Stuff I love to do: Talk, laugh, and play softball. I’m still able to accomplish two out of three without needing built-in recuperation days.
Over four months ago, I agreed to play on a slow pitch softball team with radio personalities “JT” from the Pat&JT Show and Damon Benning from Sharp and Benning in the Morning. I thought I’d be doing them a favor considering I used to be pretty good back in the day.
We branded our journey as the “Road to Kelley” because Kelley Softball Complex is pretty much the mecca of slow pitch around these parts…sort of like the “Road to Omaha” is the dream of every NCAA baseball player looking to advance to the College World Series.
If I had to sum up my contribution to the season in a series of tags, I would use these words: Overconfidence, Glory Days, Wild Arm Woodard, Kadoosh, Broken Ring, Cut Leg, Swollen Finger, Bruised Heel, Bruised Pride, Sub Needed, and Indefinite DL.
Considering I’ve been writing a lot of unsolicited advice columns that have resonated with so many (and by “so many,” I clearly mean a half a dozen), I thought I’d toss this one into the mix.
The way I see it, every young, old, and somewhere-in-the-middle guy who’s interested in snagging a wife has to make a decision.
Do I want a girly-girl who will spend countless hours moisturizing, primping, styling, pedicuring, manicuring, and taking great strides to stay in optimal viewing condition? One who will make my friends do a double-take and extend me high fives when she walks by?
Or do I want a gal who I think is hot as-is, who takes no more than 30 minutes to get ready, and who actually enjoys hanging out in sports bars with me? One who doesn’t really care about labels, latest trends, or the pages of Vogue? Or the fact that I pass gas from time to time?
I realize there is a middle ground, but for the sake of argument, let’s just assume these are the two main choices.
If you’ve seen me or read any of my ramblings, you know I fit into the latter (well, minus the whole farting thing…gross). I would also classify myself as an ex-jock…a highly-competitive one at that.
For all the fellas stumbling upon this post, I’m here to tell you something: you need to be able to accept the bad with the good if you’re married to someone like me.
Rewind to earlier today: I agreed to play a double-header softball game because, why not? Sports like slow pitch, after all, are where all former ball players eventually end up just to feel like they’re still in the game, right?
Before heading to the field, I made a quick stop at Walmart (the closest place to hell on Earth any of us mere mortals will ever experience) because I am completely out of contacts. I quickly realize that, although the store itself is open, the optical center isn’t. So, yay me. I’m in make-shift rec specs from that point forward.
In spite of looking like a washed-up female version of Ricky Vaughn, I played a pretty solid first game. We won by a small margin. I was on a winner’s high heading into game two.
I can’t even be mad that I’m a lot jigglier than I used to be when I was in prime playing shape. With a guy who looked like Santa in the summer time umpiring the field, I assumed things couldn’t possibly get any better.
We were barely into the second game when a girl came up to the plate whom I personally know. She’s a good hitter who can pick out which field (left, center, or right) she wants to target and rarely misses her mark. So you can imagine my surprise when she got under one and popped up into foul territory, but within my general vicinity at third base.
Have I mentioned I’m slightly competitive?
I instinctively sprinted took off in a semi-fast jog backwards and extended my throwing hand to find the fence while attempting to simultaneously reach over my head with my glove hand. The fence creeped up on me a little faster than I expected.
I bounced off it.
The ball dropped.
I felt some pain on my ring finger and reassured everyone I was ok.
Without looking at my hand, I trudged back to third base and prepared for the next pitch, which OF COURSE she smashed into the outfield.
As I was mentally retracing what I could have done differently, I looked down at my hand to make sure it wasn’t bleeding.
That’s when I saw the remnants of the ring my husband bought for me as an anniversary gift. It was bent so badly that the blue topaz stone had completely popped out of it and was so misshapened that I knew I wouldn’t be getting it off my finger until some swelling went down.
For the next several innings, anytime our team was up at bat, I retraced both the inside and the outside of the fence I smashed into. I cursed myself for being so dumb to wear my anniversary ring while playing softball.
When the game ended due to the mercy rule in the opposite team’s favor, my entire team searched for the stone…as did the girl who hit the foul ball in the first place. I never did regain it…or my dignity.
How does this story apply to my advice to all the guys who share their lives with ex-jock wives?
Don’t get mad at us for breaking sentimental jewelry (luckily my husband understands). Because when a foul ball taunts us into believing that we have a chance to catch it, no matter what obstacle stands in our way, we will go after it every time.
The top picture shows my anniversary ring the day I received it. The bottom pictures shows what’s left of it after today’s outing.
My jacked up finger. My sliced up leg. No one can accuse me of not going all out.
I’d give you more helpful pointers, but I’m off to watch the Atlanta Braves game on TV with my husband.
Baseball is a game of long-standing tradition. I firmly believe that no other sport has remained as true to its original form.
Prior to the last couple of years, I could confidently state that basketball players were flashier, football players were more obnoxious, and golfers were overly tailored. The good ol’ boys of baseball simply came out to play. They only needed their mitts, their caps, and a wooden bat.
Baseball player uniforms were as pure as the game.
The uniform arsenal typically consisted of a white jersey and a jersey of color. Pants were either solid or pinstripe. If players wanted to get super crazy, they might choose to slap on some eye black.
Perfect swing by Chipper Jones of the ATL Braves, who is darn near perfect himself.
Chipper Jones in a navy Braves uniform. Man, I miss seeing this guy on the big screen.
Then something weird happened around the year 2000. As far as I can tell by my extensive online research (searching Google for 15 minutes), the San Diego Padres decided to up their long-standing tradition of supporting the armed forces by introducing camouflage jerseys on Military Opening Day.
Over the past decade, much to my dismay, the camo jerseys have multiplied faster than mogwais dipped in water. Kids, if you don’t understand this reference, do yourself a favor and watch Gremlins today.
I mean, seriously…They. Are. Everywhere. From the big leagues to the little leagues and at every level in between. They are worn by players and coaches alike.
I now find myself walking into the ballpark somewhat guarded, wondering if I’m going to be attacked by a barrage of paintballers when I least expect it.
Some uniforms are more obnoxious than others.
Exhibit A: San Diego Padres pitcher in his camo/cow print-inspired garb.
The little guys who look up to the pros want to emulate their idols. Therefore, new this season, both of my own boys’ teams have included a camo jersey in their uniform arsenal.
Exhibit B: The 12-year old in his camo jersey – preparing for battle on the ball field (eye roll). The 10-year old’s jersey has yet to arrive.
While I realize the game is not about ME and my personal preferences – this is an ongoing lesson I am struggling to learn – I’d like to believe I’m not alone when I say that the only people who should don the camo style are those serving in the military or trying to hunt down defenseless animals.
“I’ve been in the Army for a little over 12 years. I appreciate the thought and tribute behind teams wearing military-themed uniforms, but I have yet to see one that didn’t look horrible. I hate to criticize without providing a viable alternative, but I think they should find another, more aesthetically pleasing, way to express their patriotism.” — Jon Vieira
Jon, I respect both your service to our country and your common sense in general.
I plan to continue to add pictures of camo jerseys I see at youth ballparks on this site as the season progresses. If you like them, try to convince me why in the comment section. If you don’t like them and agree with me that they’re obnoxious, I’ll count your comment as a signature in my ongoing petition against this black mark on the history of baseball.