A Pause for Reflection

Now that I’ve broken the all-time strikeout record, yes, I do feel a sense of relief. It’s been a long, hard haul, and I’ve been out here every day in the heat and the cold, through every ache and pain, no matter what else was going on in the world. Do I see myself retiring? Well, it’s not really up to me, is it. Look, here’s the deal: I don’t pitch for records, though number 3,549 has been in the back of my mind for years. There are those who will claim that you can screen those kinds of thoughts out completely, but I don’t really believe them. And I don’t pitch for money, obviously, or fame. I pitch for a much simpler reason: because the kid who owns me keeps putting balls in my mechanical arm, setting the speed on SEMI-FAST, and then pressing ACTIVATE.

I won’t even really respond to suggestions that my record is tarnished somewhat because I’ve struck out the same kid for eleven years. The way I look at it, to strike someone out from the age of seven to eighteen is a real accomplishment. And I don’t see why it matters that he’s not very good. I mean, he pretty much knows exactly what’s coming, but I still keep blowing him away. Seriously, if he set me on CURVE more often, I’d be up to five thousand strikeouts by now. I don’t mean to sound boastful, but that’s just the way it is. And I’ll remind you that more than one hundred of my strikeouts came against the Glick kid from down the road between 1998 and 2000 when he was in his physical prime. I’ll grant you that notching eleven Ks against that elderly dude who visits from time to time hasn’t been the most amazing achievement, but it’s still honest work and it doesn’t fatigue me any less to mow down a seventy year-old. My arm has to throw according to the setting it’s on. I wouldn't even know how to let up if I wanted to.

Sure, there’s a good chance I’ll have to give up the ghost when the kid goes off to college in the fall and starts his classes at Swarthmore. Maybe I’ll add a few more strikeouts when he’s visiting during Thanksgiving or something. But like I say, it’s not about accumulating statistics; it’s always been about being the best pitcher I can be.

Nice kid. I have nothing against him. It’s always been a purely athletic rivalry. I hear he’s going to major in sociology. Yeah, there’s a good move.