Well, here I am. On the mound. Not just any mound. A major league mound. Man, there are so many people here. Are they cheering? Couldn’t be. I’m their enemy right now. The closer. The evil closer for the opposing team. God, that was a long walk to the mound. Maybe they should have shuttle service just for the closer. Not likely. Ok. Get your mind set. There’s my catcher. I’m so glad they put him in. He knows my stuff better. I think he saw me in Shreveport a few months back with a scout. Jesus, these people are loud. Hello....duh. That’s the point. To throw you off. It’s not happening to me. Not tonight. Mom and Dad are probably taping this back home. Dad will be having a Dixie beer with Uncle Frank and the rest of the family. Hope Mom’s wearing my new team jersey I sent her. They may be in Louisiana but tonight they are rooting for Oakland.
It’s almost the end of the year. Hope they keep me. I wouldn’t mind going back to Triple A. I’d see Carey and Dominic again. Man, that would be great if they can get on the team.
Dammit! Pay attention! Get with it. Throw some pitches over. That’s it. Nice and easy. Now a little harder. All right, let’s show this ump some heat. You getting my locations now? All right. Man, this is a crowd. They aren’t even full tonight. You’re gonna have to tune them out. You’ve done it before. Not with this many. You can do it. You only have to face one hitter.
Here he comes. Their big star. The crowd is hoping for a bomb from this guy. And with a man on first, that would win the game. Sorry, buddy, but the game ends here. You haven’t seen my stuff yet. Yeah, give us that swagger. I used to eat righties like you for breakfast. Wait...I guess since I’m the closer it’s dinner. Ok, let’s focus. Tune in. First pitch. Give it to me. Fastball? Why not fool him with a change first? Stop it. Remember what he said. Listen. He knows what he’s choosing. Besides, it’ll give me a chance to show him what he’ll be missing.
Ok, ball in hand.....fingers with the seams....bring that leg up......bend that back....come around.....release......yes!
CRACK! Oh, no. Where’d it go? Oh...foul down third base side. Heh, good catch little kid. All right. Set yourself up again. Lean in. What is it this time? Change. Thank you. Time to serve it up again. There you go. Ah ha! I feel that breeze from here buddy! Wasn’t expecting that were you? Yeah, you get out of that box and think about it a while. Man, this crowd won’t quit. Somebody should shut them up.
Ok...next pitch. 1 and 1. What do you got for me? Damn. Slider. He knows I don’t throw it that well. I threw it today during warm ups and it always went wide. Can’t seem to get the wrist on it. Maybe that’s what he’s counting on. All right, then. Here it goes. See. What I tell you? Wide. Dammit! Ball. 2 and 1. Got to shut this crowd up. They’re getting on my nerves. Which means they’re succeeding.
All right. Now what. Curve. Down and in. Hmm....pretty good. He won’t be looking for it. But, then again....What! Inside? Jesus, that caught the corner. Don’t say it. Don’t say anything. Just make it look like you were supposed to miss. Damn, this hitter can see. Can’t seem to fool him. Haven’t faced anyone like this in Shreveport. Most guys in Triple A would have chased that ball. Them days are over, buddy. I am here in the Show now. The minute I threw that heater on the first pitch, I became a Major Leaguer.
Ok.....3 and 1. Hitter’s count. No surprises here. Everyone in this park knows what’s coming. Fastball. Nothing but. And here it comes.
Shit. Game over. Don’t look back at it. Make it like it’s not that big of a deal. Remember what Coach Brown said. “When you’re pitching relief, don’t show any emotion.....good or bad.” God, I wish he was here. I miss him so much. Maybe he is looking down watching the game. I used to get jealous of him sometimes. He gets to play with all the big boys now. He wouldn’t have to go far to see that ball. That one went straight to the Heavens.
Wait. Hold it a minute. The crowd stopped cheering. Turn around. It curved in the air. Thank god for this Chicago wind. Foul ball. Just barely. Heh. That sure shut the crowd up. All right. Game still on.
3 and 2. Full count. And this crowd is back at it. C’mon you know what I want to throw. No, not the change again. He’s seen that. Stop it. He knows what he’s doing. All right....here it comes. Whoa! Foul back. He just missed that one. C’mon....give it....give me the sign. Dammit. Not another slider. Shake him off. Great. Here he comes.
“I guess I know what you want to throw, rook.”
“You know it’s my best pitch.”
“I do. But this guy’s a high ball hitter. If you get it up, he’s taking it to Mars.”
“Then I won’t get it up. It’ll just look like it is.”
“I’m just telling ya....if it stays up and he likes it–”
“Why don’t you let him make that decision?” Yeah, shake your head. You know I’m right.
“Ok, rook. Just keep it down.”
Yeah. Walk back there and watch. My bread and butter. That’s it. Time to shut this crowd and make them go home angry. Of course, I don’t know why they’re so excited. Their team isn’t going anywhere. Then again, neither is ours. Too bad I couldn’t be traded to New York. I’d be pitching in the playoffs in a week. Keep on wishing boy.
Now, here comes the pain. Dip that pitch over. Yeah, that may look high at first. But, ohhh...look at that drop off the table. And look at that swing....and a whiff!
Yes! Strike three! Game over! Mr. Star, huh? Yeah, glare at me some more while I high-five my teammates. Damn, Mom, Dad, and the family will be going crazy. Have to remember to mention them if I’m interviewed. Of course my catcher kept the ball. My first Major League save.
Oh, no. Mr. Star is coming over. What the hell. Hope it’s not to argue. Just stand there. No emotion.
“Hey, kid! Anyone who can throw a sinker like that ought to stick around. Welcome to the Show.”
That was cool. Oh, no. I feel a smile coming on. C’mon Coach...let me have this emotion. It just feels too great.