Against my own better judgment I organized a softball game in which 40 and 50 year-old idiots were invited (harassed) to compete. The last softball game I participated in was maybe 15 or 16 years ago when I was about 35, if you’re buying that. If not, I can certainly offer you a discount, or perhaps you’d like to see something in a different size? In that game I learned that the term “softball” was clearly coined by someone who never got hit by one. “Hit by one” means that you made the mistake of trying to catch one. The ball after being hit by someone (usually fat and out of shape, the most dangerous of all softball athletes) travels with a generous amount of “English.” My glove, which took “English as a Second Language,” is always in the slightly wrong place, so it bounces off my mitt and usually hits me in the chin.
We had only a couple serious injuries, mostly humorous ones. It’s all fun and games until someone breaks a nail. I was the one who broke a nail and I JUST had them done. I know some guys who get manicures and pedicures. Well I don’t actually know them but I’ve heard of them. I would never get a pedicure and risk the girl going, “Dude you have stuff down there that actually needs to be CURED.” I picture my pedicure crossing over several fields of study… anatomy, geology, possibly botany.
Anyway we warm up and then pick teams. I can make a game out of any number of people. Even primary numbers I can split into teams. If there are 12 people we make 3 teams of 4. One team is at bat, the other two are in the field. I can make a game out of the square root of 2 on one team, an isosceles triangle on another, and a raccoon on another. The triangle pitches for both teams, and supply your own raccoon when the other team is in the field.
So I count the legs of all the people present and divide by 2 two find out how many people are there. I end up with an odd number, so I just count heads instead. I think I screwed that up too unless somebody has two heads.
We had enough to play a game leaving right field vacant, so any ball hit there was considered foul. It wouldn’t have mattered; factoring in our fielding percentage, not having anyone in right field was statistically the same as having someone in right field.
We wouldn’t have had enough for two teams at all except that Norm brought an entire half of a genealogical tree- a ton of cousins it looked like, and most of them were teenagers. They played in a carefree and loose manner, as if they were totally unconcerned about the massive weight of the budget deficit we are going to leave their generation.
One of them dusted me for a home run, I think it was the only one of the game. The kid really tagged it, and I ran it down pretty well, then seemed content to let it just fly past me. I tried to get it ruled a foul ball, but I was playing center field. Then someone else hit another one out there and I was like trying to find my inhaler and asking around if anyone brought a defibrillator.
Even more embarrassing was that nobody from my generation seemed to know which base to throw to. Someone would hit the ball and the infielders would in turn throw to each base that the runner just left. The throw to first base always assumed a 12 foot-tall first baseman. Invariably at every softball field I have ever played on, first base is right next to a patch of poison ivy. Thank god you only get one base on an overthrow, or you could itch and scratch out an inside-the-park home run every time.
I thought my team was going to get shellacked, and I even brought some paint thinner just in case, but after the first couple innings our defense settled in (meaning no one hit any towards me) and the game became pretty competitive. The last couple innings my team really started to come around. Maria lobbed a ball in between three infielders who looked like a meteorite had just landed in front of them and they couldn’t believe it. By the time they picked it up Maria had a chance to round first, pull a hamstring, apply a tourniquet and administer the Heimlich maneuver before she limped into second base. What if she needed a medevac helicopter? I wondered if the pilot would mind stopping at third base- we do have a game going on here. I got a seeing eye single and Dave doubled us in. Next inning Norm led off with a double and three hits and three outs later we tied the game. Then Norm and the family with all the cousins had to leave and the game was over.
Incidentally, the game of softball was originally invented to be played indoors, and the first game on record was thought to be between Yale and Harvard alumni tossing around a boxing glove and hitting it with a broomstick, in 1887. I’m not sure who thought of the idea that the ball should be too big to fit inside my mitt, but it was certainly diabolical. Every play I made in the outfield (another misnomer, since I recorded so few outs there) I caught on the second try, because it immediately bounced out the first time. I tried to get it scored a double-play, which was instantly met with scorn, even by my own teammates.
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