Wins and losses

So I got to my first Brewers game of the year last night.

The Brewers were no fun to watch, though. Last week, they were one of the hottest teams in baseball; this week, they’re coming off a sweep by the Twins and then got shelled last night by the Cardinals, 8-1.

Jeff Suppan was on the mound for the Brewers … For the record, I’ve never been a big fan of his. He’s never going to have a year again like the couple good ones he had with St. Louis. Beyond that, he’s never been more than an average pitcher, and I’ve watched him cost more than his share of games for the Brewers.

He gave up a home run to Nick Stavinoha in the second, another run in the third, and then solo home runs to Colby Rasmus and pitcher Adam Wainwright -- plus a double to Joe Thurston, who also scored -- before being pulled in the fourth.

The Brewers batters didn’t do their part, either. They had the bases loaded in the second, only to watch Suppan fly out to end the inning. Then in the third, Craig Counsell singled and scored, and the Crew put two more on with no outs but failed to score any more runs.

* * *

The game was peanuts compared to the good time my friend Nathan and I had at the game, however …

The last time I’d seen Nathan was at my wedding nearly six years ago. That was the first time I’d seen him in about eight years …

Nathan and I met on the first day of fourth grade and became instant best friends. In the school yard, we played soccer and football together. We played on the same little league team, and we played a gazillion pickup basketball games in my driveway. We traded Micro Machines and baseball cards. Rode bikes across town. And became part of each other’s families.

Then I moved to Kansas City. A couple years later, he moved to Las Vegas. He visited me in Kansas City for a week in high school, but we had established separate lives by then and the bond we once shared seemed like it’d never be the same.

Still, every time we lost our connection, we’ve found a way to pick it up years later. After college, both of us moved back to the region where it all started. He managed to find me again via-email, and I invited him to the wedding. After a couple more years, he moved to another town, changed e-mail addresses and we lost touch again.

Then, a little more than a year ago, he found me again -- on Facebook. Talk about a tool that’s made staying in touch with old friends commonplace. It turned out, he’d gotten married since we last talked. … We’d been talking for at least two seasons of meeting up for a ball game. Then Phoebe came along, and he became a father a few months later. Kids, and jobs, and life kept getting in the way.

Until a couple weeks ago, he inherited a couple tickets to the game, and asked -- via Facebook -- if I wanted to go with him. Thankful he’d thought of me, I said I’d go and we met up in downtown Milwaukee …

The wonders of Facebook ignited our conversation for the night as we reeled off all the other childhood friends with whom we’ve recently re-connected. We bantered throughout the night about favorite childhood memories, who’s married who since we grew up, and we talked about our adult lives as though we’ve never ceased being a part of each other’s lives.

As Nathan took me back to my car and dropped me off, we made a pact to make sure we'd get together again soon -- but we both know that’s easier said than done.

I take a lot of pride in my ability to have stayed in touch with several of my closest friends from high school, college and my career over the years -- our digital age makes that a heck of a lot easier than it was 20 years ago -- but I’ve also come to the hard realization that getting together for a ball game or a weekend road trip is never as easy as you want it to be.

* * *

I drove out of Milwaukee and traveled through a hard rain that -- combined with three or four semi trucks that refused to let up -- made it a tough road home … I slipped into bed a little after midnight, but then got little sleep as the storm settled directly over our house. I felt exhausted, but it took me what seemed like hours to fall asleep.

At about 1:30 in the morning, my eyes were shot open by what surely was the brightest, loudest, closest flash of lightening and thunder I’ve ever experienced. It had to have touched down in our back yard. Then, a few minutes later there was another one that had me praying to God out loud.

All the while, Phoebe didn’t make a peep. At one point, I got up to check on her just to make sure she was still breathing.

Then I was up at 4:15 this morning and cursing my new hours ... I was off to work at 5. I figure I got three hours of sleep last night.

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