With the start of a new professional baseball season comes the onslaught of adult softball leagues in the Washington, DC area. This year I am a participant, and our first three games must be recorded for posterity's sake. I still don't know the score of our very first game because I was only able to make it to the second game of the doubleheader, and the first outcome was so bad no teammate was willing to inform me.
Me: 'Hey, how did the first game go?'
Teammate 1: 'I plead the fifth.'
Teammate 2: 'Have you seen Terminator?'
Teammate 3: 'Looks like rain.'
Me: 'Sooooo did we win? What was the score?'
Teammate 4: 'No one got injured!'
Coach: 'Hey David, can you play backstop tonight?'
In our few games I have played a variety of positions- left field, first base, bat boy, batting-gloves-tester, and a special position my coach calls "backstop." Whoever is playing backstop has one of the most important jobs on the team- he/she has to get all the softballs that get past the catcher. Since it's slow pitch softball (underhand lobs basically) there aren't too many pitches that go beyond the catcher (and umpire, coincidentally. He catches 90% of the balls that get past the catcher) but the ones that get away from those two I track down like a hawk preying on an elephant.
My favorite position of all is the bat boy. Similar to the position of center fielder where every decision is a split second choice between catching the ball with your non-mitted hand or going for a (not necessary) dive headfirst into the grass to scoop the ball, the bat boy must bravely face the decision to present the hitter with a legitimate metal bat or with a hollow bat filled with peanut M&Ms. The metallic bats always produces better hits; 'better' being defined in the eyes of softball elitists as a bat/ball connection that produces a base runner. My definition of 'better', however, is a hit with the hollow bat. What's better than a shower of peanut M&Ms all over the infield off of what normally would have been a foul ball? Everyone is surprised, including me because half the time I forget which bat I offered the hitter.
Now, about those base runners. We had one last week that literally came out of left field. There we were, in the middle of a thrilling game when this hefty guy comes barreling into the game, bends down, swipes 3rd base, and runs off with it. No one saw it coming and no one has seen it since. Even the umpire was flabbergasted. He asked if we could use my left shoe as a replacement base; a decision I did not feel was inspired considering he had an extra base bulging out of his back pocket. He claimed it was a first base, and therefore would cause serious confusion to the hitters, not knowing if they should run right or left upon a hit of the ball. Whatever. He had knee high socks on and that's all I require for respect on the diamond, so he was legit. Plus, I suppose I can see things getting a little confusing if there were peanut M&Ms all over the field as the runner headed left, toward what traditionally is '3rd base.'
While I haven't learned all the scores, I can safely say we have not won any of our games. Some were closer than others (20-2 being a closer loss than 23-1) but they were all semi-hard fought. I sure do enjoy playing though! If you're in the area on a Monday night come on by and watch the Beltway Bombers!