We celebrated the reopening of the state by having a day in the park, me, Lucas and the boys. It wasn’t just any day in the park, though…me and Lucas were also playing Lucas’ first game with Chuy’s team, Los Cervezeros. The team’s 2nd baseman moved away to Texas, since he couldn’t stand the lockdowns and needed to work to feed his family, so they have an opening, and it just turned out that the opening was at Lucas’ position. It’s like it was meant to be. So I talked Chuy into giving Lucas a shot…and Chuy talked the team into it. I think Chuy still thinks of Lucas as the 135# kid who first came to his batting cage, but Lucas is now 6’ and a super ripped 175.
So it was funny seeing the looks on the rest of the team’s faces when they saw the scrawny little kid who was trying out to be their new 2nd baseman. I don’t think that Chuy had them expecting much from Lucas; I could tell by how they were looking at him that Chuy had probably sold Lucas (literally) short.
I’ve played a couple games with Los Cervezeros since they started playing back in March, and I did pretty well for myself. They’ve got a regular chortstop, so it’s not a weekly gig, but, from what I was able to make out (my Spanish is better than it was when I first played with them), the regular chortstop has a wife who wants her husband around on Saturdays to do work around the house. So, if he has to mow the lawn, El Cazador (it means ‘the hunter’ and it’s my Spanish baseball nickname…it’d be super super gay if a bunch of dudes called me el guapo lol) gets to step in. Maya and Robert are usually around on Saturday mornings to spend some quality time with the boys, so it works out.
Still, I want the boys out in the sunshine as much as possible, and Maya said it would be ok if I took them to the park where we were gonna play…as long as they wore their masks and that everyone they were around was vaccinated. It’s a big park, with a baseball diamond, soccer field, playground, and plenty of room for people to picnic. It was supposed to be super hot, but the weather reports were wrong all week, so it was in the mid-80s in the late morning when we played (the game started at 11.) I think it got up to 90 at the hottest part of the afternoon, but we were already home by then.
One of the guys on the team has a wife who’s a whiz with the sewing machine, so they got me an XL jersey and she altered it for me so I wouldn’t look like I was wearing a dress. Lucas had to make do with a ‘ringer’ jersey, but it fit him pretty decently. He’s an easier fit than I am. (FYI the colors of Los Cervezeros are dark blue and yellow.)
Lucas drove over in his car, and Maya and Robert insisted I take the SUV if I was gonna drive the boys somewhere (believe it or not, this was the fist time I was taking the boys anywhere), which made me super nervous. I know I drive Joyce’s Tesla often enough, but the SUV is a lot more expensive than the Tesla…and I’m not used to driving anything that big. But I reckon it is safer than the shitbox, especially with both boys sitting in the back.
I wasn’t totally sure what the boys were gonna do while I was playing ball, since I didn’t expect them to spend the whole time watching the game, even if this was their first chance to see me play. But I knew from Chuy that there would be plenty of other kids there – everyone wanted to get their family out – and plenty of people to keep an eye on them.
When we got to the park, we found Aracely and Eric in the stands, and Aracely said she’d keep an eye on the boys. Eric said he’d help, although I’m not sure how trustworthy a 19 year old boy is when it comes to kids. In any event, I wasn’t really worried about Matteo, who’d brought his score book with him and was looking forward to keeping score at a real game. It was real cute how he went to the dugouts to get everyone’s names in his book. They even named him official scorekeeper, and everyone thought it was super cute when he ruled that something we thought in the dugout was a base hit got ruled E3 by the 9 year old official scorekeeper.
So Matteo was taken care of during the game.
Jacob, I wasn’t as sure about. He doesn’t have ADD or anything like that, and I knew he wanted to see me in action, but, well, y’all can probably guess that, while Matteo can be counted on to sit still, Jacob was gonna have to get up and run around on his first chance to be outside with other kids in 16 months.
But let me tell y’all about the ballgame first.
We were playing a team called Los Serpientes, and, like all the teams I’ve played with Los Cervezeros, they were good. Their pitcher was impressive…which is my way of saying that I had trouble hitting him. I struck out, flied out and grounded into a double play my first three times at bat. Lucas, I’m not sure how, went 2/3 batting 8th (they clearly didn’t trust their new 2nd baseman…yet), with one double, an RBI and a run. I should tall y’all this was the first time I’ve seen Lucas play in a game, and, well…let’s say that he really did learn a lot of what I was trying to teach him. There were things he clearly learned from someone else, but his swing, for instance, had my fingerprints all over it…which was a really really good feeling.
Lucas was pretty awesome in the batting box, but I felt that where we really shone during the game was in the field. Nothing was getting past me and Lucas during the game, and we made a few really great plays. Lucas threw a couple guys out at the plate (in addition to everything else, he’s developed one heck of a throwing arm), and was getting slapped on the back by our teammates even before the game was over.
The best part of our infield’s performance was a 4-6-3 double play that really does belong on both my and Lucas’ highlight reels. He started it off by making a great catch, pivoting on his knees and throwing the ball to me. It was one of those rare times when his throwing was off, so I had to make a super athletic catch with my foot on 2nd, before quickly lobbing the ball over 1st for the out there. That got us a some pretty loud cheers from Eric and Jacob in the stands, so Eric got to see his buddy field like a pro…and Jacob got to see me make up for being less than stellar at the plate.
Ok, so I made up for that big time, too, pretty much the way I did at my first game with Los Cervezeros: a walk-off homer. We were behind by one in the bottom of the 7th, 1 out and 1 man on. This time I didn’t have to wait to get my pitch, though…their pitcher was getting tired, and his first pitch was a perfect meatball, right over the plate.
I smoked the thing. So hard that somebody said something Spanish that had the word “Ohtani” in it…and somebody else dumped the water cooler over my head after I rounded the bases. (I gotta admit, I really did smoke the fuck outta that ball. A couple kids went to find it…and couldn’t.)
So there was a lot of onfield excitement…but that wasn’t all the excitement the day held.