Catch

Today, after almost 2 months of shut down and rehab, I was allowed to throw again. My arm felt amazing and that was glorious. This feeling could have been enough on its own - but that's not what made this day great. For the first time in almost two months, I played catch. That is what made today special for me. For those of you who don't get it - I will try to explain why simply throwing a ball to another person is such an amazing feeling.

I slide my feet into my spikes, I put them into my bag first and a years worth of dry fits and undershirts have caved them in a little bit. Still, they seem to remember my feet, but I don't lace them up yet, its more comfortable to leave them undone until I get outside. I stand in front of my locker, I'm wearing dry fit and shorts with ankle socks and my spikes. A feeling of energized calm takes over me as I put on my hat. It's the Indians spring training hat, blue crown with the red bill and a capital C in red on the front. Wearing this hat reminds me that while I played for the Captains during the year - my employer is still the Cleveland Indians; and in this instant, the big leagues seems close. I open the top part of my locker, and in the left compartment, all by itself so as not to be disturbed, is my glove.

Black leather with grey stitching, my name inscribed in cursive lettering on the thumb. My hand slides gently inside of it, and my finger tips rest in the shallow indentations they have carved out over a 142 game season. With my throwing hand, I take the pinky finger of the glove and bend it in toward the web, then arch the thumb away from it - creating a deep, but small, pocket. My hand feels around the glove, the tightness of the leather gives my fingers structure while they rest by my side. I tug at the bill of my hat with my right hand. Pulling it back and forth across my forehead 'till it feels right.

I step out of the clubhouse and the normally blinding Arizona sun shielded by the hat. My eyes still constrict in an adjustment to the harsh sunlight, and I move easily to a bench at the end of the walk way. My metal cleats make a sound like tires on gravel as I walk. The sound, while harsh to others, reminds me of high school when we had to walk from the field to the cages over concrete. It's a calming sound - and it means baseball is near by. Starting from the bottom lace, I tie up my cleats. This is a science - I don't want one too loose or not tighter than the other. They have to support me, be comfortable and not come undone all at the same time; I have enough things to worry about, I don't need my gear to be one of them.

The trainer I'm going to be playing catch with tosses me two balls, its my choice which one I want to throw with. Moving one into my glove I inspect the first: it's cleaner than the other, the white is brilliant in the harsh light and there is a stark contrast between the blue print and the leather. But the seems are high and tough - I drop it behind me. I siphon the other ball from glove to hand sightlessly as I walk into my throwing motion.

My right leg takes a half step forward and lands open, toe pointing away from my chest. My left leg smoothly glides forward as my left arm begins to lift from my waist straight up my side to above my head, while my right hand (with the ball) mimics the left in reverse. It's a motion I've done maybe a million times, and it's calming, like a kind of meditation. My left leg touches down, and I hear the faint snap of grass as my spikes cut through the blades. The toe is slightly closed, and while my left arm starts to come down, my right arm starts to bring the ball into the throwing slot. In my head, I imagine a runner taking his pose before the gun or when I'm feeling extra good about my stuff - the quiet before the storm. My right leg is pushing and turning slowly, yet powerfully - gaining energy as it pushes back into the ground. My left arm tucks into the armpit and for a split second everything moves with lightning speed.

My right arm shoots forward. While my hand is gently holding the ball, my elbow and shoulder rifle it through the slot. My back arches against my hips, and my right foot is now turned completely so only the toe is on the ground - the energy gained from pushing is now being transferred up my leg, through my back and into my arm for a fraction of a second when the whip mechanism is going to snap and release the ball. The actual release takes place instantaneously, too fast for a eye but just slow enough for a Cannon camera with a long white lens.

As soon as it's gone, the body finishes the motion on its own - my eyes glued to the ball with a kind of attention normally reserved for overbearing mothers. My chest changes angle, and now instead of being pointed to the sky, it arcs back toward my left quad. My right leg leaves the ground, only and touches down in line with my front foot. My left knee turns against my planted leg, veering off at at a 45 degree angle from my shin and foot. I can feel the spikes tense, my knee moving so severely in another direction makes my foot want to pull, but the metal keeps it firmly planted in the ground. Once my right foot touches down, I regroup.

That throw is over. It took about 2 seconds to complete the whole action, and during that time my mind was silent. I had no fears, no anxiety, no thoughts of any kind besides running through a mechanic I had been doing since I was 5 years old.

Throwing, for me, is a religious experience. While that ball is in the air, nothing else exists and my entire world is filled with a kind of calm that I haven't experienced in any other forum. It's the one things that I've ever had interest in dedicating my life too. And the only thing (besides my family) that I can come back to and feel the same way about time and time again. Baseball gives a never-ending supply of happiness to me, and in return I have been blessed with the ability to give back to it in the form of time and dedication.