Sunday, March 30, 2008

Over-30 Softball: Blast To My Past

I don’t remember seeing Bill & Ted there, but I think I mastered time travel. Why would I attempt to relive my youth, when they weren’t my glory days?

This was several years ago, but a friend of mine asked me if I was interested in joining an over-30 softball league. He said it’s all in fun and not competitive at all. Really? It’s not baseball but it’s still a competitive sport and it’s still a bunch of men. But they’re adults now and we’re all over 30. And I love playing baseball. How hard can softball be?

Oh. My. God.

Over 30 doesn’t mean old, or non-athletic, and it definitely doesn’t mean non-competitive. Some of these guys were huge and everyone was competitive.

It started with me being picked last. Awesome! I’m not very tall but I can still play. I just don’t look like I can play, especially when I’m standing next to Count Jockula.

Then there’s the good-natured taunting. Please. I think they made me cry, more than once. I just wanted to go home.

No, instead of enjoying myself I’m straight back to when I was 12, and awkward, where I didn’t care about making the big play, I just didn’t want to embarrass myself.

They put me in the outfield, of course, but in adult softball that means Action City. Although I am entirely capable of catching a fly ball, now the batters just pick their spot and hit them way short so I chase them like I don’t know how to play my position, or way over my head so I can pop my glove up just 80 feet shy of my target.

Now I begin the nerd-player mantra: “Please don’t hit it to me, don’t hit it to me, don’t hit it to me.” Hit it to the third baseman! I can back him up. He’ll look like the fool and I’ll be playing my position.

Then I get my turn at the plate. It’s slow-pitch. Who can’t hit a slowly pitched softball? After I realize everyone is watching me, apparently I can’t. If it came down the pike like a baseball, I’d have a chance. I’m fine in the cages. But even though it’s slowly pitched, it comes in a really steep arc. I actually have time to swing all three times in one pitch and I’m outta there!

After the strikeout comes the walk of shame. No one offers the insincere condolences I got when I was 12 like “You’ll get ‘em next time.” Total and absolute silence.

I play with the Brawny towel guys who all get home runs. They’re disappointed if it doesn’t clear the fence, which makes an evening of softball double-headers (they usually play two) a lot longer than I expected. Even if I do get a hit, I don’t exactly point to left field before I swing and I have to sprint to first base. Sprint? I haven’t sprinted in over 20 years. My quads are in hibernation and my hammies are tighter than my sphincter was when I was playing left field. When I jettison from home plate, for some reason my head suddenly weighs 400 pounds and I run like a Vaudeville tap dancer bringing it home, and wipe out right before I get to the actual base.

And if this hasn’t been fun enough, there’s the heckling. I have a million comebacks for nearly every situation except sports heckling. It’s like that nightmare when you’re being chased, and you’re legs are Jell-o and when you open your mouth to scream, nothing comes out. Except it’s not a dream - I’m paralyzed because I know I can’t trash talk when I’m going to suck.

Recovery time after a softball game for nerdletes like me is worse than a week-long bender (I can only imagine). Besides involuntarily reliving the events over and over in my head, and constantly checking over my shoulder to make sure no one is about to stuff me in a locker, I have to suffer through the muscle pain and make things up every time someone asks why I’m walking funny: “I’m auditioning for a John Cleese tribute.” And then I remember women play softball, only it’s fast pitch and they’re a lot better at this. You don’t have to ask, I’m ready to turn in my man card.

Just for fun my ass. I’m in my 40s and was made to feel like a pre-teen again. Why would I do that? Don’t fall for it, unless you’re a jock looking to regain some of your lost glory. Then I’m sure it’s fun for you, but I bet I can kick your ass at Risk or Jeopardy mothertrucker. What is "Be careful what you wish for, Alex?"


Dee-Rob said...

Hey there,

I searched quad pain softball, because I'm lying on the couch with not one but two sore thighs from base running.

I feel you on the over-40 reliving the 12-year-old nerd shame. My mantra was to hope for the batters in front of me to get swept so I could avoid the swing and a miss or worse, the glacial jog to race the ball to first.

Turns out I'm no more athletic now than I was 30 years ago. But, I think I cry less.

Thanks for the laugh.

Dee-Rob said...

Sorry if this posts twice.

Thanks for the laugh. I found you while Googling "quad pain softball."

My nerd mantra, connecting my 40+ self with the 12-year-old girl I was, is a prayer for the batters in front of me to get swept. That way either I don't strike out or worse have to endure the glacial jog to first racing the speeding throw into first.

I think I'm no more athletic than 30 years ago, but I cry less.