The Fightins'
Jul
13
2011
On Softball and Fun
Posted by Dash Treyhorn at 8:30 am ET 25 Comments

You know, I was going to do a running diary of the All Star Game tonight, like the one I did a few years ago, but I was tired, lazy, or some combination of the two, so the potentially 10,000 word post that would have been nothing more than stale punchlines and jokes about Joe Buck is neatly condensed for your reading pleasure. Or displeasure. Whatever.

As I sit here, watching the All Star game, I am reminded of my own experiences playing baseball as a child, and most recently, on a beer league softball team. Winning and losing didn’t matter. It never really did, because we were just kids. Even if we did win, big deal. When I was about eight, my Little League team crushed just about everyone else. We finished with a 19-5 record or something, and didn’t lose more than once to a single opponent. But I was eight, so first place in Little League didn’t really matter.

The older I got, the more winning mattered. By the time I was ten or 11, winning was everything, even though it didn’t mean anything at all. It was all about having fun on the field. Throwing, catching, hitting, all that. I was never really bothered by a loss, and an oh-fer at the plate (there were several) stayed with me for all of 45 minutes. I just didn’t care. And why should I? Even at a young age, I could see how competition could bring out the absolute worst in some people. The ones who were so caught up in winning, even if they were the best players on the field, never actually looked happy.

Even now, as a member of a beer league softball team who has yet to win a game, I find myself at peace with the fact that we aren’t that good. I’m more concerned with enjoying myself and having fun with my teammates who are similarly not affected by not having one in the win column. And to be honest, the last hour of work on days that we have a game are some of the best of the week, just because I get to play baseball.

Conversely, some of the most miserable people in our league are the ones who are routinely part of winning efforts or have the ability to mash the ball at will. Case in point: A couple weeks back, our team was short a man, so we borrowed a guy from another team to fill the roster spot. Having played against this guy a handful of times, I knew what to expect: A big bat and a piss-poor attitude. This guy can hit the ball a mile, but he pitches a fit when it doesn’t go over the fence, because triples are not good enough for this guy. And if you strike out to end the inning? You better watch your head, because a bat or some other object is sure to be tossed about, because that sort of thing is just plain unacceptable to the him. Then guy was miserable the entire game. It didn’t matter if we lost by five or won by ten, he’d have been a pisser just the same. Guy was the best player on the team, but was absolutely not having an ounce of fun. What’s the point? None of it matters, and you are only making yourself look like a massive tool (I mean, assuming the six arm and writs bands didn’t already do that.)

Point is, baseball is about fun. Especially when it’s a rather meaningless game on a random Tuesday night in the middle of summer. For an hour or so, we get to leave it on the field before going home to our crappy jobs and lives of unfulfilled potential. It’s an hour of escape, once a week. What’s the point of being miserable and not enjoying yourself? Hitting three homers won’t make your night any better, but actually having fun just might.

How, exactly, does this tie into the All Star Game? I’m not really sure, except for maybe that those players are similarly having a good time on the field, even though the game “matters.” They are smiling, they are playfully jawing with the other team, and so on and so on. And really, I just wanted to write something about baseball.

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25 Responses to “On Softball and Fun”

  1. JP says:

    Totally agree. It’s a GAME. I find it hard to not be competitive myself, but for the most part I always try and have fun and enjoy it. I quit our softball league a few years ago because most of those guys took it super serious, like they were auditioning for the local AA squad or some shit.

  2. jdash says:

    YOU PLAY TO WIN THE GAME

  3. Gonzo says:

    I agree, nolthing is worse then having a cranky guy like that on your beer league softball team. It’s about getting away from reality & having a few cold beers a couple hours a week.

  4. ChickPhilA says:

    100% agree with you Dash. It’s like you were writing this about the after work league I play softball in (the team I’m on hasn’t won a game in 2 years, another team actually cares more about racking up individual stats – they keep track – and and seem to get pleasure in just mashing the ball as far as they can and watching us have to run into the soccer field behind the softball field to get the ball back). My team likes to show up, drink beer, yell things, hang out and enjoy the company and occasionally score some runs.

