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Dispatch From The Edge

By Peter Anderson

It is hard enough to explain the game to someone who does not know it. It is even harder for them to understand why you love baseball enough to watch it. It is soooo slowwww, they say, and they are right, but for me anyway, that is part of the game’s appeal. What a waste of time, others say, and who am I to argue? For them, it may well be. But here at the end of the road, watching baseball on a slow summer evening is like drifting down the meanders of a familiar stretch of river – it’s lazy and it’s dreamy and it keeps calling me back.

Outfielders, their uniforms transfigured white on green grass checkerboards tap leather in between pitches, a finicky pitcher fiddles with the resin bag and digs his cleats into clay to shape his mound just so, the third base coach sends hand jive signals to the batter, the manager jawbones a big wad of gum in the dugout where pinch hitters and utility infielders shred and spit the shells off sunflower seeds. If you are familiar with the game, you can picture this. And you know that these are just a few of the details that make up several of maybe 10,000 moments in any given game.

And then there’s all the friendly chit-chat of the announcers in between pitches, like those familiar voices down at the café who make pleasant company, filling in silent spaces with amusing anecdotes and knowing when to back off and listen for a while. And they use lingo – duster, stuff, heat, breaking ball, splitter, retires the side – that you understand since you too like to hang around the ballpark. Over time, you have earned the status of a regular, and the game, like your favorite café, has become a kind of home place.

[InContentAdTwo] And if you’re lucky, your wife will come to understand, or at least tolerate, your habit on summer evenings. She may even sit with you for an inning or two, especially toward the end of the game when every pitch matters, and the closer (final pitcher) for your team, who is notorious in a good way for throwing nasty curveballs and fastballs approaching 100 miles an hour, only needs a few more strikes to lock down the shed (baseball lingo for saving the victory) for the rookie pitcher who only allowed one hit in eight innings against a first place team that you love to hate. And, finally, there it is … the great whappp! of the ball hitting the catcher’s mitt leather after a roundhouse curve and a big windmill of a swing and a miss, and it’s all over but the high fives.

Then your wife pulls you over on the couch for a post-game interview. She asks you how you felt about the game, and you will say, “Well everybody showed up to play baseball tonight. Jordy came through in the clutch. Felipe had good stuff. It’s a great group of guys.” And she will ask you about that winning streak, and you will say, “Well … you know … it’s a long season … lots of ups and downs … that’s baseball … we just have to keep showing up, ya know? Take it one game at a time.”

Peter Anderson lives in Crestone, Colorado, and teaches writing at Adams State University.