Saturday, January 23, 2016

The Slammer: Fourth Inning: Chapter Four.Nine

“So what happened to Bill?” Chris asked after swallowing a rather large piece of fish. The story that Lily had just explained to them was a really good one, and nobody had made a sound through the whole thing. He quickly added, “I mean, I figured that you would have introduced him to us at one of the games?”

“Bill hates crowds,” came out of Jay’s mouth even though he hadn’t taken his eyes out of the menu with all of the black and white pictures of all of the local sports stars that had eaten there.

“Bill and his wife moved into our guest house to keep an eye on the place while we have been gone. I can imagine that they have both been curled up watching the games on the big screen in the living room,” Lily added, and then trailed back in with, “I don’t think he’s missed a Red Sox game in over ten years whether or not we’re on the team,” and they all started chuckling a bit. Everyone except Jay that is who is still examining the menu. “I haven’t eaten here since I was about six years old I think, but then again my choices of restaurant haven’t been that great over the last decade to tell you the truth.”

“Looks like the Yankees will overtake the Blue Jays this weekend,” John threw in as he held out the newspaper to show the scores to Chris. “It’s actually working in our favor because they are tearing down the Blue Jays lead in the division, so we are only nine games back of first despite having three teams ahead of us,” John added while Chris nodded.

“You guys play all of the teams ahead of you at least six times each before the season is over, so you can chop most of that away,” Chris said with a bit of a snort and then threw in, “I would have expected head trauma if I had been talking about going after first place a month ago.”

“Yeah kid, lemme tell ya,” John threw in and then went on, “I’m a real homer, but even I have to be in the real world sometimes, and this team was dreadful,” he gave a meaningful look at Lily and then concluded with, “Even a week ago I had just figured that the games were at the very least fun to watch now.”

The waitress showed up with their food before Lily had the opportunity to answer, and everyone began to trail into eating their dinners like they hadn’t eaten in weeks. This wasn’t very rare for Jay, as he approached every meal as if it was the first time he had eaten in months. Lily always considered herself lucky on this account. Many of the things she had read online from other families taking care of autistic adults, had eluded to “eating” as being one of the greatest adventures in futility some days. Lily had never done more than put food in front of Jay and had him devour it veraciously and most of the time, entertaining himself quite well as everyone else would finish their food. The ones that would eat would be just like Jay and take to it well, but then make it impossible for you to finish your meal afterwards or in the reverse, make it impossible to eat because you couldn’t get your autistic relative to do so. Lily had never had either, and realistically most of those bad habits were not an issue.

Jay of course was the one that was hard to get to wear a jacket. He hated jackets and she had decided many years ago that he could freeze to death for all she cared, because even when she forced a jacket on him, he would lose it the minute her back was turned. Again he wasn’t one of those that preferred to be naked either which he had learned many years ago was quite embarrassing, and spent many days telling people at work about the stories she had read on that account. Lily knew it deep down inside that he was pretty much better than most of the autistic individuals that she had read about but it was harder to admit at this point of the game because she had spent so much time treating it like a burden. It’s always harder to admit you were wrong, but Lily can be particularly stubborn.

“If Barceló stays at the level he has, then it is the most dangerous pitching staff in baseball. How’s Jack’s shoulder holding up?” John threw out there afterwards.

Lily gave him her best look of confusion and then said in a surprised tone, “I don’t know what you mean, has he been complaining to you?”

“No, and I’ll let him know that you are defending his secret, but I have known him. I have known every pitcher to come through the Red Sox organization for the last 25 years, and I earn a living looking at pitchers all over the country, so I know when his shoulder looks bad,” he said back giving her a wink.

“I never noticed that?” Chris said with a bewildered look on his own face. “Oh never mind, it’s just going to give you an opportunity to pick on my skills,” he threw out after he saw the smile on John’s face.

“It’s the middle innings now,” Lily said almost absent mindedly. “All Star break is coming next week, and just past the half way spot in the season, nine games back really isn’t that bad,” she then pondered her next words cautiously before she added, “Our problem though, is that the team has almost no veteran leadership at all. Adrenaline will only take the kids so far.”

“They have you and Jack?” Chris said rather puzzled, which made John laugh out loud, and even Jay was shaking his head.

“I’m a 28 year old rookie who didn’t play for seven or eight years, and Jack is like having another younger brother. Just because I am older than half of the team by a couple of years, doesn’t mean that I have leadership skills, their just afraid …”

“Actually, that’s your greatest blessing Lily, the guys in that clubhouse aren’t afraid of you at all?” John interrupted her. “There was a time when a woman in the clubhouse, no matter how good she is would have terrified every guy in there, but nobody thinks about those things anymore,” John looked over at Jay who was sitting there looking at Lily and nodding, “Most of these guys played Little League with girls, who were at that age the strongest and biggest players on the team. Somewhere along the way, the girls usually leave the game for whatever reason they do, but a lot of them end up playing with one or two girls who keep up with them right into high school. The fact that all of these guys are so young actually plays right into that because I think that they haven’t lost the belief that a girl can be the best player on the team.”

“I have to back John up here Lily,” Chris then started, “I wasn’t a good baseball player, but when I played in High School we had a girl on the team that wasn’t our best player, but she was our most dependable,” Jay was now looking at Chris, but not nodding. “she was very important because she obviously tried harder, and was very good at being honest with the rest of the team when they needed honesty,” Chris then smiled, “she told me that I sucked every day.”

John couldn’t stop himself when he threw out almost in a whisper, “She couldn’t have been the only one,” Jay went back to his menu.

“We have four games against the Yankees before we button it up for the All Star break next week, so they will be the most important games on the horizon,” John started saying but was interrupted by of all people Jay.

“You concentrate on the next game, and you have a far better chance of winning all of the games. Too many teams talk about the games that they could have won against the teams that are ahead of them, but they rarely look at all of the other games they could have won that would have made it unnecessary to win every game against the team that beat them out.” And with that he went back to his last few French Fries.

“Well whatever coach told you that kid, is a genius,” John said to Jay while clapping him on the back.

Lily looked a bit pink around the face, and looked like she was about to cry. She said nothing and Chris and John both gazed at her a bit startled by the look on her face. Clearing his throat Chris struck up the bravery to be so bold as to try to understand Lily and said, “He got that from you huh?”

Lily looked at Jay awestruck and replied, “Word for word.” … to be continued