And, since I won't have any of my own baseball to concern myself with until next week, maybe I'll take advantage of the hotel's free high-speed internet and actually say a word or two about the Royals..
Anyway, a double-header last weekend - of which we won both! Down to the nitty-gritty:
Game #4: Us 11, Them 5
Team Record: 2-2
Blow, Joe: 2-3 (2 singles, K, 2 RBI)
Season-to-Date Totals (through game 4):
Avg: .273 (3 for 11)
This game, I finally started getting back into the habit of actually remembering to try to hit the ball out in *front* of me while I was still at-bat, rather than on the long, slow walk to the dugout after triggering a hair too late and letting the pitch eat me up, as has been the case so far. I also made a conscientious effort to make sure I'm watching the ball all the way from the pitcher's hand, instead of picking it up after it's already been released. coincidentally, two two-out RBI base-hits! although, after hitting a solid single up the middle on the first at-bat, I hesitated coming around first, saw the centerfielder misplay the ball when it hit the lip on the infield grass, and made a lame duck attempt at trying to take 2nd. of course, you only realize you've really bit it about ¾ of the way there, and I was out by a good 3 steps. hey, at least the run scored!
I also promised myself this game that all sliding would be done head-first, since I got a nice strawberry on my knee last game trying to steal a base, and it hadn't healed yet. so, then I slid feet-first trying to take 2nd, and returned to the dugout to find a nice, uh, "full" band-aid on my knee. luckily I had plenty of time to nurture myself back to health...
...because I was the goddamn Extra Hitter again. it's not as bad right now because I know I'm the new kid on the team, but it burns me up when the same guys get an automatic spot no matter how they play. the worst part about being the EH is that, aside from watching kids screw up your position, this lady automatically bats you last. I was pretty steamed during the game, and I sat on the very end of the bench to make sure the managers wouldn't talk to me. I mean, I do that anyway, but I think it was a little more noticeable when I was the only person on it.
A pretty good game, though. What could top it? Why, Game 5, of course..
Game 5: Us 9, Them 7
Team Record: 3-2
Blow, Joe: 0-2 (BB, K, ground out, 1 run scored)
Season-to-Date Totals (through game 5):
Avg: .231 (3 for 13)
The good: I led off the top of the last inning and drew a walk when our team was down 7-4.
The bad: I'll be remembered for two things in this game -
1. Dropping a fly ball in the bottom of the 6th after losing it in the sun (allowing 2 runs to score)
2. Not attempting to score on a wild pitch in the top of the 7th (last) inning with the bases loaded, nobody out, down by 3
Pretty rough. I actually got to start in left field, where I began the game by slightly misplaying an odd bounce on a line drive (nobody took an extra base, though), and pulling up short of a couple potential shoe-string-catch line drives that, obviously, everyone else on the team would have tried to catch and had the ball roll for a triple when they missed it - I thought holding guys to singles was good? I watched that play *way* too many times in softball last year, and I'm not about to make it.
in my defense on the misplay, I will say that, honestly, I could barely feel my fingers. and, no, it wasn't cold. it's just that, well, I started the day feeling a little rough after a night of slightly heavy drinking the previous evening, then ingested a lot of caffeine. in fact, I had some extra no-doz type caffeine pills in my bat-bag, and while I wasted away the innings on the bench during game 1 of the afternoon, I think I took a couple too many. and that's saying something for me, because I regularly drink large quantities of coffee all day long. anyway, by that point I was feeling a little shaky and a lot...odd.
I actually moved up to 7th in the order this game (based on my dynamite performance in game 1, coupled with the fact I wasn't the EH), and proceeded to strike out by taking a couple questionable strikes and missing a curve ball. badly.
then the "talk" started.
while we were batting in the top of the 3rd, I heard the manager lady say to the guy who couldn't play centerfield worth anything in game one, "yeah, you're going in to left next inning". I wasn't even going to say anything. I just decided maybe she meant "left side of the infield", or...fuck it, I knew what she meant. I was getting taken out after two innings. I was livid.
after we were retired in the top of the 3rd, sure enough, he trotted out to left. I stood there, grabbing the fence, waiting for someone to say something to me as i watched this unfold. they sat on the bleachers, snacking away. I looked at anyone, waiting for a response. finally, eyes clenched, an indignant scowl on my face, I pointed and said, "You put him in?" very eloquent, I must say.
"oh, yeah, you're going to right field. I meant to tell you. sorry about that!"
what the fuck? jesus christ.
anyway, I slowly staked my place in right field, and watched each inning as the sun gently crept down the sky until, by about the 6th inning, it was perched happily just over the tall trees that looked over the field from behind the right-handed batters. in other words, the sun was directly in front of the right fielder (me), and about ¾ of the way down the sky. combined with the glare off of the concession stand roof, which rests about 5 feet above the batter's head (and also directly in front of the right fielder), I seriously hoped that I could be nothing more than a place-holder the rest of the game.
cue forward to the bottom of the 6th: down by 1, our pitcher allowed the first 2 runners on - one, I must mention, because the guy that took my place in left field actually charged a fly ball that landed just in front of the warning track. I mean, seriously, the guy can't play outfield! goddamn.
anyway, naturally the next ball hit is a high fly ball to me, and I saw it all the way until it was maybe 10-15 above me. then, nothing. I couldn't see a thing. it was lost to the sunlight completely. I stuck my glove in the air, half-defensively, and felt it glance off the very tip. afterward, nobody really said anything to me. they just, kind of, didn't talk to me.
I was vindicated the next inning when the right fielder on the other team did the exact same thing. of course, to guys on my team, it was because he "sucked, really bad", but he had obviously put his arms in front of his face as the ball came down so that he wouldn't get smashed.
anyway, like I said earlier, I led off the top of our last inning by drawing a walk. the guy after me had apparently (to most of us anyway) drawn a walk as well, with the home-plate umpire even pointing him down to first base. except that his pointing was really him calling a late, silent strike call. I realized this when I was about halfway to 2nd base and had to make a mad dash back to first, seeing as how I was a live runner and all. I probably could have made it to 2nd, but everybody was a little confused, so they didn't think to throw it back to 1st soon enough. at least i was still safe, that's all i have to say.
eventually, I made it to 3rd, and we had the bases loaded, 0 outs, down by 3. that's when the pitcher threw a wild pitch to the backstop. now, I must mention, this is not the backstop at royals stadium. in fact, it's not very deep at all, and I honestly can't believe that no one ever gets thrown out trying to take home plate on these plays. no matter what, though, I wasn't interested in trying to score on a wild pitch with the tying run on first base and no one out. so, I stayed put on 3rd when he threw one. naturally, my teammates (on the 1st base bench) were jumping all over themselves. I just stuck my hands out and shrugged my shoulders, like, "what?!"
I ended up scoring on the play where their right fielder lost the ball in the sun, we eventually scored 5 runs in the inning and held on for a 9-7 win, and everybody was really excited. I even had a couple of guys come up to me and say, "I liked your decision not to try to score with the bases loaded." and that, my friends, is what I'll take for vindication these days..