With all the necessary apologies to Ring Lardner fans: I couldn’t help myself after reading this story about last night’s Brewers-Reds game.
Don’t it always seem like when you make a mistake the manager is right there to bawl you out, but when he makes a mistake your the one out there on the field catching the boos? Well you wont believe it but last night thats what happened, only I didnt catch the boos, but only cause we were in Cincinati. But even if wed been home I think the rotten boobirds woulda been so confused they wouldnt know what to think. And it happened in the first inning, and all the other innings was worse, and I got to think its cause of that rotten Ned Yost’s mistake; we just kinda give up.
We was in Cinncinati, and I come up to hit with one out and the bases empty. Arroyo’s pitching for the Reds, that skinny longhaired goofball who kicks up that foot like he’s gonna ballerina the ball in there instead of throwin the dam thing. He tries me out with one of them slowwww pitches he’s got, probably calls it a curveball but it aint got no more curve than my tits. I dont even look at it, just step back out the box and wiggle the bat, loose up my shoulders while Blue stands there behind the plate and dont say nothing. Next pitch, he tries the same blamed thing–and the umps gotta be wondering the same thing I am: does he think I’m dumb? That from the ballerina-toe-kick guy. Well now Ive kinda got him where I want him, cause he has to throw me something, maybe that fastball of his that aint no faster bout than the ball used to come bouncing back off the barn door when you and me’d take turns throwin when we was kids. An thats what he goes and throws me, a grade-A meatball, and next thing you know that big lummox of a left fielder’s out there waving his arms around like hes drowning and I’m dusting myself off at second base.
Now it aint no secret that we been having some hard times lately, and I’m standing there at second thinking maybe things is starting to turn around, this the first inning an all. Ryan Brauns up next, and after him the big guy, so somebody’s gonna chase me around them bases, right?
So the first pitch he throws to Braun’s the same blamed pitch he tossed me that I dented that left field wall with. Ryan pops bout four buttons off’n his jersey and durn near turns hisself crosseyed but all he does is bust it foul. I try to wave to him tell him to calm down–hes only twenty-four, don’t hardly have to shave yet, and he aint got the veteran cool I got. But the second pitch he does the same thing, only this time that dope Arroyo’s got smart, and its up around his eyes. Aint nobody ever hit that pitch and aint nobody ever will, cepting maybe Vlad. But Ryan aint one to play wait and see, and maybe he’s right–next pitch is another meatball, pretty for hittin as any you’ll ever see. But all the kid can do is knock it right back to the screen, and I’m still standing down there at second base, starting to get tuckered out from jumpin every which way every time.
And heres where it gets weird and where that cussed manager of our started in to losing us the game. You know me, Al: I aint no baserunner. I know what order to run ’em in, and I do a mean jog around ’em when I park one but I don’t do much else’n that. So when I’m on second and looking down at Leyva down there in the coaching box, I mostly just look make sure he’s there. He aint gonna give me no sign that matters none.
But this time I look over and I tell you, what I saw made my eyes hurt. Leyva’s a-slapping and swiping and tugging at his cap, and I aint no baserunner but I know the sign for a steal when I see it and thats what hes giving me. The goon is tellin me to steal third! I got three steals all year, Al–I aint no base stealer. I aint gonna make third if they let me start out in the third baseman’s pocket. So I look over at coach with a kinda hunkered-down look, squint my eyes at him make sure he knows I know what hes doin. And I’ll be darned if he don’t go through that whole slap swipe tug thing again. Even as I get my lead I know its the dumbest idea in the world, but there it is. Im stealin third.
Like I said, that Arroyo’s got a ballerina leg kick, but he dont use that when there’s guys on, so I got to watch his feet more close, and when he starts to moving I scoot for third base, hoping and prayin that Braun’s gonna park this one so what I know’s going happen aint going happen. I didn’t see where the pitch was–I was too busy watching that damned Encarnacion waiting for me like the ol’ Grim Reaper down third base–but I hear tell it was about a mile outside, and Ryan bout threw his bat into the crowd trying to get it, ’cause he seen me streaking down there like a moron, but he cant get it and the next thing I know I’m as out as out can be and thats the third out.
I get back to the dugout and Leyva and Yost are there jawing at each other. Yost is asking Leyva why he sent me, Leyva’s asking Yost why he told him to send me, and I’m standing there cussing and slapping at the dirt on my uniform. Yost says he wasnt telling Leyva to send me–and here’s where I almost just bout give up and went home, cause this team’s snakebit–he was just scratching away at a mosquito bite, that’s all, didn’t mean nothing by it.
Just scratching away at a mosquito bite, didn’t mean nothing by it. Oh, did I do some cussing then. That blamed mosquito sent me to my certain doom, and I think that’s kinda what finished us of for that game. We went out there an right quick gave up about a hundred runs or so and we were done for the day.
Like I said, Al, I think this teams snakebit. Or mosquito bit. All I knows I’m killing every one of those rotten things I can find in that dugout tomorrow.