I really shouldn’t play softball, ever.
Which is unfortunate, because I’m on three different softball teams this summer. That’s a record for me, and it’s likely no coincidence that it comes in the first summer after I turned thirty-five. I feel like I’m in Logan’s Run; once you’re too old and fat and out of shape enough to exercise any other way, they come chasing after you to fit you for a catcher’s mitt and a hernia brace. It’s a little scary.
(Oh, for you younger kids — Logan’s Run was one of those ‘moving picture’ shows we used to have before DVDs or pay per view came out. And before any of you smug young healthy bastards were born, either.
Again, for you younger kids — Farrah Fawcett was what passed for ‘eye candy’ back then, before whale tails and wardrobe malfunctions. And before internet porn. See why we old geezers are so goddamned bitter now?)
Anyway, it’s not the actual softball playing that’s a problem. I can hit the ball okay, and I can still make it to first base in a way that looks more like ‘running’ than ‘a clubfooted ostrich having a heart attack’. Marginally more.
“We’re in that gray(ing) area of the world of Mansport, between sports like soccer and football and basketball on one side, and shuffleboard, gin rummy, and solving the Sunday jumble on the other.”
I can even flash the glove a little, for a man my age and in my less-than-mint condition. If you hit the ball right at me, that is. Smack it precisely in my direction, and I’ll often make a play — but there’s no lateral motion left in these legs, apparently. If the games so far are any indication, I have the fielding range of a three-legged patio chair buried in quicksand. It’s not pretty out there, people.
But that’s okay. This is not the ‘Spring Chicken’ league, remember. Most of the guys out there — we won’t bring the girls into any conversation concerning advancing age — are as old as I am, give or take a couple of rings on the old trunk. We’re in that gray(ing) area of the world of Mansport, between sports like soccer and football and basketball on one side, and shuffleboard, gin rummy, and solving the Sunday jumble on the other. In our younger years, we played for the glory; these days, we play so we can hit the bar after the game and drink on a Tuesday night without feeling ‘weird‘ about it. So I guess there’s still some ‘glory’ in it, after all.
Still, I shouldn’t be playing softball. Or any team game, for that matter. I shouldn’t even be watching my teams play, and that’s because I’m no good at cheering. I’m a pep rally’s worst nightmare; a rooting train wreck just waiting to happen.
Don’t misunderstand — I want to cheer for my teammates. I try to advise and encourage and morally support them. It just never works out very well. There are basically three things working against me:
So in a situation like, say, when our best hitter’s up to bat, and the rest of my team is, quite reasonably, calling out things like:
‘Base hit now, base hit!‘
‘Wait for your pitch; nice and easy now!‘
‘Just a little line drive, brother!‘
How do I add my support? With this unplanned little gem:
‘KNOCK HER UP THE POOPER, MAN!‘
Which wasn’t at all what I’d intended to say, but it got quite a look from the other team’s pitcher. The other team’s female pitcher, who I surmised was quite against the idea of being knocked up the pooper. And who could blame her, really?
(Not me, certainly. I would never intentionally suggest that our slugger knock up the opposing pitcher’s pooper; it just slipped out that way.
I don’t even think he knows the girl, frankly. And pooper knocking’s hardly a proper topic of conversation for a first introduction. I read Miss Manners; I know these things.)
Sadly, that featherbrained faux pas fiasco is par for the course. My cheering starts out normal, like everyone else’s… and then something happens. I get lost in the moment, forget what I’m saying, and — just as everyone else conveniently shuts up, of course — I blurt out some ridiculous nonsense that’s neither ‘rooting’ nor ‘rallying’; it’s just retarded.
I don’t discriminate, either. I’ve shouted horribly embarrassing non sequiturs in every conceivable game situation. I’ve asked our pitcher to ‘send this batter back to Mrs. Butterworth‘, informed the infield, with men on base, that we should ‘toss a log at the lead beaver‘, and told our relay man, with the runner at first not tagging, that there were ‘no pants on the donkey‘. Then there was the time, coaching third on a close play, when I yelled at our runner to:
‘Slide! Slide! Like a pirate! Slide!‘
To this day, I have no idea what I was trying to say. Maybe (hopefully?) I was asking him to ‘hook slide’. Possibly, I was hoping he’d ‘swashbuckle’ into the bag — though I’m frankly not sure I’d know swashbuckling if I saw it, nor could I say whether our runner was carrying the necessary equipment at the time. Most likely, I just wanted to hear him growl, ‘Arrrrrr!‘ as he slid into third. At worst, that’d show some team spirit. And at best, the third baseman might think he was being boarded, and abandon ship befor the throw arrived.
That, or he’d think the guy was going to knock him up the pooper, which would probably get him the hell out of the way, too. Either way, somebody on our team was going to score that inning. Maybe my cheering suggestions aren’t so bad, after all.Permalink | 1 Comment