The Baseball Muse
Girl made in Japan – The Baseball Muse
The Baseball Muse by ALAN NAFZGER
Pecan Street Press
Lubbock ● Austin ● Fort Worth
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
Copyright © 2020 Alan Nafzger
All rights reserved.
THE BASEBALL MUSE
GIRL MADE IN JAPAN
EXT. MLB HOME STADIUM – DAY
Major League Baseball. Stadium roof is open. The flag poles and the wind is blowing in. Crowd and the vendors. Hotdogs and nachos. The players and coaches and the home bench, all from the point of view of a nice expensive third-base line seat.
MINEKO (23) is an avid baseball fan, dressed in the team colors. Hat and jersey. She has a nice Nikon camera with a telephoto lens. High-quality Leupold field glasses. An Apple Ipad for replays and stats. But also, she has a sketch pad and pencil. She sketches players on one side and takes extensive notes on the back.
No one has ever multi-tasked this much at a baseball game. And she is surrounded by 60,000 people who are there trying to relax. However, she is working. She also has a baseball glove and she’s left-handed.
Mineko snaps some photos. She sketches a few. But, she’s preoccupied with a player in the home team’s dugout. She keeps glancing there, then draws the player and then takes his photo.
It’s ROGER ELDER, #12. He’s been benched. He doesn’t like it; he’s clearly agitated. He may be going through withdrawals. She continues to study him. Ball and batboys are staying clear of him and also his teammates.
Suddenly, her phone’s weather app makes a horrible racket. Mineko is embarrassed and apologizes. Now we see she’s Japanese as she bows to everyone she might have offended. The people sitting next to her clearly think she’s weird; typical American xenophobes. But she IS Japanese and something of a baseball fanatic. They look at her strangely.
I’m sorry. The wind has changed.
And sure enough, the flags have changed. The wind is blowing out now and it’s a stiff wind. She looks at the lineup. She pulls up the stats of the next three batters. She looks at the pitcher. The flags. The batter. She’s looking at the batter on deck. The batter on deck is watching the pitcher and trying to time his practice swings.
The batter at the plate takes a few balls and then powers one out to center. The ball hits about a foot under the yellow line and bounces down to the centerfielder. It’s a double. She checks her Ipad once more and becomes totally excited.
(to her neighbors)
Can you please watch?
She gestures to her camera and things neatly beside her seat. Again, they look at her like she’s crazy. But finally, they agree.
I must go catch a ball. Thank you.
The fans next to her are curious. She races off… excited. She runs three steps up, but returns. She’s been so excited she forgot her glove. She picks it up and runs full bore up the stairs.
She makes her way up and out of the third-base seats and out to the outfield seating. She has her phone and is streaming the game. She looks at the flags. She looks at the count on the scoreboard. She’s dodging people returning from the concession stand with hotdogs and sodas. She’s still multitasking the baseball and the crowd. There are a few narrow misses, but she’s small and agile.
By the time the count is full, she is in position. She feels the home run will land at her feet. She waits. A foul. Another foul. She adjusts her position according to the foul balls.
Crack! The ball is long and headed in her direction. She’s predicted it fairly well. She is set to catch it on the fly, but a brutish and slow man, with a beer, obstructs her path.
The ball hits the floor and then the wall and bounces straight up. Twenty men and four boys dive for it and miss. There is a dogpile of bodies and the ball SLOW MOTION hangs there. It gives Mineko time to race over, extend her glove, and catch the ball. The ball is in her glove just before it falls on the mountain of men and boys.
The cameraman catches it all for television. The TV flashes the batter rounding first, and back to Mineko. She holds the glove up to the umpire or the camera, all who are watching. Mineko celebrates. Everyone applauds, especially the women at the game. They all chuckle at how excited Mineko has become.
The MANAGER and BENCH COACH of the home team, notice, and point to the Jumbotron. They even chuckle. It appears that they might even know Mineko.
Mineko returns to her seat. She proudly shows the ball to the fans next to her seat. The kid in that group is amazed. For him, it’s magic. The young boy won’t talk to her but he looks at his father.
(to his father)
How’d she do that?
The father shrugs to his son and smiles at Mineko, perhaps a bit frightened of her magic. She has a velvet drawstring bag and she puts the ball inside the bag.
Why don’t you ask her?
There is a pitching change. The boy slowly works up his nerve.
Can you tell me the next time that happens?
It won’t happen again today. I’m sorry.
She gestures to the new pitcher on the mound who is warming up.
It just won’t.
There is a long beat. The boy is studying her; he’s looking for more of an answer.
The new pitcher simply won’t allow it.
She shows her Ipad to the boy. It has some calculations. She points to a number on the screen. Zero.
You might get a foul ball, however. He throws very hard and the left-handers might not get around on it. You have to be ready all the time. Be ready to get on your horse.
Be ready to move.
Baseball is a bat-and-ball game played between two opposing teams, typically of nine players each, that take turns batting and fielding. The game proceeds when a player on the fielding team, called the pitcher, throws a ball which a player on the batting team tries to hit with a bat. The objective of the offensive team (batting team) is to hit the ball into the field of play, allowing its players to run the bases, having them advance counter-clockwise around four bases to score what are called “runs“. The objective of the defensive team (fielding team) is to prevent batters from becoming runners, and to prevent runners’ advance around the bases. A run is scored when a runner legally advances around the bases in order and touches home plate (the place where the player started as a batter). The team that scores the most runs by the end of the game is the winner.
The first objective of the batting team is to have a player reach first base safely. A player on the batting team who reaches first base without being called “out” can attempt to advance to subsequent bases as a runner, either immediately or during teammates’ turns batting. The fielding team tries to prevent runs by getting batters or runners “out”, which forces them out of the field of play. Both the pitcher and fielders have methods of getting the batting team’s players out. The opposing teams switch back and forth between batting and fielding; the batting team’s turn to bat is over once the fielding team records three outs. One turn batting for each team constitutes an inning. A game is usually composed of nine innings, and the team with the greater number of runs at the end of the game wins. If scores are tied at the end of nine innings, extra innings are usually played. Baseball has no game clock, although most games end in the ninth inning.
Baseball evolved from older bat-and-ball games already being played in England by the mid-18th century. This game was brought by immigrants to North America, where the modern version developed. By the late 19th century, baseball was widely recognized as the national sport of the United States. Baseball is popular in North America and parts of Central and South America, the Caribbean, and East, particularly in Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan.
In the United States and Canada, professional Major League Baseball (MLB) teams are divided into the National League (NL) and American League (AL), each with three divisions: East, West, and Central. The MLB champion is determined by playoffs that culminate in the World Series. The top level of play is similarly split in Japan between the Central and Pacific Leagues and in Cuba between the West League and East League. The World Baseball Classic, organized by the World Baseball Softball Confederation, is the major international competition of the sport and attracts the top national teams from around the world.
In ancient Greek religion and mythology, the Muses (Ancient Greek: Μοῦσαι, romanized: Moûsai, Greek: Μούσες, romanized: Múses) are the inspirational goddesses of literature, science, and the arts. They were considered the source of the knowledge embodied in the poetry, lyric songs, and myths that were related orally for centuries in ancient Greek culture.
In modern figurative usage a Muse may be a source of artistic inspiration.