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Well, I'll be a monkey's uncle... the Boston Bruins force Game 7 against Les Habitants.
Is hockey drawing me back in? I used to love it as a child, but a couple decades of us not being able to beat any team of consequence has sort of left me at the point where I can't name 5 of the current players... including the guy I have the jersey of.
Hey... it's not like I earned it, so let's not go there.
Simple and plain, folks... we were down big in this series, but we started playing mean... and now we've forced a game 7 on Patriots Day. Monday, I believe, gives us:
- The Marathon
- Time to celebrate the Celtic's playoff win the night before
- The Red Sox
- Game 7, Boston vs. Montreal
Tough to beat that, even if the Marathon bores you. Go Bruins!!!!
I'd noticed during a regular season game that Montreal fans come to Boston in great numbers to see the continuation of an ancient rivalry. As Montreal was the markedly better team this past season, those fans were becoming increasingly vocal.
That will most likely stop, now.
You see, kids... Boston is one of those kinds of towns that you don't want to f*ckaround in. If you wear your Patriot jersey around in, say, Indiana... people are going to come up to you and engage in some sports talk. There may even be some good-natured ribbing, but you most likely won't be kicked in the face while you lie on some filthy Boston street begging for your life.
Shoot... I can remember being in Montreal on Spring Break one year, tipped to the rits, wearing my black-and-gold #77 and shreiking "F*cking Bourquey, mannnnnnnnnnnnnnnn" at some Rue De La Ste. Catherine gin mill. The primary reaction among the locals was amusement.
People forget that Boston is as close to Europe as you can get in America, both geographically and psychologically. Every time you attend a game in Boston, you should keep "soccer riot" in the back of your head.
While I didn't take part in the beating myself, I'd imagine that the victim's "sin" was that he was wearing the wrong colors on the wrong night when the wrong people were passing by. A simple mistake, yes... but wearing an Antelope suit on the Serengheti is a mistake as well, and it a mistake that a sensible man just doesn't make.
I'm not condoning the beating... and I don't want to give any tourists the wrong idea about how things will go down if the wear their Yankees hat while renting the summer cottage in Eastham. We're sort of used to it on Cape Cod, and our best revenge is continuing to take those summer dollars.
Things will be decidedly different on smoky Causeway Street after a Bruins game. You can see a more lengthy discussion of the matter in the text here- Redskins Behind Patriot Lines: Five [Plus One] Questions With An Enemy Blogger - FanHouse - AOL Sports Blog- in the "Boston Redskins" part of the interview.
Anywho... I hope the Montreal fan's skull fractures heal quickly, and that he and his kind show a bit more common sense when vacationing here in the future.
Just some NFL Draft stuff, but I enjoyed Dr. Z's description of tailback Darren McFadden... "Runs like the wind...which occasionally blows him into nighclubs...where 'misunderstandings' occur."
Too much candy on Vimeo... you don't have to be French to think that this may be the cutest kid in the world.
Abdullah and Elle have a bet going on who can predict the NFL Draft better... someone involved in Bookmaking, or a teenage nanny.
Here's a professional's version... Don Banks of Sports Illustrated... Don Banks: NFL Mock Draft, Version 6.0, Picks 1-10 - Don Banks - SI.com
Abdullah has spotted Elle one week, and here's his view of how it will go down:
1) Miami... With the exception of the running back to be mentioned a few picks down, there is no clear-cut number one pick in this draft. Therefore, look for Miami to either A) trade the pick or B) draft whoever will sign cheapest before the draft takes place (thus eliminating the lengthy holdout.
I'll give them Vernon Gholston, the frightening linebacker out of Ohio State. You can get offensive guards and cornerbacks later. It's not every day that you get a shot at a blue-chip linebacker
2) St Louis.... Another team that doesn't need the best player in the draft, as they have a great running back.
They need guys on the defensive line, so why not give them Glen Dorsey from LSU? He's big, mean, and defensive linemen always go high in drafts.
