Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Fly vs Pop Fly

In little league, there are three positions that every kid knows are the ‘cool’ positions: pitcher, short-stop, and center field. If you play any of these, you are cool. These are the kids that get almost every play and actually get to throw the ball. But guess what…

You’re the kid who got stuck in right field. Not because you’ve never played before… but mostly because you suck at baseball. But you don’t know that. With all the positive reinforcement during and after practices, you think your basic skills of fielding, throwing, and hitting are what won you the job. But, you soon find out that right field is boring. So every week you’re hoping that maybe, just maybe, you might get switched to left field. Or that there’s a freak accident and Kyle breaks his cool, auto-shading glasses, leaving him artificially blind until he can get a new pair.

But until then, you’re stuck chasing bugs and singing the ‘Dandelion Song’, (You grab a dandelion and say in a tone of rhyme, “Mama had a baby and its head popped off.” You then slide your thumb under the ‘head’ of the flower and pop it off, leaving it for dead. Kind of a gruesome picture compared to a girl grabbing the dead, unplucked weed and gently blowing the seeds into the wind while skipping around in a pink dress, humming and giggling) because no one hits anything to right field. You’re in the middle of the mental debate of which flavor of Laffy Taffy to get after the game, strawberry or watermelon, (strawberry is the flavor you can never be disappointed with, but watermelon is multi-colored, with little black candy seeds.) when all of a sudden the coach is yelling your name!

A little dazed at first, you wipe the day-dream slobber off your chin and begin to frantically search the cloudless sky for that little white sphere. You stick your glove high in the air and take a few steps backwards. Still no ball. You glance at Jessica, who’s sprinting towards you from center field, (yes, she’s a girl and yes, she’s better than you) just to make sure you’re in the right area. As you drag your eyes back to the sky, it appears, and it’s hurtling towards you like a heat-seeking missile. The words “I got it!” come barging through your clenched teeth. It’s too late to back down now. And you brace yourself for impact.

Fifteen years down the road, you’re in college sitting with a group of friends trying to figure out why ‘Timber Tower’ was made as a cheaper version of ‘Jenga’ when it has an obvious design flaw: the lip that doesn’t quite let you slide the tower out of its tin container. (It’s also not a perfect 3:1 width ratio, which allows for spaces between blocks, which could in turn affect game-play performance.) Your attention is slightly drawn from the riveting conversation as a small, black fly buzzes around the room. A sly smile appears across your mug and you begin to think of the events about to occur: the fly will casually make its way to your side of the room, its nonchalant manner will infuriate you, and you will be forced to retaliate.

The fly DOES make his way towards you. You tighten the muscles in your hand to a karate-chop position. And you wait… perfectly still… hardly breathing… staring into space… heightening your peripheral vision. Out of the corner of your eye you see it! Your right hand springs into action and you feel a small nick on the back of your hand!

“I got it!” you exclaim proudly. Responses of ‘You did?’, ‘No way!’, and ‘What’d you get?’ simultaneously fill the room.

“No, you didn’t”, replies your always-gotta-be-right roommate, Dan. “See, it’s right there. You didn’t get it.” He points to a little black spec still buzzing around the room.

“But I did get it,” you defend. “I felt it.”

“So if you got it, why is it still there?” comes the inquiry.

“I got it. Just because I got it, it doesn’t mean I demolished or obliterated it. I hit it. Thus, getting it.”

“You obviously didn’t get it, because if you would have gotten it, it would be got.”

“The got I’m referring to isn’t the ‘got’ when catching a pop fly. Everyone who calls ‘I got it!’, while chasing a pop fly, fully determine to catch the pop fly. Anything less is not considered getting it. I’m referring to the ‘I got it!’ used when achieving something extremely rare. ... Like hitting a fly with the back of your hand.”

The others in the room laughingly comment about the pointlessness of the conversation, but you contend that a conversation is only pointless if nothing is learned. The subject quickly changes and you’re left to ponder the unsettled question: Did you get it? Your mind refers to the Count of Monte Cristo: (the movie, because you don't read books) when Edmond Dantes is trapped on the island prison Chateau d'If with the old man. He tries to pass his hand through the dripping water without getting it wet. When he finally does, he could rightly exclaim, ‘I got it!’

Your train of thought is slightly derailed by a buzzing noise. For a second time your hand tightens, and a forceful movement with the right arm follows. You nearly jump to your feet as you boast, “I got it again!”

And the small, black insect continues its wary flight around the room.


Totoro said...

Bittersweet memories! Coach always found a sweet spot for me far out in right field. What's this Dan kid thinking?--you totally had it!

The Little's said...

I hope you're going to school to be a sports writer. I LOVE reading your blogs. Really. Usually I get half-way through a paragraph on other blogs and then search furiously for pictures. But...not yours. I crave more after each sentence. PLEASE, Please! Hone this skill and use it to your advantage! I read A LOT from a LOT of different authors...and you BY FAR are one of the best. Also. Yes, I played right field. I sucked. I knew it. Still Do.

MeL said...

It appears that you love yourself some Steve Nash almost as much as I do...which I think is a little more creepy on your part. Um, I don't know that I believe that you "had" to make this blog, I think that you were wanting to fit in with all of us cool kids that do! Oh, and I never even got to right field, because I got piano lessons instead of sports. Thank you parents.

iAMbarticus said...

For all of you who played right field... or never even got the chance...


After a conversation with Willie, I was reminded of this commercial... he thought that this is where I was going with my post. I had forgotten all about it until right now.