Saturday, January 31, 2015

The Baseball Life

There are some weeks that are just like hitting a line drive into the right-center gap and having to turn what appears to be an easy triple, into something much more. Looking back, this was one of those weeks.

Monday starts off with very brief moment of silence, as you've just cranked the ball deep and you know the center fielder has about a 2% chance of snagging it. Coffee in hand and Mira on the bus, you leave home cautiously, not sure if you should maintain a respectable pace toward first or should be going with burners fully ignited right out of the starting gate. You consider your options, as the boys are finishing breakfast and getting backpacks prepped.

Then Sarah and I look at our calendars and we soon realize what lies ahead. Expressions turn to a mixture of self-inflicted mental exhaustion and mild panic. Your smashing drive to deep right center has taken flight. The right fielder, who was playing tight to the line (because you are a left-handed hitter) has virtually no playable chance and is undoubtedly out of the picture. He's hustling a diagonal toward the gap, but even with a quantum leap or perhaps a jet pack, the laser you just hit is bound for the warning track and he knows it. His potential fielding percentage for this particular catch is spiraling downward with every stride.

The center fielder however, continues the pursuit. With cleats kicking and grass clippings scattering, his upper body is leaning toward the bullet that was sent. He is relentless in his running, but the distance is too much. If only he had positioned himself another 3 steps to the right, he might have closed the gap and made this a routine fly ball. 

It's only Monday. Usually by this point, you are only 45-50 feet down the line, because well, you were making an assumption that this might be an easy week. Ease into it slowly – better save some energy. But as the picture unfolds, it's time to strategize how you are not only going to quickly accelerate, but do it with pinpoint accuracy around first, without compromising speed. You open your calendar. Neurology calls, prescription refills, endocrinology appointments, conference calls, legislative emails, unfolding travel itineraries, and IEP scheduling all come into play as you are rounding the first bag.

Monday is over and the right fielder has a face full of turf and is trying to decelerate from a failed Superman dive. He gave it a respectable effort, with the ball clearing his Rawlings by mere inches. Need to watch the replay to see exactly how far. One day down and a long road ahead. The right fielder is now redirecting momentum, trying to circle back to the ball, which is now destined for a single bounce toward the right-center wall.

Tuesday and Wednesday hit and you are already playing catch-up at work, home, and school. You are hustling second, eyeing the turn. A brief glance into the right corner, you realize the ball just took a bad bounce, in your favor. This redirection changes everything. Worst case scenario, you've now bagged a stand-up triple, with the remote possibility of getting more. Energy reserves are on standby as it's mid-week now. Dinner time is approaching fast and your Sunday procrastination of going to the grocery store comes back to haunt you. You have little to cook, so you need to paste something together in a hurry, because you have a junior high open house to attend in 30 minutes. Carry-out pizza becomes your go to source to solve that dilemma. Laundry can wait. Cleaning can wait. Mira needs a bath. All the kids need a bath for that matter, but eating is now the priority. Bath time will be late.

Between second and third, you are winded and your focus has shifted to the weekend. Yet, the third base coach is windmilling you home. Your autopilot, formerly based on your standing triple, has been disengaged and you need to tap all fuel reserves just to make it around third. You blink and it's Friday mid-day and you are wondering were the week went. The third base coach is still frantically circling his left arm out of his socket. The boys are rowdy because they had a half-day of school. Mira is fussing in her room and nothing will make her happy. The crowd is rowdily standing, spilling their $12 Bud Lights in the commemorative collector cups, as you hope to reward their excitement with your valiant, yet textbook flight path to the plate.

The second baseman snatches the relay and releases toward home. Your helmet is gone with the frantic final push of the last 15 feet. You begin initiate your final descent for the corner as the catcher's anticipation of the impending throw and potential collision causes tension on both sides. With knees blocking the front half and dirt covering the remainder of the gleaming white rubber mat, your left hand sweeps the furthest corner, a fraction before the catcher’s backward flinging mitt smacks the outside face of your forearm. You are safe, because you made it home. It's Friday evening.

Ironically, it’s only the bottom of the first inning in a previously scoreless game, so it is really insignificant with eight innings remaining. It’s the middle of the season and you are 14 games out of first place. But you have the weekend to catch up both mentally and physically, ready to start it all over on Monday. Thank goodness we don't have any solid plans this weekend.

For now, it is 1-0 and we won this inning, anyway. So, in your face last week of January.

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