... or what have you done for us lately?
The winter is past, the rain is over and gone and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land. Softball season will soon be upon us and I will be weighing my options.
I think my coach was on my case last season, having conducted a reappraisal of my overall talents. Oh, but you say, how can that be? Isn't it all strictly for fun and entirely voluntary? Yes and no; there are certain pressures which can be exerted which may interfere with one's "comfort zone."
(I'm the guy on the left)
I must plead mea culpa for some of the circumstances leading up to this unhappy state of affairs. You see, all of my teamates are dedicated Seattle Mariners fans and much of their conversation was based upon the latest misadventures of that hapless group. It did no good when I regularly appeared for practice wearing my Red Sox cap with the big red "B" emblazoned on the front. Of course, we all wear our team caps for the games; so I'm not entirely a non-conformist.
No, this malaise runs a little deeper than one's Major League loyalties. It lies with the coach's perception of individual performance. By way of background it should be stated that, while there are only eleven defensive positions on a team, we regularly have twelve to fourteen members available for a game. None of these bonafide players may be denied a spot in the batting order but, obviously, someone must "sit down" on defense. And it is the function of a heartless coach to determine who that someone is. And hereby hangs this tale.
Yours truly is only 83 years of age and feel that I still have a few more good years to contribute to our Kent team, which is one of fifteen in our league around the Greater Seattle area - up from ten in previous years. League rules require that at least three of the players in the field on defense must be women and that is the crux of my problem. That leaves only eight other positions open for men and the competition is becoming keener. Each year new, young blood (say in their early sixties) is coming up, making it more difficult for me to hold down my position at first base.
It had been suggested by coach and teammates alike that I modify my swing so that the flight of the ball would be less predictable and opponents would be unable to stack the field against me. But I am guilty of one of the cardinal sins ... pride.
Oh, and there may have been a couple of other minor things, too, which might have influenced the coach's decision on giving me less time at first base. As Yogi Berra so sagely observed, "Baseball is ninety percent half mental." Over the years I have been prone to engage in a few base-running lapses which may have had an impact on our team's run production, but so have a few of my teammates who didn't always have their heads in the game either. And we have all suffered our share of dropped balls and errant throws. But have any of these been shunted off into semi-retirement; well, maybe a few.
And so I have been left with the entire off-season to ponder my return to this year's competition. I'm really a very likeable guy and my fellow softballers get a kick out of my antics and humor and would welcome me back for another season of fun under the sun. It's management with whom I take umbrage.
But if I do decide to return in April you can be assured that I ain't backing down one whit from my Boston roots. I'll still show up for practice wearing my blue cap with the big red "B".... and "Red Sox" sewn on the back.
March 2, 2007