Essay #1- Description
Kyle is batting leadoff today. Last season he usually hit sixth or seventh, so I should assume he’s improved this spring. He didn’t say anything about it when we were hanging out in gym class though, so maybe it’s premature to assume he’s the second coming of Rickey Henderson. Both of us are 16 this season, and Kyle is not the most imposing physical presence I’ve seen in the batter’s box since I started pitching 4 or 5 seasons ago. He’s about 5’7”, maybe 135 pounds, and he has a sort of blank expression on his face over in the on-deck circle where he’s taking his warm-up swings. I’d be more concerned if he had that fierce, determined look of focus that some of his teammates- the ones who will be following him in the lineup this inning- have, because they’re the guys who have hit well against me in the past.
I take my first easy warmup toss from in front of the mound, then take it back to back to the rubber to get down to business. On my best day I don’t throw much harder than your grandmother, but I get away with it because I can put my mediocre two-seam fastball on the black and I know that when you start to time the slow stuff, you’ll swing right through the slower stuff. As a bonus, my curveball was breaking well during warm-ups, but I know that what works on the flat ground behind the dugout doesn’t always translate to the inconsistent pitching mounds out here.
My first full stride throws feel good. It’s not just our first game of the season today- it’s THE first game of the season for the 15-16 Babe Ruth leagues. The mound is smooth and the dirt is still the reddish color of fresh clay. Later in the year it will be a rutted, sand-covered mockery of what the rulebook describes. For today though, for this first day’s contests, it’s perfect- and it’s mine. The smooth, even slope and bright white rubber bear no marks or scuffs, save what I’ve made. It’s brand spanking new, and it’s here just for me- just for today....