Sunday, January 25, 2009

Welcome to Kelly’s Life, Episode 13

Ah yes, the national pastime (baseball for you unaware badminton fanatics). It's also the new corporate ladder acceleration program, and is rapidly replacing golf. Where could I possibly be going with this you ask? Well, there's one other reason why one joins the company softball team.

His name was Paul. He had blue eyes. And dark hair. And was an architect. And I'm a sucker for all of the above. And he was standing at my desk, asking me if I'd like to join the company softball team.

"Unfortunately", I quietly replied, "I can't play softball. Sorry." Really, really sorry I thought to myself.

"Well, can you drink beer?" Paul smilingly asks. He is charming, and has positively sparkling, glacier colored eyes.

"Well, yes, I can drink beer. But I can't throw. And, well, I can't hit. And really, actually, I can't catch either. And as a matter of fact - I really, really, can't run." And I was being completely honest, without a shred of modesty, on all accounts. All of my statements were pure and true. I was unwilling to accept the possibility of causing team losses due to my inability to function on any level whatsoever as a softball player, and to consequently, as a result of my complete and total failure in that role, be seen as a schmuck by charming Paul.

"Well don't you worry about that! It's just a club team. You'll be fine!" says the crazy optimistic Paul. Gosh he's nice.

And before I know it, before my brain has a chance to chime in, my voice is saying, "Heck, I'd LOVE to play softball with you". And off he went, before the rational part of me had a chance to reply with a resounding hell no, as it very well should have.

Now, so that you understand, I've never played softball or anything resembling it, in my life. I have watched it though. A few times anyway. Ok, so maybe just twice. And once was at a Yankees game, when I was seven, and I fell asleep. But my brother played little league. And also, you see, I've had some knee surgery. So I really run more like my grandma. Although, she might be a little faster. She’s a German, and a retired postal worker. She's pretty darn feisty.

So off I go beer in hand, to the softball fields. Logically, because I can't catch and because I can't throw - Paul decides to make me the catcher. When we set the batting order, I make my request for a pinch runner known.

Yea, sure, no problem, he says, with just a trace of skepticism.

I go off to home plate. Paul is the pitcher. Kismet. Clearly. Paul throws and I leap out of the way. The ball bounces off the backstop and I shuffle over and pick it up. Now, I realize, I CAN throw - really, really far. About thirty feet to the left of where I'm aiming. The umpire snickers while Paul yells, "Throw to me, ok?" And I mutter under my breath, "I was." Sheesh. Paul throws, and I stick out my glove, and close my eyes. The ball bounces off the backstop and I shuffle over and pick it up. Paul walks left and towards me, and I throw it over his right shoulder, into the outfield. The umpire snickers as Paul yells, "Just aim for my glove, ok?" and I mutter under my breath, "I did."

The opposing team made 18 runs in the first inning.

That day, I managed to avoid hitting the ball when I got to bat. Although, it got a little too close a few times, which is amazing to me, since I never opened my eyes while that ball was whizzing towards my big head.

The game ended when the opposing team got to thirty points in the second inning. Some kind of point rule or something that they use for club teams. Something about… slaughter. Hell if I know. Stupid game. And Paul is actually, quite dreadfully boring.

Sixteen more games to go.

The next game, painfully dull Paul decides to put me safely into right field. And every batter up took one look at me, and slammed that ball into right field with amazing consistency. At which point, our left fielder would start running like a madman in my direction. Which kind of freaked me out you see - cause I thought for sure I'd get trampled and it would look like one of those bloopers you see on ESPN when the players slam into each other, fall to the ground, as the ball goes rolling away, and I'd be picking grass clippings out of my skivvies and have grass stains on my teeth, what was left of them.

And then I got up to bat. And I accidentally hit that damn ball. So I looked over to Paul, then turned to the umpire and said, "I'd like my pinch runner now please." Positively glowing, the impish ump points to first base and says, "You need to get there first". So off I go. Lurching, limping, shuffling, like the hunchback would look if he ever ran and was 90 years old and was trying to carry his walker with the little tennis balls on the bottom. I see Paul out of the corner of my eye, jaw wide open, eyes big. He probably would have been pointing too, if it weren't for his good manners.

You see, really, I can't run.

The other team overthrows the ball, past first base, and into the outfield, as I stumble onto first base, turn around and say, "Pinch runner?" as Paul is sending out the 50 year old civil engineer to run in my place. As I mosey up to the dugout, I hear Paul say to me, "So, uh, you, uh, really CAN'T RUN now can ya?"

But I did redeem myself. Next game. Back as the catcher, bases were loaded, and the batter sent it into the next county. The outfielder launches the ball back to me, much to Paul's dismay. I see Paul's face, expression of panic, as he starts running towards me.

The ball comes. And I CATCH it. I look left, as this eight foot tall, square, boorish woman with a crew cut and some tattoos, and probably named “Butch”, comes barreling down towards me, I stick out my gloved hand, ball snug inside, as she plows me down and imbeds me into home plate.

"OUT!!!" the little snarky ump cries.

And so went my illustrious career as a non-running, non-hitting, non-throwing, non-catching, beer swilling softball club team player.

Next season? Paul moved to Minnesota. I think I might take up badminton.

1. Blue eyed, dark haired architects very well may be dreadfully dull.
2. Softball may not be the game for you if you can't run, hit, throw or catch, even despite your beer swilling abilities.
3. Badminton isn't any fun either.