A Simple Survey:Volume2 Attraction06

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Attraction 06: Grand Slam Homer[edit]

It may sound like bragging, but I was the type who could do anything I set my mind to.

My batting average was .31. I could bat right handed and left handed which was an excellent way of putting pressure on the opposing team’s pitcher.

But baseball was a team game.

Some idiots who were sulking over being kept on the bench went on a drunken rampage and cost us the chance to compete in a national competition. If it had not been for that, I would have had the perfect chance to be scouted by the pros.

Do you think I should have accepted the discipline and waited for next year?

I thought the same thing at first.

But I ran out of patience when one of those second string idiots laughed and said the following:

“Heh heh. Don’t get your hopes up. I’ll cause trouble to fuck up your chances next year too. And as many years after that as it takes. Seeing you clenching your teeth like that makes me feel so refreshed.”

I beat him again and again with a metal bet.

It turns out hitting a human head does not ring out in the same way as hitting a ball.

I had thought there was nothing inside that head of his, but I was wrong about that.

So how does over 50 strikes all across his body sound to you?

To be honest, I don’t think that was enough. I always regretted stopping there.

“Okay, let’s get this attraction started.”

I was in a domed stadium.

A bunny girl stood on the pitcher’s mound.

If I had been the person I used to be, I might have run at her swinging my bat when I saw that amateur standing there not wearing cleats.

“We will be using this!” The bunny girl lightly tapped a large machine next to her. “Tah dah! It’s a pitching machine. It’s one of the latest models. Its straight fastball can reach a maximum of 180 kph and it can also pitch curveballs, forkballs, sinkers, and sliders.”

“…”

“It will pitch 10 balls. If you can manage at least one homerun, you will clear the attraction. As a prize, you will gain the right to take part in a public non-professional baseball tournament. You can do your best there to catch the eyes of scouts from 12 baseball teams.”

A power hitter made up for all of his mistakes in a single hit.

Even if he swung two strikes in a row and got foul after foul afterwards, he would become a hero if he hit a single homerun.

That was the case here too.

Of course, such a wonderful opportunity did not come without its risks.

After all, I was a person the police should have been pursuing.

“If you fail all 10 times, your right elbow and left knee will be shattered with a hammer. Without anesthesia of course. But we usually kill people, so that almost sounds like a joke.”

“Just out of curiosity, why are you not going with that usual punishment?”

“Because this is more fun,” said the bunny girl with a smile.

She had wonderfully cruel taste.

With a metal bat in hand, I stepped into the right-handed batter’s box.

My life as a baseball player was riding on this attraction.

But my life would have been over if I had not agreed to this. I just wanted this one last game. I didn’t care how shady it seemed; I wanted to throw my life away into a serious game that wore at my very spirit.

“This is the newly constructed People Dome that even pros would love to play in. What is it like to stand on this stage of your dreams?”

“I’ll stand here for a more legit reason someday. And I will get there without anyone else’s help.”

The distance to the outfield seats was about 100 meters on either side and 115 meters down the center.

This was a domed stadium, so I did not need to worry about the wind.

The bunny girl had said the pitching machine was one of the latest models and could manage several types of pitches, but I was not particularly worried about that.

Pitching machines had a characteristic weakness.

What I needed to watch out for most was…

“Oh, if the pitch misses the strike zone making it a ball, that pitch does not count. So feel free to let it go.”

“Yes, but I don’t want that thing to hit me with the ball again and again.”

“How about this? If the pitching machine hits you three times in a row, I will pitch instead. …But don’t try to make it hit you, okay?”

The subsequent mechanical noise was louder than I had expected.

I could tell a baseball was being loaded into the pitching machine’s tube.

A thick roller on either side of the small ball provided it with tremendous kinetic energy and it shot out with amazing speed.

Ah…!!!???

I heard a sharp noise.

I did my best to swing the bat with all my strength along the path of the ball, but a horrible pain ran through my wrists. Instead of flying forward, the ball soared diagonally backwards into the net behind me.

“Okay, Pitch 1 was a failure.”

“Gh…”

The bunny girl had not used some special trick to alter the timing of the pitch.

