. On national TV. In front of a sellout crowd.
I really did work hard at keeping it together. I practiced my poker face for 48 hours, especially after my brother reminded me TV cameras like to pan to the moms (of course) of rookies at crucial moments. On the drive to Detroit’s Comerica Park, I only had to use every other rest stop. At the pregame Fox Network interview, I was calm and concise. During the Polish dancing exhibition prior to game time I kicked up my heels. During the “Star Spangled Banner” I sang every note.
And when I looked up at the JumboTron to see my son — square-jawed and so focused I barely recognized him — take the pitcher’s mound, I lost it.
Emotion is a funny thing. I have no idea how I was able to hold my breath so long, as he faced his first batter — the incomparable Derek Jeter. Nor can I tell you why I lost it again when he struck out Curtis Granderson and A-Rod.
During the second inning, the rain came down and the wheels came off — especially when Granderson made the Rookie pay for that first inning with a grand slam. The third inning was an impressive comeback: Three up; three down. And he did OK in the fourth, but poor defense hurt — and the kid got pulled.
The next day’s headlines called Casey Crosby’s game uneven. I called it one of the most surreal moments of my life.
It was after the game he confessed to the fib. His stomach had been in knots since the moment he got the call-up. But it all went away, my son insisted, when he entered the clubhouse just hours before the game. “When I walked onto the field, I was totally relaxed,” he said. “And this time I’m telling the truth. Promise.”
The Ace may have gotten the win, but the Rookie picked up a valuable lesson: No matter where you are, the game is always played the same.
And moms, no matter how hard we try, will always be a SPAZ.