I have to admit to feeling better than I thought I would. I expected to wake up this morning with extreme stiffness in both legs and if my hips were achy, I wouldn’t have been surprised. Last night was the Wrecking Crew’s first game since some time before summer. There were a number of softball tournaments over the summer so it was closest our year-round softball league gets to an off-season.
I stretched for a while before taking the field. It’s possible my legs made the same sound guitar strings make when being tightened, I couldn’t hear it over my own grunting noises. While I can’t correctly spell what those noises sound like, just imagine an old Japanese man gently lowering himself onto a stool. Then imagine that he forgot the remote control, and has to get up again. All of those sounds – including the swears – are more or less the same ones I made last night.
Things got worse when Matty and I started throwing. I thought that perhaps the month-and-a-half layoff would have rested my shoulder and allowed me to come out firing. Nope! Matty and I spent about 7 minutes lobbing limp fruit at each other before declaring ourselves ready to go.
Jay posted the batting order and I was shocked to find myself in the three-hole. I grounded out to short on the first pitch I saw, but the greater victory was not falling down on my way to first base. If Mike Trout “explodes” out of the box, I guess I kind of coughed out of it.
I am still diving at the ball instead of letting it travel and then blowing it up, but I managed an RBI single to left between two 6-3s. We lost 6-2, but it wasn’t really that close. The slump that our team was mired in last season seems to have carried over, at least in this first game.
I also got to play second base the entire game and fielded the two grounders hit at me cleanly. A quick glance at the box score would show a fielding percentage of 1.000. That’s misleading. There were two other balls I should have gotten to that I didn’t, both for the simple reason that I am horribly out of shape.
The first was a grounder to my left. I took off for it – not at top speed – because I perceived I didn’t need it. I was right. Only, when I tried to bend over to field it, my left leg was too far out in front and consequently, my stomach prevented my upper body from approaching the ball. I imagine I looked like a folding chair that wouldn’t fold because there was a body pillow wedged in it. My stomach did everything but wag a finger at me Mutombo-style.
The second was a one-hop shot up the middle that passed through the infield about 6 feet to my right. I would have dove for it, but I saw the batter close his shoulders toward me so I leaned ever-so-slightly to my left. That was all it took, really. It takes an unreal amount of time for me to shift my weight. “You gotta lay out for that,” Matty said as the ball rolled out into center. Well, that’s what happens when you cheat. Sometimes.
To compensate for the minor deflation in self-esteem, I picked up my usual softball treats of a sports drink and sunflower seeds. I am eagerly awaiting a test sample of Liquid I.V. to see if I feel better during a softball game. Or after a rager. Either way, I suppose.
Other than that, I experienced my first difficulty sleeping at night. I get so wound up during a softball game that even though I am tired and want to go to sleep, my mind won’t let me. Last night, I started thinking about cannons shooting out pink discs through paper targets. This kind of randomness usually means I am drifting off, but my brain caught itself and asked the question that costs me more sleep than any other: Why?
I don’t remember when I fell asleep, but I remember waking up at 4:30 with a tummy ache – probably connected to the french bread pizzas I ate for dinner – and muttered “You couldn’t have waited 15 minutes?”