Pulling A McCoy

Tonight, I’m going to trot myself down to the Skydome (yeah, I know. Technically they renamed it to "The Rogers Centre" but it’s always going to be the Skydome to me) and someone is going to hand me a baseball, and I’m going to pitch it at someone.  I’ve been imagining this person is the catcher, but last night Amy (who threw out the first pitch last year) said that I might throw it to the mascot.  (I’m going to have to prepare for that.)

I’ve been to the Stitch ‘n Pitch before. It’s fun.  Really fun.  I love that for safety reasons (because our attention isn’t entirely on the game) we’re seated where a knitter is unlikely to take a foul or home run to the head.  (I love it because it makes me wonder how they think knitters manage?  I knit all the time and it’s not like I’m the victim of a constant parade of bizarre accidents as a result. It just cracks me up. I’m probably getting a ball to the head tonight just for saying it.  In any case, it’s very thoughtful of them.)  

I’m a little worried about this. It’s not like I really think that throwing out a bad first pitch could possibly impact the rest of my life  (except for the mocking- and really, YouTube would probably take the video down after 10 years… or at least that’s what the ticket guy for the Blue Jays told me) so even the humiliation wouldn’t be forever… it’s that I’m not sporty, I’ve never been sporty, and as I get older the sportyness only eludes me further.   I’m totally fit – I’m happy to run, swim, bike – anything you like.  It’s the actual sports, like basketball, lacrosse, hockey and baseball that have never, ever been a part of my life, and I’m pretty sure the first time I pitched a baseball was on Sunday, at 42 years of age.

My buddy Kim, who’s a big baseball guy – he watches and plays, took me out to a field and told me how. We worked on all kinds of things.  Things I’m supposed to remember.  I hold the ball just so, I remember to hold it tightly or it goes all over the place when I release.  I step forward with a certain foot… I look where I want the ball to go… Kim walked me though the whole thing, and 20 minutes later- when the balls I was throwing were at least near his glove some of the time… Kim told me I was better than 80% of the celebrity first pitches he’d seen, told me I was going to be fine and dropped me off at Joe’s work again.

I felt not too bad then.  Really, not too bad at all- so I dragged Joe outside to show him how good I was at throwing a ball.  That’s when all four I threw to him went in unpredictable places- and that’s when I realized that this whole thing might be a bit of a crap shoot.  I mean, I can practice, but muscle memory and skill take time, and really this isn’t enough time.  I tossed a ball around again with Rachel H yesterday, and she said that 80% of them were pitches a catcher would catch, and not to worry too much.  She also said that standards would be low, and that I’m good at other things, and that I shouldn’t stress on it.

I’ve been stressing on it.  I tossed a few to Joe last night and he said they were good too.. and I wondered why I still feel so nervous.  This morning I had a crazy total moment of clarity.   Attendance tonight will likely be about 15 000 people- and I thought about that. It turns out that it might not be the idea of 15 000 people watching me throw a ball that stresses me out.  Frankly, it’s the idea of that many people watching me do ANYTHING that’s uncool.  I was smart to focus on the ball part, because it turns out that if I take the ball throwing out of it, and just imagine walking out there and standing there for a minute, I still want to puke. All I can think today is that I want to knit. 

Pattern: Leyburn,  Yarn: BMFA lightweight in Blue Brick Wall.  July’s commitment to the self-imposed sock club.

I’m going to try and relax about this. I’m going to show up (there’s a meet and greet/sign your books thing  at 5:30, if you’re interested) and then I’m going to go down there, someone will hand me a ball, and I will walk out there, and I’ll toss the thing, and whatever happens. Happens.  Maybe I’ll trip and fall down in front of 15 000 people.  Maybe I’ll throw a bad pitch.  Maybe it will all go great. There’s just no way to know.  I’ve practiced, I’ve tried to learn a new thing, and when it’s all said and done, I’ll go back up to my seat, snag a beer and knit, and I’ll work on letting myself off the hook for whatever happens because it’s supposed to be fun, and no puppies will die if I don’t get it right. I’m not supposed to know how to pitch.  I’m not supposed to be comfortable in front of that many people. I’ve got other talents, and tonight "not having a heart attack on the field" is just going to have to be one of them.  I’ve got a plan, and the way I’m getting myself there is by pulling a Mental McCoy.
Whatever happens tonight, when you see me out there,  here’s what I’ll be thinking. 

Dammit Jim.  I’m a knitter, not a baseball player.