Friday, June 17, 2005

No runs, no hits, no errors

I can't wait for my next softball game.

That way, our coach will take the damn stats down from her office window and I can stop looking at my .125 batting average.

That's right. A buck twenty-five. In slo-pitch.

The killer thing is, I hit the ball better than I think I've ever hit it in that opening double-header of the season. But every ball was an "atom" ball. You know, it went right "atom."

I hit two balls to the warning track (and I'm not a power hitter), I got robbed on a shoestring catch, and I ripped a liner into a double play. And so on.

We scored 22 runs in the first game and I went 0-for-4. Sheesh.

Look, I'm a pretty light hitter; there's a reason I'm at the bottom of the lineup. But I hit .421 last year, 8-for-19! With a double, 3 ribbies and everything.

So that 1-for-8 is just mortifying, even if we did win both games. I mean, I'll take two wins, that makes 1-for-8 funny instead of depressing, but still. Every day I walk by there and cringe.

I love playing, though. It's the company team, and we play other newspapers - including some I've worked for, which is always a bit of fun. Some of the guys take it pretty seriously, and while I love to play, and I'm as competitive as the next guy, I accept two things: 1. My best athletic days are behind me, even though I think I'm the youngest guy on the team; and 2. My best sport was tennis, where there's a lot more sweet spot when hitting.

So I have four basic goals, outside of a team win:
1. Get a hit
2. Catch a ball
3. Get the uniform dirty
4. Don't get hurt

So even on my rotten 1-for-8, I nailed all five goals. And yes, we have uniforms. I'm No. 56, my lucky number. As for getting the uniform dirty, well, that's where the fun comes in: fielding.

I've got bad hands and a sore throwing arm, so I play the infield like the street hockey goalie I used to be. I knock it down and keep it from getting behind me, I don't actually have to catch it.

And in that doubleheader, I made one play where, despite the limited range of an out-of-shape, overweight guy with bad knees, I dove all the way behind the second-base bag to keep a hard grounder to an infield hit and (at least temporarily) save a run. A genuine SportsCenter play, if I do say so myself, including not one, but two rolls.

I've still got a bruise on my leg, by the way. So sympathy is in order.

When I'm not playing second, I can play third or catch. I'm too short for first, and don't have the range for short.

And anyone who's seen me track a fly ball knows I've got no business being in the outfield, even if some previous, cruel coaches have put me in right. I broke a pair of glasses that way once, diving for a ball. I missed, rolled over the glasses, and the centerfielder had to get the ball (which was about five feet from me) because I couldn't see it without the lenses.

I got contacts for this season. They probably increase the chance I'll get hit in the face with a ball, since I haven't worn contacts in years, but at least they mean I won't break my glasses unless I drop them drinking beer in the parking lot postgame.

I had only played maybe a half-dozen games in six years before last season, so it was nice to get rolling and get out and play, even with a long-ass trip to Long Island that was capped by my almost getting thrown out at first base on a ripped liner to left-center that startled me so much it got to the outfielder before I got out of the batter's box. And the guys didn't believe me when I told them I was slow.

Anyway, we've got two more games (doubleheaders, really) coming up next month, and believe me, I'm going to work on that new uppercut swing, and maybe I'll hit a ball that somebody won't catch.

The U.S. Slo-Pitch Softball Association (no we're not members)

Happy Father's Day, to all you fathers out there reading this!