  5. bigmyc says:

    I love how convenient it is for the shittier rec. players out there to extol platitude after mature viewpointed platitude. At the end of the day, it is just an excuse as to why they have severely sucked all their lives at a sport that they admittedly love.

    Now, before any of you scrubs fly off the handle and accuse me of abusing your poor, sheltered labium, allow me to extrapolate. I don’t believe that this recreation sporting environment (softball in extreme particular) has to be populated solely by the “angry young man, stresshead, wet blanket guy,” and the, “I’m so righteous because I can see the bigger picture even though I suck balls at athletics guy.”

    No. No.

    Has it even occurred to you folks that it is quite possible to be highly competitive at a rec. sport yet also find the fun in it whether it be win or lose? If you are bestowed a skill, use it. If you are going to participate in a TEAM sport, give it your all, for chrissakes. If you have ten men on a team, 9 of ‘em might not give a crap if your team looks like a shit sandwich hold the bread but if that ONE guy is doing his best to help the team, well then who the fuck are you, exactly, to not care to hold up your end of the bargain?

    If you don’t care about winning or losing then I can discern plenty from your character…however much there is to actually pull from, anyway. Please don’t act like anyone to whom it’s important to win is missing the point of it all. I know plenty of players who are quality talents who enjoy simply competing in the sport with their buddies. They are fine whether they win or lose provided that they receive the appropriate amount of interest and support from the fringe players and bench guys. Is that too much to ask? If it is, we’ve just stumbled upon why America is losing it’s edge.

    You know what does bother those higher echelon rec. players; when the shitty, loser types don’t make an effort to get better because they are too lazy to be bothered to actually try but fail anyway. The least ANYBODY can do is give 100%. Believe me, every non-asshole team star over the age of consent understands and accepts that not everybody will be gifted…but if you are going to sign up to fill a spot on that roster, the very least you could do is to actually give a fuck.

    Personally, I feel like caving in someone’s ass cavity with my Miken Freak Bat when I hear the limp wristed cattle call that is, “it’s only about having fun. Lighten up. Heh, heh.” You know the best way to have fun?; Well do you? Well, I let you in on a little secret; IT’S WINNING THE GAME.

    That’s right. Who would have thought? Herm Edwards was on to something, be him a professional or not. When did the classic, “It’s not whether you win or lose but how you play the game,” become, “I don’t wanna be held up to main stream competitive values so I’m gonna act like I get it more than the guys who actually don’t suck?”

    Please don’t act like every quality ball player is some Nazi who is never happy unless he’s unhappy. Please don’t act like you are some all knowing social sage that has his finger on the pulse of mainstream contentment because you are bad at everything you do athletically.

    Why the fuck would you enter yourself into any type of team sports endeavor and expect that it is OK to just be there? Where the fuck does anyone get that attitude? In case you hadn’t figured, it takes a COLLECTION of people to comprise a team and SOME of them might just care about winning….and SOME of them might just be as easy going as you….but you know, with talent and all.

    • Mike P says:

      I appreciate the attempt to turn what you perceive is wrong with your beerleague softball team into a broader generalization of what’s wrong with America. I don’t buy it for a second, but I appreciate it, all the same.

    • bigmyc says:

      A lot of that rant was done in tongue-in-cheek format. The bullet point that you just underlined was exhibit A of this.

      Though, I do think that there is a link to the, “Accountability, who me?” crowd…just as a whole and not limited to rec. softball.

  6. bigmyc says:

    Rant. SAID.

  7. s2b says:

    My son’s little league teams have had some dads who have that same piss-poor attitude.
    When 8-year-olds are learning to pitch, a walk isn’t as good as a hit, dbag.
    And quitting because the team “stinks” isn’t going to teach your kid anything good. These kids obviously grow up to terrorize you on your softball team :)

    The All-Stars did look happy to be playing together and it was fun to watch.

  8. bigmyc says:

    s2b, I have no clue as to what kind of ultimate point that you were working toward but I do agree with your take on “quitting.”

    Well done, I think.

  9. Amandah says:

    I totally agree with you Dash.

