Ace of Ace

 
 
 

Ace of Ace Chapter 10


 Live Pitching (4)

As Gun’s physical conditions gradually improved, his pitch stats also slowly advanced.

His current stats were…

Speed: B+

Control: B-

Movement: C+

Pitch Type 1: four seam fastball: B

Pitch Type 2: slider: C+

Pitch Type 3: change up: C+

Pitch Type 4: knuckle ball: E

O skill: Beast’s Blood level 2

Upon examining his stats, there was one category which made him frown, and that was the knuckle ball.

‘The knuckle ball just won’t go up’

With the upcoming December Showcase, he was preparing the knuckle ball as his secret weapon.

However, with no signs of improvement, his worries were getting greater day by day.

What was the reason?

Gun lied down on his bed, pondering about this issue.

At that moment, the system reactivated.

– Activate ‘the arena’ for pitch mastering? –

‘The arena’?

Gun was puzzled by the system’s message.

“What’s ‘the arena’?”

The system replied.

– it is a virtual realm which you can enter to practise against virtual opponents –

Virtual opponents.

Was it like a simulation program?

Gun’s already utilised the system to receive a number of benefits. Whatever this ‘arena’ may be, he was certain it would do him more good than harm.

“Alright, I’ll use ‘the arena’”

At that moment, his surroundings blurred into a chaotic mixture of shapes and colours, and rapidly reformed to become a baseball stadium.

– ‘the arena’ formation complete –

Gun was familiar with this stadium.

‘Isn’t this the SW park? Park used for AT telecom’s 2nd division?’

– there is currently only one arena registered –

Gun realised that the system could only register venues in which he has practised or played in in real life.

‘Hm, so it’s incapable of realising mystical lands or imaginary environments?’

Gun threw another question at the system.

“How are my physical stats in here?”

– ‘the arena’ is purely for obtainment of experience, so any activities here remain exclusive of bodily stat enhancements –

It was a place to practise learned skills.

Gun thought that this function of the system was very useful.

‘If my bodily abilities don’t increase in here, then it should also mean that they don’t wear down right?’

Gun figured that within ‘the arena’, he could freely train for as long as he wanted without the limitations of fatigue or hunger.

“Alright, let’s start!”

As he got up on the mound, a number of people appeared around the home plate.

AT telecom’s Gil Sung Lee, the batter which Gun last went against, the catcher Gang Han Kim, the referee Shi Hyung Gong.

‘This is a reanimation of the live pitching session.’

As he stretched his shoulders, a glove and a baseball appeared.

“Oh wow, this is actually pretty cool”

Gun embraced a knuckle ball grip and pitched against Gil Sung.

‘Let’s go! No spin knuckle ball!’

The ball swiftly flew by Gil Sung.

The batter did not swing his bat, and the ball simply flew past the catcher.

The pitch control was disastrous.

The catcher hadn’t even bothered to catch the ball.

“The catcher didn’t even raise his mitt, that’s going overboard”

The control and aim of his knuckle ball needed improvement but it was so horrendous that the catcher would give up on it.

As Gun was raising complaints, a new ball formed within the ball.

“Hm…”

‘Perhaps the catcher is just for decoration? And he’s actually not meant to move?’

He wondered if the batter, too, was just a virtual image that’s incapable of moving.

To test his theory out, he threw a slow fastball instead of a knuckle ball.

Gil Sung swung his bat against the fastball.

PANG!

Based on the direction and the speed of the hit, it was easily a double (ball is hit far enough that the batter is able to safely run to the second base).

Gun thought that unlike Gang Han, the catcher, the batter Gil Sung was a proper opponent.

“Oh the batter is not too bad at all”

Gun thought that Gil Sung was a suitable opponent to train against.

“Alright, knuckle balls from now”

Gun once against embraced a knuckle ball grip, and pitched while letting out a short, sharp exertion.

It was a virtual reality, he thought that it didn’t matter whether he cursed or screamed in this stadium.

The ball hastily made its way towards the home plate, but in a route that was greatly different to the one he had intended.

