by Twins Geek
As Joe Mauer waited his turn for the batting cage, he noticed Patrick Reusse weaving his way towards him. “Hey Joe!” his gravel voice squeaked. “How many RBI do you think you’ll drive in this season?”
“Oh, I don’t know. I don’t really keep track.”
”What? Then how do you compare yourself to other players?”
Thinking he had missed part of the conversation (again), Reusse wandered away to ask Morneau when he was going to start hitting left-handers again. From his shadow, little Nick Punto suddenly emerged. “Hey, Joe. Can I ask you something?”
“Sure thing, Ned. Shoot.” said Joe kindly.
“It’s Nick, Joe”, replied Punto. “Did you ever trouble getting excited about baseball?”
“No, I've never had that problem,” Joe replied thoughtfully. “Why?”
“Forget it. I didn't think you'd understand”, Nick dejectedly. But he fired back up almost immediately. “I’ve got to hit again. I’ve just got to!”
“Nick, this isn't Russia. Is this Russia? This isn't Russia, is it?"
“I didn't think so. Now, the thing is, do you want to hit?”
“Well, yeah. If I don’t, I might lose my job,“ lamented Nick. “I mean, how am I going to support my family?”
“Whoa, Nate. I’m not even a free agent yet. I helped you find that jewelry endorsement, and I bought you that Coke yesterday. I can’t pay for everything…”
“No, no,” Nick quickly responded as Joe entered the batting cage. “It’s just, I really, really, want to hit again. I’m tired of grounding out weakly to shortstop. I’m not ready for my career to end and to spend the rest of my life selling baseball stuff from some warehouse.”
“What’s the matter with selling baseball stuff?” wondered Joe. “I own two warehouses full of QuickSwings.™”
“I notice you don’t spend a lot of time at them.”
“I’m not sure where they are.”
After a couple of practice swings, Joe looked back at Nick, and seemingly made a decision. “I like you, Nancy”, he said.
“That's Nick, Joe”, replied Nick.
“Nick. I’m going to give you a little advice. There's a force in the universe that makes things happen.” And out of his back pocket, he pulled a headband. “All you have to do is get in touch with it,” he said as he put the headband around his head and... over his eyes? “Stop thinking.” He picked up the bat. “Hear nothing. Feel nothing.” He brought the back bat, cocked, waiting for the pitch. “Just let things happen and be….”
The pitching machine clicked. The ball fired.
The arms swung. The wrists uncoiled. With a holy smack the ball flew straight up the middle.
“That was kind of incredible, Joe!” exclaimed Nick.
“Thank you very little, replied Joe. “Here, you try it.”
“Pardon me?” said Nick.
“You try it,” Said Joe, handing Nick the bat and blindfold. “Just relax. Find your center.”
Nick lined himself up at the plate. Resting the bat on his leg, he put the blindfold over his eyes. “Just picture the pitch. Picture it” quietly coached Joe.
Nick picked up the bat, raising his arms behind his head.
“Turn off all the sound. Just let it happen,” continued Joe. “Be the ball,” he whispered. “Be the ball, Nick.”
The machine clicked. The ball fired – right past Punto with the bat still cocked behind his head.
“You're not being the ball, Nick,” scolded Joe.
“Well, it's difficult with you talking like that,” spat back Nick.
“OK. I'm not talking,” said Joe soothingly. “I’ve stopped talking. I'm not talking now. Be the ball.”
The machine clicked. The ball fired. But this time, the bat connected – and the ball dribbled weakly to the left of the pitching machine.
Punto whipped off the blindfold. “Where did it go?” he asked.
“Right in the warehouse,” sighed Joe. “It's okay. We'll work on it.”
The Twins Geek writes a couple time per week about Minnesota Sports at TwinsGeek.com. And on his deathbed, he’ll receive total consciousness. So he’s got that going for him. Which is nice.