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Tora’s arm felt dead. He was only through five of seven frames, and the sacks were loaded all around him. Their competition wasn’t even that fierce, but nothing felt right coming out of Tora’s hand today.
Fortunately, he was able to force a pop-up, a strikeout on a very bad pitch, and a long smash to the center field that Chandra was able to chase down at the fence, saving a potential base-clearing tragedy.
The team had only been able to muster three runs, whereas their opponent had been able to gather four off of the struggling Tora. The Coach told Tora to go to the showers. It would end up being his first loss of the season.
But his teammates, despite their great frustration, showed only concern for their best pitcher. They were finally warming to him, just as Chandra had promised. At least, the concern seemed genuine. Maybe they were just afraid of Chandra’s wrath. You never crossed a Skyfire, they said.
But Chandra seemed to have another defense for her friend.
“Ya kno, Sheridan,” she said after the game as they were headed out for the evening. “You got amazing stats.”
Tora looked at her, puzzled. “What do you mean?”
Chandra laughed, “You haven’t checked out your stats lately, kid?”
“Why does it matter?” Tora asked.
“It’s what gets you drafted, kid.”
“All that matters to me are wins and losses.”
“Don’t you understand wins and losses are overrated?”
“They’re all that matter to me.”
“Those numbers aren’t going to be what gets you drafted! Not on a lousy team like ours!”
“They’re just numbers. If I’m not pitching well enough to win, they don’t matter.”
Chandra shook her head. “You don’t honestly believe that, do you?”
“I know all about strikeout rates against free passes and fielding independent mumbo-jumbo,” Tora explained. “But none of them matter to me.”
“You know,” Chandra sighed, “You should ask Clair. She’d back me up.” She slapped him on the back a couple times and walked off towards home as Odessa walked up.
It was interesting how it seemed that she always met Tora at exactly the point that Chandra turned down her street. At least, that’s what Tora’s always told me.
“What’s wrong, boo?” Odessa asked Tora.
Tora didn’t appear distressed, I’m sure, but Odessa always seemed to know better.
“Chandra’s really crazy about numbers for some reason,” Tora said with a shrug.
Oddy scratched her head, “That’s curious,” she said. “I wonder why.”
“Said I’d only get drafted if I cared about them.”
“But you only care about the team,” Oddy said with a smile, stroking Tora’s cheek.
Tora blushed and looked at her as if she shouldn’t do that, but he enjoyed her affection too much. “Of course. Wins and losses are all that matters.”
“No, I don’t think so,” Oddy said.
Tora kissed Oddy as they walked up to her house. “You say some cute stuff sometimes, you know that?”
Oddy shook her head and grinned. “As do you, boo.”
After Tora had told me about these little discussions, the journalist in me just had to ask Clair about how she felt about the importance of statistics in seven-pitch. Especially after Clair had been mentioned by Chandra, the temptation to ask her some questions was simply too tantalizing for me. That, and I needed a good story, and Clair was always quotable.
“I’ve never gotten the math behind it,” Clair told me. “But I love the conclusions they come up with.”
“What sort of conclusions do you mean, Clair?”
Clair chuckled. “Like the conclusion that I’m extremely overrated.”
“Is it those peripheral stats that Chandra is always yapping about?”
Clair’s eyes widened at the mention of that name, “Chandra?”
“Yeah, Tora’s teammate, Chandra.”
Suddenly, the topic of conversation changed. “She wouldn’t happen to be a Skyfire, would she?”
I shook my head, realizing that my interview was taking yet another unexpected turn. Why does Clair always do this to me, I thought.
“Yes, I think so,” I replied.
“That’s all Skyfires care about,” Clair said, her tone suddenly darkening, taking a sip of her favorite tea. “Their own achievements.”
“You don’t like the Skyfires?”
“Oh yeah, they might be one of the most prestigious families in the history of our world. That doesn’t mean I have to like them.”
“From what I understand,” I sighed, “She may be the last in a long line.”
Clair lightened up again quickly, laughing hysterically, splashing a bit of tea on me. “Well, then, you have a story! Forget those silly stats! The last Skyfire, playing seven-pitch. She should be out there blasting the Enemies of the Crown with fire and brimstone or something!”
I sat there puzzled. “She seems pretty ordinary to me.”
“Um, she’s the last of the Skyfires, you say. Trust me. She’s not. If you’re not careful, she’ll burn Tora alive.”
“I think he’ll be okay,” I said.
I should have known better.
Clair patted me on the head, pushing my buckle cap down into my eyes. “Have a talk with her, Sam, Samantha, Spence,” Clair suggested. “You’ll see what I mean.”
As she began to walk off, she turned around and said something I wold never forget, "You can always beat the numbers with one simple trick. It's called heart."