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  • Writer's pictureMike Sovelius

Violence as a Second Language

AI Generated Baseball Player
Violence as a Second Language (AI Image by PlayGround)

Tito Cruz raised his left arm, bearing a tattoo of the Dominican Republic flag draped over his bicep. His outstretched fingers could have palmed a basketball, but he had grown up with a love for baseball.

“About time Princess DR showed up for practice,” a southern drawl, voice laced with sarcasm, said as Tito approached the plate.

Tito’s cleats clawed at the loose dirt as he shifted his weight to settle into his stance. He glanced at the man crouched behind home plate. A shaggy beard protruded from the catcher’s face mask.

Tito dropped his hand and tightened his fingers around the maple handle. Beads of sweat rolled toward the edge of his brim. One by one, they fell to the ground like paratroopers.

“Craig, I thought the GM demoted you to the minors this season,” Tito said, his heavy accent

pronouncing “Craig” as “Creeg.”

The catcher pounded his leather mitt and gave the hand signal for the pitch.

“Let’s see how long you remain on the roster before the owner trades you,” the catcher said.

Swoosh! The sound of Tito’s bat sliced through the air, followed by the familiar thud of the ball as it impacted Craig’s mitt. Craig lifted his face mask and spit a wad of tobacco juice across home plate. “Strike one, DR,” Craig said.

Tito grunted, kicked dirt on home plate, and stepped outside of the batter’s box to adjust his jersey, with the number thirteen clinging to his powerful shoulders. The oppressive humidity rolled in early from the bay this year.

“Oh, come on, DR, hurry the hell up so we can finish practice.”

Tito entered the batter’s box, ignoring Craig’s cries of discomfort. His mind drifted to a happier time in college as he scanned the outfield. He adjusted his grip above the knob of the bat, just as his hitting coach at the University of Texas had taught him.

“You reek of alcohol, DR!”

Craig’s comment, delivered with a southern drawl, snapped Tito back to the present. The orange star, adorned with a white letter “H” on the pitcher’s hat, appeared fuzzy as Tito narrowed his focus on the pitcher’s release. The spinning white orb hurled toward him with great velocity. An average mortal would miss the ball before they had a chance to blink, but Tito was not average. With his heightened eyesight, he could discern the red stitching on the ball, identifying the type of pitch. His agile reflexes afforded him extra time to make minuscule corrections to his swing plane.

Thwack! The precision of Tito’s bat sliced through the saturated air, intercepting the ball’s trajectory. A deep laugh bellowed from within Tito’s chest as the ball sailed out of the stadium.

“I have yet to see you hit a dinger. It’s only a matter of time before the owner sends you to the bush leagues, Craig.”

Craig pounded his mitt and crouched behind home plate. “Go to hell, DR. We enjoy the drills when you miss practice,” Craig said.

Tito dropped his bat on his shoulder, stepped out of the batter’s box, and gestured with his bat toward the bleachers along first base.

“Take a look in the stands, Craig. Most of those fans are wearing my jersey number. Do you have any fans at the park today, Craig?”

Craig didn’t bother to scan the stands. Fans hadn't been clamoring for his jersey or requesting his autograph. When he received the call to play alongside his childhood hero, he felt fortune had smiled twice. However, after his first season in the majors, he discovered what most fans didn't know about their favorite player: Most of his teammates despised the World Series champion.

The Dominican Republic flag tattoo on Tito’s bicep rippled as his muscles tightened around the handle of the maple bat, and he sunk into his hips for another pitch.

“The game isn't for everyone, Craig. Any Little League team would be lucky to call you coach.”

Craig snarled at the flag tattoo on Tito’s arm, puzzled as to why the league didn't allow a stars and bars tattoo.

“Wasted trade,” Craig said just as the pitcher released the ball.

Tito got a piece of the pitch, but it went foul into the third base bleachers. He watched as his fans jostled for the ball while Craig pounded his catcher’s mitt.

"You've brought grief to this club, DR, and you can keep those ‘illegal island dwellers, you call fans!” Craig said.

“My name is Tito. Call me DR one more time, and you'll be eating your face mask.”

Craig signaled for the next pitch.

“We call you DR because you’re drunk and reckless.”

The pitcher wound up and unleashed a blazing fastball. Tito stumbled to evade the pitch.

“Too much heat for you, DR!”

Craig taunted, spitting tobacco juice onto Tito's white cleats. Tito raised his bat above his head, medieval executioner-style. Craig remained oblivious to the imminent pain. Tito pointed his bat at the pitcher after rendering Craig unconscious and snapped it in two over his tree trunk of a leg. Fans scrambled toward the field to record the ensuing brawl on their phones.

“DR, the pitch got away, I swear,” the pitcher said.

When the pitcher called Tito by his nickname, it fueled his rage. Although Tito’s physique resembled that of an NFL lineman, he moved with the speed of a track star. Tito closed the distance between himself and the pitcher before the infielders could intervene. The lanky pitcher stood his ground when his teammate charged the mound with the mass of a Spanish bull.

“Chill, man; you’re out of control,” the pitcher pleaded.

Tito’s street instincts from his days as a homeless kid in Santo Domingo took over, and he pummeled the pitcher. His size- thirteen cleats with bone-shattering studs missed their target as the second baseman attempted to tackle Tito. Unfazed, Tito left the pitcher writhing in pain in the infield and gnashed his teeth at the second baseman. His teammates wanted to beat the crap out of Tito, but they hesitated to approach the enraged gladiator on the field.

“Tito, stay right there!”

Tito sensed movement on his periphery, but didn’t recognize the voice. His ears fixated on the hypnotic sound of a shotgun being armed.

“Put your hands over your head and kneel with your legs crossed!” a voice commanded.

Tito scanned to his left and right, seeing uniformed security personnel closing in on his position with stun guns at the ready. The smell of ozone overpowered the humid air in his nostrils. The rage dissipated with each exhale of his lungs.

“Tito, this is your last chance!” a uniformed member of the phalanx shouted.

Tito considered rushing the line of officers standing before him, but thought better of it when he noticed the red aiming dots of the stun guns pointed at him.

He complied with their command. The officers rushed forward in unison and knocked him to the ground. He thrashed in defiance as the flex cuffs gnawed into his wrists, and numerous knees pinned him to the ground.


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Nov 18, 2023
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Oct 20, 2023
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

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