Friday, April 18, 2008

22 Innings

By Nick McCann

Last night’s game started off great because Jake Peavy pitched like he was going through the same situation that Mel Gibson’s character was dealing with in Ransom. Every time he screamed after throwing a pitch that was close, I imagined that he was saying, “GIVE ME BACK MY SON!!!” After Peavy’s masterful eighth inning, the game became a blur. I had to record The Office, and the lineups on both teams didn’t give a fuck.

When a game becomes about bullpens trying to save themselves, and the announcers finally have to tell the same story about the minor league team on the east coast that went 33 innings in 1981, becoming the longest game in history, it leaves the fans a choice: do I go to sleep, or do I watch something that could be history?

Going to bed early before a marathon game is over comes with a certain degree of guilt. I’ve always wanted to be one of those people who are incapable of giving up on a game before it has ended, but I am not. This doesn’t mean that I don’t love the Padres; it just means that I like surprises. In the 16th inning, I decided to go to sleep, thinking that I would wake up, check, and get my own closure over coffee and Danish (I never eat that).

Falling asleep was easy. Then, the next thing I knew, I woke with my head nestled in my folded arms. I looked up, and then I realized that I was in the Padres’ dugout at Petco Park leaning on the railing watching the 17th inning of the game that I had just given up on. I looked around, and all my favorite Padres were there congratulating me on my performance, and apologizing for not helping me get the victory. This was strange, so I walked over to the mirror above the Gatorade bucket. I was shocked at the sight of my face. I was Jake Peavy. I was the best player on my favorite team. I could fuck any woman in the stadium if I wanted to.

This first thing I did was sit down next to Khalil Greene. He leaned over and said, “Time is a piece of wax falling on a termite, who is choking on a…on a…damn it! I just want to be normal!” That made me uncomfortable so I walked over to my manager, Bud Black, who was playing marbles with hitting coach, Wally Joyner.

Bud looked up at me from his game as if he was going to cry, and said, “Jakey Wakey, can I still call you that? Cool! I’m really sorry about tonight. We need more hitting…I know.” Then Joyner interrupted, “What the hell is that supposed to mean? Bud, I thought we were buds. YAHTZEE!”

I didn’t want any part of that so I turned back to the game. Time wasn’t making sense to me. Players were running in and out of the dugout in slow motion all the time. It felt like the game that I had pitched was a dream with in my own dream. I wasn’t angry that my performance was wasted, I was just thinking about Phoenix, and what I would do there this weekend. Sure, I would go, but all of my friends who had failed me would have to play though it. Maybe my best friend Astro Roy Oswalt would have the same days off and we could text each other about deer hunting, country music, and the bad rap chewing tobacco has gotten.

Then I heard the crack of the bat and looked up at the scoreboard. I saw that it was the 22nd inning and the Rockies had just scored a run to make it 2-1. When the guys came back to the dugout, I noticed Tadahito Iguchi starring at me walking slowly off the field. His eyes were black and he was beginning to laugh at me. He then walked right up to me, recited a Japanese proverb that I didn't understand, pulled out a knife, and stabbed him self with it. He slowly fell to the ground and then I ran up to he help him. He just kept laughing and laughing and spitting up blood. When I kneeled down next to his body, he looked right through me, and said, “Wake up.”

My alarm clock went off this morning at 7:30am. I got up, checked, and realized that the game had gone 22 innings and that we had lost. My first thought was that we should have just tanked the game to preserve ourselves for the upcoming weekend showdown with the D-Backs. Oh well, a boy can dream.

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