Dorsey is about 310 pounds, and has performed at a high level all through college. He broke a leg once, but that seems to have healed.
3) Atlanta... These guys are rumored to be after BC quarterback Matt Ryan, but I'll give them Sedrick Ellis, another 310 pound defensive tackle. Vick will be out of jail soon...
4) Oakland... Oakland has a few B level runningbacks, but they'd be foolish to pass on Darren McFadden. DMC is a 220 pound guy who runs a 4.3 or so, and those guys don't grow on trees.
5) Kansas City.... will most likely end up taking Michigan behemoth Jake Long, a chimney of a man who goes 6'7", 330 lbs. He's an offensive tackle who can throw a grizzly bear around
6) New York Jets... Matt Ryan can go here, and the chumps they currently have at QB can man the helm for a year while NY assembles a team around the young QB.
7) New England... A likely trade option, depending on who wants who badly enough. I have o idea who is offering what, so I'll assume that New England keeps the pick and uses it on Leodis McKelvin, a lightning-quick cornerback out of Troy.
I wonder if they'd take McFadden if he were available?
8) Baltimore... They also need defensive backs, and Dominique Rogers-Cromartie is a small school kid who has a great bloodline. He may be better than McKelvin, but we have no idea because DRC played at Nowhere State.
9) Cincinatti... Cincy just needs someone who cn stay out of jail. Chris Long is Howie's son, and is only being mentioned near the top of most mock drafts because football types don't want Howie coming up to them at events and being like "Why'd you rank my son tenth?"
10) New Orleans... Keith Rivers, USC linebacker. who looks like a steal at this point. He could end up on the Patriots.
11) Buffalo... Devin Thomas, WR... they have 2 young QBs who need someone to throw to.
12) Denver... Chris Williams, OT, Vanderbilt... one of those 6'6", 320 kids.
13) Carolina... Malcolm Kelly WR, Oklahoma... they need someone next to SteveSmith.
14) Chicago... They wasted a top pick on Cedric Benson, and now have to waste another one to replace him with Rashard Mendenhall.
15) Detroit... Cutting a Kevin Jones to draft a Felix Jones sounds like a very Matt Millen-like thing to do. a wide receiver is always a possibility here.
16) Arizona... They get torched a lot, so give them Mike Jenkins, cornerback.
17) Minnesota.... Another team that gets beat deep a lot... so we'll assign them CB Aqib Talib.
18) Houston.... They stink running the ball, so give them Branden Albert to block people.
19) Philadelphia.... BC's own Gosder Cherlius can block for Philtydelphia.
20) Tampa Bay... Linas Sweed will be Tampa's security blanket at WR.
21) Washington.... Phillip Merling, although the possibility of a team that just lost Joe Gibbs doing something stupid is always strong.
22) Dallas... They have 2 picks... let's use one of them on Brandon Flowers, a cornerback from VT
23) Pittsburgh... Give them OT Jeff Otah, as their QB can't afford too many hits after putting himself off a car on his motorcycle.
24) Tennessee... DeSean Jackson, WR gives Vince Young someone to throw to.
25) Seattle... Dustin Keller could be the tight end they need.
26) Jacksonville... Derrick Harvey is a good guy to have chasing the ball carrier.
27) San Diego... This team is stocked, so we'll give them Kenny Phillips to play safety.
28) Dallas.... They need a second runner, so give them Johnathan Stewart.
29) San Francisco... Dan Connor, Linebacker U graduate.
30) Green Bay... Jerod (Hold The) Mayo. LB
32) New York Giants... I hope whoever they draft stinks.
The Boston Celtics have finished out an awesome season, and now get to play the Atlanta Hawks in the playoffs.
The Hawks are the lowest seeded team in the weakest conference, and would have beec 12 games out of the playoffs if they were in the West. If there were ever a group of guys who were Just Happy To Be There, it's these here Hocks.
Not that there's anything wrong with Atlanta... they're a team on the way up. Their oldest full-time player is Mike Bibby, and he's not that old. They have Joe Johnson, an All Star guard who was originally drafted by Boston... who then gave him away for peanuts right around the time I started getting my first grey hairs.
