June 7, 2012

Outdoor Corner

by Chris Feeney

As a virtual rookie to Christianity, I often find myself a bit overwhelmed when engaged in theological conversations or scriptural deliberation. When Pastor Steve rattles off half a dozen different verses and five or six exotic names or ancient locals, it can be a bit overwhelming.

I'm not trying to hone in on the Outdoor Truths market here, but after watching my eight- and ten-year-old daughters softball games this week, it did bring new understanding for me regarding some of their struggles.

In both instances, I believe the parties involved have good coaches, and are more than willing to try to become better.

The issue is bridging the vocabulary divide.

Those of us who have been around the game our entire lives, cannot help but pick up the particular vernacular associated with the sport.

Those of us who have not been around the game our entire life, cannot help but make a puzzled look when someone tells us to run home. Of course that means the base, not your personal residence, but it has to be confusing for these youngsters when we try to tell them that they have to step on the plate to score the run.

Compounding the issue, is the wide array of assistance we shower these young players with at the peak moments of the contest.

It is hard enough for an eight-year-old to try and focus on hitting that round ball that sometimes approaches them in a hittable fashion, and more often than not does not. Then we toss in a vocabulary pop quiz when all they want to do is simply try to get a hit.

"Okay now, you have two strikes, so you have to protect the plate." Is that because the Hamburgler is in attendance at the game? Who am I keeping away from my supper and what does that have to do with having two strikes?

"Move up in the box" we tell the hitter. Man, now I'm living in a box instead of at home? What's the deal. Do I need a ladder to move up?

"Don't stand so close to the plate." Why am I going to get my food dirty with my cleats? Maybe we should put it in that box and take it home.

Then when they finally do make contact and run toward first, a whole section of terminology is tossed at them.

"Don't stop, run all the way through the base." Okay, if you say so, but it's going to hurt when I run into the outfield fence. And besides that, my home is in the other direction.

The base paths are confusing for both the offense and the defense.

It must seem like standard parenting for these little ball players when they try to understand, why we tell them to run all the way through first base, but then force them to stop at the base on second and third.

When they have the misfortune of running through second or third the coaches begin the scream to the defender "Tag her, tag her."

Should we really be shocked when the girl drops everything, including her glove and the ball, and chases the runner down and says, "Tag you're it"?

The coach shouts out to the shortstop, "Okay honey, when the runner steals second here you have to cover the base." She definitely doesn't want her friend to face larceny charges, so she is sure to cover the base totally, crouching down and putting it in a strangle hold to secure the target of the intended thievery.

I don't know how the coach expects me to catch the ball when I am facing the other direction, but he told me to back up the throw, so I guess I better do it.

And all of this happened in just one inning. Makes me wish there was a softball for youngsters book, similar to how I feel like The Message version of the Bible works for folks like me.

If you're not familiar with The Message, it is a version of the Bible compiled by Eugene H. Peterson which is written in contemporary language. Basically the best way I've heard it described is a Bible that uses the words and phrases you might say when talking with a good friend. Another explanation I liked, is The Message is a reading Bible, not a study Bible. If you've struggled reading the Bible, I'd suggest trying The Message. Now if we can just come up with a book, The Softball Message.

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