Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Major League Callup

In the midst of my sports-related adventures last week for my birthday, I got an unexpected phone call on March 3rd.  This was the day after my exhausting (but fun) birthday, and I was home and not subbing that day (normally I don't like not subbing, but that day I needed to sleep!).  It turned out to be a good thing I wasn't working, because if I had been, I wouldn't have answered the phone call.  Normally I don't answer calls from numbers I am not familiar with, but since this was a 216 number (Cleveland area code), I figured it might be a call from someone involved with This is Kirtland! since many people in that area have 216 numbers.  At first I wasn't sure what to think and thought maybe it was some ad or something.  Well, imagine my surprise when the caller identified himself as being from the Cleveland Indians!  As soon as he said that, I pretty much knew why he was calling.

Well, to make a long story short, I'll be singing the national anthem at the Cleveland Indians vs. Boston Red Sox game in Cleveland on April 5th.  It's a night game and it's the Tribe's second series of the season, so who knows what the weather will be like.  When I got off the phone I was SOOOOO excited.  I have been sending recordings to the Indians for YEARS and was always too late and have always wanted to sing the anthem at a Major League event.  Geez, I've been wanting to do that since I was in middle school!  This year I got recordings sent off in early February (instead of early March last year) and at least for the Indians, it paid off.  I also sent recordings to Cincinnati, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, New York (Mets), and Chicago (Cubs).  If I had to choose one, of course I'd choose the Indians since they're my favorite team and are the closest, but I'm a baseball fan (particularly baseball architecture!) and love singing, so I'd be happy and thrilled to sing at any of the places I mentioned too.

Picture I took from a game last year that shows where I'll
be singing from!
I also sent a recording to the Akron Aeros, and just like last year I was contacted the next day (no surprise since our mail has to go to Akron anyway).  I was soooo excited to sing for them last year, as it was my first time singing for a professional sporting event and I am excited to sing again this year on April 22nd, which is also Good Friday AND Earth Day.  That is a day game (3:00 PM) if you'd like to go!  My blog post from that game talked a little about sending recordings out to the Major League teams that I did last year.  I ended up sending recordings to the Cavs and Browns last year, but never heard back. This year, in addition to the Indians and Aeros, I haven't formally heard from any of the teams.  Baltimore sent me the standard reply (Baltimore was first to reply and that's because everything is done electronically, even the recordings) and I got an e-mail from the New York Mets inviting me to their "Mets Idol" competition at Citi Field.  As much as I'd love to, I sent the recording because I can't get to New York right now or even more than once this year.  Give me a specific day to sing and I'll be there :).  Hoping to hear from the other teams I sent recordings to as well.

Initially, I decided to take the April 26th game against the Royals (I was given 3 choices: April 5th, 7th, or 26th), but I talked to my dad right after that and he had something going on that he was going to get out of, but in looking at the schedule and seeing the Red Sox on the 5th, I figured it would not only probably work better for him (and possibly others) to take the 5th, but there would likely be a bigger crowd at Progressive Field for the game against the Red Sox than the Royals.  The 7th is a day game, so I will need to work and friends and family wouldn't be able to come either for the same reason.  Anyway, for me, the bigger the crowd, the better!  Whenever Kent State asks me which game I want to sing at, I always take the Akron game if it's available because I know it will have the biggest crowd.  Thankfully, the Indians were able to accommodate my request since I pretty much did so within 30 minutes of the initial call.

I'm definitely looking forward to this.  Hopefully the weather cooperates and we have a large crowd for the game and friends and family can come.  I also hope this can serve as a catalyst for more singing opportunities!     

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Go Kent! 2011 Edition

This week was my 29th birthday, so I decided to celebrate I'd take a little road trip over to Bowling Green to see Kent State play the Bowling Green Falcons at Anderson Arena.  Next season the team will move to a new arena (the Stroh Center) and since I have a little connection to Anderson Arena's namesake, Harold Anderson, I figured I might as well make the trip to see a game there one more time.  On top of that, seeing my good friend Michelle made it a fairly easy decision even though I normally wouldn't make a trip like that on a school night knowing I had to sub the next day.  Oh well, I was totally tired the next day but it was so worth it!

