The crowd howls. The entire stadium resonates with their elation, and I wish they’d shut up. The noise vibrates my guts like a guitar string and sets my teeth on edge. After 121 pitches and 26 consecutive outs, I don’t need any additional distractions.
Chavez flashes the sign—change-up, low and away. I nod, grip the ball, and come set. For an instant the stadium falls silent, and I feel the air gust toward the seats as the fans stop screaming and collectively draw a huge anticipatory breath.
…and totally muck the pitch trying to sell it as a fastball. It winds up a monumental loser instead, slowly drooling toward the middle of the plate, belt high, and I know Jeffries is going to destroy it. He swings, and I start walking for the dugout as soon as I hear the crack of the bat. I don’t even bother turning around to watch. It’s fucking gone.
Jeffries is too amazed to run. He simply stands in the box, gawping like a dirt farmer who just handed P. T. Barnum his last dime for a glimpse of the Fiji Mermaid, and watches as my perfect game leaves the stadium.