Does anybody like them? When you’re playing in the game of your life, or number fifty-two on a random Tuesday in May, when that sky opens up and sends millions of silver bullets of water plopping into your face, spattering your arms, and caking the infield dirt, you’re first reaction is not, “yes! I get to put my life on hold for an indeterminate period of time!”
Instead it is a resigned slumping of your shoulders, or a grumble of frustration at how everything in the rest of your day will be pushed back because of this uncalled for intrusion, or just a blink and a reshuffling in your mind to switch off the competitive river pulsing through your veins.
Either way, your day is not made, and an adjustment has to take place. (Otherwise you’re just standing there in the outfield like a jerk, getting soaked while everyone else trudges towards the dug out and the locker rooms.)
So then maybe you take your mind off the game and talk with the guys about that night out a couple of nights ago, or you start a sunflower seed spitting contest, betting who can spit launch the salty missiles the farthest. But you’re not really done with the game. You know you’re just passing the time, filling it up with packing-foam conversation until you can go back to the real stuff. You fully expect to resume your life exactly where it left off.
But what happens when the rain stretches on long past when you thought it would end? When thirty minutes turns into sixty, and the manager gets antsy about his pitcher’s arm in the cool weather. When a fast-moving system turns into a couple days more of rain, and talk of resuming play changes into postponing the game?
For the young adult singles’ game short stop, or the intramural league catcher, this is not that big of a deal. You flip your hood over your cap and dash back to your car, ready to get on with your life and those errands you still have left to run or that two chapters left to read before class.
But for the major-leaguer in the thick of post season baseball, when one game might determine everything, how can you think about anything else? What do you do when faced with the mind-numbing idea that you will have to spend the next several days not doing that which has fueled your life for the past seven months?
Sure, you can work out in the weight room and even take batting practice in the team’s inside cages, but you know it will not even come close to simulating that generator-blowing energy that a stadium full of crazed fans can create or that adrenaline rush of a two-out, 3-2 count with your man on third and one run down in the bottom of the eighth. And even if it did, it wouldn’t count.
So what do you do? When everything else seems like just watching the puddles slide into a lake over that blue tarp, but you can’t give up that the game isn’t over yet?