The Utility Player, Chapter 7

“You want one?” asked the hombre holding a blue can of Bud Light.

“For sure,” said the up.

THIRTY MINUTES EARLIER:

The hombre, taking live batting practice, tells the up, playing third: “Ten cuidado!”

Por que he is going to hit the ball so hard.

“OK,” says the up. “Traigalo,” which he thinks means “bring it.” Sure enough, the hombre rockets one, two, three, four screamers the up’s way, and our hero deftly gloves them all. Oh yeah. Snagging until the break of dawn, that’s our up. Look at him going flat out on the one ball that did evade him, no importa, getting dirty can be a bigger win sometimes than actually making the catch.

The really big win here is that the up is playing baseball with a bunch of fellas including his new friend JR, who is the one he was supposed to meet here at Siete Mares Rec Center in West LA, the same flat dusty park with the roller rink where the up has been meeting randos from the internet to play catch for over a month.

Yah, the up is way into his baseball hookups. “I go to the park to play baseball,” he tells his students during Zoom calls. “It’s like I’m eight years old.” The students say blank. They show up, so that is good. However, there is really not a lot of back-and-forth. The thrill of online school se fue hace muchas meses. The up fills with tales of his recreational derring-do.

The highlight of last week’s game of catch was when a coyote trotted into short center field. This was down in Inglewood at Starry Park. The coyote had wild vibe, looked like an angular German shepherd with nothing to lose. The up and the two guys he met up with ceded center to the reposing beast, contented themselves with catching or not catching grounders and pop-ups.

That workout had a quiet mellow glow. The up did not get too close to the coyote. Did not need to. The coyote was holding it down in center field.

The thing in Inglewood had the vibe of visitation from the wild. This thing in Siete Mares with the hard-hitting hombre and his whole crew, this banda de beisboleros, it was

i n t e r s t e l l a r

and by that I mean,

heaven.

El cielo en la tierra. No puede escribir de de esto excepto en Joy Spanish.

Es porque beisbol es vida, todo otro es antes o despues cuando lo es el tiempo que jugar.

Transitions. What are they. Also I think this new guy JR could be true friend material because before he even encountered the up, good old JR had walked up to these other guys and basically said Hey do you wanna play catch.

The up heard JR tell this story at the other field where he had been preparing for Solo Baseball Grown Man workout. Cheered by the approach of this new friend as well as the excellent scouting done by the new friend, replied I have asked strangers to play catch with me an easy 100 times in my life.

Well they said we should join them, said JR, solidifying the feeling of the up that this new guy JR is one of the good angels. We got your good angels hereabouts, and by hereabouts I mean everywhere, which is where you have your bad angels too. Those bad angels, you gotta watch out for, as they are often in torment and care not whom they pain.

Good angels, though. Be happy when you find them and they find you. And JR could hit, too. Sorta like the up, strobing line drives. This kind of pleasure, you have to pace yourself. In through the narwhal tusk, out through the lungs. Narwhal. Lungs. Narwhal. Lungs.

Good. It boils down to this. You put it out there that you are down to play catch and it doesn’t take long before you are taking batting practice with la raza.

And so on to what matters. The at-bats . Yes. The up murderized the ball in his at-bats, I’m happy to report, and by murderized I mean clouted. You could lightly notice head snap among the assembled when the up smacked the very first pitch on a line drive to where the coyote would have been squatting.

Ten cuidado,” he yelled at the hombre who had earlier cautioned him to beware.

And then, on the bench, moments pre Bud Light, he stayed on topic. “Mis lineas son tan duras porque yo lo mismo soy.”

The hombre snickered appreciatively. He later called an imaginary runner out after the up’s sweeping tag alongside the first base line.

The up and the hombre, amigos siempre. The hombre cautioned the up against bringing Modellos to recipricate. No-no-no, he wagged an actual finger. Fine then. The up will bring the light of the world.

GAME SUMMARY:

The up has arrived at Beyond. It is beautiful here.

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