Their center is Al Horford, who is a mean young man who goes 6'10" or so. He won two NCAA titles at Florida, but that's gonna seem like 10 years ago once Boston starts kicking him around some.
They have 2 toug forwards who are sort of interchangeable at the Power and Quick forward spots. Marvin Williams is a UNC kid who has had a fair-to-middlin' pro career. Josh Smith jumps around like House Of Pain or Kris Kross, and may block 7 shots in one of the games we play.
The Atlanta frontcourt have a combined basketball IQ of 70, and the playoffs are where things like that get exposed. KG has more years in the NBA than their whole frontvourt combined.
Smith will bounce aroud a lot, but he ain't stopping KG when KG is smelling blood. Marvin Williams can't dream of guarding Paul Pierce. JJ may be a but faser than Ray Allen, but Ray will rain junpers on his stupid, alliteratively named head. Kendrick Perkins and Horford should beat each other up for 5 fouls each per game, and may even fight. Rajon Rondo will- mark my words- cause Bibby to have at least one 3-15 shooting night. We'll beat them like a government mule.
After that happens.. and as near as I can tell... Boston will play the winner of Cleveland/Washington... and that most likely means 7 Games With Lebron James. We'll worry about that one after we stomp these Georgia clowns.
I'm betting a considerable sum of money along the lines of Atanta not winning a game this series. The only reason I'm in this state at the moment is to get as much action as I can find on Boston sweeping the Hawks. I think Atlanta has two chances of winning this series, boy... Slim and None... and ol' Slim, he just left town, Jack.
When General Sherman was treating Georgia like Georgia needed to be treated, people used to come up to him and complain about it. Sherman- who had promised to Grant that he would "make Georgia howl "- explained how things were going to go down.
"Warfare us cruelty. The worse it is, the sooner it will be over... Generations shall pass before they clamor for it again.... They have sown the wind... they shall now reap the whirlwind."
Buttermilk Bay, about 3 PM.
and at 6 PM below...
Kobe Bryant Jumps over an Aston Martin! | bestplayerontheplanet.com... Dog Gamn, I love this clip... even if it is fake, which it might be.
Kobe and those legs he's risking are worth about a quarter billion dollars.
You have to sport a certain fearlessness to be Kobe, whether it's jumping a sports car coming at you at 30 mph or raping a chambermaid.
Keep in mind... Gabby managed to knock me over with a Big Wheel in a similar stunt just yesterday.
Fenway Fly-Over Pilot Grounded - Boston News Story - WCVB Boston... Solon wrote at length on this subject, but I had the link saved, so here we are.
"Win if you can, lose if you must... but always cheat."
"No matter how big and bad your opponent is... you can always go to the eyes."
A few Sports-related goodies...
On the perch : FoxSports.com Photo Gallery#sport=MLB&photo=7986456... a nesting hawk attacks a Red Sox fan who got a little too close... or who rooted against the Orioles too heavily. Hawks don't f*ck around, this one split that kid's wig.... and of course we have the link to the photo essay.
When I showed thse pics to the Colonel, he was like "That girl is lucky that she wasn't hit by Mike Hawk. She might still be in therapy."
Sorry, girls... he's taken.
Steve Dalkowski - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia... Coach Shapiro of the Bourne Braves mentioned this guy to me. He was throwing pure smoke (estimates ran from 100 to 120 mph, in an era before there were radar guns available for baseball pitchers). He was iller than an AIDS patient, and the kid from Bull Durham was styled after StD.
Coach Shapiro said that even Ted Williams was afraid to hit against him. "Fastest I've ever seen," said the Splendid Splinter. He was a huge lefthander bringing high heat, much like a shorter Randy Johnson.
Some of his noteworthy accomplishments, besides terrifying a guy who fought Koreans.... striking out 24 batters, but losing the game because he had like a dozen wild pitches/hit batters..... blowing out his elbow pitching in his first big league game.... being on the first team Tommy Lasorda coached (read the link... Tommy had a funny way of coaching Steve... trust me, it's good Wikipedia)... this dude was one of a kind.
