Bottom of the Ninth #69 - The Change-Up

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Bottom of the 9th - Change-Up

Change Up

by Meredith Weide

With a pitcher’s entire arsenal of sinkers and curves and sliders and fast balls and knuckle balls, it seems almost too simple to add change up to the list. All those elaborate presentations of a baseball to a batter, and the one that can tie them into knots is one that simply comes across the plate more slowly than the others. “Put on the brakes, he’ll fly right by,†for all you Top Gun devotees. In a sport where speed is king, and 100 mph fastballs seem to be the ultimate prize, it is a sputtering change-up that throws off the timing and reminds us this is a game of nuance.

I’m being thrown a change up in life right now. My son is headed off to college in a few days. (Pause for inward gasp.) It has been 19 years of sinkers and curves, fast balls and sliders. This has been an at bat for the ages – or at least for my ages, and now, here comes the change-up. The pace of life is about to change and I’m still swinging as hard as I can. These last few days before he moves away have been a mix of joy and despair as we all grapple with the emotions of watching a child do that which you spend all these years as a parent preparing them. Now it’s time to swing away, for all of us. It’s time to let the rhythm of the game and the pitch and the reaction to the situation take its turn. There will be ground outs, and pop flies, and base hits, and the occasional home run all to come. But right now, I’m watching a pitch come at me that looks like a fast ball, and I’m swinging with all my might, only to have it go past me in slow motion.

A change-up pitch requires the pitcher to grasp the ball with more surface area, more fingers, or more deeply into the palm of his hand. All this puts into effect the physics of a pitch and slows the velocity, causes a greater spin, and adds to the unpredictability of the flight of the ball. Does any of this sound like a metaphor? The more change affects me, the tighter I hold on and try to control something that is, by definition, uncontrollable. So granted, the hugs are more lingering lately, and the words are chosen with a protracted tone, but if I’m expected to “pitch†this boy out into the world, then I’m going to do it with all hands and fingers in the process, and I don’t care if he comes curved or fast or floating in the strike zone – he’s coming with purpose, so God help us all!

“But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.†2 Timothy 3:14-15

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