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24 Hour Game Diary Pt 7

Sunday, October 19, 2003
4:20 am
Arizona time (Pacific)

Since I last wrote I’ve had the best catch of my life. I don’t mean a caught ball in the outfield, I mean best game of catch. Chiba, one of the Japanese players, and I went down to the batting tunnel after we woke up from a brief one hour nap.

I’ll get back to that story later. I’m going to take over announcing for a bit now… I’m in the press box where there are plugs and desks for laptops typing this. Rob is fading and needs relief so I am going to take over announcing duties from him.

Okay, I’m back. I just spent the past hour being the play by play announcer for the Apple webcast. They are webcasting live video to the Apple site. They have three cameras set up here, and it looks really good. I spoke with corwin earlier and he said he was able to watch my first at bat.

Speaking of at bats, here’s what happened in my third and final shift. I woke up from my nap very bleary and stiff, about forty five minutes before I was due to take the field again. I drank a large quantity of lemon lime soda, spiked liberally with powdered sports drink mix. I must have really needed the electrolytes again because it tasted really good. (I walked up to Weeks, who was back in the dugout for us, chugging my green fizzing concoction and he asked me what it was. “Breakfast of champions,” I replied…) It was excruciating to put my contact lenses in. My left eye would not stop watering and for a while I thought I must have had something stuck in it. I took the lens out, washed it with solution, and put it back in. No, it’s just that my eyeballs are swollen and tired. But I cannot play without the contacts. After about fifteen minutes the pain subsided.

Then I slathered my legs with the sample of this muscle rub product we received free from a local supplier. It’s pepperminty, and also has some kind of natural something… I can’t remember now what the hell it’s called. Some kind of fatty acids. Anyway, it got the circulation going and dulled the pain in the pulled quad for about an hour.

Then Chiba and I had our catch. She and I met yesterday during the pro camp drills, doing stretches and exercises that strengthen the arm that take a partner. She counted in English and I counted in Japanese. (Actually I could only count to five and she taught me the rest.) We are on the same squad and I told her we needed a special handshake for when we score or get a hit. We made one that is similar to the one Matsui and Soriano use, with two on-top fist bangs and then a bow with hands clasped in prayer. And we got to use it a few times! Mostly because Chiba is a great player, she hits well, plays first base, and even pitches. She is also somewhat older than the other Japanese players. Most of them are 20-21 years old, but Chiba-san is in her late thirties, like me.

Anyway, the catch. We went down in the batting tunnel and just threw the ball back and forth. I was so tired that I couldn’t really concentrate on it–instead mechanics took over and it was just automatic. It was almost like someone else was doing the throwing and catching and it seemed effortless. I dropped a few, but it didn’t seem to matter. The ball flew back and forth between us almost of its own accord. My arm feels great–the one part of me that doesn’t hurt.

Then we got out to take the field. I could barely get my legs going to get out to left field. Then Frey came out and said the words I was so gratefull to hear: “I’m going to put Jan in left. You’re the extra hitter this time.” (The EH is the same as the DH, basically.) Thankyouthankyouthankyou! My sore legs and I went to sit on the bench. Suh-weet!

Unfortunately, my at bats were not that memorable. The first one I fouled the first ball off the plate, but the umpire did not call it foul and so I got a late start running and was out. Kevan Burns was coaching first at that point and as I peeled off he asked “Was it foul?” “Hit the plate.” “You want me to argue?” “Naw, I got plenty more at bats tonight.” It was one of the Japanese girls pitching (I think it was Kitta?) and she was probably the best pitcher we saw all day. She could change speeds, and also throw very fast, and drop in a little curve from time to time. I struck out twice after that, once because I was just too tired to swing the bat. She gave me two great pitches to hit in a row, right in my zone middle out, and I could not get the bat there. The next at bat I took a lighter bat up there, 24 ounces, and that time she got me looking. I can’t remember now what order the fouls and balls thrown over my head were, but it was 2-2 and two balls had sailed over my head (I had ducked down on both). Another one came high and I realized I was just too tired and slow to be standing in there. So I ducked again, but it was the curve that dropped in for a strike. Later Kitta and I were chatting and she told me that it was her first time pitching in over a year. Her English is limited but I think she was saying that in Japanese women’s baseball, they don’t pitch regularly so they only pitch when they go out of the country? (Does a coach pitch? Not sure.)

Then I went off shift, and Jeneane Lesko, from the All American Girls Professional Baseball League took the mound for the Red Eyes. She’s a lefty. I wonder how many years it has been since she pitched in a game? It’s now 5:50 am and she is still out there. She is going to do the whole shift, it would appear. Me, I’m now going to take my contacts out and try to get a little sleep!

I just noticed the sky is starting to lighten. The sky just changed from a flat black velvet surface to a horizon again, the ridges of mountains beyond centerfield visible in the bare glow. Maybe I’ll stay awake just a little longer to see the sun rise.

(Did you enjoy reading this blog entry? Please consider buying me a hot dog.)

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