Ocean Front home on Duxbury Beach .... Anyone wanna rent a house on a gorgeous private beach?
Fat house, fat beach, fat view, fat porch.... 7 mile private beach... way closer to Boston than some Falmouth sandtrap... you can do a lot worse than lounging in this baby for a week or two.
Oh yeah.. this is a sports column.
Ummmm.... Great surfcasting from the beach!
If you ever heard the story I tell about the Colonel catching a striper from the couch..... that happened about two doors down from this house.
Jack Hillerich Jim Easton Mike Greenwell Greg Haeger Cape Cod Baseball League - SI Vault... an old Sports Illy article from 1989 about the demise of wooden bats, and how they'd be gone from the Show by 1992 or so. The story starts off in the Cape League.
The one year I coached softball- or the year before someone who knew anything about softball joined our staff- the use of aluminum bats was a hot topic.
A few things you should know about aluminum vs. wood bats:
- They provide greater power. Cape League averages for power stats (home runs, etc...) fell off sharply after they went to all wood bats in 1985.
- Wooden bat companies have trouble keeping up the supply for the demand, as they say in the business world.
- While you need a pretty fast glove to get into the Show, little league is a different story. Every year, according to what the MIAA sent me, something like like 280 million kids are skull-fractured by searing line shots off the aluminum bats of their rivals.
This reminds me of Jim Abbott, the one-armed pitcher from the 1980s. With only one arm, it was impossible for him to get his glove on immediately after throwing a pitch. Someone asked his manager the obvious question, and the manager gave the obvious answer.
"What's he gonna do if someone lines one back at him?"
The manager smiled... "The same thing everyone else does when that happens... duck."
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Photobucket is acting screwy, so I had to put my pictures of Ella's here.
- Former President John Quincy Adams was one of our more athletic Presidents. Rain/sun/sleet/snow... every day, Old Man Eloquent would go out for an early morning nude swim in the Potomac.
Once, he had been dodging a reporter who had some tough questions to ask him about the National Bank. This reporter was not so easily put off, and decided to hit Achilles right in the heel.
So... she waited outside the White House one morning, watched JQA doff his clothes and jump into the water... and then sat on his clothes.
There's really no cool way to handle that if you're a man, unless you think you have a shot at some sex or something.
"May I ask what you're doing?" said JQA.
"I want that interview, and you're not getting dressed until I have it."
"Don't make me have to obtain my clothes by force."
"Try it. I'll scream, and 20 fishermen will be down here in an instant."
"Can I have my clothes back if I promise to do the interview?"
"No. Interview, then clothes."
It's tough to bargain when cold water is rapidly shrinking your testicles, so JQA was interviewed about the National Bank while standing chest deep- nude- in the Potomac River.-
Ever feel gypped that New England doesn't have their own Superhero?
Resent no more...
There are at least 3 New England-based superheroes, and 5 if you count Connecticut.
1) Dr. Fate operates out of a semi-visible castle in Salem, MA.
2) The first headquarters of the Justice League was in Happy Harbor, Rhode Island... in a cave.
3) "Empire City, MA" is the home of the Manhunter (who isn't my younger sister, I should add). Empire City appears roughly where New Bedford is on comic book atlases. I have no idea who the Manhunter is, but he's one of ours and drops his R's.
4+5) The Atom operates out of either Ivy City or Calvin City, Connecticut
6) Myrbie & Dax are believed to operate out of Harwichport, Massachusetts.
7) Aquaman, contrary to popular opinion, does not keep a summer residence off Hyannisport. "The Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase does, however.
For info that you may be able to use in winning a bar bet... Metropolis (home of Superman) is supposed to be in Delaware. Gotham City (home of Batman) is in Southern New Jersey. Gotham City and Metropolis are supposedly on either side of Delaware Bay.
