About six weeks back, after being away from the game for over a half century, several "friends" and an overexcited spouse signed me up to play softball in a winter league for seniors. The stage was an indoor equivalent of a 'Sotans field of dreams -- an older Metrodome dome with temps maintained at 50 degrees.
What a bummer! The link below will describe how I got sucked into this abyss:
Sadly, that was then; sadder yet, this is now.
Day one at the Dome was a disaster. Just watching part of the first game created an autonomic reaction in my nervous system affecting my sphincter. Intimidated and outclassed to sum it up.
At the end of game one I approached Domeball Commissioner "Baseball Bob" (a.k.a "BbB") wanting to be sent down to AA T-Ball . Before I could spill my guts, "Baseball Bob" with that little boy smirk elevated my self worth to a new low saying, "You need to stick around for game two! We're short players!"
My man ego plummeted to an all time low. The first six times at bat I struck out flailing the bat like I was defending myself against an early hatching of mayflies. Seventh time in the box I rolled a grounder towards third. Two sprinting steps towards first base I grabbed the back of my right leg in pain like I'd been shot. Thought I heard an old guy yell, "Crap, that dipstick runs like a old lady!" Another voice followed, "No way Babe, it's his hammy. He pulled his hammy", which is jock speak for hamstring.
After that, I had a couple of good swings. The game stats showed me at 2 for 9, reaching first base twice thanks to my speedy fifty something year old pinch runner.
Defensively, I became ever catcher for the day. I picked up the team by batting last. Seems to me I played one of my daughters the same way when I coached her grade school team.
With a bad hammy, I couldn't chase a ball, couldn't bend down low to stop the ball, and when I had to retrieve a ball that got past me I winced while I half skipped to get it. Even our crack pitching staff, anchored by the immortal legend Sidd Finch suffered as most of the balls I eventually retrieved were thrown back to where the pitcher wasn't. Honorable Japanese ballplayers of my caliber would have ended it all by swallowing the skinny end of the bat, but my fate was worse. I had to get fit, and quick.
Week two started off better, but then it dropped off like the Dow. With a slowly healing hammy and Dome paranoia, I kicked off the week at a batting cage making pretty good contact. Hammy seemed better with each swing. My game face returned.
Few days later at the Dome, I lined a rope the first time up. It was a solid knock past third. Fist pumping I turned towards first base making it four steps only to feel an exponential whammy of the hammy which was 10x the pain from the week before.
Rules of the game allow for an injured player to still bat, unless they have two broken arms. If unable to run, the batter is provided a pinch runner. So there I stood after every hit painfully cheering on my surrogate.
Catcher became my final resting place for the day on defense. As the day went on. I got better with the glove, but worse with my throwing arm. I thought I saw "Baseball Bob" pleading with guys to pitch when I was behind the plate.
My future looked bleak for Domeball as I met several days later with two Lifetime Fitness trainers. Hovering over my hammy, the head trainer took notes as his 23 year old fit assistant stretched me on the rack of pain. I caught a glimpse of the young guy rolling his eyes reminding me that I was three times his age.
"Based upon our analysis of your hammy sir, you need major work with us on streeeeetching," were the first words out of the mouth of the worldly 26 year old head trainer. From there on, it was a long list of defects which could only be healed through their expertise if I ever hoped to fit in at the Dome . "Sir, we need to work on your core, your back, your legs, shoulders, stretching, lifting, sir," were the words of the messiah. He suggested the concierge plan of 2-3 weekly visits for 12 weeks at the VIP rate of $69 per hour. I countered with the Milwaukee plan which eliminated calling me sir, along with other frills.
I knew I'd already over borrowed from my nominal neanderthal man clothing allowance through 2014 to pay Dome registration fees. Now I was going to have to negotiate monies from my softball groupie wife's well guarded endangered species clothing fund to pay for my own baby faced personal trainer. Recalling my bride had no problem offering me up for Domeball, I figured she owed me big time. So I played the guilt card.
It worked. Much to my surprise she agreed making it a win-win for both of us. Guess she was dreaming of soon to be sharing the sheets with a Joe Mauer type instead her current Matty LeCroix clone.
As per my contract, I got in touch with "Baseball Bob" right away to report on my injuries and suggested I be placed on the injured reserve list, rather than be waived, traded, or fired. We were leaving for Florida in a few days so I told "BbB" that the sole purpose of the trip would be for rehab. "I'll be back on the diamond by mid February," I jawed, pretending to spit out chew on the floor like a real ballplayer would. "BbB" agreed to the rehab.
Days later, as Minnesotans were enjoying more winter wonderland, I was in the air en route to the Sunshine State with ace bandages, ibuprofen, glove, and softball all jammed into my senior softball duffel bag. In flight, I wondered if I'd finish the season on the injured reserve list? Would my team jersey be retired along with me? Would I be the real jock that "BbB" thought he had recruited?