Sunday, January 21, 2007

Day Three - The Injuries Mount

Well, day three’s in the books.

I would like to now give a run down of my current physical condition. Moving from south to north: I have a black toenail from stopping short on the basepath and somehow causing trauma inside my cleat. The outside of my left and right ankles have some hard to describe pain. My left knee is mad at me for sliding. Both quads and hamstrings are so sore that to get into a car I have to lift my legs by the pants. My left hip is sore from diving for a pop fly. My right elbow is throbbing (more on that later). Nearly every muscle in my back and shoulders is tender. We think that baseball is a genteel sport because there’s not contact, but let me tell you, all that starting and stopping, and running at full speed only to stop yourself by hurling yourself the ground and skidding across it takes its toll. These are unnatural motions and should be avoided under most circumstances.

But I consider myself one of the lucky ones. Teammate Larry Goldstein hit a single to center only to go down halfway to first with a nasty hamstring pull – he tried to get up, but went back down again a few steps later, and to add insult to injury, he was thrown out at first by the center fielder.

Another teammate, Jim Forde took a fastball to the thigh that produced a bruise that was amazingly reminiscent of the one I had last time. His has a nicer variety of colors than mine did, though, and you can actually see the stitches of the ball in his bruise, if you look closely enough. Really, it’s a wonderful bruise. Amazingly, as the day progressed, the colors actually matured. They began with the warm yellows and pinks of sunrise, but developed into the more emotional and profound blues and purples of a memorable sunset. If it weren’t on a man’s leg, you could perhaps see the think hanging in a museum. Jim’s all banged up – he had rib cage surgery recently and has spent a fair amount of time in the trainer’s room, but he’s getting his money’s worth – out there playing his heart out and having a great time.

If you look closely, you can actually see the stitches on Jim's bruise.

The trainer’s room is a hypochondriac’s delight – with every manner of emollient, salve, and pain reliever known to modern chemistry, not to mention a staff of trainers who could practically heal the dead.

(On a side note, a coach offered to lead a chapel service this morning, and it was suggested they start in the trainer’s room to help the lame, and move on to the ump’s lockers, where they might help the blind to see.)

My favorite locker room item is, and I’m not making this up, a tub of stuff called “Boudreau’s Butt Paste,” for diaper rash. This, I have not had occasion to try just yet, but the week is not over yet, so you never know.

Anyway, Jim Forde is, to my mind, the quintessential fantasy camper – here to do the thing he always wanted to do but never did.

Boudreau's Butt Paste - They Say it Works

The day was a lot of fun. I finally got to pitch. Remember all that talk about a two seam this and a four seam that? Well, when you get on the mound, sometimes all that stuff goes right out the window. Because in this league, the number one thing is to throw strikes, and if you’re futzing with a cut fastball or a sidearm sinker or something, pretty soon you’ve walked the bases loaded.

So I pretty much stuck to a fastball and slider (I throw my slider just like a fastball, except with a very unnatural and unrecommended twist of the arm that makes it curve). And things worked out pretty well. I pitched a complete game, striking out nine or ten, and only giving up one run. The best part was snaring a screamer back through the box to end a rally. We won 8-1, and it was a really, really satisfying game, made possible by, among other things, an inside the park grand slam by Joe Oesterlie, who chugged around the bases and slid under the tag at the plate. Long run.

The obligatory post-pitching photo.

In the second game, we were down 2-0 to Ron Swoboda’s team, came back to take a 3-2 lead, and watched it slip away as they scored a run in the sixth and another in the seventh with a very contested walk off hit. So we’re 2-2, and missed our chance to qualify for the two game playoffs. The bottom line is that while we’re here to have fun, we’re also here to win, and it was disappointing to be close but not close enough. We have two more games tomorrow, and we’ll still play to win, but we’re now just playing for pride.

This evening was kangaroo court – in which fines are handed out for crimes and misdemeanors real and imagined. It is presided over by Coach Bobby Wine and his able lieutenant, former Reds and Mets second baseman Doug Flynn. Now Bobby is a really funny guy because he has an incredible wit but an even greater deadpan – he actually reminds me of Buster Keaton – and he almost never breaks it.

I have a feeling that kangaroo court may be the ultimate “you had to be there” experiences, but Bobby serves as judge, jury, and executioner, handing out fines to people for doing stupid things, talking back, speaking out of turn, or just because he feels like it. An example – Wine: Who here likes their wife better than baseball? (A number of guys raise their hands) Wine: That’ll cost you two dollars each for lying! Bobby fined former Met pitcher Anthony Young (yes, the one who lost 27 games in a row and I don't recommend reminding him of that unpleasant fact) two dollars for wearing an ugly shirt. And so on.

Doug Flynn explains AY's fine for wearing a loud shirt as Judge Wine brings down the gavel.

So tomorrow it’s two more games and the banquet dinner, and a lot of Advil.

1 comment:

Daniel said...

Complete game, ten strikeouts, one run... you must be at least as good of a fifth starter option as Russ Ortiz. I'm dialing Sabean's number right now...