Both cities strongly resemble New York, but NYC appears as a separate city in both comics. Author Frank Miller once descibed Gotham City as "Manhattan below 14th Street, at 10 minutes to midnight on the coldest day in November."
Batman being needed in New Jersey, one can understand... but what goes on in friggin' Delaware? Then again, maybe Superman is why nothing goes on there...
This site was thought provoking. The McDonald's pizza just photographs the best. I was fond of the pickles/grapes/port pizza, which didn't look that bad.
One pizza that did look bad was the one Pizza Hut tried out in Japan. The crust was stuffed with hot dogs and moltern cheese. The toppings included hamburger, egg rolls, and Godzilla meat. My rough estimate puts it at 15,000 calories.
There was also "Squid Ink" and "Fried Egg" pizzas.
The American Basketball Association (ABA), which gave us Dr. J, the slam dunk contest and a bad Will Ferrell movie, concluded operations at the Dunfey's Resort in Hyannis.
They also gave us The Kentucky Colonels, which is a good segue into our next silly fact.
- The Colonel isn't actually a Colonel. He maxed out at Sergeant. The reason we call him "The Colonel" is that he shares a name with a legendary Colonel.
No, it's not Klink or Hogan. In fact,I'll never tell... well, maybe if someone guesses right.
Elle, who doesn't know this, just thinks he was a Colonel. To my knowledge, she doesn't actually know his first name.
- More fringe Monponsett stuff....
"Abdullah" is actually the man's name. He's not a Muslim, though.
His mother went into labor in a traffic jam, and he was delivered by a firefighter. To honor this hero, the Mom decided- right there and then- to name the baby after him.
Personally, I would have given him a bottle of Scotch, and gone with something else... but this was pre-9/11.
- Everyone has a little Irish in them... a fact proven by the presence of Darth Vader and his stormtroopers at the most recent St. Patrick's Day parade in Southie..
We may be the Cape's armpit but that arm can throw a ball
from CapeCodToday.com...There Is No Joy In Mudville... Mighty Casey Just Got Beaned at 115 MPH
I never actually thought that I'd break a major story when I started this column. It was mostly meant to be a sort of town bulletin board, where one could find out when the Selectmen are meeting, or what all those sirens were about last night.
I do little research at all, other than reading competitor's newspapers and rewording their stories with a healthy dose of my own opinion. I never went to school for Journalism, and have worked for no other papers than this one. I get to feeling sort of inferior, as this paper has old guys like Jack Coleman and Jeff Blanchard, who practiced real journalism when I was still writing about boys in my diary as a school girl.
So, of course, the biggest story that will ever be broken in the history of this paper falls into the lap of the girl who doesn't even like baseball, can't write a straight piece if her life depended on it, and who most likely should hand this story off to an actual professional.
"Sometimes, stories go to who they want themselves to go to. I have faith in you. Get to work." - the editor
I went to my boss (CCToday founder Walter Brooks) with my concerns, once I realized what I'd stumbled into.
"I've been in this business a long time," said Brooks. "Sometimes, stories go to who they want themselves to go to. I have faith in you. Get to work."
THE SETTING - "You gotta live somewhere"
Bourne, Massachusetts is a small town known mostly for the bridges it hosts that connect Cape Cod to the mainland. You can't get to Cape Cod in a car without going through Bourne. Locals refer to it as "the armpit of Cape Cod." We have a Maritime Academy, part of a Naval Air Station, a canal, about a dozen clam shacks and more antiques shops than you could shake a 1787 axehandle at.
It's a largely blue-collar town, home to fishermen, carpenters, painters, cops, mechanics and Wampanoags who can't afford to live in Mashpee. Our most famous resident is me, which isn't saying much. Our most famous landmark is the Rotary, and that is largely cursed at by those who drive in it.
It's small town USA, right down to the Scallop Festival and the Homecoming dance at the local high school. We have whites, blacks, Asians, Brazilians, Cape Verdeans, and even a Frenchman or two.
