Sarah and I are more determined than ever to put our newfound dating strategy into action. We are ready to dive headfirst into the world of baseball and, hopefully, into the world of romance. Our mission to find love before the World Series has officially begun.
First things first, we have to plan out our baseball adventure. After checking the baseball schedule and realizing that we have exactly about five months to catch all 30 MLB teams in action – just about one team a week. It felt like fate had aligned the stars for us, making our romantic journey appear even more destined.
The second week of the season has a couple of games scheduled so there was only one way to make such an important — so we grabbed a piece of paper and jotted down all the team names. We threw the team names into a plastic minions cup that Sarah found in the back of of a cabinet in our high-rise apartment. I shook the cup, mixing up the teams, and with our eyes closed, Sarah pulled out the lucky winner for week two – the Dodgers.
Admittedly, we know next to nothing about the Dodgers or even what city they are from. So, we decided to go to the only place we could trust to get us ready —Tailgates. Bernie has already offered to be our go-to source for all things baseball and we know we can count on him to give us the SparkNotes version of the Dodgers, so we are as prepared as we can be before Wednesday night’s game. So after work on Tuesday, it was time for our first crash course lesson.
Our strategy was falling into place, and we are ready to hit week two out of the park — or were we?
I was sitting at my desk, my fingers dancing across the keyboard as I typed up my latest article for the Georgia Journal. I couldn’t help but feel a surge of excitement about this week’s game, but Mike with his a-little-too-confident attitude of an experienced journalist with a penchant for skepticism, sauntered over to my desk and leaned against the partition.
“Hey there, Emily. What’s got you grinning like the Cheshire Cat today?”
“Hey, Mike! Oh, you won’t believe what Sarah and I are up to,” I could barely hide my excitement.
“Pray tell,” Mike said, raising an eyebrow.
“We’re on a mission to find love before the World Series!” I explained all the details of our plan while Mike put in very little effort to hide his skepticism or amusement. While I was prepared for people to think the plan was a little out in left field, I wasn’t prepared for the genuine concern.
Mike burst into laughter. “You’re kidding, right? Love before the World Series? Sounds like a plot for a reality TV show. You two planning on ending up on Dateline instead?” Apparently the fact that meeting random guys in a bar week after week was slightly dangerous never even crossed our minds. But no way was I going to let Mike know he was right.
“It’s not as crazy as it sounds. We’re using baseball games as an excuse to meet new people and, you know, potentially find someone special.” I tried to giggle a little and make it sound less crazy.
“So, let me get this straight. You’re going to watch baseball games in some bar, hope to stumble upon a knight in shining — jersey— in the crowd, all while pretending to know what you are talking about?”
“Well, when you put it like that… yes,” I replied, feeling a little bashful under Mike’s scrutiny.
“I’ve heard of unconventional dating strategies, but this takes the cake,” Mike said, still chuckling. “But hey, I guess love can be found in the oddest of places.”
I sighed in relief, thankful for Mike’s light-hearted response. “Exactly! That’s what we’re hoping for. And who knows, it could make for a great story too.”
Mike shrugged, still grinning. “Well, here’s to your baseball-themed dating escapade. I hope you find love and not a Dateline mystery.”
I laughed and tried to get back to work, but the excitement of everything was still bubbling. Despite the teasing, I am determined to make this plan a success. Sometimes, the craziest ideas lead to the most extraordinary adventures.
The sun was dipping below the Atlanta skyline by the time I met up with Sarah to head to Tailgates for baseball 101 with Bernie.
“So, Em, I couldn’t help but notice you were texting during our Lyft ride,” Sarah teased, leaning back in the car seat.
“Yeah, that was Mike, my coworker at the Journal. I had told him about our plan today at the office so he was checking in.”
Sarah raised an eyebrow, “And what did he think of our grand romantic baseball escapade?”
“Well, he thought it was a bit… out there. He joked that we might end up on an episode of Dateline.”
Sarah laughed, her worry momentarily forgotten. “Dateline, huh? That’s a bit extreme. But, I get it. We’re stepping into uncharted territory.”
“Exactly!” I was happy she saw it my way. “Besides, we’ve always been the adventurous type, and sometimes you just have to take a leap of faith.”
Sarah hesitated, fidgeting with the strap of her bag. “I know, but my legal assistant at court today said something similar. She even offered to set us up on a double date with some of her guy friends. Maybe we should listen to them. Maybe we should just slow down and take their advice and reconsider the plan?”
I shook my head, determined to keep Sarah on board. After all, there is no way I could do this alone “Sarah, we’ve spent so long trying to find that special someone and every time has been a more miserable experience than the last. Have you already forgotten about the speed dating fail? Nothing we have tried has worked out. This is different, spontaneous. It can’t hurt to give it a try, right?”
Sarah sighed, her caution clashing with my unwavering optimism. “I suppose not. Just promise me we’ll be careful and trust our instincts.”
