An Ode to Pablo
It's the year 2001 and you and your best friend are huddled together in front of a large, off-white, Gateway PC. You have just booted up your favorite computer game, Backyard Baseball, and have started a one on one contest in order to finally figure out who is truly the best.
Now you know that you're prepared. Being an eight-year-old in the middle of the summer, you have a pretty loose schedule, so you take as much time as you can to hone your skills. In fact, if you really think about it, you've probably played the game a bit too much.
You've learned which players work best in each situation. You've dissected each stadium's interesting intricacy, like the fact that Steele Stadium had a short center field fence or Tin Can Alley didn't really have any walls. And finally, you've found the perfect time to lay down the Undergrounder, perhaps the most nonsensical special move in the game.
But just when you think about what you're going to do after you beat your friend, you feel your hands get all clammy, your legs get all wobbly, and you and your rival become dead quiet. You two make no noise, in fact, your buddy's mom comes in to make sure you two are doing alright.
This change in mood is appropriate, however, because after picking your team name and colors you've reached the most stressful part of any Backyard Sports multiplayer experience, the draft. Laying in your wake are 27 boys and girls of varying ages all smiling directly at you. You recognize some of the legends like Kenny Kawaguchi, one the game's premier pitchers, sitting in his trademark wheelchair. There's Pete Wheeler, who while not the sharpest tool in the shed, can lay down a bunt and sprint around the bases like he's a two-legged stock car. And there's Kiesha Phillips, easily the most dominant girl in the entire game at the plate, and also a speed demon to boot.
But here's the thing about Backyard Baseball, and all of the other games resting under the "Backyard Sports" umbrella, if you've played long enough, you know that there's only one player that truly matters. This athlete has the power of Barry Bonds, the speed of Ricky Henderson, the fielding of Omar Vizquel, and the pitching of Greg Maddox. He's the perfect baseball player, yet he's called "The Secret Weapon" for the fact that he is certainly not tall enough to ride anything at any local amusement park.
And you know more than anything that if you don't receive the first pick of the draft, then you're going to have to take on a gargantuan maestro of the sandlot. His power is such that you might as well concede victory if you have to challenge the one they call PABLO SANCHEZ.
Now you may snicker and say that I'm being overdramatic, but until you've witnessed the fear of having to pitch to this irresistible force of nature, you simply will never understand. There is no alternative to this diminutive demon of the diamond, there is either you have Pablo or you will lose.
I have to be honest with you all. Originally, this story was supposed to be for April Fool's Day, but as I was writing, I noticed that there really wasn't any punchline. So I decided to make this more of a personal anecdote from my own life as I used to play the Backyard Sports games all the time as a kid.
Also, be on the look out for another real life story coming later this week!
If you are interested in writing for The Sports Storytellers, please email me at AndrewSoS@protonmail.com.
Photo Credits: Twitter.com