Every year, I play softball. Every year (the last three years) I break myself. This is what I aggravated Thursday night and which will probably put me on the shelf for a couple of weeks. Before the game I warmed up, stretched and jogged, but I still broke myself. Maybe it's time to hang up the cleats.
Getting old, frankly, stinks.
Update: The Power Calf is feeling much better two days later, and I am not medicated with any sort of painkiller - so that's a good sign. But I still hobble around like I need a walker.
I really enjoy playing softball but I also like walking, biking, playing with the Power Kids, shooting baskets, lifting weights, playing frisbee golf and real golf, and, generally, doing stuff. Last year my activity choices were limited due to a busted elbow. The year before they were limited by bursitis that was not caused by my playing softball but that was aggravated by it. This year it's the Power Calf strain.
What to do... benefits vs. costs... benefits vs. costs... benefits vs. costs...........
The mighty Mankato Painting and Decorating Softball Club went down to defeat tonight, 11-9 in 8 innings... thus knocking us out of the playoffs. As I look to the sky, the earth still seems to be spinning in the same direction as it did before the game started, the stars still appear in the same ordering as last week, and cars were travelling down Highway 14 beyond the left field fence after we lost: i.e. life goes on.
Your favorite right center fielder went 3 for 4, but hit into a rally-killing double play to end the bottom of the first - with a man on third. Ugh! With rally caps firmly set, the bottom of the order of the mighty MPD's sent the game to extra innings with a two-run rally in the bottom of the seventh, but the bad guys scored two in the top of the 8th to send us plummeting towards the fiery minions of defeat. And afterwards, there was much Grain Belt, Hamms, and PBR to be had.
Ya gotta give it up to the opponents. They hit it where we weren't more than we did against them. It was a fair fight and they won. Congrats to them.
No vertigo. No busted elbow. I returned to action with the mightly Mankato Painting and Decorating softball club, the first-place Mankato Painting and Decorating softball club. We promptly got our @$$es kicked in playoff action.
The mighty Mankato Painting and Decorating softball club took first place in its softball league this summer! I wish I could say I had a bigger part in the best showing this team has ever had, but a broken elbow and a nasty case of vertigo, in which I finally physically felt in a way that matched my personality, kept me to playing only three games. Getting old sucks.
At least I can say that in those three games, I was 5 for 7 batting (7 for 9 on base) with a homer that provided the winning run in the first game of the season. I am no longer dizzy and the elbow has heeled, so I am ready for the playoffs. C'mon boyz, let's lock and load!
I came off the DL tonight to play a full game. Since I'm still not comfortable throwing (I broke my elbow in practice before the season began), I was the extra hitter. I went 1 for 1 with two walks and a run scored and, most importantly, we won 10-8. It was a windy night with the wind blowing from left to right, so the pitcher threw everything inside to me.
Does he know that I'm not a big fan of hitting inside pitches at this moment? Nah.
Anyways, only 2 of the 9 pitches I saw were swingable. One I took for a strike and one I nubbed off the end of the bat for a single. On my walks, one ball hit me in the toe. Another hit me in the ass.
Most importantly, the only injury I suffered tonight was a scrape on my elbow for the half-assed slide I took into third. On a ball hit to right center, I tagged up to go to third. But the fielder threw a strike to the thirdbase man, who tagged me out. I was so surprised the ball beat me (not because I'm fast. Lord no. The fielder was so deep that I had no inkling he'd throw it that far. In my league, the best arms play left and left center, not right center). Anyways, I slid late and tumbled over the bag. I imagine it looked pretty funny, like an elephant rolling down a hill. But the damned East German judge only gave me a 4.
Co-blogger Skip Sauer over at The Sports Economist has this post on the game of softball.
Technological advances in equipment have
rendered grand old golf courses obsolete for professional tournaments.
Many have adapted by lengthening and narrowing fairways,
"Tigerproofing" themselves in an attempt to keep scores from
plummeting. There is serious discussion of more restrictive regulation
of the golf ball as well.