Bourne also holds at least one great secret, as most small towns do. We'll get to that in a moment, but I want the reader to understand that there is nothing special about Bourne- with the possible exceptions of the minor league baseball team or the nearby Pilgrim nuclear power plant- that would produce the sort of child who will soon become like a God in his chosen profession.
STRANGE TALES FROM THE SCHOOL ZONE
I won't name this child, as he is 14 years old and doesn't need a zillion people Googling his name. If he were a college kid, I'd go for it- fair game, and all. But I will not reveal the name of this child, although he will probably be a household name in both American continents and parts of Asia in 4-6 weeks.
I first became aware of this child through a friend of mine, who is a nurse at the local high school. We live near each other, and often meet after school for a glass of wine. On the day in question, she was complaining about Sports. Generally, this involved her husband watching sports when she wanted him to paint the garage or something, but her complaints were more pointed that day.
"I had two kids come to my office today with broken hand bones."
I was curious, and smelled a teenage Fight Club story brewing. "How'd they break their hands?"
"Playing baseball. The team has some kid from Louisiana, who is staying at the Air Station barracks. He did it." Bourne's Naval Air Station hosted/hosts scores of Katrina refugees, and their children all go to Bourne schools. I asked her to continue.
"The first kid- a senior- comes into my office. He's trying not to cry. He holds up his hand, which is bloody and swollen. All the webbing between his fingers was torn open. That's beyond my abilities to repair, so I called an ambulance."
"Then, even before I put the phone down, a second kid comes in... this one has a broken arm. He's crying openly. As soon as they were both in the ambulance, I called their parents and stormed off to the field where the baseball team practices."
A good reporter knows when to ask questions, and when to sip wine. I let her continue.
My friend The Nurse knows less about baseball than I do. She thought that there was some sort of Bobby Knight-style abuse going on at the hands of the coach- who, I should add, is actually sort of a father figure to his players, and is widely loved around town.
"So... I get to the field, and everyone is in a big semi circle. Before I can find the coach, I hear this CRACKKKKKKKKKK sound, followed by exclamations ofwonder- 'Damn'...'Oh My God'....'That kid is a Freak.' I follow my nose, and find the coach."
"The kid leans back, twists his body around, fires towards the plate... CRAAACK.""I ask him what the hell is going on. He shrugs, and calls over the Louisiana kid. The kid gets on the mound, looks to the coach, then towards home plate. Instead of a batter, there is a sheet of plywood propped up between 2 trash barrels. The plywood has about 10 fist-sized holes in it."
"The kid leans back, twists his body around, and fires towards the plate. I never saw the ball... just the CRACKKKK sound of a hole being punched through the plywood. The ball actually went through the plywood with enough force that it became wedged in the mesh fence of the backstop."
"Impressive, yes... but I have two kids in an ambulance, and two very nervous parents calling me non-stop. While I had figured it out by then, the coach explained to me that the two wounded students were the two catchers who had tried to handle this kid's pitches. I was sort of raining on their parade, and the coach concluded practice without any more damage being done to the plywood."
I was supposed to have lunch with Jay Miller the next day, in relation to a continuing story I was following regarding noise violations at his tavern. I cancelled that date, but decided to keep the reasons why to myself.
THE HILLS HAVE EYES
The next day, I was at the Bourne High School baseball field an hour before school let out. One old TV show kept playing itself through my head.
I forget which one it was, as it was on when I was a child. The basics were that an investigative reporter was doing an episode on the fairness of games at a local carnival. He had shown several of the games to be fixed, and the one I was focusing on involved the old classic- knocking over three stacked milk bottles with a baseball, from about 15 feet away.
The reporter had somehow secured the services of fireballing big-leaguer Tom Seaver, who was known to throw 90-100 mph. Seaver had great difficulty knocking over the milk bottles.... they were weighted or something, and onlysomeone with knowledge of exactly where to hit the bottles (or someone making an extremely lucky throw) could knock them over.
