Holy fuck. Sorry for my language. What a weekend. But where do I start? I guess I gotta start at the beginning, right. What began as just another day at work, completely brought something so special out of me. This past year, I struggled to find my niche.. I know I love sports. I know Im entertaining, funny, electric. I know I light up on camera. I also know I could be doing better. Doing more. I let my mental space me out, way too often. I know I often self doubt. I know I overthink. But even in spite of all that, I know I have huge shoes to fill. Big promises to keep. Big ambitions to achieve.
It was just another Thursday at work. I was finishing up some work and had to edit some social clips. As Im working, my friend Dominique calls me. "Wanna grab food?" I agreed, even though I had literally just ate Chipotle. I love spending time with my friends, and I love eating. So either way, it was a win-win. I saw people start getting ready for a live stream. I scanned for my brains for what games were happening. It then dawned on me, The Astros are playing the Yankees, Game 1 of the ALDS playoff. The winner would advance to the World Series. Damn, I love the Astros, more when I was younger, so it'd be cool to be in there rooting for them. But even still, I stayed glued to my chair. Was it fear? and of what? Rejection? Embarrassment? Dan, one of the security guards at Barstool, walked past my desk while I was working.. Dan has always been super nice, respectful, and supportive of me.
Dan exclaimed to me as I was sitting down at my work desk, "Hey Tiko, you know they're about to watch Astros vs Yankees", with a twinkle in his eye. He didn't have to say anything else. I got the message. I need to be in there. and why not? Because I usually don't? Because (most) guys don't respect women's opinion on sports? I knew in my head, when the Texans and/or Tom Brady and Lebron and/or The Rockets used to play, I wouldn't even answer a phone call from my mom. I'd sit directly in front of the TV, enamored with every play. My brother Patric, and his friends would only watch ESPN all day. I'd try to watch The Disney Channel, Cartoon Network, PBS, MTV, Fuse. and they'd just bully me, and change it back. So if I wanted to watch TV, I had to watch sports. It became so much of a routine that I started to love it, to the point I'd still have Sportscenter on when they weren't even around.
I called Dominque back, "I won't be able to make it to dinner. Something bigger is happening, I can feel it." I'll be completely honest with y'all. At first, it was just to troll. I was going to get a funny video clowning the Baseball fans. I'd wait until the Astros scored, turn up on them, and then leave with my homeboy to watch the rest of the game at a bar. As I walked in, I observed Spidey, TJ, Coach Duggs, Marty, a guy I didn't know (would find out later this was Hubbs), and Tommy Smokes. I asked "Can I join y'all baseball fans?". The rest, as they say, is history. The live chat immediately lit up, upon me sitting down and I actually started enjoying watching the game. Playoffs are super exciting no matter the sport, and as we know other Houston sports teams don't always make the playoffs. I felt proud to root for my hometown. The Astros, with home court advantage, began to completely dominate the Yankees, going in the 6th inning. With Justin Verlander absolutely striking out everybody, he even did 6 consecutive strikeouts, (11 total), a new record for post-season. Pena hit some nasty hammers, one even almost went outside of the entire Minute Maid Park. Judge caught a Randy Moss catch. Bader almost knocked it out the park. Maldando slammed one. Gurriel rocked slammed a homer. McCormick would follow suit with a slamming home run. Montero even did an impressive job. At one point midway through the game, I came out the room to play basketball with Coach Duggs, after shooting around a bit, I saw a taco hat on the table. A bright idea popped right into my head. I thought it'd be cute & get the chat going, so fuck it, ill throw it on before I go back in the stream. That decision would change everything. It became my "thing", my "good luck charm" for the Astros. Coincidently, we would go on to win 4-2 of Game 1. I celebrated. I was reacting the same way I would in my living room. But it was getting some of the Yankee fans, Hubbs especially, a lil riled up honestly. I wasn't putting on an act, I was being myself. When the Vince Young and the Longhorns beat out the Reggie Bush & Trojans back in the 2006 Rose Bowl, I swear on my life - I literally ran out of my Missouri City, Texas house and ran full speed around the whole block. I could've died of excitement. I can be dramatic and passionate, and of course with sports, it's no different. I was just celebrating the win, but people were loving seeing me in this dynamic, and you know what - I was really beginning to, too. I didn't get an invite to the Game 2 stream by the fellas, but I knew in my heart I was coming. Something has awaken in me. I honestly believed the Astros were going to win it all.
Game 2 live stream on Friday will probably go down as one of the craziest in Barstool history. At this point, the Yankee fans were desperate. They needed to win in Houston, before the momentum gets lost. The Yankee fans didn't love having me cheering for the opposite team right next to them. "Who put her up to this.?" They all wondered behind my back. That was the magic question. Was it Dan? Was it Gaz? Was it Dave? Was it Spidey? Was it Ebony? and the genuine truth was, it was me. I made the decision, to finally stop being scared of the gambling cave, and just embrace it. It's a safe spot. A place to cheer. To watch your favorite team. To make new friends and new rivals. It's something magical about that room. But we weren't in the gambling room for Game 2. We were at a nearby bar called American Whiskey. While at the office, none of the Yankees asked me if I was going. Probably because they were hoping I wouldn't. I didn't blame them. Me and my good luck taco hat was becoming a real problem for them.
