June 5, 2008

Outdoor Corner

by Chris Feeney

New pair of size 10 baseball cleats, $39.99. Top of the line Miken softball bat so even us little guys can slug home runs, $329. Lost time from work $75. Finding out you are way too old to get back into playing slow pitch softball, Priceless. Wait, priceless for who? I bought the shoes, skipped out of work and nearly fainted when I looked at the bat price tags. Then there was the concession stand tab for all the Gatorade they had to pour in me to keep me hydrated on Sunday, and it was just a little practice tournament. Then there was the chiropractor bill to put my back in place. Not sure how much my visit to the orthopedic surgeon is going to run, but I hope to some day be able to lift my throwing arm once again. While Iím making doctor stops, I suppose Iíll see a sports psychologist in an effort to regain my confidence. Iím not sure there is enough counseling out there to achieve such a momentous goal. First I must eliminate the flashbacks of the numerous pop outs I hit to the shortstop. The memory of the easy flyball I let pop out of my glove for an error may take even more work to forget. Get the brain work complete and itís back to the old body, as these legs are screaming this morning. When the standard day after megadose of Aleve doesnít make it possible to walk, Iíll be back to priceless, getting an ambulance ride to the hospital for repair of a pulled hamstring muscle and a strained groin. Thatís where the cleats come in. If I had just invested the $39.99 last week, I could have avoided doing the splits on the third base line after I slammed on the breaks, trying to prevent being doubled up on a line drive out to the shortstop. I was safe, but it wasnít priceless. I wore shorts to a softball game, which is sort of like arming yourself with a knife for a gun battle. However Iím sure it isnít hard to believe that my knees made it through the day unscathed. Okay so it is difficult to imagine me sliding (I told them before the game there was no way I was sliding, on purpose anyway) but it may be equally as troublesome to picture me making it through four games without falling on my face on a few occasions. Believe it or not, I remained upright all day. There was no sliding or diving for line drives. The closest I came to the ground (excluding doing the splits) was the one or two times that I actually reached base via a hit. I realize the bases are just 60-feet apart but when you are as poor a physical specimen as I have become, traveling from station to station takes ones breath away. The other team actually asked if I need a pinch runner or at minimum a time out as I slumped over tugging on my shorts trying to hold myself up while catching my breath. As if the physical toll the game took on me wasnít enough of a warning, guess I could have taken a broken aluminum bat as an omen of the impending pain I was subjecting myself to over the next seven weeks. Iíve seen lots of wooden bats broken by a pitch, but Sunday I saw an aluminum bat come apart at the handle on a ball hit to the shortstop. The barrel of the bat traveled further than the ball. Even with the harbinger of such a rare occurrence, I committed to return this Sunday. I must have slept through that college English course on foreshadowing. If I hadnít I would have seen the bat event as a symbolism of what the softball season may do to me. Iím not that smart. Iíll be back for round two and hope it is priceless.

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