It had been a straight fastball at the machine’s top speed.

180 kph.

That pure feat of strength created a force no human pitcher could easily replicate. Even in the Major League, a pitcher who could throw 160 kph was thought to have an excellent arm. She had seen straight through me. And so easily.

“Wow. You actually managed to hit the ball at the 180 kph setting. The ball did pop up a bit due to the output being too high, though. You might not have even grazed it otherwise.”

“…”

“Oh? Is the genius athlete getting worried?”

“…No.”

I smiled. It was small, but I could still smile.

I opened and closed my stinging palms a few times and then squeezed on the bat’s grip once more.

“That makes a good reference point to start from.”

I did not need to panic. No matter how many times I failed, it would be a success if I hit the very last pitch.

The optimum pitch.

Every pitch before that was nothing more than preparation for that one. Even with a full count of three balls and two strikes, the final pitch could change everything. And that first pitch had been a good lesson in that way.

“Okay, time for the second pitch. Get ready, get ready.”

The smiling bunny girl pressed a few buttons to send instructions to the pitching machine. With a mechanical noise, the “neck” that shot out the ball rotated around.

This would be a different sort of pitch.

The pitching machine was the type that shot the ball using two high speed rollers. And some pitches gave the ball spin to make it curve.

In other words…

The quickest way to mechanically implement those different types of pitches was to alter the locations of those two rollers. That was why the “neck” portion could move.

And so…

Unlike a real pitcher, I could easily tell what kind of pitch was coming!

“A forkball!?”

The ball moved too quickly to follow it visually after it was fired.

I lowered my aim based on my observation of the pitching machine, dug my cleats into the ground, and rotated my hips. I paid careful attention to the shifting of my weight as I began to control the path of the bat. I pictured the semicircle path of the bat and the curving path of the ball intersecting.

A powerful impact ran through my hands holding the metal bat.

This was a solid hit.

I continued the swing.

After a slight delay, the characteristic sound of a metal bat rang out with a higher pitch than a bell.

The ball flew in a large arc.

The ball curved a bit towards third base, but not enough to worry about it being foul.

Out of habit, I let go of the bat and began running toward first base, but then I recalled I was in the middle of a homerun gamble.

Would this be it?

Would it make it?

No!!

“Ahh. Too bad. That made it to the 85 meter line. Just fifteen meters more!! Fifteen more meters and it would have been a homerun!!”

“…”

Whether it was 15 meters or 1.5 millimeters, a ball that did not make it into the outfield seats was meaningless.

But I had gotten the hang of it.

As long as it was not another ridiculous straight fastball, I could handle these specs.

I had eight pitches left.

I can win this!!


But despite my optimism, I failed 5 pitches in a row after that.

“Dammit…”

But not because I had needlessly tried and failed to hit pitch after pitch that was outside the strike zone. Nor was it because the bunny girl cruelly sent five straight fastballs in a row.

I accurately hit all five pitches.

I hit them solidly with the metal bat. I hit them with the end of the bat to provide the maximum amount of kinetic energy.

It had all gone as perfectly as I could have hoped.

Except…

“Oh, dear. The 90 meter line again. Just a bit more power and you would have reached the outfield seats at 100 meters.”

“You…”

I had thought the same at first.

But after so many failures in a row, it was obvious something was up.

I lightly swung the bat around in my right hand.

Its weight and hardness seemed about right. It was possible something had been altered inside it, but I found it unlikely. I would have noticed something like that while holding and swinging it.

Which meant…

“You did something to the balls, didn’t you!? You’ve made them softer and more shock absorbent than a regulation high school baseball!!”

In both professional baseball and high school baseball, what counted as a “regulation” ball gradually changed as the rules changed. One change to the materials in the ball could alter a player’s batting average.

But the bunny girl smiled and tilted her head.

“Oh? I do not remember anyone saying anything about using regulation balls. In fact, if we were following all the rules, this pitching machine would be out of the question. You also would not get 10 chances.”

“…”

“If you want to give up, feel free. But that will count as a forfeit. Your life as a baseball player will be at an end.”