“Deal,” I said, placing my hand on Sarah’s shoulder trying to offer a little extra reassurance.
The Lyft pulled up to Tailgates, and we made our way inside, ready to meet Bernie and learn about the Dodgers.
Bernie was behind the bar, right where we left him last week, and his friendly face lighting up as he greeted us.
“Emily, Sarah! Welcome back! Ready for a crash course in baseball and Dodgers 101?” Bernie said with a warm smile.
“Absolutely,” I replied eagerly, taking my seat at the bar.
Sarah sat down next to me, a bit more reserved. “Yes, please. We could use all the help we can get.”
Bernie chuckled, grabbing a couple of menus and sliding them across the counter. “Alright, let’s start with the basics of baseball. It’s a game with nine players on each team, and the goal is to score runs by hitting a ball and running around the four bases.”
Sarah and I listened intently as Bernie explained the essentials of baseball, from the positions to the innings and the significance of runs. He then delved into the specifics of the Dodgers.
“Now, the Dodgers are a Major League Baseball team based in Los Angeles, California,” Bernie explained. “Their team colors are blue, white, and red. They have a rich history, having won numerous championships, and they play their home games at Dodger Stadium.”
“Wow, thanks, Bernie! This is really helpful,” I was feeling more prepared for Wednesday night’s game.
Bernie smiled, glad to assist. “Of course, happy to help. Now, here’s a little piece of advice if you’re aiming to win over a baseball fan’s heart. Trade in those martinis for a classic beer. Baseball and beer have a special bond, and it’s almost a rite of passage for fans.”
Sarah chuckled, raising an eyebrow. “Beer, huh? Not my usual choice, but I guess we can give it a try.”
“Exactly,” Bernie encouraged. “You’re diving into a new world, and sometimes, trying new things can open unexpected doors.”
Just as Bernie finished imparting his baseball wisdom, the door chimed as it swung open, and in walked a woman who could only be Gail, the brains behind Tailgates. She walked in with a welcoming smile, throwing a wink at Bernie before turning her attention to us.
“Hey there! Bernie’s told me all about you two and your adventurous plan,” Gail said with genuine excitement in her voice. “I have to say, it’s one of the best ideas I’ve heard in a while. Baseball holds a special place in our hearts.”
Sarah and I exchanged surprised glances, pleasantly taken aback by Gail’s enthusiasm. “Really?” I asked, a curious grin spreading across my face.
Gail nodded, leaning against the bar. “Absolutely. As you know, baseball is what led me to Bernie. We bonded over extra innings and the love for the game, even if he was cheering for the wrong team.”
Sarah smiled, seeing the genuine love between Gail and Bernie. “That’s amazing. So, you believe in the magic of baseball and love too?”
“Wholeheartedly,” Gail confirmed. “There’s something about the atmosphere of a baseball game, the passion of the fans, and the thrill of the game that can bring people together.”
Feeling reassured and inspired by Gail’s heartfelt endorsement, Sarah and I couldn’t have been more giddy. Maybe our plan wasn’t as crazy as our coworkers thought. Love could bloom in the most unexpected of places, including a sports bar during a baseball game.
Just as Gail was telling us that we had to do some shopping before tomorrow’s game to be able to really dress the part of a baseball fan, a guy sitting at the end of the bar, still in his button-down shirt and dress pants but now with a loosened tie and sleeves rolled up let out a chuckle and shook his head, clearly amused by what he was hearing.
“There’s no way that’s gonna work, ladies,” he chimed in, a hint of arrogance in his voice.
Bernie, always the mediator, seized the opportunity to foster new connections. “Emily, Sarah, meet Jack. He’s a regular here, been frequenting Tailgates for as long as we’ve been open.”
Before I had time to come back with something witty, the competitive spirit within Sarah didn’t just rise to the surface, it exploded. “Challenge accepted,” she retorted, her legal prowess shining through. “We’ll find love, and maybe even before the postseason. Just you wait.”
Jack laughed, appreciating the enthusiasm. “Well, you’ve got spunk, I’ll give you that. But in my experience, love is a bit more complicated than a baseball game. Good luck, though. I’ll be here to see how this unfolds.”
I grinned, undeterred by Jack’s doubt. “It’s a date then.”
The next night, Sarah and I were filled with a peculiar blend of nervousness and excitement as we got ready for our baseball adventure. We donned quintessential baseball gear, our own nod to the spirit of the game. I sported a Dodgers ball cap Mike let me borrow, as long as I promised to give him all the cringy details at the office tomorrow, and Sarah wore a blue t-shirt she’d dug out of her closet. The anticipation of meeting the Dodgers’ fans and perhaps finding a spark of romance fueled our steps as we headed downtown.
In the Lyft, the excitement and a bit of nervous laughter bubbled between us. I turned to Sarah, playfully adjusting my cap. “You ready for this, Sarah? The Dodgers’ await.”
