Wednesday, October 7, 2015

The Slammer – An Ever Growing Web Novel – Chapter 3.9

John was so amazingly excited when he had the ball handed to him from Jay with “John you have to retire so that I don’t have to face these guys anymore … Christian Washington” written on it. Most people don’t even know what a big kid John truly is despite the fact that he is old enough to be Jay’s grandfather. “Ah kid, this is the greatest souvenir I ever got at a game, thank you very much!” John exclaimed while Chris stood there shaking his head. “See kid, he even put in there how I make his life miserable, now that’s saying something!”

“Boy maybe I should get an autographed ball, since he and I have so much in common,” was what Chris said back through a yawn. Jay has been sitting there signing everything that gets handed to him by all of the people that come to the table the whole time, “It’s rather odd that he pays such thorough attention to the fans, when he won’t pay any attention to his team mates?” Chris also threw out there as Lily had made it known about 15 minutes ago that she was done signing autographs and Jay just keeps on going.

“He gets into these zones, where he does really whatever he feels like, he may just stop all of a sudden, at any moment or I may not be able to get him out of here until they throw out all of the other customers,” she took a look at Jay who was very intently writing his name on placemats that the waitress brought over in a pile for her new hero, after he signed her shirt right below the name tag. Yes Lily pointed out to her that that was inappropriate to ask like she was his mother but he was already half way through signing it before she could finish. “You have to admit he seems pretty happy right now so I am not going to bother him,” she added as she reached over and took one of his untouched French fries.

“Next thing you know he’ll be charging a hundred dollars a pop for those things at one of those autograph fairs,” Chris stated through a bit of a chuckle, and the Jay actually looked up at him with a bit of a distasteful look. Jay went back to signing his autographs as Chris went back to talking, “What are you going to do now Lily with Barceló?”

“I don’t know, to be honest with you Chris. That rookie Alstead could pitch tomorrow if Barceló and me can’t get along but he uses the other catcher so that means I will get the night off anyway,” and then Lily grabbed her marker and wrote her name next to Jay’s on the placemat that he was working on, “Just to give that kid a thrill,” and then she winked at John.

“Well I heard it pretty clearly that Barceló is pitching tomorrow because that kid isn’t ready to pitch yet on 3 days rest, the team is dying in the pitching department with the injuries to Spellman and Kim. Barceló is pitching tomorrow even if it becomes a fabulous disaster, so you might want to sit in on a batting practice tomorrow or something,” he then grabbed one of Jay’s French fries and before he popped it in his mouth warningly said, “They’ll need it.”

Lily didn’t even humor Barceló the next day in the bull pen, for pre game warm ups. Right after firing the ball back at his head  she yelled at him “Look just throw the ball how I tell you to or I will start wearing you down until I can hit you in the face with the ball,” she looked over at Tug who was shaking his head on the other side of the fence and then added, “I've broken far better pitchers that you and I have made far worse pitchers that you much better pitchers than you. I'm not going to play the games!”

“I am pissed off because I thought I would get today off too, but apparently not,” he stated with a bit of a glare, “maybe you should just let me throw the ball and you catch it so we can go home today sometime,” and then threw in a very smug look for added effect. Then he threw a slider instead of a fast ball as Lily had asked.

Lily stood up and threw the ball about 1 foot out of Barceló’s reach and then walked over to Tug who was still there shaking his head over the whole thing. “Look, how far can I go to teach this guy a lesson?” she asked him from her side of the fence. “I've been in this situation once before and I was told by Bill Pollard ...”

“Lily I was about to suggest that to you, if he wants to work against the team then let him see what it is like,” Tug threw out there before Lily could even finish, “How is old Bill anyway, I swear that guy was 90 when I was 20, and he was showing me how to catch the splitter.”

“Well he does look about 170 now so maybe he was 90 when you were 20, but aside from that he taught me the important things, like never be friends with a baby,” Lily looked back at Barceló who was still standing on the mound and hadn't moved to get the ball, “Go sit on the bench or something asshole, we're done wasting my time,” which in turn left Barceló standing there staring at her for he hadn't had his proper amount of warm up time yet. Lily added as she walked by him, “I don't care if you get injured so go throw the ball against the wall for all I care,” and with that she totally walked out of the bull pen and started walking towards the dugout.

