Saturday, September 27, 2014

Softball recap: You may now call it a comeback
We’re two games in to my grand return to the softball field and in that time the United States hasn’t been invaded by a foreign power, owning cats has not been made illegal and cheese sandwiches haven’t been made the mandatory lunch of the free world.  
                So all in all, I’d say my return to softball has gone much better than I expected it to.
                My first game was about two weeks ago now and it ended in a victory for my team. The victory was by forfeit since our opponent for the evening didn’t bother to show up, but when you’ve got a guy like me on your roster, you’ve got to learn to take wins any way you can get them. By hook, by crook, or by mass indifference.
                Lucky enough for my team, several members of the two teams that played before us that night didn’t mind sticking around to play a scrimmage. That way at least we could get a game in to go with our moral and statistical victory and our drives to the field wouldn’t be for not.
                Somehow, against every conventionally held bit of baseball wisdom, I was placed in the leadoff spot. Typically this spot goes to the person who is most likely to get on base, which is the exact opposite of my track record at the plate.
                My first at bat came and I was terrified. No matter that the game mattered even less than your average adult league game since it was technically an adult league scrimmage. I was in seventh grade all over again, desperately wishing to have been anywhere else. I stepped up to the plate, positioned my feet in the correct fashion, repositioned them when I realized that hadn’t been the correct fashion, considered bending my knees but decided it against it … OH MY GOD! The pitch was coming in! Sweet Jesus! This was going to be a disaster. I closed my eyes, swung the bat and …
                Made contact? That’s not right.
                But there I was standing on first base and no one was telling me to skedaddle. Even weirder, two at bats later I was jogging into home. I’d scored a run! I’d gotten a hit! Sure, my hit hadn’t even come close to leaving the infield, but I’d outrun the throw and really, that was all that mattered. I’d scored a run!
                My position in the outfield made much more sense: right field. The defensive dead zone. There was exactly one left handed hitter on the other team and he had my same problem with getting the ball out of the infield, which meant I had a long night of standing around doing very little and more importantly didn’t get the chance to make devastating, team-crippling mistakes.
                The rest of the night we can just skim over (struck out, grounded out to end the game with the bases loaded). The point was and remains, I scored a run. I got a HIT.
                Game two was less of a positive for my team … considering my team didn’t show up. I arrived at the field a few minutes before game time to see a few people from what I presumed to be our opponents playing catch and … no one else. As the minutes ticked down towards game time, both myself and the umpire were flabbergasted.
                The other team patiently waited and then like fifteen minutes late, I called the game. We lost by forfeit, evening my record to 1-1 on the year and my team’s overall record to 1-2.
                The other team felt bad I was the only one who had showed up so they invited me to play in a scrimmage with them. They split up their team and we played six on six. I batted right-handed  since there weren’t enough people to take all three outfield spots and we didn’t want the folks who were out there to have to keep moving.
                Once again, the ball didn’t leave the infield, but once again I did manage a hit, which is shocking in and of itself. Two for seven on the year, by the way, suck it Ted Williams. What’s less shocking is how that hit came to be.
                The pitcher noticed I was struggling to bat righty and said I could turn around, but just try to hit it to left field. I told him that it was hard enough for me to actually make contact like alone worry about where the ball went after I’d made contact. I had just finished making fun of myself, saying “I’ll probably just strike out left handed, anyway” when I swung at a pitch and made contact. I started running towards first. The problem was, I was going in too fast. I neared the bag and I felt my legs start to come out from under me. I had two options, maintain my present stride and hope I didn’t slip and do a split. Or, shorten my stride and take a bunch of baby steps towards the bag. I did the latter, promptly tripped over the bag, went head over heels, scratched up my left palm, my right knee, my back and my right elbow. But I was safe! I got a hit! I’d lost most of the skin on the right side of my body for a game that wasn’t even a real adult league game, but that wasn’t important.
                I didn’t score that time, but let’s focus on the hit.
                The rest of that game was a blur. I found out the next day, an email had gone around to everyone’s work accounts at 5:40 that the game was cancelled due to lack of females, which are required in a co-ed league. The game started at 6:30 and I don’t check my work email at home, so naturally I was unaware of this. Earlier notice, you know, during the actual workday would have been ideal, but that would have also made too much damn sense. But I won’t hold a grudge.
                And how could I? At this point in my career, I’m already so much further ahead of where I thought I’d be that I’m in awe of it. Two hits (both in unofficial games, shhh)! I would have believed that I’d get abducted by a UFO piloted by the Loch Ness Monster before I’d have ever believed I’d manage two hits in a softball league.
                There’s another game on Tuesday. Maybe it will be an official game. Maybe it won’t. Maybe I’ll have teammates, maybe I won’t. In the wild and crazy world of adult league softball, you just never know.

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