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Down The Line

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One of the positives about the Astros not making the playoffs, for me at least, is that it allows me to focus on the classes I take at college. One of those classes this semester is a media writing course, which is essentially a script writing course. Our first two class assignments were to write a one to two page short story. Leaning on my love for baseball I wrote two stories involving baseball. The first of which I'd like to present to you now.

Mainly the reason for posting it here is that I'd like to hear your thoughts and feedback. If it happens to entertain then good because that would help keep the Cyborg off my back. So let me know what you think. If people like it enough I'll post the second story next Saturday.

The story isn't about any specific player or team. However when I was writing the story I imagined it taking place at Minute Maid Park. I also think it reflects a little bit on the Astros 2011 season.

Without further ado...

"HAAAAAA!" shouted the umpire indicating strike three. The swing weight thumped to the ground as the on-deck hitter now became the hitter. As he strolled to the plate the only thing he was aware of was the pitcher on the mound and the two lights on the scoreboard indicating two outs. After passing the now defunct hitter who trudged back to the dugout he prepared to step into the left handed hitters batters box. Then his concentration was broken by the sudden grumble in the crowd as the opposing teams manager emerged from the dugout tapping two fingers to his left arm.

Suddenly the situation began to take hold of the hitter as runners and position players began to emerge on the base paths and in the field of play. Bases loaded, two outs, bottom of the ninth, his team down by one. As the left handed pitcher emerged from the bullpen and began his trot to the mound the hitter casually turned around and headed back to the dugout. Waiting at the steps, the hitting coach who held a report of the left handed pitcher. The lefty had three pitches: A change up he rarely used but was meant to keep the hitter honest, a devastating slider that dropped off the table, and an electric mid-90 mile per hour fastball.

After the warm up pitches the lefty indicated he was ready and the hitter having gone over the report with the coach stepped into the left handed batter’s box. As the hitter went through his motions he realized the crowd noise hadn’t gone away and the fielders and base runners had remained in his field of vision. He was also aware of the pounding in his ears, the same pounding made by his heart. The pitcher having settled on a pitch with the catcher set, checked the runners and then reared back and threw the pitch.

"HAAAAAAA!" strike one. It had been a fastball at the knees. The hitter had thought the pitch was a ball but the ump felt differently. As the catcher threw the ball back to the pitcher, the hitter took a moment and stepped out of the batter’s box. Adjusting his gear, he tried to guess the next pitch that would be thrown. A fastball inside probably. He stepped back into the batter’s box and prepared for the next pitch.

The hitter guessed right. The pitch was inside and it had gotten a little bit too much of the plate. He put a good swing on it. The ball rose in the air down the right field line. It was heading for the bleachers and looked to be an upper-decker shot. Only he had struck too early and the ball curved right and headed for the upper-deck in foul territory. Strike two but he had the pitcher’s fastball timed.

As the hitter trotted back to the box, he was guessing the lefty would go with his slider which had struck out just as many hitters as the fastball had. The next pitch was a slider and a good one, only it was a little too far outside for the hitter’s liking. If it had been better placed, he may of swung at it for fear of it being a fastball. One ball, two strikes. The hitter figured he wouldn’t be so lucky the next time.

The next pitch surprised him, it was a change up, but not a very good one and it was too low to call a strike. two balls and two strikes. As the hitter dug in staring out at the pitcher on the mound he attempted to get a read on what was coming next. Time begin to slow down, but not in a good way. The lefty was taking longer than normal to throw off his time. The hitter called for time which the umpire granted. he stepped out of the batter’s box and began to adjust his gear. Fastball or slider? He wasn’t going to throw that change up again there’s no way. It had to be the fastball, but the pitcher still had another pitch to waste so it could be a slider.

As he stepped into the batter’s box, he hardly notice the stadium go silent or that the base runners and fielders had disappeared again. It was just him and the pitcher. He settled into the batters box getting his stance into a rhythm. The pitcher having agreed with the catcher on the best course of action began his wind up. The pitch.

The hitter could hardly believe his eyes a fastball right down broadway ready to be smoked for a game winning hit. He began his swing then suddenly realized he had made an error in judgement. It wasn’t a fastball; it was the slider designed to move down and away from his bat. He was already committed and attempted to make adjustments in the precious few nano seconds of time he had. He felt wood meet ball and could hardly believe it. He had succeeded only he hadn’t.

The force put on the ball was no game winner but there was still a glimmer of hope as it begun to move away from him down the third base line. He bolted from the box and from the corner of his eye saw the third baseman and pitcher begin to converge on the ball. He had a shot. The runner at third had a great jump and speed that would allow him to score easily, the only play was to first base.

His arms and legs pumped. His helmet fell off halfway down the line. He was close, the bag was in reach. He only needed to touch. The first baseman firmly planted ready to receive the throw, began to move. The ball was on the way. The hitter only had a couple more steps to go. His legs burned, his arms flailed and the wind from his effort cooled his head. The crowd cheered. His right foot slammed onto the bag only a split second before he heard the pop of the ball hit the first baseman’s glove. He had beaten the throw.

He had landed awkwardly on the bag and now began to tumble to the ground gleefully. He had done it. Maybe he hadn’t won the game but he had tied it and the game would go on. Then he heard the out call and the groan of the crowd. He was out.