Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Double Play

After spending all afternoon checking up on a few of my prospects from the Orlando area, I made my way up to the northern end of town to catch up with the Parker family for dinner. Unfortunately, Dallas was still AWOL. Oh sure, he called his wife to at least let her know he was still alive, but the long and the short of it was that he just needed to get somethings straightened out. He then told her that he was somewhere in North Carolina but that he would be back tomorrow. Normally that would've given her some peace of mind but Dallas said the same exact thing to her yesterday and he never showed up.

Not the best of situations. Rachel, his wife, was trying to act strong but I could tell she was on the edge of her seat not knowing what was going to happen. She was already putting in plenty of overtime at the Walmart supercenter to make ends meet. At 6:00 am sharp she would drop her off at a friend's house who ran a small daycare, and not pick her up until about 8:00 pm.

Today, however, was a special day because I was invited over for dinner at 7:30 pm. Rachel brought home a Walmart rotisserie chicken, potato salad, and dinner rolls. Madison, her daughter, plucked a roll from the bag and ran off to her room without her mother noticing. Mattie, as her mother calls her, still had that awful cough. I could hear her from the bedroom hacking away in between bites. Soon enough though, she was back at my side at the kitchen table wanting to make sure that I knew of her request to the Easter Bunny for an extra large chocolate bunny.

But when she turned to her mother and asked whether "Daddy" was going to color the Easter eggs with her like he promised, I just about wanted to wring Dallas' neck. What the heck was he doing? He had only lost four games all year (mainly due to poor run support) and his ERA was near three and a half. He was leading the team in quality starts and strikeouts. But things either went really great for Dallas or they went terribly bad. He would throw a two-hit shutout and then follow it up in the next game with with a six run first inning. To make matters worse, his attitude was equally inconsistent. According to Rachel, the scouts who were hot a heavy on him stopped coming around about a month ago and won't even call her back.

I offered to talk with the Wekiva coach to see if he would take Dallas back for what's left of the season but that I'd really like to talk with Dallas first before I did anything. I made it clear to her that even if the coach allowed Dallas back into the dugout, the players would most certainly resent him for walking out and that it would take many months to re-earn their trust and confidence. I then leveled with her that it didn't look good for Dallas in the upcoming draft. Once the teams get wind of his latest act, he'll be lucky to go somewhere between the 40-50th round. Although she pretty much knew this was probably the case, hearing it from me made it that much worse. So much that I could see her eyes begin to water as her face sank down into her hands.

Mattie dropped her doll on the living room floor and ran over to her mother at the kitchen table. Mattie instinctively knew her mother was on the verge of losing it. Perhaps she had seen this one too many times in the past. I felt terrible but that was nothing compared to how I felt when the five-year old suddenly told her mother, "I can get a job. Don't worry Mommy. It'll all be fine."

So much for the Dallas Parker project.


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