One foot on the pitcher’s mound, I held the baseball against my glove and stared down the batter.
I was about to play out my own version of “The Rookie.” The Rookie, Part Deux, that’s what it was …
There’s the pitch …
“Dad! move closer.”
“Dad! Are are you all right?”
Those were the refrains from the Johnson boys, ages 10 and 8, after I took them on a recent outing to play a little baseball.
OK, so they played baseball. Me, I narrowly avoided numerous injuries. I found out quickly that I am not a baseball player (nor do I play one on TV); the pratfalls that overtook me proved that the sport known as America’s pastime is just another sport for the cat juggler to, well, fail royally at.
My baseball outing with the Johnson boys taught me several things about the little white round, hard ball. Like? Like … when it goes shooting by me at high speed — either from an errant throw or from a bat being swung — I’m nowhere near fast enough to get my glove in front of the ball and stop its flight.
Like … when the baseball comes rolling toward me and I’m eagerly awaiting its arrival, it can hop straight up and whack me right in the kisser. (Prompting an “are you all right, Dad?”)
Like … when the baseball is dropping toward the earth a few yards away and I sprint toward its flight path, not only will I miss catching the ball, but I’ll go cartwheeling into the dirt (prompting another inquiry from the curious Johnsons regarding my health).
As I checked my knobby knees for cut arteries, for no particular reason I recalled Wife’s admonition that my days of wearing shorts in public might be coming to an end. Something about “bright white chicken legs.”
My days of playing baseball (or pretending to) in public might be coming to an end as well.
OK, so baseball is harder than it looks, don’t you know. Now you’re probably thinking, didn’t you ever play baseball as a kid? What wrong wichoo? Does Whiffle ball count?
I’ll admit, only recently did I become somewhat interested in baseball, and that’s because the Johnson boys are playing yoot baseball. I hope I can get us all to a Rangers game this summer.
I still have trouble watching MLB on television, because TV makes it seem to be such a long, slow, boring event — kind of like watching golf. (Everyone stands around waiting for some guy to whack a little bitty ball.) Or bowling. (Everyone stands around waiting for some guy to roll a shot put toward a group of little men who lack the sense to get out of the way.) Or car racing. (The wheels on the cars go round-and-round).
All the closeups of the ball players chewing gum, chewing tobacco and spitting while they just stand around or sit around isn’t very appealing.
The elder Johnson thinks he needs a cell phone. There are a couple of concepts he hasn’t quite grasped: one, a cell phone isn’t free and how does he intend to pay for it, and two, what does a fourth-grader at Coggin Elementary School need with a cell phone?
He explained that he wants to take advantage of all the latest technology.
I explain to him that when I pretended to go to school, no one had cell phones or text messaging and we all did just fine.
The boy axed if those were the days when there were just two stations on TV. Well of course not, my boy. Don’t be silly. We had three stations.
Television might have been annoying and silly in those days, but you could pretty much watch anything even when the little Johnsons were in the room.
Commercials, along with the programs, were G-rated. Remember Mr. Whipple (“please don’t squeeze the charmin!”) and Mrs. Olson (“it’s mountain grown — the richest kind”)?
TV is still annoying and silly, and now you can add X-rated. When Wife and I have to mute the TV or change the channel so the little Johnsons won’t see steamy commercials, it’s obvious the times they have changed.
Steve Nash writes his column for the Brownwood Bulletin on Thursdays. He may be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.