When I arrived to the watch party for Game 2, Hubbs tried to be a bit of asshole, of course and tell me "there's no chairs for you." I grabbed one from a nearby table, placed it at the table and didn't respond back. Boy, this is my moment. Cant nobody stop it. People ask me if it was uncomfortable for me, being the only woman, (much less African American), watching a gotdamn baseball game with them. Honestly, no. Im used to the men doing them, and me doing me. I told you my brothers and his friends, they played me too. lol. Although I genuinely liked a few people on the stream, I wasn't really there for them, so it didn't really matter to me. I was here to watch the Astros win and do commentary for the stream. It was pretty tough, still. One person in particular didn't make it so easy. He taunted me. But it's the playoffs, and he knows without this win, he's done. The realization of that, made him go a lil haywire. It was a funny, dramatic, and even slightly unpleasant, stream. But damn if it didn't make for good content.
The drama/rivalry from Game 2's stream had completely gotten out of hand by the next day, so I sent out a tweet to cool shit down.
Game 3 on Saturday was absolutely nuts. I had got a text from Tommy that we'd be actually going to Yankee Stadium.
I almost fell out of my bed at that moment. It'd be my very first time at Yankee Stadium. I had heard of the legendary, iconic, stadium. I had seen games on the TV. I can't believe that I would be going to an ALCS playoff game there. My hometown team, was playing against the city that I currently lived in. All because I walked into the baseball live stream at HQ two days ago. Can this be any better? Me, Tommy, TJ, and Marty would be going. I didn't have Astros gear, as I didn't really plan this out. and then internet was beginning to notice. So I decided to pick up a custom Astros jersey at the MLB store on 50th street ahead of Game 3.
It was nuts because as I approached the counter, the cashier immediately grabbed a white bag. I was confused on how he knew who I was. "How'd you know what I got?" I asked. "I watched the live stream last night, and then when I came into work I saw your name on the back." Shocked at how far the live stream had reached, I shot him a genuine smile and told him "Thank you so much for watching." As I left the store, I was on a cloud nine. Excited about how far this could really go. Shit I was only on day 3.
Tommy told me we'd meet at the office HQ at 3 because the game started at 5. I was crazy hungover from all free drinks at the watch party the Friday night before, but I pulled it together. Grabbing food on the way, I got to the office. When I arrived, Tommy told me that we were still waiting for Marty. "Shit, at least Im not the late one this time", I thought to myself. A lil shortly after, Marty finally arrived and we were all headed to Yankee Stadium, thanks to Gametime for the super close seats.
I think the boys were a lil anxious about how it'd go with me, except Tommy. (Shit maybe even Tommy, too.) This was their first outing outside of work with me. They'd prolly heard this or that about me. Nearly everyone originally thinks Ima psychopath, it's okay. Until they kick it with me and realize: "This btch normal as fck, and actually pretty cool."
When we walked into Yankee Stadium for Game 3 of the ALCS '22 playoffs, the clout was real. Everybody walking by was yelling Tommy, Marty, TJ, & I names. Everybody knew us. and I mean everybody. It was a bit surprising, as #PlayoffTiko had just been born a few days ago. It was actually pretty nice. Tommy, Marty, and TJ went into the arena's. store to buy Yankee chains.
TJ was maybe stoned or just tired, he just be chilling. I didn't feel any bad vibes really. Tommy, as we know is my work husband, so he was fine. Marty was actually being nice to me, although I knew he was talking shit on stream the night before, and he knows I'm Team Hank. and I know he's Hubbs lil number 2. But I think we that put it to the side, for the greater good, and Im proud of us for that.
We went to our seats, and I immediately ordered a beer to calm my nerves. I didn't see any other Astros fans in my section, and I knew I would be celebrating hard. If &when the Astros win this game, it actually might get out of hand. The game was getting absolutely pathetic, at a point, with the Astros getting a 5-0 lead over the Yankees. I couldn't help myself - I ran to the middle of the aisle and started dancing, celebrating the Astros while trolling the Yankees. I figured I'd get a beer thrown at me, but I didn't care. Fuck it, war wounds. I had faced so much in my life up to the point. What were 10k Yankees going to really do? I had no fear at that point, where I didn't hold back, and definitely pissed off quite a few people.
