Game #12

... (sigh)

I'm beat.

Another game tonight, another makeup game from the deluge of rainouts we had earlier in the season ...

... So I walked into our dugout tonight -- as usual, I was on time and one of the first players to show up, and very ready to play -- and I again said to Coach, 'I'm ready to pitch if you need me.' I warmed up with the other players as they showed up. I took batting practice in the cage. And I took a ton of fly balls from my buddy Garrett. I was felling good, looking good and darn ready to play ... I thought.

... but as we retreated to the dugout for the start of the game, Coach is still wandering around. As usual, he hasn't made up the lineup yet, and now he's moaning about not having any pitchers. All the guys he would've liked to throw were complaining about their arms being sore...


... At the same time, the opposing team only has seven guys. They need two more ... So Coach agrees to give them two players and he immediately looks at our oft-neglected catcher and who else? Me ... I packed my stuff and walked over to the other dugout.

Now there's a few things going to work in my mind ... Most of me is frustrated that I come ready to play every game, I show up on time, and I'm willing to contribute any way I can -- while my teammates are too busy whining about not playing their favorite position, it's too hot for them to play, they're hungover, or they're toenails are bugging them. ... I've never complained a wink. Until now. On this blog. And here Coach is casting me off to the other team, basically saying 'We don't care about you...' ... On the other hand, I was being sent to a team and some players that I have a lot of respect for, they've showed respect for me in return, and I've admired their camaraderie whenever we've played them. I'm thrilled for the opportunity to play and I'm jumping at the chance to show up my 'former' team ...

Problem was, I might have been too anxious.

My new coach assigned me to right field because that's where he'd always seen me. I would've rather played second, but fair enough. And I took the seventh spot in the batting order ...

My first time up, I got the first pitch in my left shoulder blade and took first base (this was just a couple batters after the pitcher beaned another guy in the head. And yes, I now have a nice, rosy bruise on my shoulder). ... Having two outs and a runner in front of me on second, the first baseman wasn't holding me on, so I took a huge lead. A few pitches later, a passed ball helped me get to second and I eventually scored on a liner into the outfield.

Then in the field, I made a key catch on a fly ball. And on another play, I gloved a ball on the hop and fired it to home to catch a runner rounding third base. The throw was right on line and it would have been a close play, but the pitcher cut it off and threw to second, forcing the runner into a rundown.

So far so good.

But on my next two at-bats I got meaty pitches right down the pipe. When I should have shot 'em into the outfield for singles, all I could muster were a pair of hard ground balls to the third base side. I was thrown out on both of them. ... and later in the field, with the game close, there was a high, deep fly ball hit in my direction. I read it well, and got back on it -- and I was backing into position to catch it on the warning track -- but it shaved the side of my glove and bounced against the fence, allowing what proved to be the winning run to score ...

In the final inning, for our last at-bats, I led off the inning and was looking for a chance to redeem myself. All we needed were a couple runners and some timely hits and the game was ours to win -- my new team's game to win, my old team's game to lose. ... I swung and missed for strike one, and then took ball two low and outside. Then, on the 1-1 pitch I got another ball over the heart of the plate, and I just missed it, popping it up to the center fielder for an out.

I rarely show my emotions on the field, and even when I do, observers probably still think it's not enough. By the end of my last at-bat, I had become so frustrated with my play I threw my helmet into the dugout from first base, and then came in and threw my glove against the wall ...

... A few batters later the game was over, ending on a pop fly to the shortstop. Shaking hands after the game with the team I used to play for nearly drove me to tears ... I wanted so badly to show 'em up tonight. And I didn't do it.

The season ... so far...
a Game one ... we lost, 19-9.
a Game two ... we lost, 11-5 ... or something like that.
a Game three ... we lost, 8-5 Game four ... we won, 10-8.
a Game four ... we won! 10-8.
a Game five ... back to losing.
a Games six, seven, eight, nine and 10 ... all losses.
a Game 11: ... another loss.

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