Game 11: Selling the drama

When I arrived home this afternoon, I thought my head was going to explode from information overload. I didn't know whether I should laugh or cry.

I had been listening to friend rant and vent to me for most of the morning about church issues. Guys I play ball with were going berserk, via e-mail, over organizational issues within the league. I was stuck listening to a co-worker's endless phone calls regarding a search for his lost dog. And I was trying to do some actual work! ...

Exploring all the issues and philosophies at the core of these discussions is better saved for a self-help book or a workshop about leadership and making decisions -- neither of which I'm prepared to do within this post ... Suffice to say, by tonight, I was more than ready to get on the ball diamond and blow off some steam.

It was a gorgeous night for a ball game. The sun was shining, the weather was cool, not too hot, not too windy. We were playing at the city's historic '30s-era ballpark. And for once, the stands were relatively full.

The night started slowly for our team, though ...

In right field, I got the most action I’ve had all season. I made three catches, including a potentially game-saving catch to end the top of the fifth inning … The batter hit a shot down the right field line and I got a great jump on it. I tracked it all the way, faded back and then made a superb over-the-shoulder catch in the right field corner. Oooh, it felt good.

That catch propelled us into the bottom half of the inning with us down, 5-1 … Our catcher – our own “Big Papi” – crushed a home run over the left field wall to put us on the board in the second. But our bats hadn’t done anything since …

Finally, in the bottom of the fifth inning, we put together a string of hits and closed the gap to 5-4. Then, I came up with one out and the bases loaded …

I was desperate to do something. In my usual leadoff spot, I started the game by flying out to center and then struck out on a changeup in the fourth inning … My at-bat in the fifth almost turned into a repeat of my “epic at-bat” a couple weeks ago as I battled with the pitcher and fouled off multiple pitches … Finally, the pitcher threw me a hanging knuckleball that I just barely got a piece of …

The catcher laughed and said, “That whole thing was, like, in slow motion. You should’ve been able to knock that out of here. It was like ‘The Matrix’ it was coming in so slow.”

“I’d be happy to try it again, if you'd like,” I answered as I dug back into the batters box.

The pitcher didn’t try it again. Instead, he threw me a fast ball just above my waist … I took a swing and slapped it just right of second base. The shortstop misplayed it, two runs scored as the other team threw the ball around and when the dust settled – I was standing on second base having knocked in the go-ahead run. I was feeling redeemed.

As the rest of the game played out, we tacked on a few more runs and our defense was flawless. Our pitcher threw all seven innings on two days rest and struck out nine batters, while walking just one batter.

We won the game, 10-5. It was grand team victory … and a pleasant end to my dramatic day.

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