Getting Older a Few MPH Every Day

By |  June 5, 2006

What better way to celebrate my friend’s 39th birthday Sunday night than to head to the ballpark.

And what better way to fritter away what turned out to be a 14-2 Indians loss than to head to the speed-pitch machine that’s just a soft-toss from our season tickets in Section 113 of Jacobs Field.

Once upon a time, the Juggs Gun was my ally. Blessed with a decent arm that earned me the childhood nickname “Rifle Fife” (after Barney Fife, God rest his silver bullet and soul), I’d regularly hit 69 mph. And once — at the “Taste of Cleveland” festival about eight years ago — I jacked it up to 75. (I was immediately accused of steroid use, although I tested postive only for pierogies.)

The idea to relive our youth — I’m 42 now — was my buddy’s. And he hit a personal-best 69 mph a few times while hurling four rounds of three balls. Happy Birthday, Bobby Feller Jr.!

As for me, I lasted one round. My warmup toss registered 58. Entirely confident that I was loose as could be after that one lob — the first time I’ve touched a baseball or softball in about three years — I let ‘er rip on my second throw. Sadly, the digital board registered a 66. My third and final throw wasn’t even that good, and I left the park falling back on the fact that I hadn’t blown up my rotator cuff.

I can run a marathon two weeks earlier. And lay 3,400 square feet of sod the previous Tuesday. But I apparently should hang up any aspirations of starring in the Disney sequel to “The Rookie.”

Then again, C.C. Sabathia didn’t fare much better Sunday night.

— Thomas Skernivitz, Managing Editor

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