I go to the plate and imagine Picasso painting a circle. I aim for that circle. I don’t forgive. I don’t regret. When they throw off-speed pitches, I consider it a sign of respect. I don’t like taking walks, but, hell, it happens. I never show up the opponent because it sends the message you’ve never been there before. I donate 5% of my salary to underprivileged kids because I didn’t get the chance to play organized ball until junior high. In the winter, I cry. The solitude. In the summer, I dine. On hot dogs. And fast balls.
I learned how to throw from my older brother. He was a sharpshooter in the Army. He treated me like garbage, but I learned how to throw the hell out of a baseball. On my days off, I listen to Thelonious Monk and go over game film. My favorite album is Straight, No Chaser. I eat In-N-Out once a week when I’m on the West Coast. You can’t fear batters. No matter the situation. Always expect the best results. If something goes wrong, adapt. An inch given is a mile lost. When the bases are loaded, I’m at my best. Luckily, for the opposition, the bases are rarely loaded.
I’m something of a magician. Nothing gets past me. Often, in the middle of the night, I wake up and dive for a ball. Growing up, I worked on my defense 75% of the time; 25% on offense. My favorite book is A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. I’ve never read it, but I really like the title. Playing shortstop is an art form, they say. They say some very wise things. The rest of the position players wish they could be me. I know it. I’ve started to get just as comfortable at the plate as with the glove. It’s over for the rest of the league.
I’ve got nerves of steel. Nothing bothers me. I could’ve been a firefighter or a surgeon. If a ball somehow miraculously gets passed me, I turn into a mountain lion and pounce on it. My parents wish I would switch to first base. So does my wife. I know it’s what’s best for me, but the team really needs me here. Eventually, perhaps. They also say I’ll make a good skipper one day. I have such a good view of the game from this squatted position. I’m glad they took away the sliding into the catcher. I really am. But, honestly, I hate to admit it, I kind of miss it, you know. The action.
The Pinch Hitter
I’m ready, I know that much. I’ve had to earn everything I have. I’ve never taken my car to the mechanic. I learned how to work on cars from my father and grandfather. When my name is called, I turn into Batman. Or Robin. Superman, even. The point is I wear a cape. I have my rituals like the rest of them. I don’t wear gloves. I spit into my hands. I rub them together. The baseball bat feels like a sword, or if I’m going to bunt, a paint brush. I swing like my livelihood depends on it. It often does. It’s gotten me this far, though, my swing. Can’t complain. In my free time, I play chess and do crossword puzzles. But enough chitchat, they’re calling me up to bat! Gotta go!