With Tobias Carroll

“The 7 Questions” is a new sports questionnaire — the Eephus way of capturing a snapshot of the fan’s life. From writers to artists and beyond, we bring you answers every week.

Today we get the answers from Tobias Carroll, author of the short story collection Transitory, and the novel Reel. His writing has appeared all across the internet, including here on Eephus.

1. When was the last time sports made you cry?

I’m going to have to go with the New York Red Bulls winning the Supporters’ Shield in 2013. I was there for the game in which they did so; I’m actually pretty sure that a friend of mine has video of me getting very emotional when that happened. It was a rare good moment for me in the fall of 2013, which also involved a breakup and me starting a new job that very quickly turned into something that I hadn’t expected. (It was also, I think, the second Red Bulls game that year that brought me to tears, the first being the game that they won against Real Salt Lake earlier that summer on a diving Dax McCarty header in the final seconds of the game—which is seriously giving me chills thinking about it.) Weirdly, though I wouldn’t say my support for the team has dimmed since then (if anything, it’s increased; the presence of cross-town rivals will do that), but the change in playing styles from Mike Petke’s time coaching to Jesse Marsch’s tenure so far has made the flow of games a little different, with a corresponding emotional reaction. Though I could also probably write a long essay on this, so…

2. What’s your most treasured piece of sports apparel or memorabilia?

This is going to take me back a while–I don’t have much in the way of sports gear that I’ve accumulated as an adult. Plenty of soccer scarves, including one from the Minnesota Stars (the team that’s now Minnesota United) that I picked up on a visit to Minneapolis in 2011. That said, somewhere in my parents’ house in New Jersey is a poster signed by Ron Guidry, who was my favorite baseball player growing up, along with a photo of Young Toby and the esteemed onetime Yankee at a baseball card show somewhere in the tri-state area.

3. Competed in any sports lately, at any level?

Nope. I used to play in a street hockey league, but stopped a few years ago once the level of play started making me feel acutely aware of my own limitations as a player. I tried my hand at ping-pong at a familial Christmas gathering a few years ago. I am not very good at ping-pong.

4. What’s your desert island sports movie or book?

Either the film Miracle or David Peace’s novel Red or Dead. It’s probably telling that both take coaches as their central characters. Red or Dead is just a fantastic demonstration of what the right writer can do when playing on a certain temporal scale; it made me give a shit about Liverpool, and my sympathies for Merseyside soccer clubs lean more in the direction of Everton. (Which is not to say that I dislike Liverpool; I just like Everton more.) And Miracle works really, really well—as someone who grew up lamenting the dearth of hockey movies when I was in high school (I graduated in 1995)—it’s nice to see that a few have emerged since then. On a related note, I am very tempted to suggest The Cutting Edge, which was the rare non-Mighty Ducks kinda-hockey movie to emerge at that time, on here as well.

5. What do you like to eat and drink while you watch sports?

If I’m not watching soccer at Red Bull Arena itself, I’m probably doing so at the great Brooklyn soccer bar Banter—which likely means a craft beer of some sort (their selection is fantastic), or possibly a whiskey and Coke. If I’m at Red Bull Arena, lately I’ve been gravitating towards large cans of Goose Island IPA. Back when I first started going to games, I would frequently drink three to four Guinnesses over the course of the game; I can remember running into a friend at a Red Bulls/Galaxy game in 2011 or so and him being visibly alarmed that I appeared to be/actually was double-fisting Guinness. I would definitely say that I’m drinking less at games now for a host of reasons. Now that I think about it, this also coincides somewhat with me being vomited on during a USA/Turkey friendly shortly before the 2014 World Cup. I think, having been on the receiving end of the worst part of sports-related inebriation, I have realized that I don’t ever want to be that guy.

As for food? Savory breakfast pies at the bar if I’m watching an early Tottenham game. Some sort of stadium food if it’s a home Red Bulls game. There was a stand at Red Bull Arena called the Chippery which used to serve, essentially, potato chips with nacho-esque toppings. It was delicious, but as of this year, it’s been replaced by a version of itself that retained the toppings, but swapped in fries for chips. I miss the old-school Chippery, I really do.

6. What’s the greatest length you’ve gone to watch or attend a game?

The furthest I’ve gone for an away Red Bulls game has been to Yankee Stadium to two of the derby matches, and once to Hofstra to see the Red Bulls play the Cosmos in the 2014 US Open Cup—so, not far at all. (I have vowed that if the first Red Bulls/Minnesota United game is in the Twin Cities, that I’ll make the trip out—but I won’t know that until the 2017 MLS season is announced.) I did watch the last game of the 2012 MLS Conference Semifinals while on a flight from New York to Seattle via the DirecTV connection. That may not be all that impressive, either, given that all it involved was swiping a credit card.

7. Ever caught a foul ball?

No, but my cousin caught a puck that had gone over the glass at an Islanders game when I was in high school, and I was sitting next to him. That’s close, right?

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