I am completely unable today to focus my attention on penning yet another high-quality blog post for WFMU's erudite and attractive readers. A dozen entries into my illustrious career as a Beware Of The Blog contributor, surely by now you have come to expect greatness every time my name graces a byline. Not this week, though. My fans, avert your eyes, unless you would like to witness a descent into madness that few will comprehend and even fewer will empathize with. See that picture floating to the left of these words? This post has absolutely nothing to do with the album art associated with a particular psychedelic album recorded in the late '70s on Long Island. I just put that there because my head feels like the Bermuda Triangle today, as every idea I have is intentionally ignored or quickly forgotten. My concentration is next to nothing. If I didn't have a penchant for staying awake for next three days and not eating, I might seek pharmaceutical assistance to focus better on writing an interesting article for you. Alas, today is simply not my day to play the role of blogger for this massive audience -- which is something in which I often relish, seeing as how my own website has, like, zero readers by comparison. I just have more pressing matters to deal with right now.
I'm talking about softball. Out here in LA, softball leagues are like crack cocaine and fantasy football rolled into one irresistible competitive urge. If the spirit is willing, you can play softball in Los Angeles year-round. When you live on the West Coast where one's work schedule can be confusing or unusual -- 11am-7pm seems to be the typical work-day on this side of the country -- softball offers a safe haven outside of the office or coffeeshop where one can come together with a group of friends and recapture lost youth, or maybe just squeeze in some exercise for a couple hours each week. Softball leagues can be taken lightly, or with complete seriousness. While it is an enjoyable game and the overall objective is to have fun, sometimes winning actually becomes everything. I've only learned this very recently.
In May of this year I joined my first softball team. I was asked to be an alternate, but have played every game this season except for one (when I was away in Gilroy for a long weekend (URL)). I hadn't swung a bat with the intention of hitting a ball in a competitive context for nearly ten years. Three months later, I am now addicted to the sport, and with my team's first (and potentially last) playoff game starting in just a few hours, I am at once excruciatingly nervous and giddily excited.
See that? That's us, Los Expos for short. I'm the guy in the blue sweatpants with the dirt stains on my ass. That photograph was taken after my first ever softball game, which ended in a stunning 21-11 victory for our team, and included an embarrassing moment where I tripped running around the bases and severely bruised my toe. You can read about that game here (URL). To sum things up, I had my first hit of the season (a two-RBI single to break a tie game), and also struck out swinging, which is about the most horrifying occurrence that can befall a softball player...well, next to falling while running the bases, I suppose.
Since then our season has had its ups and downs. We finished with a 4-6 record, losing several close games and getting blown out only once. Okay, maybe twice. We barely made the playoffs, but are looking for blood tonight against our opponents, who for the sake of anonymity I will now rename the Douchebag Little Prick All-Stars, or DLPAS's for short. They are the behemoths of the league, losing just one game and cruising along all season as the first place team in our division. The DLPAS's give us Expos no respect. In our first match-up this year, their pitcher -- who is a total dick, and likes to trash talk while taking his sweet-ass time between pitches -- was boasting after the game about having walked four times in four at-bats. Good for you, asshole. You wasted a Thursday night standing around with a bat in your hands. One of their outfielders brought his children to the game, and during one at-bat, as they screamed, "Hit a home run, daddy!" he turned around and said "Okay," then proceeded to not swing at a single pitch, electing instead to draw a full count and walk on a close ball four. Ordinarily, the rules of softball are such that...well, it's a fucking softball league! Swing the bat! On-base percentage means nothing in an intramural league. And there's no need to talk trash and waste time either, DLPAS pitcher guy. I hate you.
In our second game against the DLPAS's, we kept the score close until the later innings of the game. Actually, no we didn't, we lost by ten runs -- scoring 5 in a 7-inning game -- which is just terrible. The pitcher on the other team was up to his old tricks, joking incessantly with his teammates between pitches, acting holier-than-thou, chatting casually with the umpire...it was the most despicable display of sportsmanship I've seen since that time my father (as coach of my little league team back in New Jersey) left the dugout and ran out onto the field to challenge someone to a fight. Fast forward to three weeks ago when I was standing in the dugout watching this asshole laugh throughout his team's blowout victory. I started to feel like how my father once felt. I wanted blood. Vengeance.
Tonight is our team's chance to continue our season for one more week. Not only that, we have the opportunity to cut down our rivals, spit in their faces and ruin their expectations of championship t-shirts and trophies. No, no, no. Not this year, DLPAS's. Not tonight, my sweet, hated, mortal enemies. Tonight we Expos will be playing for our lives as well as for your respect. And in sports, any team that doesn't get respect is a dangerous opponent. Watch your back, guys. Perhaps more importantly, watch your nuts -- we Expos are not exactly known for our accurate throws.
One of our best players, Pat, is out of town tonight and will miss this important game. That didn't stop him from e-mailing us all a list of his "Keys To Victory," which I will now share with you:
- Make pitcher throw strikes.
- When you get on base make sure you force them to make a throw. At least fake like you're going -- that will be a big one. An overthrow to home is always good.
- Pay attention to how many outs there are. Don't get thrown out at 3rd base, but with two outs try to make something happen.
- Be very aggressive. Big hits are going to be needed, but consistent singles and double are very important. NO FLY OUTS. Home Runs are worthless if nobody is on base.
- In the outfield, keep everything in front of you. Cut off angles, allowing doubles and not Home Runs.
Personally, I've quite enjoyed my first softball season. According to our statistician, I am 14-27 when hitting this year with five walks. I've scored 11 runs and knocked-in six. I have one triple and one double. The triple should have been a home run, but I was forced out at home plate after scoring because I touched the wrong part of the plate. It was total bullshit. It was also the last out of the game. Oh well, overall I feel like I've been a valuable member of the Los Expos team this season, and look forward to playing again in the fall, and then again next spring. I've gone from the guy who fell around the bases in his first game and struck out swinging to a guy who can actually hit the ball and run a little bit too. Not bad for a kid who you're more likely to find at a record convention than a sporting event.
Wish us luck, everyone. I'll let you know in two weeks whether our season ended in glory or in agony.