Let the Stories Begin!


Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE

I have spent the last year writing a book on the intersection of baseball and faith following the Royals.  With a little luck, the book will be a tangible piece of American baseball culture within the next month.  Part of the book-making process is enduring the tedium of multiple rounds of editing (read, “Getting rid of millions of commas.”).  In January, I submitted my manuscript to Mike the Editor, to help me share the stories and lessons baseball teaches us.

Mike the Editor lives in California and he loves baseball almost as much as I do.  His son is a left-handed pitcher for one of the top-ranked high school teams in the state which means that Mike still has someone who wants to play catch with him regularly.  Through working with the manuscript, Mike has developed a special fondness for the boys in blue.  Unless they are playing the Angels.  Mike loves the Angels.  The same Angels that now have Pujols.  The same Angels that are favored to win every game for the rest of the year.  The same Angels who hosted the Royals for the first three games of this season.

One day during Spring Training, Mike and I were working on the manuscript when we noticed that the Angels and Royals played each other the next day.  I made a snarky comment about placing a bet on the game — the loser buys the winner a book.  I felt guilty when the Royals took a huge early lead in a “meaningless” spring game and texted that we should postpone the actual bet until the opening series.  Little did I know that the Angels would come back to win.  I shipped him a book.

When Opening Day finally came Mike the Editor and I tweeted and texted and emailed while Chen battled Weaver.  I was glued to Gameday and a borrowed radio.  I had been asked to sing and play guitar for a Holy Week midnight service and had to set up before the game ended.  Mike continued texting updates to me.  As I set up my microphone, adjusted the stand, and tuned my guitar, I received a horrible series of texts.

Bottom 8.  Morales singles.  One out.

Trumbo singles.

Iannetta singles.  Bases loaded.  Still one out.

Pitching change.  Holland in.

At this point, I breathed a sigh of relief.  I knew the numbers on Greg Holland from last season, only allowing two inherited runners to score.  Only two.  All season.  Just two.

Infield single.  1 – 0.  Bases still loaded.

Triple.  4 – 0. 

Strike out.  Pujols IBB.  Hunter single.  5 – 0. 

My heart sank.  However, I was now in the appropriate mood to play guitar and sing at a Good Friday service.  If the Angels won on Saturday, Mike would be receiving a second book.

Thankfully, Saturday was a different story.  Luke Hochevar continued to pitch like he did all spring and the second half of last season.  I’m still thinking this is his Cy Young year of 20 wins.  The Royals jumped out to an early lead and held off a couple of small rallies at the end of the game.  The bet and the winner of the book would be decided on Easter Sunday.

Easter Sunday meant more guitar playing and singing followed by lunch at a friend’s house.  We ate ham and brownies and celebrated a birthday.  We hid eggs and played Madden and had cardboard-tube sword fights.  The game finally started and it seemed that the Royals were barely holding on when the “miracle” (uhm, very loose application of the definition) occurred—Eric Hosmer hit a bomb in the 5th inning, solidifying the victory.

Mike the Editor was very gracious and complimentary as the Royals took the series 2 – 1.  He praised our starting pitching (who would’ve guessed!) and harassed me for Gordo’s performance at the plate.  I told him that I wasn’t worried about Gordo and was simply thrilled that we kept Pujols in the ballpark.  I wanted to say something about Gordo’s first assist involving Pujols at the plate, but decided to bite my tongue.  I want a good book, not Barbie Fairytopia or Twilight or something on the sale table outside Borders or Barnes & Noble.

One of the most important things I learned writing my book last summer was this: Baseball helps us make new friends.  Thanks to baseball and the bookmaking process I’ve made a new friend in Mike the Editor.  When the Halos come to town, I’ll suggest the bet once again and hope that we don’t have to face Weaver.  By then, I’ll have my own book about baseball and a new friend for life.

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