Thursday, August 16, 2012

One Shining Moment

 Friendship Wins with a Walk-Off

He stepped towards the plate and considered his options. It was the last inning and his team was down 1-0. This was the last game of the regular season and both teams were playing for a bye in the first round of the playoffs. The game was a defensive battle with great plays made by both sides.

For some reason, he never worried about losing the game, and he knew every one of his teammates felt the same way. They had played too hard and their friendship was too strong; losing was simply not an option.

By some stroke of luck, or karma, or weedle, the top of the line-up came up to start the last inning. Everything that happened in the previous innings had led to this opportunity. They had stressed friendship and teamwork all season, and the few times they were behind on the scoreboard, their joyous camaraderie never ceased for one moment.

Their lead off man is the fastest person in New Britain, and in the game's biggest moment, he turned a routine blooper into a double to lead off the inning. The already excited team became especially ecstatic knowing the tying run was in scoring position with no outs.

Next up, the star center-fielder executed a perfect sacrifice fly, sending the speedy tying run to third. All it would take was another sac fly to tie the game.

It was his turn, and it didn't take him long to know the only real option: get the ball high up in the air and bring the runner home.

He took the first pitch, an outside fastball.

The second pitch started out directly towards his preferred zone but began bouncing halfway to the plate.

The team cheered from the bench.

"Come on Thuggy!"

"Let's go Thug!"

"Here we go friendship!"

All he had to do was kick the shit out of the ball and get the runner home.

The ball came in quickly but straightforward, low to the ground, and directly over the plate. He took a few steps and kicked the shit out of the ball.

It shot out towards left center field, arching high into the night sky, illuminated by the field's bright lights.

The left fielder, seemingly in a last second, independent decision, decided to play volleyball and sent the ball right back up into the sky. It was an effort to delay the runner from tagging up; unfortunately for the defense, the rules state that the runner can tag as soon as contact is made. What the move did succeed in doing was confusing the hell out of everybody.

The tying run stayed on third, waiting to see what would happen. The second baseman stood waiting for the ball to come back down, hoping to turn and throw out the runner at home plate. Maybe it was his anxiousness to throw the ball, or his confusion at what just happened, but something caused him to let the ball slip right through his fingers and roll towards center field.

The runner on third finally took off and made it easily to home plate while the third base coach shouted "Run!" and "Get home!" to the confused runner just rounding first base.

He was halfway to second base when he saw the ball rolling on the ground in the outfield. He wasn't sure what happened. He looked to make sure the tying run scored. He saw a sea of yellow shirts on the third base line waving him on and screaming at him to run. He put his head down and did just that.

He rounded second base and looked towards the coach who was still shouting at the top of his lungs. There was no question: he was running, and he was scoring.

He rounded third and looked towards home. He knew the ball had to be getting close. He didn't have a lot of speed, but his feet managed to switch to fifth gear; unfortunately, the rest of his body stayed in fourth gear. He felt himself losing balance. His body started to tip forward as his feet furiously scampered beneath it. He was now parallel to the ground.

Images of Ryan Braun flashed through his mind. Except this was worse; this would cost his team the game.

He put his hands out and managed to balance himself enough to stumble a few more paces towards home plate. He thought he might be able to right himself, but after 3 or 4 more sloppy steps, he fell forward on his face.

He looked at the plate, about ten steps away, and began to crawl. At any moment, the ball would hit him directly in the back.

He made an attempt to get up but couldn't get past his knees. He silently wished for someone to pick him up.

His wish was granted. He felt a tug at the back of his shirt and his body was lifted enough to get his feet underneath him . He was up and running but he knew it was too late. The ball had to be coming for him.

He looked back as he ran. The ball was rolling around near third base. The defense made no effort to pick it up.

He walked the last few steps and fell backwards on top of home plate, waiting for the ensuing celebration as his teammates rushed towards him.

The game was over. Friendship had persevered once again.

I Love You All (Especially you, C.H.A.M.P.S.)...Class Dismissed.

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