Thursday, July 12, 2007

A View of the Death of Hustle on a Perfect Southern Summer Evening

My bigstupidhero was gracious enough to allow me to accompany him to a bashball game last night. The evening weather was absolutely fabulous! It had rained ALL day, right up to the start of the game, so it had stayed cool and didn't even turn steamy once the rain ended like it does sometimes down round these parts. The sun hid behind the clouds and I only had to shield my eyes through part of one early inning. My Big Stupid Hero only asked one favor of me the whole evening; "Could you do something about that sun?" Alas, this heroine lacked sufficient strength in her pointer finger to push the offending orb below the mountain horizon. I still think I should get points for effort though, which brings me to the point of this post... I watched Hustle die a slow and painful death on a perfect southern summer evening. Early on the visiting team hit a couple of home runs. Now, I can't play ball worth a flip, so I my love of sports (bashball in particular) is a very observational one. I love to watch the pivot and arc of a player REALLY swinging for a ball, whether he hits it or not often times doesn't matter to me. I do root for favorite teams, but I am a fickle and easily swayed fan and tend to care more for the effort a team puts into their season than the wins. So those first few home runs curving away over the outfield made me happy. I foolishly thought the old Lookouts would step up and refuse to be outdone and I would be treated to a rare evening of repeated long balls over the back fence or at least of players hustling to play a game like that. Alas. As the evening slid leisurely past the home town team seemed to slow more and more, become looser and less interested in their own game. Now I realize they are a Double A minor league team and they get paid squat and I don't expect a World Series level passion and effort, but after months of playing in dry horrendously hot southern summer drought weather I expected a certain pep, a certain joyeux de vie, brought about by the cool evening breeze, the overcast sky which had been washed clean of dust, pollen and cynicism, and the crack of bat against ball sounding out like a heavy gauntlet thrown down upon the water sparkled outfield grass. Alas. In the latter innings there was a loose ball, I believe it was a pop up foul, but I was so surprised by the following moments that I can't remember exactly what led up to them... The catcher goes to throw the ball to third base to make an out (which, unless I'm a truly horrible judge of distance he should have been able to make) when suddenly I am left wondering where the third baseman is. Then I realize that the player I thought was the shortstop just standing there at the edge of my peripheral vision is indeed the third baseman. For a moment I flashback to the images of my little brother's long and unremarkable T-Ball career. The kids standing feet wide apart, arms hanging limp, over sized gloves dangling from fingertips, and heads tipped skyward pondering the imponderables of a perfect southern summer evening with no school the next day...

I found that not even the death of Hustle could make me sad on such a perfect southern summer evening spent talking with a dear friend and knowing that what little sleep I do manage to grab before getting up and going back to work will be the sleep of a girl I used to be many years ago when it didn't matter which team the little boy played for we were all just glad someone finally hit a ball and that the weird boy pulled his finger out of his nose long enough to throw that ball halfway back towards first base with all his might.