Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Don't Worry, Be Happy Part 2

My dad’s strangeness may have saved us until then, but there’s no “not worrying” before a little league Championship game. Everyone is scared shitless, not wanting to be the one to cost everyone the game. Doesn't matter how many times you play "Don't Worry, Be Happy". I went to bed that night, trying to play out the whole thing in my mind, and mostly just trying to breathe. My entire baseball bag completely packed and repacked with extra pairs of everything, just in case. Somehow I fell asleep.

I woke up nervous. I could feel it in every inch of my body and every breath I took. I was so relieved that at least I wasn’t gonna be pitching. I wasn’t at the center of it. I at least had the comfort of being a part of the supporting cast.

We got to the field early for warm ups. Harry’s van pulled up, and he got out to talk to my dad. My dad looked confused. Ian huddled in the passenger seat in the van.

“He sneezed,” my dad said.

“What? So?”

“So, you’re pitching. Apparently Ian sneezed last night and threw his shoulder out,” my dad said, letting on about his doubt about the validity of the injury.

Ian was 12. He was just scared. Great. I was 12. I was scared. And now I had to fucking pitch.

I was outside of my own body with anxiety. This was too much. This was more heat than I wanted. But there was no way out. My nose wasn’t the least bit itchy.

Fear had become anger. I felt so out of my league and the stakes so high, and I felt my blood boil at being let down by Ian, our batshit crazy leader, that all I could think was “If you’re gonna coward out of this and make me do this, then damnit I’m gonna do it.” I don’t know where I found it in me, but it was there.

I gave up only two runs on an error by our shortstop. After 3 innings, the most you were allowed to pitch in one game, we were down just 2-0. We were in it. I moved to catcher and one of our younger pitchers came on in relief. He didn’t have it that day. I sat behind the plate catching ball after ball, as the game was slowly given away to the better team. At first I tried to calm him down, to be a leader, but once I saw it was to no avail I resigned myself to sitting back there and biting back the disappointment in my throat as I had to keep throwing the ball back to the pitcher after another walk.

Losing stung. Debilitating and complete like a bulls-eye Jellyfish hit. The injury felt complete and final. I looked at Ian and I just felt sorry for him, and sorry for myself that I had put all my faith in him.

In the car ride home I was in pieces. “You know, I’m really proud of you. The way you got in there and pitched. That took guts,” my dad said.

The words made me itch. They felt consolatory. What you tell a second place finisher. Which is what they were. They were the last words I wanted to hear. I just wanted to crawl into a ball and wait until I got drafted again.

I’ve since grown up and moved away from the Bay Area. I never got to play for Kevin. I never won a championship. But I did have Bobby McFerrin.

No comments:

Post a Comment