I can't tell you what a relief it is to be writing about playing baseball, instead of writing about not playing baseball. After five weeks off, I was back in uniform and it was simply great fun. We took on the London Marauders in a rematch of our eye-watering opening game which ended 35-34 in virtual darkness. And we nearly went the same way again. After a late start, and with rain clouds frequently threatening over Grovehill, both sides racked up huge scores. As we considered sending out for pizzas and a dozen tents, the Raptors finally managed to establish some dominance and closed it out after 9 o'clock, winning 41-26.
As you can tell from the score, this was not classic, tight baseball. There were hits a-plenty and more stolen bases than I could possibly count. I was personally delighted that I was able to slap some good line drives around the field, including my first ever triple. As the ball crawled towards the fence in the centre field gap, I rounded first at a sprint, took a big turn at second but as I considered going for the full, inside-the-park glory, I glanced right and saw the ball heading for the cut-off man. Do you test a defence which is clearly not the best in the league? Or do you accept what you've got, and make sure you keep the inning alive? In the end I slid into third, and had to call time to get my breath back, so it was probably best that I hadn't headed for home. Although I benefited from a couple of slightly lucky infield hits, I don't think I made an out all day, so that was a satisfying return to the game.
In the field, the boss very kindly slotted me straight back in at shortstop, and things went reasonably well. I made a couple of catches and stops, and just missed out on an unassisted double play. But I also committed two errors when the ball went under my glove, one from a dying quail on the infield, the other a rolling grounder that I rushed. They were just minutes apart in an inning where things threatened to unravel for us. So often, mistakes in baseball breed mistakes, just as success brings confidence and more success. You need to just take five minutes out of the game to really shake off a mistake, but that's not possible. My team-mates helped me get out of this one alive.
And the final out of the day was perhaps a combination of all of this, good and bad. I was in on the play, picking up a tricky dribbler which had got through Jack, our third baseman. Looking up, I was surprised to see a Marauders' runner heading home, even though he didn't have to. In my haste, I snatched at the throw to the plate, dragging it a good six feet off line. Thankfully Slater — wearing the tools of ignorance — made a fantastic move to haul in the ball and dive across to tag the runner. The place went wild. For me, I felt a wave of warmth to have been part of a win for the first time this season, and to have returned to the diamond for such a great game.
Let's not leave it so long next time.