Sunday, July 13, 2008

I Strike Out

Blowfish Chronicles: I Strike Out





I Strike Out




On May 30, during the game with the Asheboro
Copperheads, which the Blowfish won 4 to 2, our guy Phil Morgan knocked a
grounder to the Copperhead short stop, who fielded the ball off a high bounce
that required an overhead reach. The high reaching retarded the start of his
throw by some fraction of a second, and when the ball arrived in the
first-man’s mitt, the ump held his call for two seconds, as if reviewing a tape
in his brain. With these delays, in throw and call, my hope that the runner
would be safe became the conviction that he was,
and so when blue flicked up his thumb up and jerked forward his fist I took
that blow to the atmosphere as if to my own gut, expecting my whale cries (Nooo! Nooo! Nooo!) to trumpet the entrance,
up from the dugout and onto the field, of Blowfish manager Tim Medlin, who, I
also assumed, would head straight for the throat of my malefactor, accompanied
by a highly combustible entourage.

But infielder Sean Sullivan meekly inherited
Morgan’s place at the plate, and life at the Cap went on without a rumble. Perplexed,
I looked back through an open window into the press box, and submitted to a
young man seated there a question.

“Was I the only one crazy enough to think that he
was safe?” 

“Yes,” he said.             

Well, not inclined to question my insanity, I am
eager to explain it. It was all of a piece with my emotional involvement in a
fifth-inning Blowfish surge, if you
will pardon the use of the apposite noun, not here deployed to mislead.

The first phase of this surge was hapless. Tyler
McBride knocked to shallow right field a high fly that eluded the glove of a
Copperhead fielder, who, I believe, stumbled and fell in running and reaching
forward, but who recovered his poise and the ball fast enough for a sure hard
throw to second, thus transferring his chagrin to McBride, who, having got
greedy for an extra base, was well on his way past first, and so had to
scramble forward and back in the base path, before being caught like a collared
dog, in one of those farcical shows that do little for the grace of the game.

McBride, though, may have been compelled to rash
daring by a timorous distress surely shared by those of we fans who were
becoming more certain by the second that a 1 to zip lead, carried four innings
from the bottom of the first, was bound to prove too thin, the unvoiced
assumption being of course that the Copperheads were probably bored to the
verge of batting competence by their steady succession of goose eggs.

Thanks be, then, to Jesse Barbaro, who found for
one orb thrown while he was at the plate a nice empty space in left center, and
thus regained the bag just captured and abandoned by McBride. Owing to that
good work Barbaro was promoted a few pitches later, all the way over to third,
when Blair Carson, having blasted what proved to be an elusive orb along the
right field line, arrived on his feet at second, precipitating on the pitcher’s
mound a Copperhead conference that did nothing to distract from the task at
hand one Oliver Santos, who had taken his place at the plate. Santos singled to
left center to bring in two runs, providing a lead of 3 to zip, by no means
enough for me, a.k.a Dan the Fan, sometime singer at the seventh-inning
stretch. I must have lusted so badly for a cozy tension-taming lead that I was
blind to Morgan’s short footfall.

When Sean Sullivan grounded out to third to put
the inning behind us, I sighed in secret relief, such was my wincing embarrassment.
My holy rolling rant, exercised in accordance with my First Amendment rights as
a baseball evangelical, had advertised as beclouded the eye I wanted to be
keen. But might I not have been the visionary, the only one who truly saw? No.  When at the Cap, I go along with the crowd, the first not to
believe what others have not seen.

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