By Justin Archer
Special to BBA Weekly
March 4, 2039
Remember that simple game I was yammering on about the other day?
Well, tonight it kicked my ass.
We’re playing Atlantic City at their place over in Clearwater and they call me in for the bottom of the 9th – we’re up 3-0. Should be a lay down save, right?
Wrong. I’ve got nothin’. I can tell warming up it’s gonna be bad – no feel for the slider at all. I can’t groove a release point, my fingers don’t feel right on the seams, and it’s all over the place.
So I go to my fastball, and right away I’m not getting any calls from the home plate ump at all. I walk Adrian Salazar on five pitches. Then Brian Horn singles. First and second. Damn.
I try to tough it out, tell him "Of course, I got this,” and all the usual B.S. You can’t show weakness, and for god’s sake, you don’t want anyone to think anything’s wrong with your arm.
But if there’s one I know tonight, it’s that I don’t got this.
Bam. I walk Ángelo Guerra – Ángelo freakin’ Guerra, who hit something like .110 last year – on five pitches. I got to 3-1 on him by just grooving him a fastball down the heart of the plate that anyone else would’ve creamed.
Finally, I do get the next guy, Stanley R. Perimutter, to fly out on a 2-1 pitch, another cream puff fastball, but Sergio can see I’m through.
He comes running out to the mound, motioning to the bench, and I see our manager, Bret Richards, making the long walk out of the dugout. Usually I’d be pissed; tonight I’m relieved to be relieved, if you get my meaning.
Bret asks for the ball and I hand it to him. “Don’t think you had it tonight, Meat,” he says.
Truer words were never spoke.
So how’d it turn out? How do ya think? I leave with the bases loaded, poor Ismael Rivera comes in to clean up my mess and gives up a single to Jonathon Edmonds, and now it’s 3-1 and the bases are still loaded.
I’m sitting on the bench, my head between my knees, a towel around my neck and I can barely bring myself to watch. The other guys are steering clear of me, ‘cause they’ve all been there: you don’t want company in your private hell.
Ismael gets out two when he gets John Noble to basically pop a fly into short left center, and for a second there I raise my head. I think, “It’s gonna be OK!”
But I’m an idiot. Of course it’s not OK. Somebody named Jaime Lopo – some kid from the minors, I find out later – rips a shot down the third base line and clears the bases, the crowd goes nuts, and we lose 4-3. Thanks, mostly, to me.
So in one night my ERA goes from a perfect 0.00 to a crappy 4.76.
You know something?
This is a very complicated game.