3WW Efficient Optimize Treacherous

Thank you for coming back to this post if you visited earlier. I certainly appreciate the feedback, and patience!

Three Word Wednesday is a weekly exercise where three words are suggested to use in a writing piece. This week’s words are EFFICIENT, OPTIMIZE and TREACHEROUS.

He never really understood the game of baseball. It’s not that he didn’t like it, he just couldn’t understand the passion it held for some. With only ten kids showing up for today’s game and one now injured, he was forced to bat for the first time.

At fifteen, Evan was the only kid on his team who had never played before, a fact he kept to himself. His mother, widowed when he was four, was equal parts too busy, too broke, and too protective to ever let him play. Secretly he was ok with that, feigning disappointment as a means of getting some other guilt-induced treat from her, even if it was only a little extra of her attention, which is all he really craved.

Now remarried to his step-dad Steve, Evan had signed up for a team Steve had volunteered to coach. It was a smart idea, they were new to town, and Evan could start a new life. As Steve liked to say, “optimize your opportunity.” Steve coming along had been a good thing, mostly. Any attention lost from his mother was made up with the intangible “normal” he now felt. Now he could just be Evan, not the kid whose dad had been killed in Iraq.

Evan’s step-dad sensed his embarrassment about never playing before and took extra time with him to improve his new skills. Their first night in town Steve took him to a major league game downtown. Tapping him on the shoulder, Steve broke Evan’s gaze from the chaotic dancing bugs in the field’s lights above him.

“See Evan? See how the outfielders keep their movements efficient? Catch-Step-Throw. No bobbling, no looking at the ball. Optimize your opportunity and take all that energy to get your ball to go the distance.” Steve had tucked Evan into center field occasionally when the games weren’t close, and the left and right fielders were mostly kind when they ran past him to make the catches.

Now he was on deck, slinging his bat from side to side, hoping he managed to look like he knew what he was doing. Down by one, bases loaded, two outs in the bottom of the last inning. He felt like he was going to throw up. He looked over at his step-dad on the third base line, and noticed Steve looked like he wanted to puke too.

He approached the batter’s box, wriggled his feet into the divots, held his right hand back to the umpire as a time-out. This small technique was one of many he picked up quickly. Things like calling time. No sliding into first base. Don’t throw your bat. This was the language of baseball, and knowing these few basic rules gave him credibility among his peers and protected him from ridicule.

Evan took a deep breath, watched the pitcher set, wind up, pitch.

Ball one.

He backed out of the batter’s box (another of those basic rules) and looked down the third base line at Steve.

Steve nodded and clapped. “Be a hitter now!”

Evan stepped back into the box, secured each foot into the rusty dirt, like doing the twist. The pitch.


Foul ball. But he DID make contact. Behind him his mother reacted with a loud whoop and thunderous feet on the metal bleachers as if he had hit a home run. He passed her a sheepish smile through the chain link.

He repeated the steps, backed out of the box, watched Steve’s hands speak in that pseudo-sign language of baseball that still baffled him. Steve touched his cap, brushed his sleeve, tap, tap, tap, fingers to cap, to chin, to cap, to elbow. Bunt? Steve clapped twice, pointed his index fingers like pistols at Evan, mouthing, “all YOU!”

The pitch came at him with treacherous speed, and he felt every muscle tighten, his arms shot out, his hips thrust forward toward the ball, and he was no longer in control of his own body.

It was the most beautiful swing anyone had ever seen.

The sudden pain directly above his belly button shocked him back into his body and dropped him like the proverbial sack of potatoes as he watched the ball roll back toward the pitcher’s mound.

Strike two.

As he regained his wind, he felt Steve’s hand on his back and heard someone explain to his mother that because he swung, getting hit doesn’t give him the base. Just a big bruise on his solar plexes and a bigger bruise on his ego. After nodding that he was ok and spitting out some of the dust he inhaled, he dug his feet inside the batters box, feeling like he was facing the firing squad and about to faint..

The God’s honest truth, though he would never admit it, was that he squeezed his eyes shut and stood stiff for the next pitch, and prayed to hear the umpire’s booming “STRIKE THREE” call.

Ball two.

Like a dead man walking, again he backed out of the box, legs like lead, and mustered a brave expression for Steve. His step-dad’s hands were glued to his hips, his face a mix of worry and nausea.

Left foot dug in. Right foot. Exhale. Indian burn the grip of the bat. The wind-up. This time he kept his eyes open, and for an instant all time slowed. He watched the seams of the ball, followed them like the tracks for a train, leading right to his frozen frame. This time the pain shot into his left hip and spun him around toward the backstop.

With absolute relief he heard the umpire say, “take your base, son”. Never were four words so beautiful to his ears.

The tying run crossed home plate, and the lead-off batter confidently strode to the batter’s box. Opportunity optimized.

As he held his foot on first base and resisted the urge to rub his hip, he smiled broadly as his step-dad pumped his fist and his mother squealed and high-fived her new neighbors.

Baseball was really such a strange game.

Before, she wrote:

My journal entires recently have been about how exhausting waiting is, and about how exhausting writing about how exhausting waiting is. Thank you to everyone and anyone who read the last two 3WW posts and offered words of encouragement, positive thoughts and prayers. They helped enormously.

Just a quick update as I feel obligated to put some sort of closure here, and leave the cliffhangers to the television shows. I have hyperplasia cells, which can turn into cancer cells. I will have these removed and analyzed in another biopsy next month. If the edges of the tissue they take are clean, they conclude they have all the suspect cells and away I go. If not, then they’ll have to go in and take more.

I just wish this happened in my butt tissue where I have more tissue to spare.

I’m not dying. I’ve been so engrossed in this subject the last two weeks at this point I’m like, TAKE them. TAKE this set that may try to kill me and give me a new one. A new set that defies gravity while you’re at it. I don’t want to get snotty or disrespectful, so I have to stop writing about this for a while, because all that comes out is crap like that.

Anyway, it was hard to shift gears and get ANYTHING out for this week’s 3WW. Most likely because I had to address this outstanding issue.

Again, thank you for all the love and support I felt coming my way. It has changed me for the better.

So here is my feeble attempt….

To emerge victorious
from the treacherous batter’s box
bat movement must be efficient
to optimize ball distance.

AAAGHH!!! It’s LIFELESS!!! So before I rant on here in front of my adoring public (HA!) I sign off…



  1. ThomG said,

    May 22, 2009 at 8:01 am

    Not lifeless, but a little cold. With all you’ve got going on, I think this fits.

    (And thanks for the update.)

  2. pia said,

    May 22, 2009 at 8:37 am

    It shows what you’re going through. Don’t apologize. I wouldn’t be able to do anything but talk about it–and blogs are perfect for getting it all out–I didn’t participate in the prior several weeks 3WW as I was traveling then sick

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