It’s a thankless job, but one of utmost importance. It’s the ditch digging dirty work and foundation on which someone else will build a career. There’s no flash. No entrance music. No glory. I’m simply handed the ball for a brief moment of time, expected to grind it out, get through a few jams, and head back into the dugout to watch some other asshole jog out of the bullpen to some ‘80s jock jam and close it out to a thunderous applause.
Who am I? I’m the 8th inning guy. The setup man. The Arthur Rhodes and Hideki Okajimas of the romance world. I’m the guy the girl dates before settling down with “the one,” and I’m starting to embrace my vital role — bouncing from clubhouse to clubhouse.
This realization only recently hit me. For whatever reason, all the lovely ladies I’ve dated over the last few years are now in serious relationships with the dude that got the call to take the hill from the skipper immediately after our time together. Meanwhile, I’m rewarded with essentially just a pat on the ass, a seat on the pine, and a “good game” for my efforts.
I’m the chips and salsa before the attention hungry, “look at me” fajita entrée. I’m the jam packed fifteen second teaser trailer of everything worth seeing of the full length blockbuster film. The vigorous old fashioned, yet enjoyable, change of pace handjob of boyfriends.
I guess I just don’t have closer “stuff.” Sure, I’m hitting like mid-to-low 90s on the radar gun, picking the corners off the plate, and pitching smart, but I’m not blowing away the competition with triple digit heaters. My game is more deception than sizzle. More ground ball outs than strikeouts. Undervalued by the common eye but always over-delivering according to sabermetrics.
I’ll consistently work out any bases full, no-out pickle previous guys left for me to clean up unscathed. Need a double play ball on all of her emotional baggage? No problem. I’ll endure all of her craziness, leave her insecure ways stranded in scoring position, teach her a thing or two on the diamond and give the next guy up a clean slate and optimal opportunity to pickup the save against the bottom of the order.
But that closing swagger for myself? That eccentric mojo of locking down the final outs to secure a W for the team? I still haven’t found it. In fact, I never even demand the ball. When she wants to pull me from the game, I shake my head in agreement, tip my hat, and move on.
Yes, it’s low risk, low reward, and I’ll never win a Cy Young. In fact, it’s very unlikely I’ll even make her All-Star roster, but I’m a key component to World Series team after World Series team. No one’s rocking rings if I don’t hold it down in the 8th. It’s my comfort zone, my wheelhouse, my calling. I’m not Mr. Right or the franchise, but I’m Mr. Right Now and a stopgap solution to fixing your bullpen. I have no shame making that my niche: leaving the girl in a better position when I trot back to the dugout than when my number was originally called. So ladies, if you want to reach the promise land, ride this selfless workhorse until the bottom of the 9th..
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