Season’s over; farewell MC
April 15, 2011
The last three outs of a baseball game are often the hardest to get. Sometimes it’s because you’re facing the heart of the order; other times the ball just has eyes. But, baseball lover that I am, I like to think those final outs drag on because the players just aren’t ready to leave the ballpark yet. There’s something inherently special about the place they play in that simply makes it too hard to leave when the 54th out is recorded.
Securing those final few outs is a bittersweet conclusion: too many good memories with teammates and coaches were had in the stadium; each inning of every season was great fun; each moment was something new and cherished. Sure, the players are all glad the game is finally over, but a part of them never wants the game to end.
Most of the players will only spend four years with the team. Others will sign contract extensions and spend five, six … or even seven years with the ballclub. They’ll make a career out of it. Eventually though, they’ll all retire. Yet, there’s something about the place they called home for so many years that draws them back every once in awhile.
Sometimes it’s the teammates who they have become lifelong friends with that brings them back. Sometimes it’s the coaches who taught them how to play the game in the first place that compel them to make the trip home. Sometimes it’s even the unforgettable smells of the place.
The pungent aroma of pork became a staple in the ballpark and while some of the players got used to it, most of them grew sick of the stench during their first year with the team. They’ll miss it all though, and some might come back just to get one more whiff.
For the seasoned veterans, the final three outs are the hardest because their mental fortitude has waned with thoughts of brand new careers looming on the horizon.
Game 162 is approaching fast. The season ends May 15, and when the last out is made, the ballpark will say goodbye to its all-stars, while continuing to shape the promising rookies.
For the majority of the players, there’s always next year, but for those whose playing days in the stadium are over, I’m sure they’ll come back to visit at some point in the future. When they do, it’ll be déjà vu all over again.
BY ADAM KINIGSON