My kid is playing softball — I was going to call it organized softball, but having seen her team in action, “organized” is not a word that springs to mind — and it is a challenge.
For me, not for her. She’s having a great time playing left field and wearing No. 8 for the Yankees. I’m the one losing sleep over it: How could she miss that ground ball? Why didn’t she throw to second? What have I forgotten to teach her?
She couldn’t care less, of course. She gets to wear a uniform (Yankees? Why the Yankees? I can’t stand the Yankees. Why couldn’t it have been the Tigers?) have a bat and throw and who knows? One of these days she may even catch something.
This appears to be the team’s weak spot. Not a single player owns a softball glove that seems to be in working order.
The other day they played a game in which the opposing team, the Indians, scored five runs, all in the same fashion: Indians batter hits dribbler back to pitcher. Yankee pitcher picks it up and throws to first. First baseman misses ball. Batter keeps running. First baseman chases down ball and throws to second. Second baseman misses ball. Batter keeps running. Outfielder chases down ball and throws to third. Third baseman misses ball. Batter keeps running. Third baseman chases down ball and throws home. Catcher misses ball. Run scored.
Five times that happened, and still the Yankees won the game. Why? Because it happened to the Indians 14 times.
Watching the girls play softball takes me back to my baseball days with the Brighton Wildcats half-pint and Babe Ruth teams, when I was patrolling the outfield and holding down first base and swinging a big bat and all that other sportswriter blather.
We Wildcats were not known for our prowess on the baseball diamond. More to the point, we stunk. Our losing streaks were not measured in games but years. In fact, I don’t think we won a single game. Ever.
But we were legendary for our big mouths. Our heckling led the league. Opposing pitchers soon learned to fear our taunts as we chanted from the bench:
“We want a pitcher, not a belly itcher.”
“Pitcher’s off his rocker, just like Betty Crocker.”
And my personal favorite:
“Pitcher is a weiner, neener neener neener.”
And when we were on defense there was the ever-popular “Hey batter batter batter swing.” (You can’t go wrong with a classic.)
Devastating, I tell you. Devastating. Really, if we had displayed half the talent for baseball as we did for yelling inanities, we might have actually won a game.
Speaking of yelling inanities, I am doing my best not to become a softball parent. You know the type: Roams the sidelines, hollering constantly, “encouraging” the players, berating the umpire — the loudest guy in the park, drowning out everyone else and embarrassing his family. I’m not that way. I know plenty of other ways to embarrass my family.
Instead I keep my seat and the scorebook (neither of the coaches knows how) and try not to wince at every strikeout, every missed ball, every overthrown base, and to remember always that my daughter is having enough fun for the both of us.
Hey batter batter and all that.