Around the Diamond

This was an excercise in point of view. This is the first one of two.

The Umpire

You know, I dreamed of being in the Major Leagues. When I was in high school, I was recruited by some of top colleges in the nation. I chose to go to Louisiana Tech University and played shortstop for nearly four years, but then my whole future changed. I remember Coach Jackson telling me, “Look man, you may not be able to play anymore but you have an eye for the game. Have you ever considered being a coach? I think you could make it, maybe even to the pros.”– Swing and miss. “Strike!” as the kid swings badly, really badly at an easy pitch.–I spent the summer after my graduation looking for work, finally being hired as a coach for a local private college. When we went below .500 for more than four straight seasons, the school let me go. Said I was–”Strike!”, does this kid need glasses?–Anyway, they let me go but not without recommending that I give my beloved sport one more try–as an umpire. My athletic director wrote me a decent recommendation, but attempts to be hired at the collegiate level did not pan out, and the MLB…well, I never heard back. So, here I am…my dreams a proverbial strikeout, much like this poor kid–”Strike! Out!” Do yourself a favor, son…do something that doesn’t involve hand-eye coordination. I shudder as two dreams break and fall apart.

Carl

Carl could not have been more proud, more ashamed, and more angry. He shouldn’t be here; it was written on the restraining order…but this was “the big game,” his son Damon was the star pitcher in his own mini-world series. Carl did not come alone, the bottle hanging limply by his side. He would drink a swig only sparingly, he did not want to cause attention…he did not want Sherlyn to know he was watching the game. “Strike!” he hears the umpire yell; Damon is currently throwing easy pitches to kid who seems to be fighting the air. Fighting the air…that’s Carl’s life, fighting the demons of alcohol, temper, and abuse that were given to hims by his father. Those gifts had been what caused Sheryln to leave him, and to take Damon with her. He begged and he pleaded but she wouldn’t listen…the anger radiated through Carl causing him to take another drink. “Strike!” Carl really had no idea what that kid was trying to hit. Sheryln had denied him any visitation rights, he was fighting her, fighting for Damon, in court…but that seemed a long shot. He watches as Damon threw his final pitch, “Strike! Out!” yelled the umpire. As Carl took one more thirsty drink from his only friend, his Bud, Damon’s eyes met his and in those eyes he could see that he was truly “out.”

Behind the Scenes

The game was not going as the Cardinals had expected, the Little Dodgers were giving them all they could handle. Fran and Sherlyn sat next to each other occasionally pointing and wincing as mothers often do at these events. The umpire, a middle-aged though not unattractive man, seemed impatient as the current kid on the Little Dodgers seemed to be hitting for everything but the ball. Damon, the Cardinal’s pitcher, was throwing pretty easy pitches; it had been a long game and he was tired after all. He was enjoying being able to pitch easy to an opponent who could not hit the ball if he were swinging a racket rather than a bat. Sammy is amazed that Damon’s able to play at all considering what has been going on between Damon, Damon’s mom, and Damon’s dad, Mr. Carl. Damon had mentioned something about Mr. Carl becoming angry and hitting Miss Sheryln…and that they had to leave. A couple times during the game Coach Barnes has to pull Damon aside and ask if he was able to keep going. There was not hesitation from Damon. As the umpire yelled the final, “Strike! Out!” The poor eye-challenged kid, his name was Will or something like that, sulked back to bench and the inning was over. However, Sammy saw as Damon froze on top of the pitcher’s mound, staring in the direction of left field where a lone man stood, drinking…what was it a soda? The look on Damon’s face though said it all, as he quickly ran off the mound and into the dugout.

Big Picture

The Cardinals are in a close game against the Little Dodgers with two outs with a runner on second and third as Damon Straus tries to finish the inning with the final batter, Will McPherson. The first pitch yields a “Strike!” from the umpire as he shakes his head. Damon exhales and Will shakes his head squinting his eyes. Will’s teammates on the Little Dodgers are rolling their eyes and hiding their heads in their hands. If Will strikes out, that means there are two stranded runners. Damon pitches again, Will misses again, and the umpire yells, “Strike!” Loud groans come from the Little Dodger bench as the Cardinal dugout is on the edge of its seats. “Let’em have it Damon! Wooo! That’s my baby!” yells Damon’s mom Sherlyn. He doesn’t seem to notice. Sammy, at shortstop tenses a bit, keeping an eye on the two runners. Damon throw the final pitch as Will swings…”Strike! Out!” The Little Dodger dugout collapses as the Cardinal’s dugout explodes in cheers. As the inning concludes however, Damon is seen staring toward a lone man over in left field, who appears to be drunk. Seeing him, Damon runs quickly into the Cardinal dugout.

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