The stadium is great. It's small, and it has a nice, low-key, lighten-up-this-is-only-spring-training feel. For example, a shopping cart was on the field, right near the visiting batters' on-deck circle, for the whole game. Maybe some kind of proposed rule change incorporating the cart into regular-season games was in the works. That would be fine with me. It would give the TV guys something new to talk about.
Vin Scully: "That Scioscia plays the ball off the shopping cart about as well as anybody in this league."
Joe Garagiola: "I'll tell you what, he sure does."
Robby and I watched the players warm up. He was mostly interested in the pitchers. I had told him that the fastest anybody had ever thrown a baseball was 100 mph, and he was hoping to see the record broken. That was the whole point of pitching, as far as he was concerned. After every pitch he would say, "How fast was that?" I, of course, would make up an answer.
That is the essential skill of parenting—making up answers. When an experienced father is driving down the road and his kid asks him how much a certain building weighs, he doesn't hesitate for a second. "Three thousand, four hundred fifty-seven tons," he says.
It's the same with pitching. "Eighty-three miles per hour," I would say.
"It looked faster," Robby would say, hoping for a world record.
"Nah," I'd say. "Eighty-three."
After a while Walt arrived and the game began. Walt got seriously into it, but Robby and I continued to focus on the pitching because it was the only part of the game in which we knew for sure where the ball was. When a player hit the ball, everybody in the stadium would stare intently in a specific direction, except for Robby and me. We would both sit and think: Huh? Seeing the ball has always been a problem for me, and not just in baseball. I have never seen a golf ball in motion. I have long contended that a ball is not actually used in televised professional golf, that the sport is just an elaborate prank on the viewers.
But Robby and I enjoyed the pitching and the sunshine and listening to the sounds of baseball—the ball thudding into the glove, the fans complaining about the lines at the concession stands, Walt's beeper going off. Here's something you may have noticed: Guys will go to the trouble of carrying a beeper, but when it beeps they don't do anything about it. They just reach down and make it stop. This is especially true of guys at a baseball game. "Hmmm," Walt said, turning off his beeper. "Could be a seriously depressed person who couldn't get tickets for today's game."