Thursday, July 30, 2009

Weeks Three and Four: Let the Players Play/Not-Play

What is constant? People barfing on the Real World comes to mind. But let's go bigger.

What is constant in human history, first and foremost, is folly. Hubris. Questionable fashion choices. Some better things. For instance: Softball on Sundays and VIP treatment at Buttermilk (see left for an in-action shot from Week Four) (How my hair look?). What is not constant: the way that softball works or doesn't work.

And so it is that we arrive where we are now, a generally satisfying month into the softball season, but with a strangely spotty record behind us. There was a massive, all-hands-on-deck turnout for Week Three's game -- probably the last game of the season for busy Buttermilk All-Stars Seth and Erika, and the first game of the season for lyme disease-stricken Legend of the Game Scott Snelling -- and yet... something was missing. Was it an even distribution of talent? There were other things missing, but yes that kind of jumps out. This is the hazard of counting off by 1's and 2's -- there are no other downsides and this policy will not change by decree of your Dear Leader. Or rather it's the hazard of doing the 1, 2 thing and then not properly balancing the scales. Things were further unbalanced in Week Three by the (luck-dictated) way that the randoms got distributed. My team wound up with the good-natured and apparently very-good-at-softball Stefan, who authored what will likely go down as the single greatest one-game performance in Buttermilk Softball history -- two homers, five RBIs, somehow no one alienated by said dominance. The other team got a pair of Slacker Softball League players named Kenneth and Gatorade. Meet me in the next paragraph and we'll talk about what that meant.

Playing-wise, not too much. They weren't terrible, weren't great. But their attitude was strictly :('s 4 days -- innings off for reasons both faintly reasonable (have to sit with my (literal actual canine) dogs) and not so much (Gatorade, breaking north for a few innings to go get some Gatorade). Apparently their Friday games turn out dozens upon dozens of people -- everyone fired-up, multiple fields in use, presumably with frequent time off for long energy-drink walks and such. And more power to them in that, but they didn't necessarily rep their set to the fullest that Sunday.

What did they do instead? Did they openly disparage the female players on their own team? Yes, they did. Did they kind of bum out the people on their (already maybe a little outfield-defense-deficient) team? Yes, they did that as well. Were they essentially human warnings against getting successful in probably graphic design or whatever and forgetting that coolness and personal worth is a thing performed and earned and repeated, rather than gifted irrevocably and then used as a dorky bludgeon on random people? I don't know. I don't know them. I just know the ladies on their team fucking hated them.

Those aforementioned ladies (and also dudes) also probably hated not-winning, honestly, and that was something that was also happening to them. Stephen Patnode, I think, homered in this one, for the losing team. Stefan homered twice for the winners, and I'm pretty sure Jordan had a roundtripper of his own. I pitched a complete game, I think, which is much less impressive than it sounds. Everyone was kind of bored and bummed, despite the great turnout, etc. Kate and I spent dinner going over what was wrong with the game (see above) and talking about ways to improve her defense. Suffice to say that fungo bat never got purchased. We do a lot of visualization exercises. I watch a lot of Travel Channel and am apparently trying to get fat (I think you can gain weight watching Man Vs. Food, maybe?). But no fungo. Where do you store a fungo? I don't trust the turtles with it. Would you? Look at these fucking guys.


Anyway, so that was Week Three. Decent softball, but no one really all that happy. So is that why Week Four only had 12 people at it? No, probably not. Probably a weather report that predicted -- with erroneous 70% certainty -- a biblical-grade hailstorm had something to do with that. But probably Week Three's lopsided, bad-vibe outcome didn't help. Which kind of makes it odd that Week Four was definitely a better time.

Not to say it wasn't odd -- it was. The entire modern dance bloc was MIA, which meant that it was Jeff, Colleen, Alex, Kenny, SJ Patnode, Forrest, Jordan, Scott, Scott's Friend Eric, Myself and No One Else when I got there (late). And yet, during an hour-plus of Extended Spring Training -- batting practice, fielding practice, video art, the usual -- and a brief, modified 6-on-6 game once we picked up randoms Luis/"Matsui" and Matt, things went pretty fine. The quality of softball was generally pretty good. I hit terribly, but played better in the field than at any time since I completed puberty (that's 2002). Jeff Ciprioni killed the ball. Eric, Forrest (especially Forrest), Scott Snelling all hit the ball hard. Kenny and Alex had banner days in the field, occasionally at my expense. And despite the inevitable drag of the fact that we basically didn't have an official game -- which means Jeff Ciprioni's four triples will not count towards his season OPS+, sadly -- it was enough to at least get me fired up for this week.

This week, Week Five. Week Five when we'll turn out a full complement, with some new players and returning legends of the game and maybe a new softball or two and hopefully an on-time arrival from your humpy commish and the whole freaking works. Another constant for us, for everyone -- for the wraithlike Luis Matsui's, for the grumpy shit-attitude n00bs and all of the saints and all the rest of us -- is the belief that things will be better next time. When this is applied to colonialism, to crude political positivisms or backdated self-justifications or whatever your poison is, it is one thing, and not necessarily a good thing. When it is applied to softball, it is something else. When it applies to softball, it is very often true. That is: it will be better, this week and next week and after. We wouldn't play otherwise. We wouldn't keep playing otherwise, but we keep playing because it is always -- in some way, always -- very good.

The system still works. I'll say 1, you can say 2, and we'll all say Sunday, maybe 4 o'clockish? Trust me: it works. It still works.

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