Monday, June 14, 2010

The Televised Version Doesn't Lie

Some of you, if you’ve read any of my past blogs, will know I recently returned from the State 2A baseball championships where my son’s team competed. And because they won their semi-final game, (don’t get me started on what a great game that was) they advanced to the final game, which was televised. After the last game ended, a respectable loss of 5 – 0, we packed up and when we finally made it home at 11:00 p.m., the first thing I did was re-watch the televised version. (Perhaps I am a crazy baseball parent – see earlier blog titled The Boys of Spring.)

On the televised version and in the live version, the Chargers (our team) enter the stadium first. They wear white pin-striped uniforms and lug black bat bags on their shoulders. That other team walks out second. Don’t remember what color their uniforms were. In the live version, our players walk with shoulders pressed back, faces set in a hardened expression, chins held high. On the televised version, the announcer says that the other team’s players look like men, and ours, like boys. While watching the televised version, I shake my head, twist up my face because what a ridiculous thing to say, and then leaning forward and squinting at the screen, I decide maybe he’s right. Their team is littered with seniors who have thick necks, broad shoulders and a few tattoos. Our team has one senior and no tattoos.

The game is under way. We know the other team is loaded with great hitters. Our outfielders know that best. On the televised version, the announcer relays two numbers to the vast viewing audience – two and sixty-one. The meaning – their team has hit sixty-one homeruns. Our team, two. Now, was that really necessary? Okay, it’s true. But still. Did he have to announce it to the world?

The game goes well. We have one tough inning where that other team scores four runs. In the stands, during the live version, we are hoarse by now, light-headed even. The televised version doesn’t reflect it, but their fans are a bit more rowdy than ours. We have to work hard to keep up. Then a “hit and run” is called. My son is playing third base. As the pitch is thrown, he breaks for the bag. I’m not sure why-only know it is a hit and run because the announcer on the televised version says so. A hard hit grounder sails past the exact spot my son was standing but isn’t anymore because he broke for third. It sails all the way into left field. On the televised version, the announcer says my son broke too early. He got caught cheating over.

Now….here is the moment that if I could, I would crawl through the television, grab that announcer by the throat and shake him like a ragdoll. I would shake him until his stuffing comes unstuffed. But then, I sit back down, unclench my fists and decide maybe, just maybe, he is right. Bad luck, to be sure, that the hit just happened to shoot down the third base line. Rest assured, my son is now the one infielder in all of the east coast who will never, and I mean never, “cheat over” again.

The game continues on. The third baseman, my son in case anyone hasn’t kept track, makes a few nice plays to make up for the one we never talk about. He strikes out his first at bat, but his second time up, he hits a deep shot opposite field. Very deep. It pulls me out of my seat. It approaches the warning track. It’s going…It’s going…And then….their right fielder makes a great catch. The announcer points out what a great catch the right field makes. Over and over it seems, the announcer points out what a terrific outfielder the other guy is. (Another break in the action where I would like to jump out of the stands, and later, when I watch my son robbed the second time, through the television screen.) As my son walks back to the dug out, his head hanging, his shoulders slightly slumped, the announcer, after regaling the right fielder with compliments, says, “Nice bit of hitting by Roy.” Yep, I guess if I believe the good stuff, I have to at least consider the bad stuff.

Again, for those who may not have been keeping track, I am beginning to prepare myself for book reviews. Should I be fortunate enough to have my book reviewed, I think listening to the announcer say that my son cheated over at third and hearing him praise the right fielder who stole that hit was about the best preparation I could hope for.

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