The Streak

May 6, 2011

- See all 763 of my articles

Inspired by Andre Ethier’s hitting streak … at 29 games and counting when I wrote this.  If this jinxes Ethier … well, that’s kind of the point.  I hate the Dodgers.

Derek Bond looked around the sold out stadium. The old facility was bulging at the seams with a standing room only crowd. He smiled broadly, thinking of how the night would change his life. His appearance fee would certainly triple, to say nothing of the commemorative items that would make him a fortune.

Derek watched an inferior teammate ground out weakly to short. As the bum returned to the dugout, the team’s brightest star stepped to the plate.

The first pitch caught much more of the plate that the pitcher had hoped for, and Derek took a healthy swing and drove the ball to deep center field. The outfielder raced to keep up with the ball, then made a well time jump at the wall. He landed with a thud at the base of the wall, where he sat stunned for a moment. Then he jumped up, pulled the ball from his glove and fired it back toward the infield.

When Derek returned to the dugout, he took out his frustration on the water cooler as his teammates scattered. How sweet it would have been to extend his hitting streak to 56 games with a home run. It would have made him even more of a legend than he already was.

Derek had his second chance at history in the fourth inning. He wasn’t sure what the score was. He thought perhaps his team was winning. The important thing was to get a hit and keep the streak alive. An inside fastball brushed against his elbow pad and the umpire awarded him first base.

Derek came to the plate in the seventh inning, certain that this would be his historic moment. Unfortunately, the pitcher experienced a bout of wildness, and Derek watched four pitches sail wide of the strike.

“Hey, it’s the hitless wonder,” jeered the opposing first baseman as Bond took his place on the bag.

“I’ll get my hit” replied Bond sharply.

“Runnin’ out of time,” came the reply. “By my reckoning, you’ve got one shot left.”

Derek reflected on the situation and agreed that he’d probably only have one more at bat in the game. He’d have to make it count. After the next hitter struck out, his nemesis crossed Derek’s path on the way back to the opposing dugout.

“Hey, I’ll buy some of that champagne for half price,” mocked the first baseman.

Was it possible that the pitchers were actively attempting to break his streak, with little regard to how it affected the game? Was the pitch that hit him really an accident? Was it a coincidence that the pitcher couldn’t find the strike zone during his last at bat? Derek tried to put the thoughts out of his mind.

When Derek came to the plate in the ninth, the crowd gave him a thunderous ovation. History was still within his grasp. He just needed one insignificant little hit. A blooper to the outfield, a ground ball that found a hole – anything would do. One hit and he would be immortalized.

The first pitch was low and away and Derek took the pitch for a ball. The pitcher hit the same target on the next pitch, running the count to 2-0. When the pitcher hit the same spot a third time, Derek realized that he wasn’t going to see a better pitch. These bums didn’t care about the game – they just wanted to see his streak end.

As the next pitch neared the plate, Derek lunged to reach the pitch, which was far off the plate. He felt the bat make solid contact and saw the white missile shoot high into the night sky. The center fielder didn’t move an inch – he just watched the home run ball fly into the stands.

As the crowd went wild, Derek heard the umpire shout something.

“OUT!” yelled the man in blue, as he pointed at the plate. “You stepped on the plate,” he explained. “You’re out.”

And thus the streak ended not with a bang, but with a whimper – falling victim to a technicality.

One Comment (+add yours?)

  1. joe cervelli
    May 08, 2011 @ 13:30:51

    What happened to Elaine in the latest Block novel? I don’t recall if Matthew and she broke up. He mentions Matt with Jan. Thanks!


Leave a Reply