Pasttime – 32

It’s fun getting lost in the city, even when you think you know it. It opens surprise doors down dark roads that lead to lights and right where you knew you were.

I’ve been with enough teams that I’ve been transplanted into multiple major metropolitan cities across the great and complicated Union of States.

Some are comfortable with what they are, embracing their roots and reviling in it. The roads are paved in some places, as if it was this nice before, and round-abouts instituted within the grid structure allow the city to showcase and hide the best things about it.

Some are stuck in the past as their incorrect believes have stunted their growth correctly. So instead of logic and manageable sensibility, one is left to ponder why two towns separated only by woods would ensure there are only two ways between.

It’s the kind of slog-minding thinking portrayed in the glamorized fictional tales of the ‘Wild West’, spun so thick that the book and film lore of Wyatt Earp is taken as fact even when historical proof proves it false.

Better yet, the kingdoms of 12th century Europe with thier stones and steel piled high and worn paths created by the feet of men, horse and cattle, walked by few wanderers and with good reason since trust of anything unknown was at a premium.

It circles back to fear, the underlying feelings behind it all. It is that fear that controls some and affects all. And it’s an never-ending battle to keep it at bay, especially when you are alone on a hill, facing it from 60 feet 6 inches.

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Pasttime – 31

You grow up with your pitches and figure out what works best against what. It’s not especially special, it’s just something you understand with repetition.

Whether it’s the stance or the swing isn’t always evident. It’s more of a mental thing; understanding what that hitter is trying to do as they step up to the plate.

While this sounds like the result of all the video and stat sheets we pour over, it’s better steeped in on-field experience. It’s one thing to numerate a fastball and another thing to throw it.

And see the reaction at the plate.

Pasttime – 30

If you think sports talk radio is bad; even the most vitriolic and bitter host is tame compared to the conversations we have in the bullpen.

And what’s even worse are the thoughts that we don’t say, mostly because they would be aimed at our own teammates.

Pitchers and catchers are always looking at batters and seeing how we would get them out; what pitches we would throw in that situation and why our outcome would likely be better than what is happening in the moment.

It’s arrogance and bravado at its highest level, something necessary to remain in the League. If you don’t believe you can get anyone out, you likely belong in Triple-A…or sitting next to the manager as a coach.

But since we’re not coaches, our opinions about what’s wrong with someone usually go unheard. It’s not like high school or college, where we might face against teammates during practice and use the same techniques to get them out.

Sometimes I miss that.

Then I remember the difference between walking through the terminal with my luggage and my gear towards a small passenger plane to an even smaller terminal and I wince.

I mean, I would rather risk the wrath of telling our star outfielder that he’s lunging out with his shoulder, handicapping his swing and making the inside fastball near impossible to hit than go back to “the joys of college life”.

Pasttime – 29

(From 3/26)

I stepped outside the coffee shop and sat down in at a table. I had my pick of them all since no one else was there.

The clear blue sky did nothing to hide the sun, but it wasn’t too hot. Still close enough to spring so heat wasn’t a factor.

How I looked out here, by myself on a somewhat busy block is another thing.

Obviously I was waiting on someone, but it could look a thousand different ways to the casual stranger.

Was I waiting for someone to drop off the next package, a unremarkable duffel bag dropped near my feet as the person continues walking by, never looking back as I move it out of sight and wait 10 minutes before leaving in the opposite direction?

Or simply waiting for a woman on my off-day, still reliving how I escaped the jam that got me through the sixth inning.

“They” say that baseball players are recognizable since we only wear a hat, unlike football players behind a helmet.

But only the superstars are noticed; those with endorsement deals that have their face placed in the view of those outside the stadium, outside the latest edition of Baseball Tonight or whatever fantasy server is popular in the moment.

Professional basketball players are supposed to be easily recognized since you see nothing but their face, but the same thing applies.

I know a guy who’s been in the Association for six years. He’s not a starter, but will play another decade and finish with enough money for his grandchildren’s children to still feel his influence, so long as someone doesn’t do something stupid.

But if he walked into this cafe, he could be another construction worker or night janitor.

A very tall one, but you get the point.

Pasttime – 28

There are times in everyone’s life when music lines up with your every day, your moments that you’re going through. It’s special, especially when it’s not expected and just continues to connect.

Some guys will set their music up, so certain songs start at certain points of the progress that is the everyday training that takes place before the game begins.

It’s a process that’s a bore to repeat, but we all have them. For most, it’s loading up and logging into your work terminal. But it’s also double-checking your items before starting your daily delivery run.

I grew up with rap when the main topics were varied, regardless of the location. They all talked about the opposite sex, but that’s to be expected.

But they didn’t focus on money like they do today.

And while the NBA players dominate the celebrity shows, there’s a legion of us that actually have the money they’re talking about.

Pasttime – 27

There are a lot of clichés for a loss. There are a lot of ways to say…

“We just didn’t have it tonight.”

“Luck wasn’t on our side”

“We battled.”

“We were right there and just came up short.”

But when you come out of the pen and give up the game-winner, the only person talking is you.

It’s my worst nightmare. It’s my boogie man under the bed. It’s the scariest thing possible.

And that’s the only motivation I need.

The worst thing about it is letting everybody else down. I mean, we all look at our stats, our ERA, WHIP and all the other numbers that every stat geek has come up with.

We want the back of our baseball card to look good. But I’d allow eight runs if it meant we’d win the game.

There are 24 other guys and they’re trying their hardest to make sure it’s not up to me whether we win or lose. So it’s my responsibility to make sure I try my hardest to make sure we don’t lose.

And the craziest thing is, this is baseball. We play 162 games and the last time I checked, nobody is going to 161 and one.

Because even if we did and I was at fault, that one loss would hurt more than anything in the world.

And not just because it would’ve ruined the first perfect season in the history of the sport.

It’s because this is my family and I don’t want to disappoint them.

Pasttime – 26

The walk-off is an all-encompassing team win…at least as far as the celebration is concerned.

Walk-offs usually means a reliever or two has made it into the game, so there’s a couple of us in the dugout. The rest of us are up, either warming up or focused on the game from our unique angle.

But the most exciting play in baseball rarely gets the love it deserves.

There’s a spot or two in every ball park where we as pitchers are attempting to ensure no ball gets hit there. It’s the gaps, the corners, the tricky corners that routinely get balls sucked into a black hole.

One only made bigger by the fact the crowd noise is rising exponentially while they flash back and forth between the fielder chasing down the ball…

And the man running around the bases at full speed.

It’s a thing of beauty for some, graceful glides between bases with slight angles taken to cut a corner and angle themselves better towards the next base.

But those aren’t mine or the fan’s true favorite.

It’s the big man rumbling around the bases, moving like a…a big man rumbling around the bases.

I mean, there really is nothing like it.