The Norfolk Bump in the Road (cont - 2)

It took them a couple hours to get to the apartment in Norfolk. They checked in, completed all the paperwork. An administrative assistant with the team showed them all the amenities. It was a nice place with a porch overlooking the bay and a kitchen with a refrigerator to store all their juices. “Sweet,” Jason said in English. English slang started escaping from his lips more comfortably now. The view of the bay seemed to put him in a better mood.

There was not much time to enjoy the ocean view. They only had time to drop their bags in their rooms before they took the fifteen minute walk to the stadium. There were uniforms to issue, lockers to assign, and new teammates to meet. Kevin had never gone through a minor league system so quickly. The faces, the shapes of prior teammates he had left behind, the names an alphabetical mish mash, all becoming murky memories too many to remember. New figures needed to be formed. New names remembered. It was a wild ride through a number of different carnival shows with a myriad number of clown faces whose names he tried to remember dancing in front of him.

It was about two hours before game time. The equipment man gave them their uniforms, showed them their lockers. All the other players were out on the field taking batting practice. Their first opportunity to meet their new teammates came when they walked out into the concrete barriers surrounding the field to warm up. A spotlight might as well have been placed on them as they set foot on the grass. All eyes turned to analyze Jason as if he was the newest toy on the market. “Here they are,” one of the players shouted. “Woo and the Warrior.” Sarcastic claps were heard in the background. “To lead us on to victory.”

They had been saviors to every franchise. Delmarva, Frederick and Bowie all started playing better with their arrival. The writers who wrote for those teams made that very clear. It seemed no credit was given to the other players. Kevin had no control over that. A little animosity could be seen with some of the other veteran players in Bowie who were being ignored once all the attention was being flashed on some young Chinese kid.

Norfolk would be a bit different. Too many thirty year old ex-major leaguers now turned journeymen on this team mixed with players who recognized they were just short of major league tools, but still stringing it out for one more season. They would not be so accepting to give Jason and Kevin all the credit for any turn around just because of the arrival of two players for a month and a half. These players were all Kevin Beamers of some kind, just trying to hang on to a boyhood dream for one more season, recognizing the clock was ticking closer to failure. If some team still wanted them they put on the cleats and uniform. It beat working nine to five sitting in front of a desk.

Norfolk was also out of the playoff race, hopelessly settled in last place. They could win all their games and it would not help them make the playoffs. Everyone was playing for his next contract, not to win the game. A turn around would accomplish nothing with this team.

As this season was coming to a close with no playoff to shoot for the players were all just working for a September call up, or to be noticed by another team to be allowed to play one more year. Their motivation for stringing out the rest of the season had turned into a selfish display of churning out individual stats, not for wins and losses for the team.

The stadium seemed empty today. The sound of ball meeting bat resonated off the concrete slabs surrounding the stadium, producing an echo with each “whack”. According to the equipment man, the game was a sell out for tomorrow. They should not expect too many to be in attendance today. “They all want to see the kid. I’m kind of curious too. You think you can bring it.” The equipment man spit out a wad of tobacco from his mouth and let it fly into a cup waiting in his hand.

Jason only gave a weak smile.


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