Why Celebrating "The Clinch" Wasn't Easy

There are important moments in your life that are unforgettable, like the time your child takes her first step or when your wife utters those three words that make you feel warm and fuzzy inside: “You were right.”1

It’s also an unforgettable moment when your favorite sports team—the one you’ve been rooting for since before you took yourfirst step—has the opportunity to win something big. You want to savor that moment because, unless you are a fan of the New York Yankees (27 Championships) or Green Bay Packers (13 Championships) or Union Institute & University Men’s E-Level Softball Team (3-0 start to the fall session!), these moments are few and far between.

On Saturday evening, my Cincinnati Reds had the opportunity to clinch baseball’s National League Central title. The game was sold out, so I planned to watch it at home with my family, like many households who have three kids under the age of 6 do. I had been talking up “The Clinch” for a weeks, as the magic numberkept shrinking. I set up a card table in the living room so the whole family could watch The Clinch as we ate dinner. We never eat dinner in the living room like this, so it was a unique opportunity for my kids to drop food and spill drinks on the carpet. They took full advantage.

As the game drew to a close and the team was on the verge of winning, I became more glued to Stephen, my HDTV, than ever before. I had been imagining this moment for weeks: the final out is made, I cheer, my wife cheers, my daughters cheer, we all high-five and rock-bump and dance in celebration. We toast our drinks and promise to name all future pets “Mr. Redleg.” Then we watch the postgame celebration all night until the kids fall asleep on the couch. And, after putting them to bed, my wife would give me the “you are one fine piece of eye candy” look and we’d continue the celebration privately.

That moment sounded beautiful and unforgettable, just as I wanted. Then I woke up.

For the final three innings of the game, my youngest daughter, who is currently cutting teeth, screamed. And I mean SCREAMED. And no matter how much we cradled her or how many teething biscuits we gave her or how in-depth I explained the importance of The Clinch to her, she could not be soothed. I offered up one final solution, though my wife was not interested in “seeing how loud the volume on the TV could go.”

My middle daughter, whose favorite part of watching baseball on television is the airing of restaurant commercials that feature Rosie Red, sat to my right, impatiently awaiting The Clinch.

“Will we see The Clinch tonight?”
“I think so!”
“I can’t wait to see The Clinch. Do you think The Clinch will wear a Reds hat like Rosie?”
“I bet The Clinch will be furry.”
“Sweetie, I don’t think …”
“I bet The Clinch’s favorite player is Joey Votto, just like me!”
“The Clinch isn’t a mascot, it’s …”
“It’s not like Rosie Red?
Eruption of tears and waterworks.

I would have continued this conversation if it weren’t for my eldest daughter, who glared at me from across the table.

“Dad, you said if I ate all of my dinner I could have TWO Twizzlers.”
“That’s right.”
“Well, I finished all of my dinner.”
“No you didn’t. There’s still half the meal on your plate.”
“I finished most of it.”
“Hun, can you wait just 30 seconds. The Reds are about to record the final out and …”
“But you SAID I could have two Twizzlers!”
“Please, can you just wait …”
“But you said …”
“If you say ‘Twizzlers’ one more time, you can’t have ANY Twizzlers!”
Eruption of tears and waterworks.
“Mommy … (sniffle sniffle, heaving breathing) … Dad … said … I … Can’t … Have … ANY … Twizzlerrrrrrs … ”

At that exact moment, my brain exploded. My plans to celebrate The Clinch, much like all plans made by parents, imploded right before my eyes. The final out wasn’t welcomed with cheers and high fives. It was overshadowed by screams and throbbing headaches. I watched as the players on the field built their victory mountain, piling on each other one by one. I looked back at my three upset children, each one with very reasonable concerns, but terrible timing. I couldn’t help but feel like this celebratory moment had lost its shine. I felt cheated.

Then it happened.

“Hey, the Reds clinched! Woohoo!” said my wife, and she extended her arm and waved to me in a high-five fashion.2I lifted my hand. We smacked them together. My wife was genuinely excited for The Clinch, but I think she also could tell that, after the drubbing I was taking, I needed a lift. And that’s what amazing wives do: They high five you when you need it most.

The Clinch will forever be unforgettable to me—not for the teething screams or the Twizzler complaints or the crushing realization that The Clinch isn’t huggable—but for how my wife saved the day with one simple high five. It’s a testament to how important she is to me and to our family. She is amazing.

I am one lucky piece of eye candy. (Go Reds!)

1 If this happens more than once, write a letter to Guinness. You may be the world record holder.
2 This is noteworthy because my wife never high fives, not even on the rare occasion that they accidentally allow her to double up on Bed, Bath and Beyond coupons. 

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