In softball, technological advance has done much the same, rendering local ballfields obsolete, as described in today's WSJ:
the beginning of this decade... softball bats had become too powerful
-- often resulting in longer games with inning after inning of home
runs. Last year, the ASA [Amateur Softball Association of America]
responded by telling makers to limit how fast a regulation softball
could fly off their bats in a lab test -- its "98 mph rule." After
years of better performance, bats were effectively dampened.
Until, that is, the bat doctors went to work:
amazing the lengths teams will go to win an $18 trophy," says Joe
Morice, a player and manager of Cassie's Italian, a men's softball team
in Fairfax, Va.
Bat doctors have devised various procedures to
give players that age-old satisfaction of launching a ball over the
outfield fence. One method, called "end loading," involves removing the
cap on the end of the barrel and adding weight, shifting the bat's
balance to give it more momentum when swung. Bat doctors may also use a
lathe to shave the inside of a bat's barrel to make it springier, in
effect giving the ball an extra boost on contact. Then there's the
painting routine -- taking a high-performance bat that isn't allowed
for league play and disguising it as a regulation model.
Hitting the ball hard and putting it over the fence is a nice feeling - one of those he-man feelings. That's why guys use juiced bats (off the shelf bats) and doctored bats. It's not about winning trophies and it's not for the team. It's personal - it's for the "me" in team.
There's a big difference in balls too, even within "cors." In Missouri, we used .Cor47 balls, and our ball of choice was the Super Duper Blue Dot by Worth. There was no comparison between the Super Dupers and the Dudley Titanium balls. When dropped from about 5', the Super Duper bounce about 3-4" higher. Imagine how much further the Super Dupers would fly off a bat, especially one of the juiced bats.
There are other rules that either are or have been in place to lessen the effect of the bats on the duration of games. Before the bats got juiced, there was a limit of one home run in my coed and men's leagues. Not long after the juicing began, the limit was increased to 3. Now, I'm told, the limit is 4. Hitters who put one out also only had to run to first instead of running the bases.
But there's a real safety issue with the juiced bats and juiced balls.
Umpires say bat doctoring is getting hard to
detect, as bat doctors become increasingly sophisticated. For Brad
Crerar, the ASA umpire who officiated Mr. Consiglio's game in
Connecticut, the larger worry is that players will get hurt when balls
are hit with extra velocity. "It puts everybody on the field at risk,"
he says. (Injury statistics are inconclusive: U.S. emergency rooms
reported about 113,000 softball injuries in 2003, down more than 10%
from 2001, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.)
I play outfield, but my infielders, especially the thirdbasemen I've played with had to move back at their position to give themselves a better chance to react to and field the juiced balls hit off the juiced bat. But they would also tell stories about balls that made it through their legs so fast that they didn't have a chance to. If that ball's coming at your head, it's grope and hope time.
I finally did something Thursday evening I hadn't done since my last game of fall ball in 2000 - hit a homer. It ended up being the game winner. When I got back to the dugout, one of my teamates asked me how it felt, and I said that I didn't feel a thing. I had been swinging my Demarini Classic, but it didn't feel all that great, so I switched to my Miken Freak. That one felt right tonight.
It was a weird night. Last year, no-one on my team hit a homer, and I only saw three homers hit against us in 16 games -and two of those came on a field with temporary fences set up only 220' away. But tonight, my team hit three homers and the opposing team also hit 3. They also put several balls over our heads and we did the same to them. A line of heavy thunderstorms was bearing down on Mankato during the game, so the air was full of moisture and there was a slight wind blowing out - a perfect night for lifting the ball.
I play outfield, and it's disconcerting to be standing in the outfield with Zeus tossing bolts around. It's also disconcerting to hold a metal bat with a thunderstorm bearing down on us. But we won the game, no-one got zapped, and I finally remembered what it felt like to crush one.