Dammit.

Either way, this opportunity was my only option.

I had no choice but to play under this bunny girl’s rules. I doubted there was any way I could succeed, but I had to find some loophole to overturn that assumption.

Was there anything I could use?

I needed a homerun to win the bunny girl’s game.

But I could not reach the 100 meter line at the outfield seats with those balls.

I needed something to overturn that fact.

If I simply tried to hit the balls fired by the pitching machine normally, I would never overcome that wall. I needed some way to earn a homerun without using that 100 meter line. Was there a wonderful loophole in the rules like that?

I went over my score with the previous pitches. I went over the paths taken by the balls I had hit. No ball was wasted in baseball. The result of every individual pitch built up to create the overall flow of the game. Vast amounts of information were hidden within that. I could not give up yet. I had to solve this. No information could be more useful to a batter.

“…Wait.”

I looked straight up.

There was something.

This environment gave me something.

This was not just a theoretical situation that only existed in the rules. I had heard about professional players doing it in the past which resulted in fights with the umpire.

“Well? Will you give up?”

“No.”

I looked forward once more to glare at the bunny girl on the pitcher’s mound. I pointed the tip of my metal bat towards her.

I thrust it out toward her.

Even an elementary school student would know what that sign meant. I had given my sign.

“I’ll continue.”

“Excellent.”

I had three pitches left.

I was completely changing my methods from before. Would I have time to readjust with only three pitches?

The eighth pitch came.

It was an inside corner curveball that very nearly scraped against my upper body. This threw off my timing. I frantically swung the bat, but did not make it in time.

The ball was knocked upwards, grazed right by the domed stadium’s ceiling, and then fell directly behind me.

“That was a stereotypical catcher fly.”

“…”

Could I do it?

From a distance standpoint, this should be easier, but it seemed the equation was not that simple.

But I could not hesitate.

I had already changed my tactics.

I had to give everything I had to succeeding this way!

“Here goes.”

The ninth pitch.

It was a slider. I got the timing right this time. The trick was to hit it by scooping up from below. The solid sound of the bat hitting the ball rang out and the ball arced high into the air.

I had one chance left.

One chance!!

“Hmm. It looks like that’s your limit,” said the bunny girl in a fairly disappointed tone of voice. “You aren’t even hitting it into the outfield now. Did you get so nervous you fell into a slump?”

“…”

“It doesn’t matter to me. Okay, let’s decide this with that wonderful straight fastball!!”

You are a horrible person!!

I dug my cleats into the ground. I rotated my hips. I gathered all of my strength into moving the end of the bat.

The ball was coming.

This was my final chance.

This was my ticket.

Observing the angle of the pitching machine told me what kind of pitch it would be and on what course the ball would take, so I would not miss. As long as I had the power needed to overcome the overwhelming force of 180 kph, I would make it.

And…

The metal bat collided with the white ball.

A solid sound rang out.

The ball veered far from the ideal course toward the outfield seats. It flew up and up and up.

The bunny girl needlessly placed a hand over her eyes as she looked up toward the ceiling.

“Oh, dear. Looks like you failed again.”

“Don’t be so sure.”

“…?”

The bunny girl looked at me in slight puzzlement, but then her confusion grew even further.

This was the final pitch.

The ball had not flown toward the outfield seats, yet my expression showed no hint of despair.

I had no reason to despair.

I had succeeded in the very, very end, dammit.

“It isn’t coming down,” I said.

“Eh? Oh… You don’t mean!!”

“What happens if a ball does not come down? I believe there is a special rule for domed stadiums. It explains what happens if a ball strikes the light fixtures or gets stuck in the framework. This is People Dome, right? What does the stadium’s rulebook say?”

Even just barely along the foul line on either side, the distance to the outfield seats was 100 meters. However, the highest point of the dome’s ceiling was only about 50 meters up. The change from horizontal to vertical made a difference, but the ceiling was the better target as far as distance was concerned.

And more importantly…

Power hitters (especially foreign ones) hit the dome ceiling fairly frequently.

“So that means…Eh? You’re kidding…”

“That’s a homerun. I win.”