End Kwote

After it's all said and done, life's just a bunch of kwotes

Baseball

“Baseball was, is, and always will be, to me, the the best game in the world.” -Babe Ruth

Last inning, two outs, winning run on first.

It’s an unbelievable moment. When the existence of something so strong hangs in the balance of the number one. One pitch. One swing. One out. One game. There’s nothing that’s both so simple and so complex, so easy to understand and so impossible to wrap your mind around.

There’s only one way to describe it; that’s baseball.

It seems like a fairy-tale. Like a scenario that only happens when you’re playing in the backyard with your friends. Many of us have dreamed about it. Many of us have talked about it. Very few of us have lived it.

We lived it.

Last inning, two outs, winning run on first.

It was hot. A hundred degrees. There were no clouds for cover, and there was no breeze to hide behind. A desert, truly. The heat was visible in the air. Rising and twisting, then disappearing into the sky. Was it the ground that the heat waves came from? Was it the earth?

No.

It seemed to the many sitting in the crowd that the heat rose from those uniformed kids. It emerged, it pulsed from us and our slaving, straining backs. It left us as if, for the first time, we took that piece of advice that our coach always gave us.

“Leave it all on the field,” he told us. And we did.

Two teams, snarling rivals, sweating their souls into the grass and dust. It was a championship game.

To say that it was a battle doesn’t suffice. To say that it was a war doesn’t scratch the surface. To us, it was an apocalypse. An event that could either end our world, or give it a new beginning. A death, or a rebirth.

We had two outs. Runners on first and second. We thought it was over. It was just one out, after all. We had recorded many before that last, meaningful one. So what was one more? What was one out?

The batter walked to the plate with a characterizing gait of arrogance even though the scoreboard was against him. It read 2-0. We had the advantage.

The crowd grew loud as he approached, increasing their volume with every step he took. Screaming both encouragements and damnations, they yelled sharply, savagely.

It didn’t get to him, though. He had a job to do, and he knew it.

The pitcher breathed, set, then delivered.

Cling, rung his bat, making a sound so familiar to the seasoned ears of both teams. My teammates clambered, scrambled to catch the ball before it reached the ground, but couldn’t. It was just enough. Calmly into the outfield the ball rolled, and he stepped on first

No damage was done. No one ran home.

“Fuck,” mouthed the pitcher, knowing what he had gotten into. Our teammates, though not vocally, echoed the same. The game, once so close to an end, was now just beginning.

We all knew what was happening, but we couldn’t acknowledge. Though there were a lot of ways that this game could play out, we knew it would end here. With the next batter, it would be over.

Choking on fear, none of us could breath. Stricken with shock, we stood still.

Last inning, two outs, winning run on first.

The batter to come wasn’t small. He wasn’t even big. He was enormous. A giant. He seemed inhuman. As his thick legs carried him to the plate, the red gravel crushed under his feet like bone dust. The air swirled around his arms as they swung back and forth, propelling his body forward. The bat that he carried was bigger, more powerful than any I had witnessed.

We had met before, this monster and I, and I had seen what he was capable of. This fence couldn’t hold him. No fence could hold him. He made baseballs disappear.

He wasn’t swinging for another single. He was swinging for beyond the fences.

He stepped forward.

Though it seemed impossible, the crowd grew even louder. All of their words ran together, droning in the heat of the night. It was just noise to us, just sounds streaked together in the background.

All at once, as he took his place, everything went quiet.

I had to force myself to get ready. My body, paralyzed with excitement, wasn’t working. My legs were stuck, my arms were pinned to my sides. But I knew that I had move. I had to play.

The pitcher came set.

First pitch.

Strike one. The spectators on our side erupted. It was a relief. Maybe he wasn’t so big after all.

Suspense built. Tensions rose. Anxiety lingered.

Second pitch.

Ball one. He was an experienced hitter, waiting for his pitch.

Third pitch.

Ball two.

The relief disappeared. The next pitch would be one to hit. We were winning, but we were scared. We were shaking, trembling with anticipation. With the best, most violent hitter against us, we were terrified of what was to come. We were horrified of the game that we loved so much.

The air thickened. Breathing strained.

Fourth pitch.

Contact. Everyone jumped, heads whipping around to find the ball. Where was it? Where did it go? It was gone. Disappeared.

Lost, for a second, we panicked. For a second, we were defeated.

A foul ball. The count was even.

Again, silence.

Everyone there, the teams and those watching, began to realize what was happening. They began to realize what they were witnessing. It wasn’t a game. It was never a game. It was a life. The collective life of nine people, nine men, molded together through years of practice, years of sweat, years of blood. This was everything.

The world was happening around us. Everything was spinning around us. And it all came down to this.

One pitch.

I heard him breath, my pitcher. It was so quiet that I could hear him breath. A deep inhale, a long exhale. Then, a quick, sharp inhale.

This was it.

One swing.

Contact. The ball took off, ripping towards the right field fence. Screaming through the sky, it grew wings, and my worst fear crept into realization.

The right fielder was tracking. Running. Churning his legs, pushing his body.

All we could do was watch. Hope. Wait.

Sprinting, closing, the outfielder began to slide. In one, graceful motion, he collapsed to one leg and slid under the ball. For one second, for one sliver in time, he focused all of himself on that catch. It wouldn’t be easy catching this ball.

But he did.

One out.

All I could see was white. Emotion and disbelief blinded me. But I ran. I threw anything I could get my hands on, and I ran. It was over. Finally, terrifically, and beautifully over.

One game.

This is not a story of a team, or of a game, or of a championship. This is a story of brothers. Inseparable through time and space, linked together with all of their hearts, until the end of time

End Kwote

5 thoughts on “Brothers

  1. Gail Wine says:

    Great writing! great story!

    1. End Kwote says:

      Thanks so much! Glad you enjoyed it

  2. The Cutter says:

    Ah, baseball! Nothing quite like it, no?

    1. End Kwote says:

      Indeed! It’s the greatest game ever. At least as far as I’m concerned

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