Watching the replays, there’s a distinct crack of the bat, but you didn’t hear it. Just like you didn’t hear the 46,000 people in the stands who knew it was gone, game over, see you tomorrow night. Hell, you didn’t even feel the ball hit the bat. You never do when you really get ahold of one. All you feel is that miniscule fraction of a second when leather meets maple, the reaction sending a shock through your system that makes everything… quiet. Well, that’s not entirely true. You can hear yourself breathing, you can hear your heartbeat, and, for some reason, you can hear the sound of your metal spikes as they crunch against the red clay as you make your way around the bases.
Oh yeah, that. You’re moving now, by the way. Your body made the decision without you, muscle memory taking over before you could realize what happened. Not really sure where the pointing thing came from, either, but it felt right at the time. All you know is that felt like the longest 360 feet of your life, and that you’ve never tried so hard to make sure you touched them all.
The best part, though? Rounding third and seeing your teammates crowded around the plate. That’s what it’s all about, right there. Yeah, you love the city, and it’s great you grew up there, but you just spent the better part of a year practically living with those guys waiting to mob you at home plate. You traveled tens of thousands of miles together, ate almost all of your meals together, and at one point you probably wanted to punch one of them in the face. Hell, maybe you even did. But right now? Right now you’d go through it all over again if knew it ended with you 27 outs from being a world champion.
Anyway, you know what’s about to happen, and so you take your time touching home. You know it’s because they’re overgrown, overjoyed kids who get paid to play a game, and this is how they show their excitement, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to hurt any less. Fuck it, though, you tell yourself. You just hit a walk-off home run in game six of the World Series. That part still hasn’t sunk in, even if the bruises have.
All right, you think as you get out of bed, let’s do this one more time. The view from your window tells you that it’s sunny and cold, and you know that it’s going to be a crisp, clear night for baseball. You make breakfast and try to sit on the couch and watch TV, but you had forgotten how bad daytime television is, and the sports channels are all talking about you. It’s a little uncomfortable, seeing it over and over again like that as people fawn over you. And so, knowing that there’s only one place in the world you want to be, you get dressed and drive to the stadium.
You’ve flown under the radar long enough that there aren’t any photographers waiting near your house, or even at the Player’s Entrance to the stadium, though you did get a friendly wave from a family that recognized you at a stop light.
You’re the first one in the locker room, and it’s almost too quiet. You sit down at your locker and look around as you take a deep breath and tell yourself that last night was great, but not a single bit of it matters, not any of the 179 games you’ve played over the last seven months, if you don’t focus on the very last one of the season. This is it. Exhale.
This is why I don’t understand reality TV. This actually happened last night and there’s no reason it should have.
Texas rallied when severely injured Josh Hamilton pounded Jason Motte’s hanging curveball (why on earth he threw a curveball to a slugger who is too injured to catch up to his 99 MPH fastball is beyond me) into the stands, right before Nelson Cruz got out in front of one and put it into a shallow orbit. St. Louis was dead-to-rights more than once before someone I hadn’t even heard of before July smoked a 2-run homer to dead center in front of 46,000 of his new best friends and that’s that - game 7 tonight.
I get that not everyone loves baseball and that’s fine, but if you want drama, I can’t understand why you would look anywhere else.