Requiem for a Middle Reliever
Zibby called me into his office after tonight's game and made it official: I've been sent down. Well, I told Zib I didn't want any part of going back to double-A, I was done with baseball forever. He said that was "probably for the best". What does he know? Sure, to the naked eye untrained in what makes a good major league pitcher, my career stat line doesn't look very impressive: eighteen batters faced, eighteen batters hit in the head or upper neck by the first pitch. But unless you were inside my mind, you can't understand the circumstances that led to me plunking every hitter I ever threw to, thus setting a professional record which they say will go unchallenged for "as long as there are stars in the night sky". So I'm writing it down for posterity:
Batters 1 through 3: I was nervous. Jitters. I'm sure I'm not the only one who's had them in Yankee Stadium, you know what I mean?
Batters 4 through 9: The ball was wet or something, it was weird.
Batter 10: Nobody saw it, but the dude gave me this rude look, like "Hey, loser, you're not gonna hit me too, are ya?" So, yeah, I put him down.
Batter 11: Considering I'd just put the previous hitter into a life-threatening coma by delivering a fastball to his forehead, I was understandably upset. Duh.
Batter 12: Okay, the guy had the biggest head I've ever seen on a person. I know this sounds like hyperbole, but no pitch could possibly avoid beaning that big old melon. I could have rolled the ball to the catcher and that freakish cranium would have gotten partially tapped. So that one was on him.
Batter 13: I actually don't think the pitch really hit the guy. I read in a book once that there's a way you can make it seem like your eye has popped out of its socket, and I bet he knew how to do it and make a sound like a ball hitting a helmet at the same time.
Batters 14 and 15: Concentration a little off; ex-girlfriend in stands.
Batter 16: Concentration a little off; fifth grade teacher in stands.
Batters 17 and 18: Just regular people in stands, but all of them chanting, "For the love of God, stop striking and seriously injuring those who play in our league!" You try concentrating through that.
My one regret about my career is that I kept forgetting to score some of those free sunflower seeds they have in the dugout. I honestly can think of no other circumstance or occupation in which I'll ever find myself with access to vast quantities of free sunflower seeds. Damn.