I was at the neighborhood watering hole, enjoying some cocktails with my lovely bride and my buddy Mike when this happened.
At first, the collective reaction from the bar was one of incredulity. Did that really happen? This was followed by a vicarious groan, rising from the groin to the throat, by every male in the bar.
For those who missed it (and NESN was not about to replay it on their “family-friendly” broadcast), cancer survivor Jordan Leandre, a 17 year-old Cape Cod-native, was introduced to throw out the first ceremonial pitch against the Cardinals on Wednesday night. Leandre was familiar to many fans as the seven year-old boy who survived Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare bone cancer, sang the National Anthem then rounded the bases as a testament to the work of The Jimmy Fund in 2007.
Grown now and healthy, Leandre went into the wind-up and threw a pitch “just a bit outside,” hitting a cameraman square in the dick.
After some bouts of laughter that revealed Mike and me for what are—sophomoric 40-somethings who still deal in slapstick dick-jokes—my wife, failing to see the humor, turned to me. “Let me guess,” she said, “you’re going to write about this.”
Yes, my love. Indeed, I am.
At first, I didn’t know how I could get more than 100 words about a baseball knocking someone in the nuts. But then, after Mookie Betts dramatic walk-off double, it occurred to me that the pitch was symbolic.
I’m now going to shift, briefly, into English teacher-mode. Whether it be a white whale, a green light or yellow wallpaper, symbols are—in and of themselves—meaningless unless assigned meaning. Ernest Hemingway once coyly stated, regarding his classic An Old Man and the Sea, that sometimes “a fish is just a fish.”
To me (back in writer-mode), Leandre’s dart to the gonads accurately symbolizes the 2017 season. Here we are, in August, with the Red Sox riding the best record in baseball since the trading deadline, with another chance to curb-stomp the Yankees this weekend, and suddenly I’ve taken a fastball to the boys.
Like a shot to the jewels, this team, particularly the configuration currently playing without resident a-holes David Price and Dustin Pedroia, has woken me from a summer somnolence. It was then no surprise that Mookie walked off the Sox, the ninth time this season. They now have our attention.
If anything becomes of this season, Leandre’s nut-knock—much like Veritek’s feeding A-Rod a dinner of catcher’s mitt in 2004—will demarcate a shift, a poetic turn, a symbol for the season.
And it was also funny as hell.