Bill RussellJanuary 20, 2009
The tough way: Get on the field. Assume the proper crapping-in-the-woods crouch. Grimace a little if you want to, like Dirty Harry. Say in your mind: Hit it to me. If the ball takes a bad hop and thumps your chest or clips your jaw or drills you in the stones, pick it up and make the play. Spit and punch your glove. Extra points for spitting a tooth. Later, at night, sleep deeply.
My way: Imagine, before even taking the field, all the bad hops a ball could make. Take the field tentatively. Pray the ball is hit to someone else. Later, at night, stare at the ceiling, wide awake and cringing with regret.
Of course I am speaking metaphorically, since I haven’t been called on to field an actual grounder for decades. What have I been doing instead? Nothing much. Some writing. That’s the supposed focus of each day and has been for a long time, but in fact most days I fail to take the correct stance, the stance that will put me in the path of whatever is hit my way, one way or another, even if it causes me pain. Instead I move out of the path of the ball and stab at it. If it gets by me, well, whatever, there’s always tomorrow.