I'm doing something a bit different today; it seems appropriate timing what with the playoffs going on in baseball at the moment. The following is something I wrote up this week, and it's fairly rough at the moment. I don't know if I'll end up taking it anywhere or it just stays as it is. I've thought of doing the occasional one-off sort of book in between my usual spy thrillers from time to time, and I had an idea for a book featuring two major league players that hate each other, and the rather fetching younger sister of one of the two. To write that, however, I'd have to really immerse myself in the terminology of the game. Anyway, let me know what you think!
McKinnon couldn’t help but smirk, seeing who was next up to bat, after back to back strikeouts in the third inning. Castillo looked as mad as he usually did, picking up a bat, coming out of the visitor’s bench, glaring his way, as if ready to take his head off. The guy was arrogant, loudmouthed, just nasty by nature, at least when it came to the game. Not one of his favourite players; it was safe to say that he and Castillo hated each other. Jack looked towards the umpire and catcher at home plate. Alex was crouched low, waiting, a grin just visible beneath the catcher’s mask. Time to annoy Emilio, Alex, Jack thought, nodding to his catcher and friend. Start with a curve? Fastball?
Castillo walked out towards the plate, swinging the bat for the first time that day, working out the kinks in his shoulders, maintaining that same hostile glare at Jack. They had a lot of history, none of it good. Castillo had signed with the Yankees as a fresh player two years before Jack had entered the game to play for the Twins ever since. There were always a number of times the two teams played each other in the six seasons since, and though Jack wasn’t always pitching those games, whenever he did, whenever Castillo came up to bat, tempers flared.
It was largely one sided. Jack had no use for the man, but he put his animosity to better use, playing head games at the pitcher’s mound, throwing him off his game, often with a smirk or a taunt, whatever it took. It didn’t take much to set off Castillo’s temper, and there were times Castillo would rush out from home plate after striking out, and a fight would start. Mostly the fights never resolved anything, because both benches would clear out, and the teams would end up in a brawl. It was a habit Castillo had with other pitchers, of course. I can’t believe I feel sorry for the rest of his team. I mean, they’re Yankees. We’re not supposed to feel sorry for them, but putting up with that guy is a punishment in and of itself. Jack found it amusing to be able to set Castillo off; just the glare was enough to know that he was already off his game.
Castillo took his place at the plate, sneering at Alex, muttering something Jack didn’t hear. Alex simply gave him the finger with his free hand, and the umpire seemed to ignore that. The ump probably thinks Castillo is as much of a jackass as everyone else does, he thought to himself, taking a deep breath, feeling the ball in his left hand. He shut out the sound of the crowd, focused on home plate, on Alex’s waiting glove. Let’s play ball, he thought, and made the pitch.
The ball soared through the air, and Castillo started to swing... and missed. The crowd broke out into a cheer. Alex caught it in his glove, and the umpire called it a strike. That obviously didn’t please Castillo, who proceeded to start yelling at the umpire. Alex tossed the ball back to Jack, who rolled his eyes, shaking his head. Not having a good day, are you, Emilio? Finally, Castillo seemed to back down, waiting for the next pitch. Jack gave it to him, throwing a curveball that passed right by the swinging bat and into the catcher’s glove.
Castillo looked disgusted as the ump called it strike two. He glared across at Jack, who simply shook his head, catching the ball as Alex tossed it. Let’s make it strike three, shall we? He waited on Castillo, who settled at last at home plate, getting into position to make the hit... and Jack smirked at him, in a way to suggest he knew something Castillo didn’t, just the sort of thing of screwing with his head…. Again, Jack told himself, and threw a fastball. The ball passed closer than Castillo would have expected, but he swung at it anyway, and sure enough, Alex caught it.
“Strike three!” the umpire yelled.
Castillo’s disgusted expression just intensified. He glared at Jack for a long moment, then started back towards the rest of his team mates. Jack watched him go, smiled in an amused way, and Castillo stopped, looked back at him. There was a hard look in his eyes, like an angry bull ready to charge. He’s about to blow up, Jack told himself. And sure enough, Castillo threw down his bat and helmet, charging the pitching mound. McKinnon readied himself, and by the time Castillo reached him and started throwing punches, Jack was already throwing his own, the two men brawling. The team benches of the Yankees and Twins emptied out, rushing into the melee, and Jack kept exchanging hits with Castillo, who looked ready to kill him.
Annoying Emilio Castillo was indeed one of life’s great amusements.