Forget for a moment the irony in The Human Rain Delay having his effectiveness drained by The Actual Rain Delay. Seeing Trachsel look so good before the two and one-half hour rain delay and so ordinary afterwards made me wistful for a time where the path of my life was altered forever.
The year was 1987...and I was taking what would be the final shot at my dream of being a major leaguer by trying out for the Newtown High School baseball team as a senior walk-on. It was a Friday afternoon and there was a fair mist in the air which probably drove a good number of prospects away. But there I was, ready to give it a try. Before the baseball coach arrived (he was late), I got to throw to a guy who was a catcher for a college team. I broke out what I would have made my bread and butter: the split fingered fastball...threw about three or four that were reminiscent of the best features of Mike Scott and Jack Morris. The catcher then came to me, and this was roughly the conversation:
"What are you throwing?"Think of it...a college catcher telling me I had a wicked pitch! Where's the damn coach already so I can start my ascent to the majors?
"You throw that during the tryout, you're on the team, dude!"
Finally, the coach shows up and makes the announcement that since it was raining and more people didn't show up, the tryouts were postponed until the following Monday. A two and a half day rain delay.
Now far be it from me to challenge the wisdom of the decision to wait for a bunch of kids who were so dedicated to playing baseball that they passed on the actual tryout day because of a little rain. But my stuff was electric. Would I have it on Monday?
So Monday comes...there's about three times the hopefuls at Newtown Field...and as a result, everyone got three pitches to show the head coach that they belonged on the team. Again, far be it from me to question the wisdom of the coach, but even Isiah Thomas is getting a whole year! Three pitches? And where was that catcher to throw me a good word? Oh, and did I mention we were required to pitch from the stretch?
The catcher had to jump to haul in my first offering.
The rest of the month was a blur.
I think about it every so often. What if it hadn't rained? What if the coach stuck to the original plan and had the tryouts on Friday? I could have made the team. I could have gotten a college scholarship to Wichita State, played with such luminaries as Pat Meares and Casey Blake, and had Doug Mirabelli as my battery mate. I could have gotten drafted, ridden around the country in uncomfortable buses, traded three or four times, and made the majors as a rule V pickup.
I could have had Tommy John surgery!
I could have been traded for Scott Kazmir!
I could have gotten booed in Shea Stadium!
No, I didn't get to experience all of that, because what happened to Steve Trachsel tonight happened to me 19 years ago. We lost our stuff to a weather pattern.
P.S. The site of the failed audition, Newtown Field, has since been converted into a really nice soccer field, and has played host to a solid high school soccer program. I get weepy when I think that it could have been made into a nice baseball field with an exploding scoreboard on the facade of the Queens Center mall if I had made the majors and paid for all the renovations...of course after renaming the field after myself. But not all was lost, as a mere six months after my tryout, I realized my dream of being booed in Shea Stadium...twice in the same game! But it was as a fan, and not as a player. You take what you can get in this life.