Winner's End

Eric ThomasonCorrespondent ISeptember 30, 2008

Winner's End: A Backyard Game

A short essay on tearing my shoulder.

A cool summer breeze gently blows at my backside as I walk back toward the pitcher's mound. The pain begins to shot from my elbow all the way to my shoulder now. To my right sits an old trampoline, torn and weathered from years of mistreatment.

I stop for a moment to reflect on all the one-handed game winning touchdowns I've caught as a child. You see I'm a six-time Superbowl champion in my own backyard.

I glance forward.

The adrenaline from the shock has completely consumed the pain now. 60 feet, six inches away my cousin squats just beyond the sidewalk leading to the pool, but I'm too focused on the faded black mitt to notice his existence. It's a full count in the bottom of the ninth and I can't feel my index and middle fingers pressed against the red stitching.

I take one last glance toward Derek Jeter, the game tying run at  third base, knowing that the bushes outside my parents window is as close to home plate as he's going to get.

The stretch, the wind-up, the pitch all seem to be in slow motion. I've thrown a million sliders in my life, but none cut harder or faster than this one.

Or so I've heard.

As I fell to my knees grasping my arm in pain, all I could think about is if we had one the game. It's the kind of moment every athlete fears: the realization that you are indeed human.

"I'm done."

"I'm done."