Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Blind As A Bat

(These are the typical feelings and associations that occur on game day, for yours truly and hopefully everyone else who plays ball.)

Arrive at the site of the game. It won't be long until you see the familiar face of a teammate, or two or three, etc.

Put on your cleats and eventually someone will ask you if you would like to get loose and like Pavlov's dogs you reach in your bag for a ball (to warm up with your teammate) and respond with a delightful, "Sure!"

After some conversation with your teammate (and any others who may be alongside also warming up) you ask if your partner is loose and right then I begin thinking of the game that day.

I'm never concerned where I bat, as long as I'm batting, but I do like to see who's playing and where. Also, I'd like to know if we're home or away because it lets me know who bats first.

As I approach my position on the field the idea of batting never crosses my mind, even if I know I'm due to leadoff the next inning. The only time that reaches my thought process is when the third out of the preceding inning is made and only then do I begin to focus attention on my approach to batting.

It's my turn. The batter or runners before me that have reached base safely are my concern because it's up to me to get them across the plate or at least advance them to the next base. A pop-up or strike out just won't do.

As I approach the batter's box I hear some cheers from my teammates and occasionally something about a manpill as I do a little groundskeeping to help myself get adjusted to the well-used batter's box.

Then it's eyeball the pitcher time. I look at how the pitcher is playing his position, to see if a grounder up the middle will have no trouble getting past him because if he's going to give me anything I'm darn sure going to take it!

(I just flashed on a Letters to the Editor I had sent some years ago about Rod Beck. I remember saying one way for Beck to keep a batter off guard would have been to have long curly locks of hair tumbling out from under his baseball cap with a pair of Leon Hall hexagon tube earrings dangling and a big red clown's nose to go along with a grizzly five o'clock shadow, as he began swinging his throwing arm back and forth like a human grandfather's clock. It was a takeoff of the Cowardly Lion in the Wizard of Oz but the idea just struck me as gut-busting, acid indigestion, gasping-for-air hillarious. Needless to say it was not selected for print. Unfortunately, for Chronicle readers, the Editor doesn't have the same sense of humor I do.)

So I'm focused on the pitcher. Knowing however he plans to pitch to me that I have to adjust my swing to make solid contact with the ball and keep it between the lines. It's all up to me to do everything right because if I am- at any time- relying on the bat to bail me out of any possible indecision I'm in serious trouble because nothing is as blind as a bat.

Except perhaps the umpire. (No offense, Merle)

Kevin Marquez