For the love of the game (and tots)

Guess what? I play softball now. Can you believe it? Because I cannot.

Prior to last month, I had played softball exactly zero times.

Somehow I let my volleyball cohorts talk me into playing on their softball team. The discussion went as follows:

Them: You should play softball!
Me: Um, no.

Them: But you’re good at volleyball; you’ll be good at softball!
Me: Unless you’re Bo Jackson, I’m pretty sure that’s not how it works.

Them: We play only a few miles from your house and it’s only for an hour.
Me: Still no.

Them: We meet afterwards at a local bar and order tater tots.
Me: What night did you say you play again?

So that is how I found myself among a bunch of women sporting well-worn softball cleats and $200 bats, while I arrived wearing the shoes I wear to mow the lawn and a rock-solid softball glove I found in the garage that enraged me for two reasons: it was made of a special molting material that meant I could pull entire strips of fabric from it, and it was stamped with Stupid Derek Jeter’s signature.

I told the coach to stick me where I could do the least amount of damage and she immediately said I could be the catcher. When I clarified, “Somewhere where I don’t have to touch the ball,” I was relegated to right field.

And that’s where I spent my first three games, happily observing the nighttime sky while the poor left fielder had approximately 87 fly balls hit to her. Much like the little kid who daydreams about the post-game ice cream, most of my time was spent praying the ball wouldn’t come my way and daydreaming about post-game tater tots.

When it came to batting, I adopted my golf swing approach of slowing down my swing, and it actually worked. In the first game, I got a base hit, hit the ball (but got thrown out) and struck out. In the other games, I raised my shoulder and ended up making consistent contact, going 1 for 3 each time. (I would be an All-Star if I played for the Twins this year.) My biggest fear of striking out only happened once (except that I have now jinxed myself).

After the first game, I went out and bought some cleats and a brand-new glove. The ridiculousness is that my new glove – still not quite broken in – feels 1,000% softer than my old glove. I blame Jeter.

Before last week’s game, the current catcher decided she needed a week off to let her bruised shins heal, so I idiotically decided to volunteer. Why, I don’t know, because instead of avoiding the ball, I was going to have to handle it ALL THE TIME. Luckily, the umpire took pity on me so he made sure to give me helpful tips like: Don’t crouch so close to the plate. Don’t worry about catching the ball. Make sure to move the dropped bat out of the base path. Make sure you don’t get cracked in the face by the bat. Don’t wear a skirt tomorrow because your legs are going to be covered in bruises. Etc., etc. And surprisingly, it was fun. (Minus that one ball that bounced into my kneecap so hard one of the outfielders told me later she heard the crack “as clear as a bell.”)

So here’s to trying new things. And bruised knees. And tater tots. (Not necessarily in that order.)

5 thoughts on “For the love of the game (and tots)

  1. Oh my stars. I don’t even know what to say about this other than TATER TOTS!!! We ate at a place called House of Pies (twice) last weekend and their tots were crispy bits of heavenly goodness. So I can see how that swayed you.

  2. I, too, will do just about anything for tater tots. But probably not things that involve fast flying orbs aimed at my face.

  3. YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY!!!

    I played fast-pitch softball from the time I was 12 – 18. I LOVED IT!

    I played right field and first base. In fast pitch, that was where the action was quite a lot of the time. Oh, I loved it, loved it.

    I SUCKED at batting, though. That was a constant source of stress.

    Also: I snorted my coffee at your Twins All-Star comment. Between the Twins and the Rockies, this season looks GLOOMY.

  4. Also also: A. found some tater tots in our freezer on Sunday. They were approximately 7 years old. I told him they would taste horrible. He liberally covered them in spices and they still turned out gross.

    I should get the man some fresh tater tots.

  5. oh god. i unwisely was talked into softball at my old job briefly. the games were at, like, 9pm on weeknights in the middle of nowhere. they were all double-headers… against the SAME TIME each time. like, each week we’d play 1 time twice in a row. (WHY??) the people on the team weren’t UNfriendly, but it’s not like we hung out afterwards – i mean, it was way too late by then and they all were parents with kids. the worst.