I liked it instantly. My eye went straight where it was supposed to and I grinned ear-to-ear at the young fella's horrified reaction (looks like maybe he topped the ball). Then I carefully read Duck's very well thought out critique and find myself agreeing with much of what he wrote. Nevertheless I still like what you did exactly as you did it, well-reasoned critique aside. My take is that everything you did combined to focus all the attention on that priceless reaction. Every other element has been subordinated. It's all subjective, of course, but I like the blur as it is, I like the sepia treatment (makes it timeless), and the one thing I see that I might change had I made it would be to blur the ball less. I wouldn't make it sharp-sharp, just a little sharper as it does get a little lost.
The trouble with having no art bone (or training) is that it's all visceral: I likes it or I duzn't. I absolutely see Duck's points and, indeed, agree. Matt didn't care for it at all. Linda felt the blur was too much and found it distracting. I liked it on sight. That's exactly how I cruise museums and galleries, being hauled up short by something (but I can't say why) or passing on by (but still can't say why).
I definitely want to add my voice to the complimentary chorus of praise for reasoned and reasonable discourse!
It's why I am here instead of, um .... I only hope civility can be maintained in an internet world alive with trolls. It's almost inevitable. We want to grow the site or it will wither, but sooner or later the growth will inevitably bring in some weeds. I left ...... because I just have a low tolerance for dissension, never mind deliberate and vicious flame wars and personal attacks. I figger y'all have a game plan for how to head 'em off. Hope so anyway.