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    Kickball and the Smangin Pine

    2012 - 01.18

    I start walking your way
    And you start walking mine.
    We’ll meet in the middle,
    ‘Neath that old… Smangin pine?
    -Diamond Rio Meet in the Middle

    “Why do I still have that God-forsaken song in my head, and why can’t I hear anything?*” I asked myself as I disentangled myself from the 67 blankets on my bed. I hesitantly opened one eye and then the next, poking at my head with my senses to see just how hungover I was. Thankfully, not very.

    I reached over to check the clock. 11:30, it said, or near enough to make no difference. My head hurt from all the beers the night before, but I knew that could be handled with a hot shower and a cup of coffee, my shoulders ached from the previous morning’s swim, and my ears were ringing from the previous evening’s annual visit to the Monster Jam at the Georgia Dome. That, by the way, is a blog post unto itself, which I shall delve into when I’m feeling a bit saucier.

    I laid there in the bed for another half hour so, gathering my thoughts and plotting my next move. At the end of that span, all that I’d come up with is that I needed to shower and I needed to eat something.

    I crawled out of bed, which in my case isn’t a metaphor since the ceiling is only a couple feet above the bed, and made the precarious climb over all my assorted footwear and down the ladder, noting how sore I was. I fired up the Keurig coffee maker and hopped in the shower to wash off the scent of redneck and 1500 horsepower, alcohol-fueled beasts.

    An hour later I was sitting in my worn out, but incredibly comfortable recliner, watching Van Halen videos on YouTube when my cell phone rang. It was my friend Courtney. She’d called me the night before, but I was out at Monster Jam so I missed it. Better to not dodge two phone calls in a row…

    Me: Que?
    Courtney: What you doin?
    Me: Oh just sittin here watchin Van Halen videos on YouTube. Have you seen the vid for their new song?
    Courtney: No time for all that. You wanna play kickball this afternoon? We’re one person short for our game today…
    Me: Sure. Where do I need to be and when?
    Courtney: Piedmont Park at 2:00
    Me: It’s 1:30 now…
    Courtney: Yep, better hurry.

    I threw on some athletic clothes, grabbed my running shoes and water bottle, and skipped out the door to get in my truck, only to realize that it was… still at the bar from the previous night’s adventures. Shitballs.

    The bar was the opposite direction from the park and either route was gonna require me to run, so I just took off running towards the park. I arrived right as the game was starting and they immediately had me play first base. Seriously. First base.
    How did that conversation go? “Let’s put the kid who hasn’t even thought about a kickball in 10 years at first base that way he can be part of 75% of the plays.”

    Well, I ain’t one to argue. Sure enough, the first kick was back to the pitcher who immediately threw it to me. I caught it on the bag for the first out, but evidently there are two first bases placed side by side and I’m supposed to use the inside one for defensive plays and the runner uses the outside one. I was ill-positioned apparently, because the umpire gave me a bit of a lecture about it.

    I made it through the next couple of innings without incident, then someone fielded a ball and threw it to me when I wasn’t quite expecting it. I almost caught it, but it went through my hands and hit the runner. The umpire called him (or her, I can’t remember which) out. And so it began… the other team bitching and moaning about every little play.

    This other team, professionally known as “Bloodbath and Beyond,” colloquially known as “Team Pink Tampon,” ¬†was mostly clad in pink. In fact, they had a rather large gentleman with a broken leg wearing a pink suit as their ringleader of sorts. While our team was cobbled together with 3/4 of the normal team, me, and a couple of pickups from other teams, our opponent took things really seriously. Especially once we took the lead.

    In one particularly egregious incident, one of our guys was trying to stretch a single into a double and slid feet-first in second base. The girl playing second caught the ball, but was off the bag. She stepped to the bag at the same moment our guy slid in. She inevitably fell and landed on top of him, dropping the ball in the process.

    The girl was not what you’d refer to as “spritely” and she hit the ground like a sack of rocks. The guy on our team slid past the bag, but kept his body on the base. The umpire rightly called him safe.

    Presumably, no one on their team had ever seen a baseball game because they all argued that he was out since his feet weren’t on the bag. The umpire’s proper call would have been right any day of the week and twice on Sunday, and fortunately for us, this was Sunday so he was doubly right. Team Pink Tampon was none-too-pleased with that call.

    I didn’t do much on the offensive side of the ball. I grounded out in both plate appearances, but if it’s any consolation, I thought at was safe on the second.

    The next to last inning, I was playing first base again when a guy kicked a sky-high foul ball. It took off to the first base side of the field and I took off after it, never really thinking I could catch it, but determined to give it the old College try. I chased it way off the playing field, and right before it hit the ground I stretched out and barely caught it with my fingertips.

    Unfortunately, I spent too much time congratulating myself and forgot that you could tag up on caught foul balls and didn’t throw the ball in as quickly as I should have, but the runner only made it to second, and ended the inning there. So no harm no foul.

    We held them scoreless in the last inning and handed Team Pink Tampon their first loss of the season. Afterwards, over beers and cheesy tots, I was made an official member of the team. I got a t-shirt and everything. We play again next Sunday and hopefully with a week to think about where plays should go and how to handle situation and all that, I should be able to improve my game.

    *Wiley bought a Diamond Rio t-shirt to wear to Monster Jam. Details of that event will follow. In the meantime enjoy having this stuck in your head for the next week…

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