The Seeker

A Meta-Cognitive Journal About Writing… Plus Other Stuff

Cheating on my Girlfriend– Day 8

with 2 comments

The bottom of the 6th inning of last night’s game between Philly and Colorado helped me realize that there’s still plenty of great baseball to be played. It all started with 1 out and Todd Helton on first. Troy Tulowitski hammered a 1-1 slider to center, allowing Helton to advance. Rich Dauer waved him around third, and he ended up scoring. But it was how he scored that brought a smile to my face. He executed a fundamentally perfect head-first slide, the kind you would only see in a Tom Emanski instructional video. Helton was flat on his stomach and slid to the outside of the plate, forcing Carlos Ruiz to turn and reach as far as possible to tag him. Furthermore, Helton’s left hand was the only thing Ruiz could have tagged– the rest of him was out of reach. If Helton slides different, there’s a good chance he gets tagged out and the Rockies keep trying to hatch their goose egg. It was enough to shift much-needed momentum in favor of Colorado.

What happened on the next pitch sent me through the roof. Garrett Atkins lined to third baseman Pedro Feliz; Tulowitski was running on contact, and was pretty far off base. Feliz pivoted and rifled the ball to Chase Utley, thereby snuffing Colorado’s momentum with a bang-bang double play. It was an intense display of skill and speed, following right on the heels of the Rockies’ power and athleticism. Together, the plays were everything I love about baseball.

*

Philly has my interest right now, and I wouldn’t mind seeing them win another World Series (especially if it means beating the Yankees). They didn’t matter to me last year; I was still in shock over the Cubs’ fatal floundering in the NLDS and was mostly indifferent to anything happening for the rest of the playoffs. I didn’t even pay Philly much respect this year, thinking they were a flash in the pan. But about halfway through the summer, I read an article about Charlie Manuel. It talked about how he came to be such as excellent hitting instructor (you can check it out here), and I began to realize how great of a coach he is. Furthermore, I loved how the Phillies bounced back in the top of the ninth inning last night to win. They showed true grit, which is exactly the type of thing I used to love to see the Cardinals do.

*

Three years ago yesterday, I was hard at work learning to hit. I was trying to work some new moves into my swing; the terms for them were standard lingo for my co-worker’s 12-year old son. He had given me a batting lesson three days previous.

October 12th, 2006: It takes a long time to warm up today because of the 25° chill. After a dozen swings, I’m too slow. I shed my jacket and turn my cap backwards. After a dozen more swings, mindful of my chin, my elbow, testing the ice, squashing the bug, and pointing the knob of the bat to the ball, I hear the distinct crack of contact that sounds like a wrist-thick dry-rotted branch broken in two over my knee. I replicate the sound several dozen times, until I’m too tired to continue and it’s too hard to see the ball in the fading daylight.

The piece I was writing was ballooning to epic proportions in my mind. I was having visions of it being my first published piece. I was announcing to friends and family that I was really on to something; I was having fun writing and learning a lot about hitting and writing along the way. Plus, I was erasing scars from my teenage years. I was thrilled to be a part of the participatorhy journalism tradition. What could go wrong?

The psychomotor skills involved in learning to hit at age 36 were daunting. I remember my hands being blistered, and having near-constant stiffness in my back, arms, and abs. But I loved being out in the park swinging away each day. I loved the sweat, the grind, the feel of power that came from bashing the ball. It was helping me realize I could do something right and that my recent failed relationship wasn’t an indicator of everything that was wrong with me.

*

I realized this afternoon that last night’s Phillies / Rockies game held true to the unusual form set by the other 3 division series: It all hinged on a blow save. Despite 35 saves this season and 129 for his career, Huston Street couldn’t nail the coffin shut on the Phillies. But that wasn’t enough drama for the baseball gods. They had to fashion a series that would have its own ironic variation on the blown-saves theme. Brad Lidge, Philadelphia’s closer– the guy with one of the most infamous blown saves in baseball history, the guy who led the league in blown saves this year (11 in 42 opportunities)– held onto his team’s 1-run lead in the bottom of the ninth. I appreciated his humble thoughts afterward when he said that Charlie Manuel still believed in him, and that was all he needed to get the job done.

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Written by seeker70

October 13, 2009 at 11:18 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

2 Responses

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  1. That Pujols home run off Lidge in the '05 LCS is my favorite baseball memory of all time, even though they ended up losing the series. Sure, I danced around when they won the whole thing the next year, but for pure theatrics, nothing tops Albert walking halfway up the line still holding his bat, watching that ball bounce off the train tracks in left.

    Matt Wood

    October 14, 2009 at 3:07 pm

  2. Did you know that Charlie Manuel hasn't lost a playoff series since his mother died? Granted she died last year during the playoffs, but hey, statistics gotta start somewhere.

    lonesomeryder8

    October 14, 2009 at 8:26 pm


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