Now, I understand the bonds and allegiances that tie fans to the team they choose to support. The aura of The Legends of days past, combined with the presence of the heroes of the "here and now" seem to cast a spell on the masses who file into the seats in anticipation of witnessing that “history-making moment" – at the very least, they are hoping for a win for “their team”.
Most of the time we have been fortunate enough to sit at field level – usually right field, behind the ball boy. Sitting there, I find the game to be a little bit more interactive. You get to watch the expressions on the players faces, to hear some of the words exchanged on the field and get a sense of how the players interact with support staff and each other. I am always intrigued how people interact.
Sometimes, a player will send a wave or another vague form of acknowledgement to the fans. But for the most part - even though that player is only 10 feet and a dividing wall away - he might as well be in a bubble. This doesn’t bother me - at the end of the day, the player has a job to do – which involves staying focused on the task at hand, not the surrounding distractions.
Every once in a while, a player will widen their focus and will reach out to make a memory for one or two lucky fans. On this particular occasion, the hero of the day was Mark Swisher. The lucky fan was a young boy sitting the seat directly ahead of me in the first row – perhaps 5 or 6 years old. His father had mentioned that this was their first time coming to a game and that they were big fans (his continued yelling throughout the game bore witness to his testament - but I think that's a post topic for another day).
This boy was garbed in the standard Yankee t-shirt and donned the obligatory cap and sat there anxiously with glove in hand. When the sweltering heat (it was a HOT day) became too much to bear he removed his cap, revealing a mini blue mohawk that had been sprayed blue in honor of the occasion. The tufts of blue and his close proximity to the ball boy made him a prime target for being noticed.
And noticed he was.
Not too much later, while Mark Swisher was tossing the ball back and forth with the ball boy, he looked up and suddenly sported a big grin. He promptly pointed at the boy, motioned to the mohawk and threw the ball that had been practicing with to the boy. Immediately, the overwhelmed youth turned around, buried his face in his father’s chest and started bawling. Flat. Out. Sobbing. I am sure that was not the intended response; but I have a feeling that in that moment, Mr. Swisher created a fan for life.
Later on in the game, a few more fans were also treated to a “moment”. A little freckled boy with big ears that was just too cute for words. An older woman taking the day in with her family. However, none of those moments had as profound an impact as watching that child’s rush of emotion.
You might ask “what does baseball have to do with salmon?” The answer is "not much", but I needed a story and tying bits of randomness together is kind of my thing, right?
So…let’s move on from a Swish-tale to a fish-tale.
When it came time to make this, we were still smack in the middle of the heat wave that I have
Since I did not have to add a layer of heat to an already sweltering kitchen, the peeps were spared from listening to me muttering curses at this dish. I merely assembled the packets and sent them out on a tray for The Dude to deal with. Hey – sometimes “fair division of labor” isn’t always fair…
Oh, and in the interests of full disclosure I must note that there was no basil involved.
Just had to put that out there.
Inspired by Around My French Table
The portions given in this recipe are for one packet – it can easily be scaled to serve multiple people.
6-8 ounces salmon fillet
1 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
4-6 ½” slices fresh zucchini (or summer squash)
Salt, pepper to taste
1 Tbs olive tapenade
Preheat grill to medium high heat.
Prepare an 8” square of heavy duty aluminum foil by drizzling ½ Tbs of olive oil in the center of the sheet (use one sheet for each packet). If you are using a lighter foil (i.e. standard Reynolds), you may want to use a double layer.
Arrange the zucchini slices in a single layer in the center of the foil - lightly season with salt and pepper and drizzle slices with remaining oil. Arrange salmon on top of the zucchini, season with salt and pepper if desired, and spread tapenade over top of the fish. Seal packet, making sure to fold over seams.
Place packets directly on grates and grill for 7-10 minutes (until fish is just cooked through – you may want to check it at the 7 minute mark). Let rest for five minutes before opening & reveling in the minimal amount of cleanup required…