Archive for August, 2010

Saving Stephen Strasburg

Friday, August 20th, 2010

Have you noticed the way cats disappear and reappear into and out of thin air? My cat Sydney is here only when she wants to be. Right now she wants to be watching the Washington Nats game. She sits beside me in my chair. Sits, not lies.

She’s waiting for Stephen Strasburg.

Sydney never misses a game; she’s obsessed. She is also upset about the last game that had Stephen Strasburg handing over the ball in the 4th inning.

Right now he lets loose with a 100mph fastball. I have learned this interesting fact: a fastball can disappear a few feet from the plate. It literally vanishes. The batter can’t see it as it crosses home plate and reappears in the catcher’s mitt. The batter swings at empty air. He swings, he misses.

Sydney likes that.

What I like about Stephen Strasburg is that he’s only twenty-two but seems a lot more grown up than most of the people I know, including me. The only thing that matters to him is what’s in the moment. Not his ego, not the 40,000 fans who’ve come to see him, not his past or his future. The only things in his world are the ball, the grip, the pitch, the catcher’s mitt. Nothing else.

Sydney sits up straight and watches. Ordinarily, Sydney never interferes with his game. This time she does. He shouldn’t try another fastball.

Stephen Strasburg is about to wind up, looks over his shoulder at Sydney. Sydney flicks an ear, raises a paw. Anyone passing the doorway and looking in would think Sydney is chasing some invisible insect in empty air. No. Sydney is signaling: changeup

Ivan Rodriguez wishes Sydney would butt out, but Stephen Strasburg nods his infinitesimal nod and throws a chngeup.

The batter thinks he’s looking at a fastball. He swings too soon. Another strikeout.

Done. They’re solid. Now Sydney disappears in that way cats do, as if she’s vanishing like a fastball over the plate.

Stephen Strasburg is a master of deception.

So is Sydney.