Tuesday, December 09, 2008

The Streak - 10

Evan fell into the easy routine of tossing balls to Brendan at first, in alternation with Kyle Boyce at short. A cog in the machine. He wondered why they don't call it a pass in baseball. In other team sports predicated on a totemic object, it's customary for the strategic delivery of the object from one team member to another to be referred to as passing. Hockey players pass the puck. Football players pass the ball. Soccer, lacrosse and polo. Basketball. Ultimate frisbee. The baton is passed in track. But not baseball. In baseball the ball is tossed, or thrown. Clumsy words, in comparison - not worthy of this venerable and complex sport. Evan had to admit the word pass did seem wrong but he wasn't quite sure why. He knew that if he were passing the ball to Brendan rather than throwing it, he'd feel like less of a man. Evan felt the good sting of the ball in the throat of his glove. He'd better not be thinking about this shit when the game started.

"Hey Kyle!" Evan shouted. Kyle threw Brendan a grounder and jogged over.

"Why don't baseball players pass balls?"

Kyle squinted at Evan for a moment.

"Is this a joke?"

"No, it's not a joke. Why don't we say pass? We say throw."

"You sure as hell have got to be the biggest faggot I've ever met in my life."

"I know. But why, Kyle? Why?"

Evan and Kyle began slowly backing away from each other. They'd unconsciously perceived the distinctive anticommotion at the plate signaling the beginning of a game: the ceasing of the pitcher's warmups, the measured procession of the leadoff man from on deck.

"Because in baseball we throw motherfuckers out!"

"I'm not sure I understand."

"That's because you love cock."

"What?"

"Pay attention!" Kyle said, and turned into his stance. Behind him, the Bleacher Creatures began roll call, chanting "Ri-cky Sny-der" for the right fielder. Behind them, and above the scoreboard, a vein of thick, black smoke grew into the sky.

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