The ball control was worse than the first pitch.

“What the hell? Is my knuckle ball this bad? Damn I swear there is something wrong with this arena.”

After spending the next few minutes complaining, Gun threw another knuckle ball.

“Repeat until perfection!”

Since there were no physical restrictions within the arena, he could pitch as many as he wanted.

However, only about 50% of the balls pitched actually flew towards the catcher.

The rest were either too wide, too close to the batter, or simply fell short of the home plate.

Gun took a short pause as he did not know the root cause of his knuckle ball dilemma.

‘It’s not the arena. There’s something about my knuckle ball that is wrong. I just can’t get a good hold of it.’

He checked his surroundings.

A big, empty stadium with zero signs of vitality.

“Hm I really can’t get a good idea of the environment like this”

He carefully stepped down from the mound and started wandering about.

It was an attempt to get a direct feel of the atmosphere.

At that moment, he felt a quick sensation against his cheeks.

Wind.

Everything clicked on as soon as he felt the cool breeze of wind.

“This must be it!”

He’d finally found the reason behind why the aim of his knuckle ball was so unstable.

“That’s right! I failed to predict and take into consideration the atmospheric current of the air and the flow and speed of the wind within the stadium.  

The knuckle ball that he practised for the duration of 2 years was in an enclosed corridor on the top floor of a state apartment.

In there with no wind, he had maximum control of his pitches.

A knuckle ball mastered within a venue with zero wind.

Any pitch, especially the knuckle ball, practised and mastered in a no-wind zone was good-for-nothing when games took place in open grounds.

‘Hmph… maybe this is why he said the knuckle ball isn’t something that can be taught, but discovered.’

After stepping down from the mound, Gun focused all his senses on reading the movement, direction and speed of the wind.

‘The wind is currently blowing from the right to the left’

That meant there was a need to pitch leaning towards the right a bit more than usual.

‘There’s also an ascending current in a day like this, so pitching in a slightly higher course would improve the accuracy’

Gun took a deep breath and applied his understandings of the environment to his pitching.

WHOOOSH.

The ball got caught in the wind and fell slightly short, near the catcher’s knees.

There wasn’t a significant difference between his intended aim. At that moment, the system displayed a new message.

– Knuckle Ball Rank increase –

E -> D

– Control Rank increase –

B- -> B

With one simple discovery, both the knuckle ball rank and the rank of his pitch control had both improved.

Gun was amazed once again at the system for its instant response to his both mental and physical findings.

‘So it’s possible to increase multiple categories at once’

Just as he was about to throw another pitch, the system displayed another message.

– ‘The Arena’ terminating in 1:00 minute(s) –

Gun laid down the ball in his hand, puzzled.

‘There’s a time restriction on this thing?’

– the restriction of ‘The Arena’ is 2 hours per day –

This was a huge disappointment for Gun.

‘I was looking forward to unlimited training and practice, free from physical wear downs… but I guess that’s not exactly the case’

Gun was accustomed to relentless training from his previous experiences and therefore regarded an arena with no physical exhaustion as the most ideal training grounds.

But the Arena was not open to unlimited usage.

Gun ended ‘the Arena’ and turned his head to the clock.

11:21PM.

Time spent in the Arena had applied equally to the reality.

‘I guess that system doesn’t have a function to stop the time from ticking. Well, even if it did, it wouldn’t be given to me at least’

The next day

Gun left his laptop camera filming, and entered ‘the Arena’.

This was to observe his bodily reactions once he was in the Arena, training.

After throwing a few pitches, he immediately commanded the system.

‘End ‘the Arena’’.

– ending ‘the Arena’ –

Immediately after exiting the Arena, he checked the footage.

“What the hell, I’m sleeping standing up”

As he entered the Arena training, his physical body had entered into a deep slumber.

‘Hm… sleeping standing?!, I won’t be able to use this during broad daylight’

Gun concluded that the usage of the Arena could only take place right before he went to sleep at nights, or during long trips.