Batting Cages

I fucking love batting cages.

These things are pretty much all over the place. This is a pretty cheap one near Jung-dong station. It’s outside, 1000 won a play, paid in two 500 won coins, and there’s a few different machines set to different speeds. I started at 80-km and then went to 140-150km. It gets the job done. (The job being fun.)

But there’s better ones than this. Like this one is just a yellow ball coming out of a wall at you after a light blinks. The one I really like, though it costs quite a bit more, is near Jangsan and called Strikezon. It uses projectors and has a whole game built in.

Works like this: You rent time – 20 minutes is about three innings. Then you play as a team. There’s an image of a pitcher and you see the ball coming out of his hand. When you get a hit, the motion detectors track the ball, shows where it lands, and computer guys catch it and make plays on the screen. So you get three outs, base-runners, score runs, and can play against someone. You can hit into double plays, pop-out, hit balls into the gap. It’s a lot of fun. I’ve only done it once but I think I’ll be hitting this one up every time I finish one of my math units. Nice way to relax.

And, man, I miss playing baseball. Miss it in my bones.

The other thing is, and this may even be the high-point of my life, when I played at Strikezon, something weird happened. I was taking the warm-up pitches. And I was alone in there with the guy who works there. (Nice guy, working on his English, so getting some practice with me.) Anyway, I hadn’t swung a bat since I was in Seoul and, before that, it’s probably been over twenty years. So, you know, bit rusty.

“You have a nice swing,” he says.

“Be nicer if I could hit something,” says I.

Because I’m just whiffing on pitches. I’m close but I’m missing them all. Honestly, it’s a bit embarrassing. Then I get one. And boy do I get it! I hit that motherfucker hard. So hard that when it hits the wall, bright orange sparks fall from the ceiling, the worker screams, and the power in the room goes out. The projection screen shuts off then reboots with an error message. The ceiling was like the scoreboard in The Natural.

Sparks! Big orange fire sparks from the ceiling!

Guy said that he’d never seen anything like that before. He got it all working again.

Now, if I had any sense, I would have just flipped my bat, and walked out of there. I would never return. I’d just let that bit of stupid luck become a story. Let that story become legend. At some point, I’d meet that man again. We’d be a couple of grizzled old men in some dive bar near the wharf. He’d start telling me the story of the lanky man who knocked fire from the sky and I’d sip my whiskey and say: “Kid, I remember. I was there.” But I have no sense. None. I stuck around and spend the next twenty minutes returning to earth. It was still fun though.

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