Sarah mirrored my excitement, her eyes shining with a mix of thrill and determination. “Absolutely. This is going to be something we’ll never forget. Who knows what or who we might find at Tailgates tonight?”
The mention of the bar brought up a crucial point we hadn’t discussed before. “Hey, maybe we should establish a safe word, you know, just in case we need a hard out from a dud at the bar,” I suggested.
Sarah laughed, recognizing the need for an escape plan. “That’s a great idea. How about ‘bananas’? Short, sweet, and completely out of context.”
I grinned, the plan feeling a little more foolproof now. “Bananas it is. If either of us says it, we swoop in and rescue the other from any boring baseball banter.”
With our safe word established, we arrived at Tailgates, the familiar atmosphere welcoming us like an old friend. The energy of the crowd, the buzz of excitement, and the camaraderie made it feel like we were stepping into a world of endless possibilities.
As we made our way inside, Bernie greeted us with his trademark grin. “Welcome back, ladies! Ready to dive into the world of the Dodgers?”
With a resounding yes, we took our seats at the bar, our hearts beating to the rhythm of the game. The Dodgers were on the big screen, and the air was charged with enthusiasm.
“Courtesy of Jack,” Bernie said as he slid us two draft beers. “Something to help you get your night started.”
Sarah cut her eyes toward the corner of the bar he had occupied the night before, but didn’t have any luck locating the disheveled businessman we remembered. “Where is he Bernie? I want to make sure he isn’t trying to sabotage our game plan.”
Confused, Bernie pointed in the same direction Sarah was looking at and said, “Same place as always.”
“Oh… wow.” Sarah said, nudging me on the arm. That’s when I saw him. Jack no longer looked like an overworked uptight suit — no he was smiling, and casual and high-fiving a group of friends after the baseball boys on the TV did something impressive.
“I hardly recognized him,” Sarah said. I could almost hear the butterflies fluttering out of her stomach.
As the game progressed, the adrenaline and excitement in the bar reached a fever pitch. Sarah and I were caught up in the electrifying atmosphere, sipping on beers and occasionally glancing at Bernie for cues about the Dodgers. We were ready for our first encounter with baseball fans and perhaps a shot at romance.
Just as we were getting into the swing of things, two good-looking guys approached us. I felt my heart race; this was our first chance to practice what Bernie had taught us.
“Hey there! Are you guys Dodgers fans too?” one of them asked, a friendly smile on his face.
I took a deep breath, trying to recall the information Bernie had shared. My mind went blank for a moment, and then, in a moment of sheer nervousness, I blurted out, “Oh, absolutely! Go, Dodgers! Hit the home runs… or touchdowns… or whatever you guys do!”
Sarah stifled a laugh, and I felt my cheeks flush in embarrassment. The two baseball fans exchanged knowing glances, catching on to our lack of knowledge about the game. It was clear we were far from being die-hard baseball fans.
“Wait, then why are you here?” the other guy asked, as if we had broken some secret code. “Tonight is Dodgers’ nights. This is our Tailgate!”
Before I could utter another word or Sarah could use our safe word to launch an escape plan, Jack swooped in to save us from our own demise. He smoothly integrated himself into the conversation, diffusing the awkwardness that hung in the air.
“Hey, folks! Sorry to interrupt, but these ladies are new to baseball. Just getting into the spirit of the game, you know?” Jack explained with a wink, coming to our rescue.
The two fans smiled understandingly and nodded, appreciating Jack’s save. “Of course, everyone starts somewhere,” one of them said, trying to ease the tension.
Jack subtly signaled to us to go along with his narrative. “Absolutely! We’re still learning the ropes,” Sarah chimed in, grateful for the rescue, even moreso since it was Jack doing the rescuing.
We suffered through some small talk about the game and the Dodgers, allowing Jack to gracefully guide the conversation and divert attention from our earlier blunder. It was evident that he was a regular at Tailgates, and his presence helped us maintain our charade.
As the night went on, we tried our best to talk baseball, but it was clear, we were WAY out of our league. If it wasn’t for Jack, we would have crashed and burned before we even had a chance to get started. By the 6th inning, we had struggled enough and Sarah and I agreed to call it a night.
As we were headed out the door, Jack made sure to get in one last friendly dig.
“Don’t be too hard on yourselves,” Jack said with a mix of sympathy and sarcasm. “Baseball — and dating — is not for the weak.”
“Who are you calling weak,” Sarah shouted back as I pushed her out the front door.
“You know he is just giving you a hard time,” I said to try to diffuse the situation. “And I don’t want to admit it either, but maybe we are in a little over our head.”
“I have never been in over my head a day in my life,” Sarah said, more determined than ever. “I don’t care how cute his smile is, or how charming his laugh is, or how perfect his hair curls out from under his ball cap. He isn’t going to win this. I WILL find love before the World Series!”