Meet Ben, y’all …
Ever since the season started, I haven’t been around the blogosphere as often as I’d like. In fact, I’ll admit that my presence has pretty much been close to nonexistent. And for that, I apologize. But by visiting the A’s site every day like I’m sure you all do, you’ve probably noticed I’ve kept busy enough. Still, through all the craziness that is the 162-game baseball season, I’d like this to be a space where you can visit often for leftovers you can’t find in any game story or the like.
The A’s are making this thing fun right now, and you can tell they’re having a good time doing it. They’re real big supporters of each other, and perhaps the biggest of them all is Mr. Ben Sheets. On Wednesday, he was given the option to fly ahead of his teammates back to Oakland to ensure a good night’s sleep before his start at home against the Orioles tomorrow. His response: “Why would I take an early flight when I have a front row seat for the best game of the day?” He was, of course, referring to the rubber match game between his A’s and the Mariners. Suffice to say, it was an easy decision, one he didn’t even have to think twice about — which says plenty about the kind of teammate he is.
There’s a lot to like about Sheets. His career stats speak for themselves, so there’s no denying his status as something special as a pitcher. And even though we haven’t seen him post All-Star numbers yet this season, it’s early, and I firmly believe he’ll get better with each start. But I don’t want to talk about Sheets the pitcher. You know enough about that guy thanks to all the statistics floating around on a million different websites. I want to talk about Ben the person — because the person is just as special as the pitcher, and that much is evident the minute you meet him.
You won’t meet Ben without meeting his Southern drawl, which finds a way to deal out at least one “y’all” about every 15 words — something I, along with pretty much everyone else lucky enough to be around him on a daily basis, have come to embrace. “Reckon” squeezes its way into the mix every once in awhile, too, as does “ain’t.” And oh is he loud. He’s probably got one of the smallest statures on the club but there’s no doubt he’s got the largest voice. He’s not afraid to use it, either. Ben will talk to just about anyone, and he’ll also lend a high five in most cases.
He loves talking baseball, but he also likes talking some good fried chicken and mac and cheese, too. Ben’s Southern upbringing hasn’t exactly molded him into the healthiest of eaters. “Look at me,” he usually says. “Do I look like I eat carrots and crap?” He enjoys his Starbucks almost as much as the fried stuff, so it’s easy to assume he’s enjoying his current stay in the Starbucks capital of the world.
The Sheets file will have to abruptly be closed for now, as the Mariners are closing in on their second straight win over the A’s at the moment. But I urge you to head out to the Coliseum tomorrow to root this Southern boy on as he looks to garner his first win in green and gold. He knows the A’s don’t get a ton of fans, but he mentioned he really likes the ones that do come out. “They’re hardcore,” he said. “That’s what I like to see.”