I was struck by just how hard Seaver could throw. The ball bounced off the milk bottles- toppling only the one on the top- and actually ended up about 20 feet behind Seaver. The one time Seaver missed the bottles entirely, his pitch snapped back the canvas flap of the tent... which, I was guessing, was not nearly as dense as a piece of plywood.
The coach was standing behind me before I knew he was coming. I didn't even try to hide my camera or my notebook. I- the press- was busted.
"I knew you guys would come," said the coach. "But I didn't think that you'd come this quickly."
"Semper vigilans," I replied with a guilty grin. I introduced myself, and then noticed the people behind him. The first, I later learned, was a scout from the Boston Red Sox. The other was Detective Richard Tavares, of the Bourne Police Department.
No need for Johnny Law, coach," I said, preparing my best Free Press argument. I then noticed that Detective Tavares had some sort of weapon in his hand. "Fascist," I sneered at him.
Tavares laughed, and said no more to me. The Scout asked him what the fastest reading he'd ever taken with that. "145 mph, on Route 28," the detective replied. I then realized that Tavares was actually carrying a radar gun, like those used to help catch speeding cars.
"Goddamn," I thought. "Does the kid have THAT much power?"
"Come on," the coach said. "You're in on it now, too." We headed over to the dugout.
ENTER THE DRAGON
The kids all came to the field together- black, white, Hispanic, Asian, mixed. I watched them for about 5 seconds, thinking of how baseball is truly an international language. Groups of kids were probably heading out to the diamond in 20 countries as I watched, from Haiti to Taiwan. These kids were no different. Class differences fade when everyone is wearing the same uniform, and these kids all looked alike to me.
Then the Pulitzer Prize I was seeking spoke to me, and I tried to figure out which of them was The Kid.
A solitary figure headed for the pitcher's mound. The rest of the kids- seemingly quicker on the uptake than I was- got in position behind Tavares and his radar gun. I later found out that it was a Decatur Genesis Versa Pak Directional Police Radar Gun, capable of recording speeds up to 237 mph.
"I called in a favor or two," said Tavares, who coaches a Little League team in town.
The pitcher doffed his Belichickian hoody. I was struck by how slight he was. He may have weighed 140 pounds, and stood not a half foot taller than my five-foot-even. He looked like he should have been off skateboarding somewhere. He rubbed his hands together- it was a cold day- and then put on his mitt and called for a ball.
"Anyone want to go out and take a few swings?" the coach asked. "I'd like to see him pitching with a batter in the box."
"F*** that," was the universal reply of the assembled players.
"Whenever you're ready, son" said Tavares, aiming the gun towards The Kid.
I meant to watch the radar gun, but I couldn't take my eyes off of the pitcher. He was standing with his back to the plate. He kicked a leg out to what would be the right-handers side of the plate, spun his body around violently, and came out of it with a very low sidearm/submarine delivery that actually raised some dust from the mound.
I swear that I could hear the air splitting as the ball went to the plate. I never saw the ball, and would fail to see it each time that I watched the young man pitch. It made a sort of ssssshump sound as it went to the plate, clearly audible where I sat, roughly 10 yards away. It actually hit the post that supported the backstop fence, making a noise not dissimilar to what a hammer would make if you hit a church bell with it. The sonorous ringing continued for about 5 seconds after the ball- violently- ricocheted away.
Everyone standing behind Tavares went crazy. Two of them had casts on their arms.
I had done some research. The fastest pitch ever thrown, according to the Guiness Book Of World Records, was the 100.9 mph heater that Nolan Ryan threw in 1974. I'd watched some of Ryan on YouTube... this kid was faster. Wayyyyyyyyyyy f*cking faster.
I needed proof. I turned to Tavares, who quickly realized that I was the only one who hadn't been looking at the gun.
"109 mph," he said. "Sweet Baby Jesus....."
"Wait till he warms up," said the coach.
THE COACH, THE COP, THE SCOUT, AND THE GIRL
Yogi Berra once described baseball as "50% hitting, 50% pitching... oh, and 50% fielding." The kids had lots of work to do in all areas of the game, and were soon off distractedly fielding grounders, playing pepper, taking batting practice from mortal pitchers, and whatever kids do when practicing baseball. I have no idea, because the 4 adults were talking about the future in the bleachers.
