Bit by Bit


They’ve been shutting down diamonds all across my town — fifteen last month,
a dozen last week, seven just yesterday. Weeds overrun the base paths, outfield
grass grows wild, and as for the lights, they cut off the electricity.

The groundskeepers left a long time ago. Even the rangers have been laid off, and
all my old mates who’ve gone out for a throw tell me that yes, it’s true, there’s
no place to play.

The Parks & Rec Department told us that they were investigating the matter, but
that all the funds were being allocated for different fun now-a-days, and they
showed us the breakdown but it was a tough spreadsheet to understand, much less accept.

Then I read this article on the web somewhere that said the majority of recruits
for The Show were being flown in from other countries. So, if you were from where
I was from, you had a slim-to-none shot of making it all the way — even with the
ballfields and batting cages and infinite baseballs that we used to be privy to.

I was privileged, but all I could think about was how to get to where the grass
was greener. I did things unsuitable for a young stud. I got bombed before a banquet
held in my honor. I stayed out all night and let the net in my backyard build up dust.
I punched a hole in the wall of my house.

The next day my right hand was swollen beyond belief. It looked a lot fatter now but
it was indeed the same hand my father had overlain with his, a decade before, teaching me
the technique for a two-seam fastball grip. I knew more than he, I thought,
so I slipped my hand out from under his, decided to do it my own way.
That was the first time I ever saw a little bit of a man die.