It was a beautiful day in Tampa, Florida on Friday. The sun shone brightly upon the lads in red and black shirts, as the Philadelphia Phillies engaged the New York Yankees in a spirited, if fake, game of baseball.
It was one of many fake games the two teams have played against each other this spring, so perhaps it is understandable that, with just more than week left in spring training, players’ attentions have begun to wander.
Golly those nachos look good! Will I be able to get in a quick 9 holes in tomorrow morning? Is that a pretty birdie in the sky?
So it’s not surprising that, as another three-hour exhibition contest rolled along Friday, things got a little weird in the bottom of the 5th inning.
Aaron Hicks just didn’t have it in him to slide all the way to first base this time. Maybe next time, but not this time. And as he laid there for what must have felt like hours, just waiting for first baseman Tommy Joseph to fix a tag upon his back, he felt nothing.
No tag. No swipe. Not so much as a love tap.
Joseph, you see, just wanted to play some catch with starter Jeremy Hellickson. I like to think they spend their free time doing this, out in the parking lot or at the hotel, just pitcher and catcher, gently tossing a ball back and forth, talking about their families, their dreams, and their deepest and darkest secrets.
But this time, there was actual baseball afoot. A tag needed to be made. As if startled by a loud bang!, Joseph realized that in order to record the baserunner out, he must place his giant mitt upon the man lying beneath him, still two feet away from the Sisyphusian white base.
By the time Joseph’s body reacted to Hicks’ belly flop, it was too late. Like a jackrabbit, Hicks gleefully accepted his undeserved stroke of luck, scrambled to his knees and scurried back to the bag like a frightened squirrel, nanoseconds before Joseph’s left hand landed on Mr. Hicks now-redeemed backside.
Happily for the Phillies, Hicks did not come around the score in the Phils’ 3-2, walk-off loss to the Bombers. Joseph’s mental siesta did no damage, other than electronically, where the highlight above is sure to be gawked and gazed at by baseball fans on the computer and the various baseball highlights shows around the country.
It was a reminder that... the mind can wander in the spring.