One Last Shot – Season 4, Post 3: Opening Day!
by Paul Semendinger
April 4, 2021
It wasn’t much of an Opening Day.
It was cold. It was rainy.
Baseball isn’t supposed to be played on a 41 degree day in a light rain, but it was.
My fourth season as a pitcher had begun.
Up until the game wasn’t called, I think we all thought the game would be rained out. Maybe it should have been.
Ethan and I were the first to arrive at the field. The other team (Ridgefield Park) and our players slowly arrived. I wore about three shirts, a sweatshirt (or two), a warm beanie on my head, and gloves. It was that cold. As the game’s start got closer, I slowly began warming up and removing layers.
My arm has been a little sore. Because of some work we were doing at home in our basement where I practice all winter, my throwing tailed off the last five or six weeks heading into the season. Those two factors brought me to Opening Day in a little less prepared shape (pitching wise) than I wanted to be.
I did throw once a week with the other team I am on. So it’s not like I haven’t thrown. I just haven’t thrown as much as I would have liked.
As far as my physical shape, I am in great shape in that regard. I have this goal of running every single day this year. This was Day 93. I feel stronger and lighter than I’ve been in years – even better than last year.
I just wish I had had a few more weeks to get my arm to where I really wanted it.
But it’s all good.
I got the start to open the season. That’s an honor – being the Opening Day Starting Pitcher. (If you want, you can call me C.C. Sabathia or Ron Guidry or Whitey Ford. Seriously, you can,. I won’t mind.)
If you saw me pitch today, you might call me another name.
But it wasn’t completely my fault.
One batter, in my last inning of work, hit the ball 7,000 feet. Maybe longer. That was my fault.
But even that wasn’t completely my fault.
I pitched three innings.
In the second inning, I gave up two runs, both unearned.
In the third inning, I gave up one run. Yes, on that 7,000 foot homer.
I know. I didn’t mention the first inning.
In the first inning I gave up zero earned runs.
There. That’s it. End of the story.
No, it’s not the end of the story.
Did I mention the dropped pop-ups? Did I mention the fly ball that the outfielder didn’t see and didn’t catch? (I don’t want to mention the line drive singles and the two bases on balls. Those were on me.)
Yeah, they scored seven times in the first inning.
All unearned, but still.
In the end, the blame falls on the pitcher. There were a few bad plays behind me. It was cold and rainy. It was our first game… and none of us really had it. Most of all, I didn’t have it. The fielders behind me couldn’t pick me up, but I, likewise, couldn’t pick them up.
But it wasn’t our fault.
I didn’t realize this until I was out of the game, the next pitcher was in, and we were about to have the mercy rule end our misery.
The team we played today, due to a scheduling fluke, was the team that won their league in three of the last four seasons. You might ask why I might think that to be unfair.
Trust me, there’s a reason.
The league this team won was the 18+ league.
We were playing a team from a lower age bracket. We were playing a team that is comprised of kids. 18+ means, eighteen-years-old! We’re a 35+ team. I am basically three times as old as the other team’s youngest players.
No wonder my fastball looked slow.
My fastball always looks slow, even to 70-year-olds.
It was great to be back out there. I love standing on the mound and trying to throw the ball past the batters. I didn’t do that much today, but it was still a blast.
I just love playing baseball.
I always want to win. I’ll do my best to win. I wasn’t pleased with my performance.
I hated the cold and the damp and the rain.
But it was baseball. I was pitching. (I was getting shellacked, but, still, I was pitching.)
And I loved every single minute!
(Well, maybe not allowing a 7,000 foot home run. That was embarrassing.)
A bright spot was that Ethan (23-years-old – we are allowed to have up to three players under 35-years-old on the team) went 2-for-2.
In the end, though, we lost 15-0..
That God for the mercy rule.
Once they scored the 15th run, we were able to go to our cars and get out of the rain.
I hope next Sunday is 70 degrees and sunny. I’m looking forward to baseball weather.
(I just hope they let me pitch again.)
(And I hope the team next week has older players…)