It was a new season, guaranteed to be better than the last. I was still reeling over losing our chance at the World Series. One fucking game — just one fucking game — and we could have had our chance at being champs. I knew some of the guys choked, never having been so close before, but I was used to winning, and after being in the series four times without clinching the victory, I was ready and thought the Beasts were my ticket.
Coach had given me hell, trying to throw blame on me for losing. Seriously, me? I was the best player on the team. Hell, nearly the best in the entire league with a batting average of .348 and more putouts than anyone else on the field last season.
So how the fuck was that lose mine?
The coach had called me late the night before and asked me to come in early, to talk. Yeah, fucking right! I was late, almost by an hour from the time he wanted me here, but still a few minutes early for practice.
Coach Griffin’s face was bright red, and sweat was beginning to bead up on his forehead as he leaned over his desk to spew his anger onto me. It had been awhile since I was called into his office, so I guess he’d been waiting awhile to unload onto me. I tried to listen, I truly did, but watching his dark skin turn nearly purple was distracting, and the spit that sprayed from his lips wasn’t helping me to focus.
“I get it,” I said, hoping to calm him down.
“You don’t fucking get shit!”
“Yeah, I’m late for our meeting, got it.” I clarified and offered up what I thought was a charming smirk. The look in the coach’s eyes told me he didn’t find me charismatic.
“This is serious, Ace.” His tone was finally lowering, but his breathing still rapid. Man, he was really out of shape.
“You need a glass of water?” I asked with sarcastic concern. “You’re no spring chicken anymore. You need to take it easy.”
“No, I don’t need any fucking water, and that’s something you need to understand too, Ace. You aren’t so young anymore either.”
His words cut through me like a knife. The last thing I wanted to hear or even needed to hear was that I was getting old, especially for major league baseball. I was Ace motherfuckin’ Newman, bad ass of baseball, one of the best in the league. I was the guy who could hit any pitch, catch any ball that flew even remotely near me, the one others feared on the field.
I cursed under my breath, keeping my face neutral, forcing myself to stand there and deal with this shit.
This out of shape motherfucker should be kneeling in front of me, not screaming in my face. This old fool was spouting out nonsense now, just plain nonsense.
Coach’s voice got even softer, which was more deadly than any scream. “There are plenty of guys out there faster, smarter, and younger that would love to take your place.” He looked me dead in the eye when he said it.
Nice motivation, Coach. Appreciate it.