I knew the Yankees were getting tired of me, and this dumb ass game. It was the 9th inning and they hadn't even got on the f*cking scoreboard. They would never score for the rest of the game. We kept striking them out, catching balls, getting outs. Everything was going absolutely right for us, and absolutely wrong for them. We completely tore right into their heart, and annihilated their morale, right at their home arena. I knew the series was over, in that moment. and they knew it too, as Yankee fans by the dozens began to leave the stadium.
I knew I wasn't safe in this stadium so I kept waiting for the beer/food to get thrown on me. It never did. What did happen is a missed target beer did hit the guy directly in front of me, completely dousing him. Just so happened to be a Yankees fan.
Tommy Smokes bought me a margarita and we took boomerangs together. It was kinda cute. Kinda a cute work date, thing.
Overall, I would say my first time at Yankee Stadium, was pretty fucking epic. I couldn't have been happier.
Tommy was genuinely worried about me walking out the stadium by myself, and escorted me out. He was like actually acting like a real work husband, go figure. I appreciated his concern and I was starting to realize that we were getting closer in this series. After we went separate directions,, I ended up doing a post game interview,
and then after the interview, I ended up meeting my homegirl up at a nearby bar, called Stan's, and I've never felt more like a celebrity in my life. Every single person in that bar knew me. (and kept asking for Tommy). I took at least 50-60 pictures. The owner of the bar knew me as well, shouted my name out on the mic, and got me free drinks all night.
It was actually pretty cool meeting fans, and everyone was pretty nice to me, although my team had just wiped the damn floor with them, and my jersey was a constant reminder. But then of course, it took an ugly turn, like it was bound to. A drunk Yankee fan tried me. I wanted to blow my top, but kept my cool. If I fought, I was going to go viral, and I'd end up in jail and it just wouldn't be a good look. I ended up just walking away from the stupid drunk guy.
Game 4 on Sunday was going to be INTENSE. I arrived to HQ on time, just to find out the game might be delayed, or even postponed because of rain. That pissed me off because I was ready for it to be over. I needed my guys in The World Series. and I needed it tonight.
Finally, an hour after the original start time, the skies cleared up and the game was on. I walked into the stream, half stoned, because of the anxiety of seeing Hubbs. Hubbs was not present. I also had lost my voice the night before while screaming at Yankee Stadium. I was hungover, tired, and damn near dying. But I'd rather cut off my arm than miss this sweep game.
At this point, I was completely going viral. Tik-Tok, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook you name it. My followers kept going up and my views kept getting bigger. I was known as MS OCTOBER AKA PLAYOFF TIKO, and I loved every minute of it. I brought my trusty broom from home, my good luck taco hat, and a bottle of champagne to pop when we won. The game was giving me a lot of anxiety. This was nothing like Game 3. The Yankees were actually fighting back and going toe for toe with us. They matched every point. The game was getting so intense that I actually walked out the gambling room a few times, desperately wanting the sweep. NEEDING the sweep, like I needed oxygen to breathe. At this point, I was fully invested. My heart, and soul was on the line.
When we won, I grabbed my bottle and did a crazy champagne celebration. I might have temporarily blinded myself but I didn't give a fuck. I was too happy to care. Shit, this was big. Houston is headed to the World Series, again. I even cried tears of happiness, I felt like I had won, right along with them, and felt so satisfied. Some of the Yankee fans muttered goodbye and went home, all obviously really pissed. I left HQ and went home to sleep off the madness, smiling as I laid my head onto my pillow. What a weekend. Then very next morning though after the sweep, things started getting a lil nuts. I was going crazy viral, on social networks across the board, millions of views. I opened Instagram and I saw that Alex Bregman, a superstar player on the Astros, wife started following me and sharing my post. That really rocked my world. I couldn't believe it.
BUT THEN IT GOT EVEN CRAZIER. Alex Bregman himself started following me. Mind you this man follows 500 people, and has 700k followers. Why would I be special enough? Lucky enough. How is God shining his light so hard on me right now. I don't even feel worthy but I know that I am. Im special enough. Im lucky enough. Im good enough.
Then, I was able to get Alex Bregman to agree to a post-World Series exclusive interview. Excuse THE fuck outta me?! This was going further than my wildest dreams. This one weekend completely changed my life, just because I stopped being afraid and decided to do what I do best, which is passion and entertainment. Im so grateful for this weekend, for this platform, for the Astros. Two weeks ago, I was in a semi depression, with heavy anxiety of getting fired/let go. This week, I broke the views record for the week at the company, completely ending up everywhere, even in the eyes of the Astros players and their wives. Aint it kinda crazy how God does? The moment you think you're done, he puts you on top of the world. Who knows how far I'll take it? Who knows if I've finally found a "niche" for me at Barstool? Who knows what'll happen next. But I do know this, with #TikoGang by my side, I can't lose. and neither can the Astros. Im super excited for Game 1 vs Philly on Friday, and who knows, when the Astros win the World Series, I might be on the damn parade with the players. Anything's possible, and that's the real beautiful thing about working at Barstool Sports.