Episode 60 — Chapter 68
“And here are the keys to the Chevy,” the limo driver said matter-of-factly. Parked in a stall next to the building’s entry, was a white Chevrolet Impala.
“That’s for me?” Cobb asked in surprise.
“With Mr. Bolt’s compliments. You do know how to drive?”
Cobb nodded; he’d spent time enough driving on the Cain farm to feel at ease behind the wheel of the modern contraptions.
It was a treat having his own place: a completely furnished luxury condominium on the third floor, with a living room connected to a dining area, two bedrooms, and a small kitchen—a vast improvement over the hotel room he had been dwelling in during the first week of the season.
Cobb made a mental note to send a special thank you to the Braves’ owner.
Before leaving for SunTrust Park, Cobb dialed Savannah from the condominium phone. He was pleasantly surprised when he reached a live voice.
“Hello, Ty. I saw you on Jason Coventry’s show. You’re becoming quite the celebrity.”
“I don’t need that, but I did gain some useful information.”
“I learned a lot, too,” Savannah responded. “I didn’t realize time-travel was scientifically possible.”
“It better be, since there’s no other explanation for my being here.”
“Mr. Bolt got me my own place now… here in Atlanta. You can reach me on this phone number when we’re playing at home.”
“Fantastic. But, I’m still bringing you a mobile phone the next time we meet.”
Playing before the hometown fans again, it seemed that Cobb’s appearance on the Coventry talk show had sparked an even greater stir than before. The fans were expecting the impossible, the unexpected, every time he strode to the plate. Unfortunately, Cobb’s efforts during the home series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, did not live up to expectations. Fan enthusiasm began to wane as his string of bad luck, which had begun with the last Miami game, persisted at the plate; Cobb garnered just one hit—a triple—in the three-game series, although playing every inning of each game. To his embarrassment, he had also struck out three times in the series. After dropping the first two games, the Braves avoided a sweep by the Dodgers, claiming the last game of the series.
It amazed Cobb that nearly every pitcher he faced threw with incredible velocity. He reflected on his time with the Tigers; then most teams had a pitcher or two who threw hard, but the majority of pitchers got buy with breaking pitches, spitballs and guile. At least the spitter was outlawed in the modern game and balls no longer darkened as innings progressed, making it much easier to pick up the rotation. At the tail end of the Dodgers’ series, Cobb reluctantly switched to a somewhat lighter bat, in order to get around quicker on the higher-speed pitches. Instead of wielding a 38 ounce bat, he dropped down to 35 ounces, though it was still heavier than most bats used in the game.
Cobb sensed that his timing was off, that he was over striding at the plate. It had been the lure of that damn home run ball! Cobb had experienced it firsthand when he had homered on consecutive at bats in Miami. When he connected solidly, the ball exploded off his bat, traveling faster and farther than he had ever remembered with the Tigers. Everyone seemed obsessed with a batter’s launch angle, as though the only goal at the plate was to knock the ball out of the park. It was clear that the game had changed from a contest of cunning and deception—one base at a time—to waiting for the circuit clout. It was now “boom or bust” as nearly every batter, it seemed, was swinging from their heels, producing a proliferation of strikeouts and homeruns. Cobb was appalled at the number of batters whiffing; batters exhibited little or no shame when they struck out and some of his teammates were being rung up three or four times in one game! Cobb made a personal vow to return to his former batting style—make regular contact with ball and terrorize fielders on his way around the bases.