Tuesday, May 6, 2008


One hundred twenty-five dollars for the plumber to spend ten minutes fixing the leak I couldn't find. My kids insist they had nothing to do with it. Maybe. There's a first for everything.

That looked to be just another nail in the coffin of a day that was better off dead anyway. Our twenty-three hours of summer having ended, the sky clouded up in anticipation of our second baseball game of the season. By the time I loaded my youngest in the car and stopped to pick up his contribution as snack captain, there was a steady downpour.

I stood at the counter of the convenience store waiting to pay for the overpriced Rice Krispies bars. I would have bought them earlier but had to stay home to pay for the overpriced plumbing repair. A couple cops were chatting by the coffee machine.

"Hey guys," I said.

"Snag, you're not going to play ball tonight, are you?" one of them asked.

"Going to try."

"Bring your waders."


I got back in the car. "What do you think?" I asked my son.

"We've played in worse," he said.

"Good man."

We reached the field and I saw the opposing coach out of his car talking to some of his players.

"Beautiful day for a ballgame," I said.

"What do you think?" he asked. "I checked the field. It looks alright."

"Looks like it's letting up," I replied. "I say we play as long as there's no lighting."

"Works for me." He waved to his team and we headed behind the school to warm up.

While the kids were playing catch, one of our players saw an acquaintance on the other team. "I'm going to tell everyone at school when we beat you," he said.

"Hey!" Coach P. barked, pulling him aside.

"What?" the player asked.

"Didn't we talk about good sportsmanship at practice?"

"I guess. Yes."

"I don't ever want to hear that kind of thing again."

"Okay Coach. I got it."

"Then use it."

As it turned out, the rain did stop. It turned into quite a nice night, in fact, a little cold when the sun began to set, but nice.

The game was ugly, though. Walks. Walks, walks, and more walks. Partly because the umpire, a volunteer dad, had an awfully tight strike zone. Partly because a lot of the kids wouldn't have hit a strike zone no matter how big it was. It took us ninety minutes to play the first three innings and there wasn't much sign things were going to improve.

"What time is it?" asked Coach P.

"Ten after hell," I said.

"Is it just me or is this a slow game?" asked a parent.

"There aren't words to describe how painful this is," I told him.

In the third inning my son let a ground ball roll through his legs at second base. It was hit hard, but still. He looked at me and shrugged in apology. The next batter he made the play on an almost identical grounder. After another eternity we got a second out. The bases were loaded, though, and I told Coach P., "If he'd made that first play, we'd be done."

Coach P. shrugged just like my son had.

"I should yell, 'We'd be out of the inning if you hadn't muffed that play.'"

Coach P. said, "It would be funnier if one of the other parents did it."

I walked over to where the parents were sitting and offered one of the team moms two dollars if she'd to do it. She gave me an appalled look.

"He's hard enough on himself already," she said.

"Not about the important things," I said.

"What's more important than baseball?" she asked.

"Good point," I said. What a great team.

Finally we headed into the bottom of the fifth with a one run lead, an inning the dwindling light guaranteed would be our last. As one of our players started warming up at pitcher, his mother drifted over.

"If you want to see a boy whose night's been made, you're looking at him," she said.

"Why's that?"

"He's been talking all spring about how much he wants to pitch. He's so excited he can't stand it."

And he did just fine. The first batter squibbed one into the dirt in front of the plate. My son, who was catching, jumped on it and threw to Coach P.'s son at first base to get the out. The next two batters walked and then the next one hit a hard line drive down the first base line.

Damn it, I thought.

"Damn it," said Coach P. and then his son bent down, made an improbable catch at his shoe tops, and stepped on first to double up the runner and end the game.

My kid took off his catchers mask, jogged over to Coach P.'s kid, slapped him on the back, and the two of them trotted off the field. The rest of us, players, parents, coaches stared in silence at the field until it sunk in, then offered our own congratulations. The teams lined up and shook hands, we had a brief team meeting, then the boys took their gloves and bats and their snacks and left for home, chattering excitedly.

Coach P. and I finished locking up the bases and umpire gear while our kids relived the game, what they'd done right and what they hadn't.

"Can we go out for ice cream?" they begged in unison as we walked to the car, back lit with purple and orange as the sun went down for the night.

Sure. We had a game to celebrate.


Jennifer said...

I'm glad you got your game in, Snag.

fish said...

My kid is still at the level when he has a look of absolute shock on his face when he catches one. I love that look.

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

Overpriced plumbing repair? Call me when you've had the heating guy at your house for 8 consecutive hours, replacing every valve on the boiler.

$125 cheap. hmpf.

regrettably, Young P has gotten over baseball, it will never be his game. He inherited my athleticism. Got to play at the ballpark before he called it quits though.

Kathleen said...

yay for the team having a good time!

Adorable Girlfriend said...

Plumber prices?! Where have I heard that before?

Snag said...

fish, that's one of the great expressions - "Holy shit, I've got it!"

fish said...