Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Nachas Grande

As has been noted before, I like cheesy nachas.

Thursday night: Younger younger Munger (Brian) played in the city semifinals for Raleigh summer baseball, 16-18 division. We are ahead 2-0, fourth inning. Pitcher having trouble, walks bases loaded. We get a grounder to pitcher, force at home, one out.

Then...fly ball to Brian, who is playing left field. Medium deep. Brian misjudges it a little, comes in, has to go back out. Catches it, and throws it home, weight on his back leg.

And the ball comes in a line to the catcher, chest high, right on the baseline. Runner from third, tagging up and running, is out by two steps. Inning over.

We end up winning, 3-0. On to the city finals.

FINALS: Neanderbill and the lovely Sharon come out to the game. Beautiful sunset, temps in the low 80s, low humidity. Fantastic. Maybe 100 people watching, cheering.

First inning: Runner on second, one out, Brian batting. Strike, ball, foul.
Then foul, foul, foul, all with two strikes. Good battle. Enemy pitcher, big kid, muscles up and fires a hard fastball. Brian takes a nice easy two strike style swing, and lines sharply into center. Run scores on the single.

Brian steal second, takes third on a wild pitch, scores on slow grounder to second. We lead 2-0, with Brian driving in run number one, and scoring run number two.

Third inning, Brian playing third, our pitcher is having trouble, two walks. Runner on second takes off for third. Pitcher steps off, without balking. But throws kind of a sidearm thing to third. Brian, scrambling to cover, reverses direction, scoops up short hop throw, and reaches over to tag the runner. Huge out.

A hit, a strikeout, a hit, another walk. Now, 2-1, bases loaded, two outs. Fast batter. Batter tops one, slow roller to Brian. He charges hard, amazingly (really hard to get kids to do this, for some reason.) Ball takes funny hop, bounces up his arm, but he keeps it in front of him. Picks it up, and of course I can see the future: he is going to throw it 11 feet high, into the foul territory behind third [CORRECTED: FIRST!] base, and three runs are going to score.

Except that he makes a throw like third baseman, gets on top of it, and fires a laser right into the first baseman's glove. Runner out by half a step, takes off his helmet, and kicks it, getting a warning from the ump. We are out of the jam. Still ahead, 2-1.

Top of the fourth inning. Brian leads off. Goes with an outside pitch, and hits it exactly where I was so sure he was going to throw it. Over the first baseman's head, right fielder tries to cut it off. But it is crushed, and skips past him, all the way to the wall. Brian trips going around first, because he knows he has a triple. But the right fielder has a weak arm, and Brian DOES have a triple.

Scores on a wild pitch. We have three runs.

Bottom of fourth inning. High fly foul ball. Hits the arm of unmoving Neanderbill's chair with a loud crack. He is not looking. Pretty scary.

Bottom of the last inning. We are now ahead 3-1. Disaster is in the air. Our pitcher is struggling with the strike zone. Ump calling it tighter and tighter. At one point, our pitcher holds his arms out to the side and yells, "Where was that? WHERE WAS THAT?" after a fine-looking pitch is called a ball.

A walk, a wild pitch, runner goes to third. A strikeout. 1-2 count on next batter, bottom of the order. This kid couldn't hit if he had a boat paddle. Inexplicably, our pitcher throws a loopy curve in the dirt. Gets past catcher, goes to the fence. Run scores. One out, score is 3-2.

ANOTHER walk. Goes to second on wild pitch. Fly ball to short left. Runner takes off, then goes back. Left fielder tries to be hero, throws if over head of second baseman, even though runner is already back. Runner goes to third. First baseman, backing up throw to second, does NOT just run the ball in. Instead, he fires it sort of kind of toward home. Catcher desperately blocks throw in the dirt. Runner stays at third.

So...two out, runner on third, we are ahead 3-2, last inning of city championship. Top of their order now. Cocky kid who thinks is great. He isn't a great player, but he is just fine. Any hit, any error, or a wild pitch ties it. Everyone is screaming. Even Neanderbill is smiling slightly. The lovely Sharon is yelling.

Cocky kid hits a silo shot, just fair, halfway between home and first. First baseman, none too steady on fly balls, is looking up into the lights, the late night sky, and he has a good three seconds to contemplate the implications of failure. I can see the future: It is going to hit off the heel of his glove, and the runner is going to score from third. We are going to lose.

Except that he catches it clean. And I get my nachas. Yum. City champions. Trophies, photos, dancing and yelling. When the nurse first says, "Oh, it's a boy!" this is what you are dreaming of, but hardly dare hope to have.

(nod to Newmark's Door, for turning me onto nachas in the first place)

1 comment:

Susan said...

Lovely! Have you read Stephen King's piece on his son's baseball season? Amazing stuff, as is this.

Oh, and congrats all around.