Right near the end of the game at Anderson Arena
For starters, my connection to Harold Anderson is my Great-Grandpa Wetzel.  He and Harold Anderson played basketball together at a YMCA in Akron when they were growing up.  Anderson ended up coaching at the University of Toledo from 1934-1942 and then at BGSU from 1942-1963.  He was probably the most successful coach at BG, so it's of no surprise they named the arena after him that opened in 1960.  I went to a game at Anderson Arena 3 years ago with my sister Katie and ended up seeing Kent State lose in an upset.  This year, however, I was able to see KSU pull of a 63-57 win that ended up clinching a share of the overall MAC title for the 2nd year in a row.  I had a great time hanging out with Michelle too!

Inside the MAC Center just before the end of the game
I got to see Kent State play again yesterday as they hosted the arch-rival Akron Zips at the MAC Center in the season finale that was broadcast nationally on ESPN2.  It was the first Kent-Akron men's basketball game I'd been to at the MAC Center since 2008 (though I attended the KSU vs. Akron MAC Championship game in March 2008 in Cleveland and then sang the national anthem at the 2009 game in Kent).  My only disappointment was that the planned "gold out" didn't really happen.  Either a lot of people didn't get the memo or they just ignored it.  Either way, while there was a lof of yellow in the stands, it wasn't as complete as Akron's "white out" last year at the JAR Arena.  I, however, was in my gold gear and so was Katie.  The game sold out, so I was a little worried Katie wouldn't be able to get a ticket, but she did and we had a blast together watching Kent State beat the Zips 79-68 after trailing at halftime 31-27.  Like I said, beating a rival is always enjoyable, but even more so when something is on the line.  Last year was a winner-take-all game where the winner was the overall conference champion and top seed in the tournament.  This year it wasn't the case as much as Akron's loss on Tuesday eliminated them from the conference title or #1 seed.  For Kent, though, the win clinched the outright regular season title for the second straight year (first time that has happened in the MAC since 1990).  Interestingly enough, KSU coach Geno Ford is the first MAC head coach to win two consecutive outright conference titles since none other than Harold Anderson back in 1962 and 1963.

Right at the end of the can see the final score
in the background on the left :)
Katie and I had a great time, even though we didn't exactly have the greatest seats sitting up in the balcony section in one of the corners.  It's not like seats in that building are THAT far away, but since I'm used to sitting wherever I want, it seemed much further away than I'm used to!  It was nice to see the MAC Center totally full and very loud.  I wish it could be like that every game.  When I was growing up, the team wasn't that good, so I didn't see a crowd in the balcony sections until I was in high school.  Most crowds were around 2,000 or less!  I was also happy to see not nearly as many Akron fans there as I have seen in some years past.  There have been times it was almost a 60-40 split.  Not sure exactly how many, but probably in the neighborhood of an 80-20 split this time.  Most of the Akron fans were in the lower deck section for visitors or in the balcony sections right behind that.  On our side of the arena there were a few very scattered Akron fans that were quite vocal during the first half, but were much more quiet the second half.  Gee, I wonder why?  Katie had to take her old KSU shirt apart because the sleeves were too short (I got that shirt for her like 8 years ago).  We turned her extra sleeves into what I termed "rally sleeves" that we waved around like rally towels.  Those sitting in the lower sections were given white rally towels, so we joined in with them. :)

Now on to the MAC Tournament.  After losing in the quarterfinals last year, I'm definitely nervous for this year.  We will most likely have to play Buffalo, a team we really don't match up with all that well.  Buffalo killed the Flashes earlier in the season at Buffalo and then only a big comeback helped KSU beat the Bulls in Kent just about 2 weeks ago.  As is my normal tradition, if KSU gets to the championship game, I'll make the short trip to Cleveland to see.  I won't go to any other round since I don't have that much time and money!