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Pitch

View of the empty baseball diamond

The end is near. That's what my senses told me Sunday at Chavez Ravine. The cool air fluttered the flags to the east. The Santa Ana winds retreated to hibernation. Many of the seats on the west side of the stadium were in the shade. No sizzling sunburns on this day. The zig-zag canopy shading the top deck created a moon-curve shadow on the field below, just a few feet from the pitcher's mound.

The one o'clock game felt more like a late afternoon, early evening game. The top row in Reserve 14, above first base, had a tail wind from the ocean. Clouds form above the shark-tooth ridge of the San Gabriel Mountains. The winds and the clouds remind us that the coming winter rains will wash away the sins of summer. The trees in the hills where the parking lot ends plead for rain. Maybe the houses from 50 years ago left some roots. Maybe the trees think that with some water the neighborhood will return, and the kids will climb their branches.

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With a nearly slow-motion breaking ball Vicente pitches himself into the third slot of the team's playoff roster. Pockets of rhythmic clapping, from tribes large and small in different sections of the stadium, urge on Padilla and his buddies in white uniforms.

What's the metaphor for baseball? It's not the clashing of armies as in football, in which either brute force or passing finesse win the game. Is baseball the stage for the rugged individualist - the batter - struggling it out in the face of innumerable odds and constant failure?

Ronald's pitched himself into a bases loaded mess. The cars stream out past the thirsty trees. We had our summer fun in the sun and during plenty of after-work games. I wrote the date of the Mannyslam on the bobble-head box we were all handed that day. We were entertained. That's the fragile promise made by each ticket.

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