Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Global catastrophes averted as softball season comes to an end

Well that’s that. Un-barricade your doors, hose the lamb’s blood off your porch, remove the garlic from around your neck and also from your back pockets. Another adult league softball season has come to a merciful, surprisingly bloodless, conclusion.   
                My team stormed, just stormed into the playoffs last night the owner of two hard-fought, gutsy victories. Well, one of those and one forfeit, but that’s irrelevant.
                There we were. In the playoffs. Well represented too. Our team had more people last night than at any other point this season that I can remember and very nearly everyone was early to boot. Our hopes for advancing to the next round were sky high. And then slowly, sadly, the members of the other team began to trickle in, increasing their roster size from two to the required number of players. Despite the tragic misfortune of the other team’s presence, we, as a team, agreed to play on.
                I settled into my home in right center field. Somehow, even though we had lots of players, that is where I remained the entire game. Logic and good sporting strategy would have me alternating between catching and warming the bench for the five inning contest. I may be better suited for those other roles, but if you’re going to play me and you’re going to allow me to go more than five tiny baby steps from my own dugout, then somewhere in right is really where you want me. The damage I can inflect from there will likely be minimal.
                It was actually a busier night than one might expect in right. The other team had a nasty habit of driving grounders between our first and second basemen, forcing me to charge in, pick the ball up in my glove, toss it to the nearest person who wasn’t me and then jog back to right center. Luckily for myself and my team and the good state of Pennsylvania, the other team only managed to get the ball in the air to right one time.

                There I was, probably thinking about doggies, when I heard it. The fearsome crack of the aluminum bat. I pushed the doggies from my brain and looked for the ball. It was a floater, headed for the weird no man’s land that lurks in the middle of right, first and second. I guess, if pressed, it was probably closer to me in right than the other two. I started to run. From off to my right I heard my fiancée say “It’s yours!” She was playing right proper, by the way. I started running even more. As I discussed with her last night, I’m not much for taking the lead in those kinds of situations. I will always stand there and watch the ball drop like it's New Year’s rather than risk stepping on anyone’s toes. With the all-clear from her though, I felt cleared to try to catch it. It was dropping fast. I was running all out. I put my glove into the air and … I caught it! Streamers fell from the sky. It’s an outdoor field, so the best I can figure they were dropped by god him/herself. My team rushed around me and hoisted me upon their shoulders. They chanted “Brick! Brick! Brick!” over and over, which is the nickname they’ve given me. In the stands, my father smiled and gave me a thumbs up, a gesture which was echoed by the ghosts of both of my grandfathers and George Washington, all of whom stood next to him.
                Maybe that’s what happened. Or maybe it’s what happened in my brain. Either way, I was a little slow getting the ball back into the infield and so a runner was able to take second on me. And that was mostly the story from the defensive side. I missed a couple of cut off folks, but I was complemented on my arm, which if you’ve seen the stringiness of my arms, you’ll know is a damn-shocking accomplishment.
                I was eighth in the batting order which meant, considering we got crushed last night, I forgot to mention that, I only got two at bats. My first time up I swung at the first pitch and whiffed horribly. I steadied myself and swung hard at the next pitch. It was a hardliner to short. The shortstop jumped, but to no avail. It went over her head and into shallow left. A single! Sure, had their shortstop been of even average height it would have been an out, but whateves. I’ll gloss right over the two base running mistakes that followed and get right to my final at bat. I’ll also gloss over that since I grounded the first pitch right back to the pitcher, who promptly threw me out at first.
                And that was the game and the season. It was a shortened campaign as I recovered from the aftershocks of my last softball season, but it was still fun. Now the American Northeast can once again drop its guard a little and slip into a state of cautious relaxation. At least until the fall. When softball begins anew ...  

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