"How old is he?" I asked
"14," replied the coach
"My God in Heaven... he's still growing," said Tavares.
"I could get (Boston Red Sox general manager Theo) Epstein to sign him to a billion dollar deal based on what I just saw," said the scout.
"I'm afraid to pitch him in a real game," said the coach. "He could split some kid's wig with that steamer." The radar gun had recorded a top speed of 124 mph, and The Kid averaged roughly 117 mph during the 2 dozen pitches I watched him throw.
"I'm Bourne through and through," said Detective Tavares, "but pitching that kid is akin to letting your pit bull run wild. You may get sued over whatever damage he does."
"He's accurate," pointed out the coach. "I taped a dime to the plywood he was throwing at yesterday, after he crippled both of my catchers. He punched it through the board."
"I bet he could use the big league money," I said, thinking about some of my own friends who lost everything to Katrina.
"Damn straight," said Tavares. "Does he have any other pitches... maybe a curveball or a slider?"
"You know why tigers don't learn Kung Fu?" I asked the detective. "Because they don't need to."
There was a long period of silence, during which I debated using my feminine charms to endear myself to The Kid, maybe become his agent for a reasonable 10% of the nut. Entering the Show at 15 years old or so, he'd have a 20 year career at about, oh, $50 million a season. You can buy a lot of wine and cheese with an agent's cut of that scratch.
The scout broke the silence. "I'm calling Epstein tonight," he said, "but I'm really going to miss this game."
"Why?" None of us had caught on yet.
"There isn't a man alive who could see, catch up to, and put his bat on that pitch. To my knowledge, there has never been such a man. Baseball is entirely dependent on what George Plimpton once described as 'the delicate balance between pitcher and batter.' That's why they get so mad about the steroids... it alters the balance."
"I thought it was health reasons," I ventured.
"If they cared about the health of the players, the NFL would be playing touch football, and Don King would preside over a series of slap fights."
"For 150 years,you needed X amount of power to hit a home run. The parks were the same size (roughly) for Ty Cobb as they are for Barry Bonds. It's part of American culture, and is probably the only sport where a 1905 era guy could jump right into the modern game."
I nodded, thinking about that 270 pound kid from OSU who ran the 4.5 40. What havoc would he have brought if thrown in among the 150 pound guys of the early, segregated NFL?
"Baseball suddenly becomes a whole new game if there is a Man amongst Boys. I don't know where it will be headed, but I know that Ted Williams wouldn't recognize it."
RAINY DAY WOMAN MEETS THE BOY KING
Practice was cancelled today, because of the rain. While I wouldn't know Theo Epstein or Terry Francona if I were sitting in their laps, I could make a reasonable guess as to who was sitting in the Mercedes I saw parked on the other side of the field.
There's really no point to allowing this kid to play high school ball, and I'd even feel badly sending Cape league hitters up to face him.
No, a man must be well-compensated if he intends to face Death itself three times in nine innings.
I got out of my car, and scuffed around the infield for a while. I was never any good at baseball or softball. The ball is too small to see, as I like to tell people. I do a lot of that EEEEEEEEEEEEEEK stuff whenever someone throws (or even lobs) a ball towards me. My swinging of the bat is quite similar to that chopping motion you see Benihana chefs use, and I'm pretty sure that no one above Tee Ball competency swings the bat from Up to Down like I tend to do.
Even my dog looks disappointed when I play fetch with her... and if dogs could speak, mine would say something like "I'm not a puppy anymore... I need the ball to be thrown farther than 10 yards."
Lost in thought, I failed to notice The Kid as he approached me on the mound. Showing guile beyond his years, he grabbed mefrom behind suddenly. I screamed, then turned to face my attacker.... who smiled a boyish grin, and used a Louisiana drawl to say, "April Fools!"
April Fools, indeed.