    When we’re role-playing, John Brazer chokes the living shit out of me when I’m on top . I’m always like “John, please! Role play should be fun. This is no place for anger or a piss poor attitude.” And John’s like “Shut up and fuck me Phoebe Phanatic! Don’t kill my rally with your hand voodoo! I bet your son would run me over with his quad if he knew I was fucking his slut mother!” And I’m like “John, chill out and just blow your load. Stop being so angry. And why can’t I ever be anyone other than Phoebe Phanatic?” And John’s like “I’m gonna shoot my bellybutton soup all over your beak, you Galapagos Island whore!” Moral of the story: Baseball should be fun.

    Regards,

    Amandah

  10. @bigmyc My point was that fun and joy can be had by good and bad players, just the same. Hell, that’s the point of it all, isn’t it? It’s one thing to be super competitive and want to win, but it’s another thing altogether to be an insufferable bastard in the pursuit of winning in a rec softball league. Regardless of talent, what’s the point of playing if you are just going to be miserable, regardless of the outcome?

    Also, nice rant.

  11. bigmyc says:

    Thanx. I got your original point, but just in case there were any pillow biters reading that, I wanted to make sure they didn’t have too much of a chance to feel enabled by misunderstanding your message.

    No one likes the insufferable bastard…but that is no excuse to “quit” or “mail it in.” That guy you mentioned, I believe, is the exception. Most can balance their competitive fire and common sense (I like to think that I am one of them). However, once the “lesser of our brethren” goes “Barajas” on us and then has the temerity to blow it off like it’s in the Bill of Rights, that’s when things get ugly in our world….the misery factor only creeps in when something like that happens.

    Trust me, if we lose yet I feel that we collectively gave it our honest and best shot, all is fine in my world.

  12. Agreed. Not one person on my team ever mails it in, and we get mad after bad at-bats or errors, just the same as every one else. The difference, I suppose, is whether or not we let it bother us. If I pop out to the third baseman, I’ll curse and run it out, but I won’t attack a water cooler when I get back to the bench. I never understood the guy who does that in a rec league. If it was the MLB, then I’d understand, because there is a legitimate reason to get mad or frustrated, because it’s their livelihood.

    • bigmyc says:

      I didn’t realize that this discussion was about keeping score, ChickPhilA.

      If that was the case, how many would that rant have netted me? I think you may have missed the point of this exercise in morality and protocol. I’d be happy to explain those two words to you if you like.

  13. Roy Halladay would totally break your face for this line of thinking

  14. the new guy says:

    i played baseball in gym class and we all took that shit serious, and it was WIFFLE ball! I ended up striking out 6 times in the two games we played (yes i know im pathetic) but I had a bunt base hit to win the game for my team (more of a suicide bunt) but point is, winning matters a lot to me even tho if it was in some stupid gym class 2 yrs ago

  15. Foreskin Mills! says:

    You guys had to take an unlubed DeMarini during hazing too, right?

  16. BobSmith75 says:

    Well that was a waste of 60 seconds.

  17. I’m that guy that Dash and bigmyc were talking about. I’m the dude that goes bonkers batshit on the field, no matter what sport I’m playing in. I play every play like my hairs on fire, and you know what? I effin love it. I love diving for a ball or playing in the low post banging elbows or sliding head first into 3rd legging one out. I love turning a double into an inside the park HR and I love to highstep down the sideline only to get to the endzone and do situps with the ball between my legs. I love talking trash and I love it even more when I get into someones head and piss them off.

    But my absolute favorite part? The thing I love the most about all this, is that when I walk off the field or court or whatever, I can shake everyone’s hand, tell em good game and ask em if they want to grab a beer. Because that is what fun is to me. And yes, it is a game, and no it doesn’t mean a damned thing.

    Jesus, I’m a sadistic em effer.

  18. bigmyc says:

    #18, you’re actually not that guy..according to your description.

  19. Heather says:

    I have an 8 year old cousing who is playing tournament baseball right now. And let me tell you, he cares A LOT about winning. Then again, he is really good at baseball. Maybe that’s the difference.

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