Where will you turn, young slugger, when the tears begin to streak and the crowd begins to roar? Amongst your team, the dugout, a den of lions who prefer to eat their young, to feast on the unworthy? They saw the way your slider won’t slide, your curve stopped curving. Ride your four-seamer to the bullpen, amongst the horns and hooves of relief pitchers mad on resin & tar & ill-perceived late-inning hysterics? You are not so wise to do so; the home crowd hopes to undo your shirt button by button, cleats by the lace, one eyelet at a time, they so starving in their concrete metropolis, yearning for a rallying victory, for you David to slay the cross-town Goliath, to throw 102 in the 6th as your elbow gets ready for the operating room, as your labrum begs for your deductible.
Resisting an adage is a brave thing to do, young slugger with tears in your eyes; keep your brim high for all to see, as the manager walks out with outstretched fingertips, for the transfer of power, from ball to palm, for the public execution that a local writer calls ‘necessary’ and the national pundit thinks ‘should have happened an inning prior.’ Show me a man without an earned run, and maybe we can strike the salary cap from our vocabulary, you, young slugger, thinking you’ve struck out on strike two, there is a whole world ahead of you, a batting order tomorrow and the day after that, a vastness in bat speed and wrist strength, some who play in the dirt and some who slobber over a change-up. Batters who would die to go swinging-and-missing at the foot of your mound, a foul tip is all they can pray for, you, young slugger, with such fearsome mastery over a little ball in both space and time.