Posted on behalf of Newswire correspondent, Kal Dimitrov
Sunday morning, . Still tossing around, considering the best leadoff position with a lefty on the mound. In about 6 hours is the first spring training Herts Spring League game. Continue tossing, thinking about the potential for disappointment and embarrassment in the runner at second being caught out by a sharp line-drive to short. Gradually the fog descends and a vision of a ball speeding towards your nose takes up permanent residence in the brain.
Alarm buzz. Must be about . Put on the gear, undertake morning ablutions, have a cup of coffee (not necessarily in that order). Stack the gear in the car and get going. M1 roadworks still on – some stability in an uncertain world.
Getting into the car park at the field – the usual hassle of finding a spot closer than a mile to the field. Running slightly late again, grab the gear and stagger to the field.
The traditional shuffle of marking out, putting the bases, removing the broken bottles and beer cans, and any other stray items left on the diamond by the weekend revellers. No need to water – the temperature is getting to about 6o C, so the ground is nicely defrosting under the weakly shining sun. Getting the netting for the fence, internally hoping that there is more than three stakes left, with which to put it up. After some judicious hammer-wielding (no smashed fingers, good news), the fence is up for the brief time it will take the wind to turn it into something resembling next year’s Tate Gallery “Most Frowned Upon” runner-up.
Warm up and BP – this time it is different, as there is electricity and we can turn the pitching machine on. People rotating quickly, mainly making sure we do not lose too many balls in the process. And the little anticipatory lead ball in the stomach starts building up. By the end of BP, it is a full-fledged cannon ball with its own fuse.
Manager is giving out the line-up, setting out what we want to get out of this game (under the refrain of “witty” remarks from various smart-arses, usually led by yours truly). Umpire calls managers over, whilst around our bench the team starts shaking up into the first three in the line-up and the rest.
You take your position, and suddenly everything becomes crystal clear, like an ice sculpture cut out with a scalpel. The pre-game jitters are gone, no more flutters in the stomach.
You look at the umpire, calm, cool and collected, and wait for your cue. He shouts “Batter up”, and at last I am in the game. No time for doubts or hesitation, I start brushing the front of my shirt in a manner that should suggest purpose, and by mistake give the lead-off guy the sign for a bunt.