Phase one didn't work as Barceló stood in the bullpen watching the team for the whole hour he was supposed to be loosening up. Lily stood out by second base showing the second baseman how she likes to see a tag get applied when she throws one on. The team was in harmony as the one X factor stood out alone in the bullpen where he actually belonged, and how he belonged as well.  When the entrance music started to alert the team that it was time to line up for both national anthems, was when the crowd noticed Barceló walking out from the bullpen totally alone, and there ended up being a lot of jeers at him, and it wasn’t just for the fact that he is a terrible disappointment to Red Sox fans but also because anyone who understands baseball know that the pitcher is almost always accompanied by the catcher. Barceló looked strait ahead and didn’t even bother to acknowledge the crowd as he walked to the line.

After a wonderful rendition of Oh Canada, for the visiting team of course, and an equally well done Star Spangled banner, the Red Sox players all ran out onto the field. Barceló stood upon the mound as stolid faced as ever and Lily didn’t even bother to give him any encouragement as he threw a half dozen warm ups. Lily stood up as Christian Washington walked out to the plate with a big smile on his face, and Lily simply shook her head and then squatted down behind the plate. “I have no worried tonight my friend cuz this guys sucks rocks,” Christian stated and then followed it up with a chuckle as he took his warm up swings. “Nothing against you or anything but the book on this clown is that he is going to throw the same old tired junk in the exact same order no matter what you signal,” after another laugh finishing it off with, “Go ahead give him whatever signal you want, this will be a very pathetic cutter in the dirt.”

Lily starts laughing while she gives two fingers down and shifted to the side as a signal and then replies, “Force of habit, but I don’t even think he knows what the signals are,” then after a bit of a wheezing from trying to stop laughing she adds, “and the really sad part is that that isn’t even a cutter, it’s just a really bad pitch he thinks people will chase and never do.”

The two of them turned their heads as they heard the umpire actually chuckling behind them, because he’s obviously watched Barceló pitch before as well. Barceló goes into his normal “slide” style wind up, as he has never been one to step forward before he lifts his knee. Most people would call it the “stretch” if he was executing it with men on base, but where he does it no matter what it is usually referred to as the slide. His knee doesn’t rise as much as it does with most of your power pitchers because he would be considered a finesse pitcher were it not for the predictability that he causes upon himself. His left arm extends outward with a bit of a bend to it as he usually comes over the top with most of his snap within his elbow, and there is a bit of a jerk in his mechanics as his arm comes flailing from the three quarter slot upon the slamming down of his foot, but the ball goes rather quick and strait down to the bottom corner of the plate where Lily traps it with her glove. The umpire lifts his arm to signal “ball” and then speaks up, “You sure that isn’t a cutter?”

Lily hands the ball to the umpire so that he can make sure that it isn’t scuffed up and Lily takes the opportunity to say to Christian, “Now on this pathetic change up that he is going to throw, you have to lower your hips a bit when you swing, that should get you under the ball to drive it out of the park,” and then Christian looked down at her funny so she added, “Look I want these balls flying out of the park, I don’t want all of that Punch and Judy crap that you Blue Jays do, consider this a great opportunity for you to work on your home run swing,” and then she gave him the wink as he turned back to look at the umpire.

“There’s nothing in the rule books saying that she can’t tell you how to hit it better,” he said while giving him a shrug, “Yogi Berra used to do that to pitchers he was putting through asshole therapy too, this isn’t anything new, but it does make great stories when we have drinks in the off season” after a rather fake laugh, “and as a good umpire I don’t know you two or listen to anything you say anyway.”

Lily holds one finger strait down to signal a fast ball down the middle, knowing full well that Barceló doesn’t give a crap what she shows him, and then she sets up for a pitch that she knows she is never going to receive. Christian takes a couple of practice swings while seeing how the hip adjustment feels, knowing full well that Barceló probably isn’t paying attention. As he sets up in his stance Barceló starts his slide, and reaches his arm back to throw that change up, just like Lily said he would, the arc on it goes to the exact same place it always does, but Christian doesn’t swing like he always does, and as the ball goes sailing out of the park Lily stands up and her and Christian both in unison shade their eyes to watch the thing keep going and going. “Make sure you do a very self serving, over the top trot around the bases. You owe me that,” Lily said to Christian just before he started trotting off towards first pumping his fists and screaming. … To be continued

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