“What a piece of work is man,” quoth the Bard. “How noble in reason, how infinite in faculty, In form and moving how express and admirable, In action how like an Angel, In apprehension how like a god…”
This is all well and good, but sometimes our noble aspirations fall to earth, quashed by limitations in the physical world. And so I present to you, dear reader, that great humbler of ballists, that muscle which at moments inopportune reduces a Mercury of the base paths to a mere gimp on appendages of balking meat. Yes, I speak of the curse of the hamstring.
As they prepared to swing the lumber in the home side of the seventh frame last Sunday, on a sunny day in General Jackson’s back pasture at The Hermitage, the Cumberlanders trailed the visiting Quicksteps by a count of 8-4. And yet momentum seemed ready to turn as Slick of came to the dish and shot a hempen line o’er the outstretched limbs of the Spring Hill short-stop to lead off the inning.
But here the Cumberlanders valiant hopes began to reveal themselves as cruelly tethered to the base earth. ‘Twas the HAMSTRING of Slick that jerked the chain back, as Slick could barely hop-limp down the baseline, like a lupine snared in a leg trap. Slick made first, and Cumberlander hearts were gladdened, and yet to encircle the diamond to return home seemed as vain a quest as rounding the globe in a rowboat.
“A runner!” pleaded the faithful partisans, their hopes tied round the metaphorical feet of birds released toward the heavens of mercy and fair-play.
But the Cumberlanders, alas, had only brought nine to the field, and so had no substitute.
“Nonesuch shall ye receive,” announced the heartless arbiter, or so it sounded to this recorder.
“Can we not allow another to run, as a courtesy?” asked Captain Pepper.
“Not unless the man replaced leaves the game.”
Alas, the arbiter was following the letter of the ballist law, and so poor Slick had to contend with his agony, lest the team fall under the shadow of forfeit. Two batters later, Jip’s liner to the outfield was reduced from hit to force-out, as the ball was returned to cancel Slick before he could reach the second sack.
In the eighth inning, the Cumberlanders made their opponents step quickly to the bench on the top and then plated three in the bottom half in reply, in one of the sky-blue’s best innings of the season to date. With one out, Pepper doubled and then the powerful slugger Jip did the same, bringing the score to 8-5. On the day, Pepper and Jip, in the second and third notches, were the C-landers twin hitting stars, each tallying four hits in six. But now Jip waited on the middle sack as a second man went dead. But then, lightning! Catfish and Professor each struck decisively, and after the wearying Quicksteppers threw the ball recklessly, Catfish had plated, and Professor stood at third, the score now 8-7.
But woe was the song of this afternoon for the Cumbermen, as the hammy had not concluded its dreaded work. The injured Slick, hardly able to stand, was the second of two speedy exits in the bottom of the 9th. Rip and Pepper did their best to push the needed run across, with two-out safeties, but sadly the uprising ended there.
Eight to seven, again! For by this same score had the Cumberlanders also succumbed to the Scouts in their last contended match. And these final numerals laughed from the scorers board at the men in sky blue, as their hopes were grounded again, slapped down by a ham.
The Cumberland club hopes to field enough men, wake up the bats, and remain healthy against the Travelers, at The Hermitage, May 20.