Monday, June 13, 2016

A bad afternoon in Saltillo.

I’ll be completely honest with you. I know it was just an exhibition game between guys ranging in age from 50-85, but I stunk.

They had put me in at third, the position I last played regularly in the early 70s, and I stunk. With my right arm dead from a slight but painful tear of my rotator cuff, I couldn’t make the throw from third to first with any velocity whatsoever.

The Delfines got their first two guys on. Our pitcher, a 66-year-old who played for eight seasons nearly a decade before I arrived in the league was shaped like a beer-keg and threw just about as well.

Their first guy hit a nothing blooper behind our first-baseman. A decent first-sacker could have had it in his hip-pocket, but we were a geriatric squad and the ball fell in. Their next batter hit a light grounder, another sure out in a regular game. It scurried between first and second and it squibbed through for a hit. They had men on first and second with none out.

Out of force of habit, I took two steps in at third, a pretense at being able to initiate a double-play. as luck would have it, their third batter grounded one hard back my way. I fielded it back-handed going to my right and rather than going across the diamond to get the sure out at first, I pivoted and threw the ball to our short-stop, who was covering second.

Unfortunately, though I tried to put some mustard on the ball, I had failed to bring my arm down and snap off the throw. So instead of making a decent peg, I tossed the sphere into shallow centerfield, six or nine or 12 feet over our short stop’s head. I had let two runs in on a throwing error, their third batter taking third on my miscue.

It went on like that for six more runs. When we finally got to the plate for our ups, we were down 8-0, and anyone of the assembled thousands who were still watching were likely laughing at our futility.

Our first batter hit a hard opposite field fly that landed in the expanse of the large right-field of Estadio Francesco I. Madura, and huffing and puffing, he found himself standing up on third with none down. Our next bat brought him in with a geriatric squeeze play that had the nine or 17 people still watching the game convulsed with laughter.

By the time I stepped up to the plate, I was batting sixth, we were down 8-2 with one man on and only one down. I swung hard at the first pitch—I saw it big as a grapefruit, but I was unable to coordinate all the parts of me that used to work together so seamlessly. As I turned my shoulders and hips to get some power into what passed for my swing, I lost my footing and my balance and went ass-over-teakettle and fell in the batter’s box.

Luckily everyone must have chosen the exact moment of my pratfall to be out grabbing una Modelo o una Coca-Cola and no one threw anything in my direction or called out anything particularly cruel.

I looked over at Karmen and Teresa who were sitting together behind the Seraperos’ dugout and they each gave me a little wave and a smile. That was enough for me to regain my composure and once again take my ups. The second pitch also came in fat as a politician, but I had no kind of swing. I got under it and popped it up weakly to their back-stop.

Though we had played just one inning, it had taken a good hour and the umpiring crew, proving that the quality of mercy is not strained, called it a game, a loss for the Seraperos veteranos.

I had in just one inning made a crucial error, fallen down at the plate and popped out to their catcher. But the game was over now, and, like most games, it mattered not a whit. I trotted to the locker-room, taking extra-care not to fall again and showered and changed into some decent clothing.

It could have been a horrible afternoon. But fortunately, I watched the real game with Teresa and Karmen.

And as they do, they made everything all right again.

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