Foul Balls And Unhappy Endings

avatarthumbnail.jpgDan Jenkins, one of the great sportswriters, once talked about the difference between a hook and a slice in golf. I can’t really do it justice (and, even more regrettably, I can’t find my copy of You Gotta Play Hurt for the actual quote) but the basic concept is you can talk to a slice but a hook is a malevolent force and the only thing you can do is tell the SOB to keep hooking.

Which in an odd way brings us to last night’s Dodgers-Diamondbacks game and a foul ball off the bat of Chris Burke in the 11th inning. This was not one of those high arcing balls that gently falls into (and usually out of) the hands of some lucky fan in the stands. No, this was an ominously cued rifle shot glancing perfectly off the top half of the bat that looks to identify a victim immediately and lock onto to that person like a tractor beam had been engaged.

Last night, that tractor beam appeared to be mounted to my forehead. And so it was that I sat mesmerized in the press box at Chase Field more than four hours into this baseball game, numb from the length and paralyzed by the sight of this rotating, evil sphere intent on damaging something, anything, in its path before leaning not nearly far enough to the left and grabbing the top half of my laptop with my right hand (since the computer’s worth more than my limbs on a good day) and not breathing but just watching …

… until the ball crashes into the back of the flat screen televisions that overhang our seats in the press box, causing the television to shake back and forth like the Capitol Records building in Earthquake but not moving it enough that I actually can see the screen clearly from the fekakte angle at which the television was hung …

… and then blinking stupidly for another five to ten seconds as I realize that there was no way I had leaned far enough out of the way and had the ball missed the television set (as I’m utterly convinced it wanted to) then it would have collided at high speed with some part of my person, clanking off my forehead or simple disappearing into my fleshy middle and hopefully not appearing out the other side.

In short, or more to the point in summary, this was an unhappy ending waiting to happen and only by the grace of the television monitor was I spared the ignominy of leaving the ballpark with “Rawlings” stamped in reverse across my forehead.

Similarly, you often can see the unhappy ending happen before it actually happens quite often in the real estate world. Whether reading the questions on Trulia Voices, on Active Rain, on Zillow or elsewhere, it’s clear that many buyers and sellers are staring helplessly at their doom as it approaches and only hoping to be able to get out of the way before it strikes them full speed in the forehead.

While there’s virtually no way to avoid the errant and deviant foul ball, many of the problems that appear could have been avoided with professional advice. “I’m renting month to month and now the home’s scheduled for a Trustee Sale,” “I sold my house but the buyer’s never opened escrow,” “How do I get my money back from a builder when I change my mind about the house” … the questions go on and on and on.

Sometimes there is some help to be had. Other times, the help is more akin to the person sitting next to me who felt no compulsion to move out of my way as I tried to move out of the way of this particular baseball. And much of the time there’s nothing that can be done except to hope for salvation via deus ex machina (like a well-placed television set.)

The best solution is not to get yourself in this situation in the first place. At the ballpark there’s a warning that says the balls (and bats) could leave the field and if you don’t want to be where this can happen they’ll happily find you another seat (for the same cost as your seat behind the dugout but a safely located three rows below the top of the stadium.)

Seek professional advice. Don’t walk away from your real estate transaction counting the imprint of the seams of the baseball that have been left on your cheek or the dollars lost by not getting help in the first place.

As for me, I’m returning to the ballpark tonight. If someone happens to have a batting helmet I can borrow (since my Dodgers replica helmet circa 1976 probably isn’t going to do me much good), the donation would be appreciated.

[tags]Phoenix real estate[/tags]

Jonathan Dalton

Jonathan Dalton is a 40-plus-year resident of the Valley and has been helping folks buy and sell homes since 2004. He can be reached at 602-502-9693 or info at