Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Adventures in Left Field

There is a third outfield position beyond that which is known to man. It is a position as vast as Safeco and as timeless as Fenway. It is the left-center ground between stadium lights and nightfall, between stats and gut managerial decisions, and it lies between the pit of fielders' errors and the summit of their web-gems. This is the third outfield position of natural baseball instincts. It is an area which we call "The Left Field".

The roar of applause as the Twins take the field. And it's a field now. Not something made of newly designed astroturf and concrete, this is actual Kentucky Bluegrass and you can feel it give under your cleats as you sprint through the infield on your way out to that vast territory -- that sprawling landscape encased on one end by the Budweiser Party Deck and on the other by that I Love Lucy-era cartoon billboard that lights up and shakes hands when you score.

So there's a certain extra weight on your shoulders now. You used to have that old excuse: It wasn't ever a field before. Not in Tampa; not in pre-outdoors Scandinavia. It was a dome, and things were lost in the lights, and the ball carried differently -- now it's just a normal ballpark: the kind you played in when you were a kid where you were the main attraction (only this time there's 30,000 some fans watching your every move).

No pressure. You were once thought to be the answer. Some franchise outfielder leaves and what's their answer? You. You. You. They even trade away a first-round talent (whose box score you try to ignore every 5th night) just to slot you into their offense, no big deal right?

Well there's that fact that you've never seen a curveball you didn't like to chase. The dirtier the better. Watching its nice leather skin get all soiled up around the plate as you swing your bat -- that's the feeling you've come to love.

But it's not your plate discipline (or lack thereof) that you're worried about tonight: it's the fact that you don't know how to play any defensive position other than DH. Nothing looks more comfortable than the pine over there in the dugout. It's understandable too, because when anything is hit in your direction you look about as awkward as a stuttering 8th-grader trying to read Shakespeare at the Globe ... in Chinese. Do you go left? Do you go right? Do you break towards the warning track or move in? Better wait until it gets closer and just randomly dive for it so you can look like you really exhausted your physical abilities on that play...

It's OK. Try thinking of the math. There's 3 outs every inning and 27 every game. There's also 9 positions on the field. So if you all get an equal share of the outs you're only responsible for 3 of them. 3 fly balls ... that isn't so tough is it? 3 balls per game on an average night? But that's 486 of them over the course of the season, it's like those baseballs are just seeking you out trying to make you run yourself to exhaustion and awkwardness.

Or maybe they're just seeking you out to hurt you...

A never-ending cycle of baseballs flying at you that pop out of the heel of your glove or travel to your right when you are angling towards the other direction. You'd better hope there isn't an alternate universe where Sports Center shows the Bottom 10 plays every morning, because you don't like attention...

***Crack of the bat***

Oh, s**t, what were you thinking about again? Wait, is that coming towards you? Can't tell! Hold on...

You'd much rather be waiting tables right now, wouldn't you?


  1. There's an art to this blogging thing, and you, my friend, are a maestro. Or is that music? Okay, well, then, there's a melody/harmony to this thing, and you are a maestro. Not catchy at all. Well, anyway, I mean to say, Happy 'elmon Young day!

  2. I'm a bit surprised Topper.
    Your post seems uncharacteristically snarky.
    Where is that coming from?...out of left field?

  3. Haha, might have been lack of sleep these past few weeks. I apologize to Delmon, "just joshin" with him!