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Chronicles of the Cow Patty League - Week 1

In the "Cult of Escapism": Chronicles of the Cow Patty League - Week 1

Friday, February 17, 2012

Chronicles of the Cow Patty League - Week 1

Guys that I played soccer with have been inviting me to play baseball in the league for weeks. I warned them that I hadn't played a game of competitive baseball in five years but that doesn't matter at all – they just wanted the gringo on the team. I realized that I had started every game on the districtsoccer team, on my gringoness alone, and I hadn't played competitive soccer since like second grade. Which is to say, I had never played competitive soccer.

I've played baseball my whole life and actually played on the actual varsity team in high school. Impressed? They definitely weren't, cause I don't think they were listening when I started trying to give them real justification for playing me; sight unseen, they had convinced themselves with the whole, 'He's a gringo' line of logic and there was no need to defend myself further.

Despite their non-existent standards for my actual play, I was determined to be a productive member of the team, unlike in soccer, when I mostly just slam into people and try not to get tired too quickly (and I always fail). We practiced once before the first game and as I shagged fly balls from the outfield, I tried to remember what Coach Seevers taught me in high school. Hand next to the glove; step towards it while catching it; ignore the cow patties. He didn't say that last one, but that's cause there were 100% fewer cow patties on our high school field. Here in site, there were many cow patties and some actual cows as well. One of your duties as an outfielder here is to chase away errant cows and horses.

The poop minefield thus engaged, I was happy with how quickly my muscle memory remembered everything; after five years, my hands were much more confident than my mind. No batting practice but hey, who needs to practice when you have arms as white and hairy as mine (I'm practicing their line of logic)?

Week 1
Game day, I showed up in cleats, soccer shorts, a free hat and a Nike wicking sleeveless workout shirt. With the heat, this was definitely the most practical sports outfit I could put together from my wardrobe, but of course it didn't match the uniform standards of the league.

“There are rules about what you can wear?” I asked, flabbergasted.
“Yes Jax, you need a shirt with sleeves and long pants.”
“But we're in the middle of fucking nowhere and it's 1,000 degrees out, who cares what we wear?” is what I didn't say but mentally screamed. Instead, I ran home and changed.

When I returned, I asked for the glove they had promised to lend me for the game. “It's out there, Jax” the captain replied, pointing to center field. I looked at the field and there were nine gloves, one left at each position by the other team's defense.

Inventory between both teams: One black metal bat with no grips; one helmet; nine gloves that can loosely be associated with each of the nine positions; stringent dress code. Check check check check check.

I pulled on an already sweaty glove and situated myself between three cow patties, thinking, 'This seems like a good spot.' The first batter promptly hit the ball over my head.

So, I chose some deeper cow patties and played the rest of the game from there. Which was a good move, cause the pitching was pretty horrendous. I lost track of how many pitchers we used at five, which is not a good sign when there are only seven innings and you only have ten total players on your team.

I was active defensively, which is also a bad sign for your team, but after the first error, I locked it down. Coach Seevers guided me through each fly ball like Obe-Won's* ghost in Star Wars: Crow hop and touch your opposite tow on the follow-through; hit the cut off man in the chest; trust your instincts. The sun was pretty punishing, but it felt so damn good to be playing baseball again that I didn't care.

I had been worried about batting since I hadn't hit fast pitch in five years but this wasn't particularly fast pitch so the learning curve was quick. Squash the bug; head down; left foot on thin ice. The one black bat burned in the 1:00pm sun, so it was definitely in my interest to hit one of the first pitches. I watched the pitches as the captain batted ahead of me. Weak curveball, weak curveball aaaand a weak curveball. I got up with a vague idea what he might throw.

His first few pitches, he was clearly attempting a curveball, but it really just sagged a little as it reached the plate and I eventually saw a good one and hit it between left and center. The outfielders scrambled after it and threw it back towards the diamond, though not to a particular player. Someone eventually claimed responsibility and tried to throw the runner out at home. Meanwhile, I rounded first and reached second without anyone noticing – a breathtaking RBI double. Maybe it'll make the ESPN Top Ten.

Actually, that play wouldn't even make the top ten plays of that inning, since most plays the whole game happened about the same way: mediocre batters take advantage of weak pitching and sloppy, first grade style defense, which occasionally, accidentally, gets somebody out, but mostly doesn't.

Unfortunately, our team was playing its second string, since most of the first string was at the protests and despite what would usually be an impressive three for four, with two singles, a double, an RBI and a run, I didn't quite contribute enough to get the win. The final score was 20-18, which means each player needed at least two RBIs, plus three. That's a lot of run support.

I'm looking forward to practicing and playing more and getting my game back. I finally understand why those old white dudes in bars still talk about their glory days in high school football. I've had to stop myself from telling teammates about just how much better I was when I was 18 and how I played on a championship team and waka waka waka. Just got to keep stealing the shit out of the bases, hitting one of the first pitches so my hands don't explode, and remember Obe-Wonton's timeless advice: be the ball, but more importantly if you want to keep starting, be the gringo.

*How the hell do you spell that? And did you ever realize it sounds like a Chinese dish? I'll have one order of fried dumplings, two Obe Wons and a bowl of chow mein.


At February 17, 2012 at 10:46 PM , Blogger Ila said...

don't forget your successful seasons on Gobias Industries!!


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