Good To Be Home

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Good To Be Home
On Friday night, I slept in my own bed for the first time in 6 weeks. Terrible experience. I was up half the night because of a pillow that was too firm, then I tried sleeping without a pillow, like I did until I was 10 years old (Jewish kids have a bar mitzvah when they reach manhood, my mom gave me my first pillow). That threw my neck out of whack, so I angered Vanessa by waking her up (a sharp toenail to her right calf did the trick) and stealing her pillow when she went to the bathroom. No good. So I just layed there (or is it laid?) and stared at the dark ceiling. By 3AM, I was exhausted and must've fallen asleep around 3:30 (still AM). I awoke at 11:15 (thoroughly AM) to the sound of men outside cutting down a tree. Lots of men with chainsaws and loud voices. I felt crappy, covered my head with both my lousy hard-as-a-rock pillow and Vanessa's no-good pillow, and pretended the sawing was an air conditioner. After suffocating for about 3 minutes, I got up, sweating like a pig.

It was good to be home.

Alyssa and Grace were already out somewhere and Vanessa had to run some errands, so I was left with 10 minutes on my own before having to get ready for my drive to the ballpark for a 4:15 (that's PM) game. The time broke up like this:

1 minute: Find where the cereal is and choose a variety.
1 minute: Pour the cereal into a bowl, then pour some milk onto the cereal while first making sure both cereal and milk have not past their self-imposed expiration dates.
22 seconds: Rush to get a spoon so I can eat the milk-empowered cereal before it gets soggy.
38 seconds: Pick up the 9 spoons I dropped on the floor, spilled in my haste to begin eating the cereal before it gets soggy.
3 minutes: Eat the rapidly drooping cereal, which is not only losing its solid shape but also its flavor.
39 seconds: Realize I have no beverage.
11 seconds: Wait for a waiter, remember I'm home, then get out of my chair.
1 minute: Find a cup, discard it due to something "crusty" on the inside that's probably just part of the cup but still freaks me out, then refer to our collection of glasses (non-prescription - ha ha!) before...
10 seconds: Heading into the dining room.
1 minute: Find a very expensive wine glass, carefully remove it from the breakfront, then try to secure the breakfront doors shut without toppling the damn piece of useless, but very expensive, furniture.
10 seconds: Head into the kitchen.
50 seconds: Lament the travesty of soggy cereal.

My 10 minutes were up and I arose to get dressed while choking on a bit of nut from my Honey Nut Cheerios breakfast.

I only tripped once while taking the stairs to my bedroom and was able to properly break my fall by landing on my surgically repaired right elbow. Don't worry, the only pain was in the bone, not the UCL. I was a little stiff after that, but soldiered on. I had a game to catch! (Actually, I'd pitch, but you know what I mean.)

I showered and washed my hair, remembering halfway through that I had showered and washed my hair the night before in the locker room (we lost 5 - 1). With lather running down my face, I elected to continue the process I'd begun. What was my other option? Turn off the water at that moment and drive with soap in my eyes? You have to get up pretty early in the morning to get one past me!

By 11:53, I was in my bright yellow Hummer, ready to go. But I couldn't leave. There was a gigantic truck in my driveway, blocking my path. It had a gigantic wood chipper in tow and what looked like half a California Redwood being fed into it by 7 men wearing blue jeans and T-shirts telling me to go screw myself.

In the old days, I would have just driven on the lawn to get to the street. (I do have a Hummer after all. The theory is I can drive anywhere I want.) But we fenced in our property at the end of the winter, so my lawn jockeying would have been for naught. There was nowhere to go but back.

I got out of the Hummer and asked the guys to move the truck. They couldn't hear me because the chipper was loud and I didn't yell. They had earplugs on too. I think they knew what I wanted, because one of the guys lifted a finger with the international "One more minute" sign. After 15, they moved their truck.

Now I was late.

I rushed through town to get to route 24, which would take me to 78 and then the NJ Turnpike. Traffic. Everywhere. As far as the eye could see.

But I'm flexible. I took shortcuts, did an end-around. I even back-tracked a bit.

I hit more traffic. I looked as far as my eye could see. More traffic. Everywhere.

I swore quite a bit and switched on the radio. At 8 minutes after the hour, I heard cause for all of the traffic: Lots of cars on the road.

Needless to say, it took me three hours to drive what normally takes 55 minutes. I arrived at the stadium just about an hour before game time.

Rick: Where the hell have you been?

Rick Churches, my manager, and I haven't gotten along as famously as we'd both probably like.

Me: My car.
Rick: Why weren't you here?
Me: Traffic.
Rick: You shouldn't live so far away.
Me: That statement took me 14 years to figure out.

He's a busy man before games. He left me alone to get changed and tell 9 different reporters I wasn't speaking to them. I had to tell Ted Feldman, our PR guy, that I wouldn't go on TV for a quick interview with FOX (we were the regional game of the week). I had to tell Ted that three times, actually, because he asked me three times. Sorry, I said as he began his fourth plea. Tell them to read my blog.

Long story short, we won the game. I pitched a 1-2-3-4-5 9th, giving up 2 hits but no runs and notching my first save ever. EVER. This is my 20th season and just now I got my first save. The fans cheered wildly, which was nice. I've always gotten along well with the fans. We're good at co-existing.

After the game, I ignored the media and showered for the 3rd time in less than 24 hours. If anything, I had a clean day.

Driving home was smooth sailing. I listened to callers complain about how our team stinks and I'm "finished" and "done" and not "the answer" to our underachieving ways. I hate the fans sometimes. It helps balance out our co-existence.

By 10 PM, I was back in bed, back where this story started, staring at the black ceiling with my head resting on a rock hard pillow. I took a deep breath and closed my eyes. Screw it. At least it was my pillow. At least we won the game. Maybe tomorrow I'd ask Vanessa why my favorite tree had been cut down today. Or not. I'd have to see if she'd make my breakfast first.
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