By West Coast Craig
VALLEY COLLEGE BASEBALL FIELD, CA – Sorry, no Manny this week; according to Joe Torre he still looked devastated as he apologized to the team this weekend. Apparently he [Manny] has a home in South Florida, so it was convenient that the Dodgers were playing the Marlins – and I shudder to think of what our beloved, goofy, hitting savant will be like if he returns as a more somber character full of pathos when he comes back in July. That just wouldnâ€™t be fun. Certainly Angelinos are desperate for fun Manny back and have been surprisingly supportive of the embattled slugger. My sources tell me the Free Manny shirts are outselling the JuanPierreWood ones. Funny, but I seem to recall a similar attitude whenever Barry Bonds came to town. Oh wait, that was about throwing needles onto the field, chanting â€œSter-oidsâ€ and wearing shirts with a giant asterisk.
This was a pretty good sports weekend:
And now for something completely different.
I couldnâ€™t shine Graig Nettlesâ€™ shoes (see whose shoes, Nettles couldn’t shine in video at bottom) but after playing the hot corner most of my adult life Iâ€™ve gotten a decent idea about how to play the position. Iâ€™m far too oafish to play shortstop and I donâ€™t have a strong enough arm – mineâ€™s just strong enough to get the ball across the diamond without needing the pitcher to cut it off. At any rate, Iâ€™m out there today, trying to focus on the game and here’s what was going through my head:
“Okay, okay, get your butt down, get the glove out in front, okayâ€¦ Boy, when did the sun get so bright? I hope nobody pops it up to me. Never mind that, whatâ€™s the count. Huh? Watch the bunt? Yeah yeah, I got itâ€¦ Iâ€™ll just step up a little bit here. Why didnâ€™t I wear my cup today? What am I going to write about for the Matts post tonight? Oh, why didnâ€™t I start it back on Thursday? Yikes, heâ€™s swinging and it looks like heâ€™s in frontâ€¦ Uh oh, that ping sounded loudâ€¦ The ballâ€™s a blur, but itâ€™s coming right at me. Stick the glove down! Stick the glove down! Ach, it hit the edge of the grass and the dirt, itâ€™s not supposed to bounce like thatâ€¦OWWW, my glove was too far down, it ricocheted up and hit me right in the wrist. Oh that smartsâ€¦ Wait forget that, whereâ€™s the ball? Oh there it is, bouncing behind me. Okay, crap, that guyâ€™s safe and now thereâ€™s a bruise that looks like stitch marks rising on my wrist. Thatâ€™s going to hurt tomorrow. Next batter, tell the pitcher heâ€™s doing good – rock and fire… Step up even with the bag to try and turn two. Glove down, butt down. I wonder how my fantasy teamâ€™s doing? Ok, heâ€™s throwing to first to keep the runner close – move behind the pitcher in case he misses the throw back from the first baseman ( it happens sometimes and the runner could move up if Iâ€™m not paying attention). Wow, Iâ€™m good! I know what Iâ€™m doing over here. Okay, knock it down, keep it in front of you. Man, that pitch I popped up on last inning was a meatballâ€¦ Damn, I wish I had that bac. No, forget it. Thatâ€™s over. Think defenseâ€¦Whack! Crap, itâ€™s in the gapâ€¦That guyâ€™s going to try and go first to third. Yell to the shortstop running out for the cut. ‘Right a step! Right a step! Right there!’ Center Fielderâ€™s got a gunâ€¦ We might get this guy. Tell the Shortstop, Let it go! He does, the ballâ€™s going to bounceâ€¦Oh man, this guyâ€™s coming hard. Hang in there, youâ€™ve got to catch it. The dirt is flying now. Heâ€™s sliding in like a freight train and now the ballâ€™s bouncingâ€¦ Stick out the glove – stick it out whatâ€™s the worse that can happen? I can miss the ball, letting it fly into the dugout and letting the guy trot home – Thatâ€™s what can happen! No time to think that. The ballâ€™s here and so is this sliding goon with the metal spikes. I donâ€™t even feel it hit the gloveâ€¦ Did it skip past me? Do I have it? Make the tag anyway, you can look in the webbing in a second. Oof, that cleat got me pretty good, followed by the rest of this guyâ€™s hurtling bulk and now Iâ€™m being slammed backwards. This isnâ€™t going to look graceful. Iâ€™m flying back on my butt and sliding a few feet on itâ€¦ I canâ€™t breath but now I can glance at the glove. The Blue is looking curiously at me as well. Everyone is. I hold it up and there it is… Snowconed! The ump gives a dramatic punch-out. Whew, sometimes it actually does look like I know what Iâ€™m doing over here! Iâ€™m also getting too old for it. How do catchers go through this? When can I make that inevitable switch to first?”
Iâ€™m still a bit sore. Thereâ€™s only so much healing some post-game pints can do – so Iâ€™ll sign off with that. Dodgers miss Santana, but Maine-Billingsly on Tuesday ought to be a good one.
Graig Nettles shines whose shoes???