OKLAHOMA CITY — This is ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in late May and the first days of June.
This public arena is where the mettle of a select few will be tested, questioned, derided, applauded and exalted. Where legend is establish; where legend remains; where future legend is yet to be formed.
Where there are hard slappers, soft slappers and punch-it-through-the-gappers. Where there are hard throwers, crafty spinners and game winners.
Here there are women tearing down the base paths like funny cars running on pure alcohol. Here is where some play through pain with knee braces wrapped around their legs so they can make it through one more at-bat.
Where yellow-laced globes are rising, diving, dancing in Oklahoma heat. Where a changeup moves slow enough to show-stop and take a bow in front of the plate just before leaving a batter wondering What the hell was that?
Then there are the hitters who won’t be fooled; who swing aluminum cylinders in graceful semicircles at the speed of PING! With every ball sent beyond the boundaries of the ballpark, a promise is fulfilled.
Here there are chants from the stands about your team, her team, his team imploring pitchers and chastising hitters in the call-and-response pattern of the old Negro spirituals and superficial Lil Jon lyrics.
Here is where aunts travel to cheer on their nieces, where dads cheer their daughters. Here is where youth coaches take their teams to teach that skill that is most important of all: This is where — the is how — you dream.