Thursday, July 21, 2011

Hot times on the field of dreams

Boy, was it hot last night in the stadium. The players were melting in the heat as were the spectators. I could wring my clothes out by the end of the first inning. After I dropped Hoosier and Buddy at the stadium, I looked for a mall to walk through and stay cool. Sadly, there were none in the region and I was not ready to go back on the highway to find one. So, I found a Target and had a great time walking through the aisles and looking at the back to school items. In the past, I would have been I am happy that the kids are returning to school to continue to work on their futures. I no longer have to purchase crayons, back packs, and lunch kits as they have moved on and buy their own. I guess that I do not look at them as children or adolescents but as young people ready to make a move on society. Is society ready for them?

As I browsed through the clearance areas, I received a text from Buddy asking for blue Powerade since he was beginning to cramp. This was not a surprising request given the heat and humidity. Once I arrived at the stadium, I could feel the heat flowing from the field and pitied anyone who had to play baseball. From a distance, I could see a high school football team with their helmets on practicing for the fall. it was 8 o'clock and the air sizzled. These athletes are amazing as they forgo comfort to play their sport. I give them a lot of credit.

On to the game...The Stud was on the mound. The last time that the two teams played one another, there was a fight at the end of the game. I missed it since I knew that Buddy was not going to pitch. I go to many many games where he sits and I bowed out of the game with the fight. Looking for some action, I was poised and ready with the camera. There was no foul name single finger was calm. Perhaps they were too hot to expend extra energy doing anything except playing ball and breathing. The Stud walked the first batter that he faced which is never a good sign...then it continued to snowball into a bigger problem from there....He was kept in the game despite his difficulties for 5 innings. By the end of the third inning he looked like he had lost ten pounds of fluid and could barely stand up. He was disheveled and soaking wet. As I sat next to a mother of a player on the opposing team, we were both concerned about his look and health. The coach had to pull him or I was going to as a matter of saving the kid's life. It must have been 110 on the field and he looked like he felt every degree of heat.

Finally, after giving up 6 runs, there was a call to the bullpen and who runs out? Yeah, that's kid...Oy! He has not pitched in 10 days. The last time he was out, he had trouble with the fielding behind him and was yanked out. As Buddy was introduced, I sat back in the bleachers and was prepared for some fireworks. There were two runners on base with two outs. Buddy came in and logged in a strike out. Inning over. OK, this is a great start.

He stayed in for the next inning and struck out the first batter. The second batter got a weak hit over the third baseman's head and was on first base. As he was pitching to the next batter he was able to "pick off" the runner on first base. Picked off means that the runner tries to steal second base, but the pitcher throws the ball to the first baseman in anticipation and tags him out. This is what is supposed to happen. What actually happened was...the runner began to move toward second...Buddy threw the ball to the first baseman who threw the ball to the second baseman. The problem with the play was that the second baseman was on second base waiting for the throw. The first baseman threw the ball into the outfield. With the error, the runner advanced to third. Once again, I got a bad feeling.

The inning went as predicted with two more errors and one gigantic triple that my new friend's son hit off my boy. He hit the ball right after I said to her "he is not going to give him anything good to hit." With that erroneous comment, the ball was pitched in an area over the plate where Grandmom could have hit it (after the cataracts were removed) and soared into the outfield missing a home run by inches. Finally, the inning is over....Buddy is out of the game. I receive my first of multiple 'salty' texts about defensive support and let it go. Then he communicated something to me that had me very intrigued....

It seems that his home pitching coach and mentor is still in the minors in Kentucky. While the game continued, he texted him and asked if he could see him. To me, this was Buddy finally asking for help and sending up the white flag. It's not the coaches, the stadium, the fans, the heat...he needed to see his personal coach for a tune up. If the guys behind him could not make plays (which Stinky admitted to him), then he was going to have to strike out the batters that he faced. It is a new strategy for him. The old strategy was to get the ball in play for the defense to take care of it. Since they are struggling (could be the heat) then he has to be more aggressive.

This all leads to a road trip to Kentucky on Friday afternoon to see the coach. I think that it is a terrific idea and will set up the navigation system and point the car south. Hopefully, Buddy will find the answers to the questions that he has had this summer. Looking back on it, the past two months have been very valuable. The holes in his game have been identified. Now he can work on spackling them before the start of the fall season.

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