We've been up in Connecticut for four months now. We came up here as the last brutal breaths of winter were chilling us, and now the full-fury of summer's heat is frazzling my bones.
There I am in the back, the sea blue, flat and warm just twenty-feet below the sea-wall. It hasn't rained in two weeks or so and I noticed just now that the lush green grass has turned sere and brown and dead.
All of a sudden, I was no longer on the rarefied coast of Middlesex County, Connecticut. I was manning third base at Estadio de Beisbol Francisco I. Madero, kicking with my spikes against the burnt infield grass around my position. My baseball days started green and were ending up brittle.
A lot of the world is like that. Dying right before our eyes.
Often that summer, that summer so long ago in 1975, I watched our team die at the end of a ballgame, when we were within a long fly ball of tying the score, or a tricky double into the corner away from winning one, and I watched us die.
I watched Garibay lose one in the sun in left or Rojas let one fall into the stands that he should have grabbed. I watched a ball bad-hop in front of me and turn an easy 5-3 into a base hit.
I watched guys, myself included, swing at meatballs like their bats were made of Swiss cheese and come up empty when they should have moved a man ahead a bag.
But mostly, from my vantage at third, just half a diamond away from the pitcher's perch, I'd watch Marco Tovar's left arm tighten up and freeze like a too-old V-8 run with too little oil, or one of the Medrano brothers pull up lame, or a fastballer like Logan Duran who had big league stuff and grade-school control, lose his location altogether and start throwing pitches wildly into both dugouts.
That's a lot of life, some times. Some times it's how we all feel.
In the morning, you're green and lithe and sinewy--your feet planted on the floor, ready to run. In the evening, your life is brown and fragile and ready to crack.
Amid the brown scraggle, kicking at the dead grass, I saw my manager Hector Quetzacoatl Padilla aka Hector Quesadilla walk disgusted in from the dugout to remove an arm.
He walked head down, by rote, staring not ahead of him but at the once-green, now dead grass. He walked slower than any man has ever walked, like he was walking the last mile to the chair at the big house. He moved tectonically, like death itself. Slow so our relief could get warm. Slow so their arms could unstiffen. Slow. Slow.
Slow and hoping the next pitcher, the next day, the next game would be better.
Slow and hoping that the brown would come back to green.