My First Softball Game with Critical Mass

“The goats are being sucked.”

Many of you will stare at the screen and wonder what the heck that means. Others of you will nod in recognition. For the benefit of those who have no idea what that quote means, “Don’t suck goats!” was the Rad Sox’ battle cry last year just before taking to the field.

Yesterday was my new team’s first foray onto the diamond. I play with one of two company softball teams. There were 40 people who turned out this year, so we made up two separate teams. One, called the Cooters (got me on the meaning of this one), and the one I play for — the Base HREFs. Never let HTML developers try to come up with punny names. They can’t.

I was a late joiner. During my interview at Critical Mass back in early March, I saw a sign-up sheet for the softball team. Thinking that this would be a good way to get me out, I made myself remember the sign was there for when I was hired. (Yes, I was optimistic.) Sure enough, I got myself onto the team within a few days of starting here.

Because I was a late joiner, and because there were already 20 people on each team, I was accidentally missed from the first batch of email, one of which listed the first (and so far only) practice. That said, I made it out to last night’s games (we had a double-header), complete with a jersey (left over from last year).

This year is going to be difficult. I know only a couple of people on the team. Our captain, Ken, knows the rules, but he’s not a tenth as cool (nor does he possess the attitude) as Lee, the Rad Sox’ “Fearless Leader”. There’s no star player jackrabbitting around the outfield. And I have no mentor this year to correct my plethora of bad habits — the gap Neall filled is quite large, as was evident by last night’s games.

The first game was against ourselves, or rather, the other CMass team. This was going to make for interesting water cooler conversation and stairwell banter — to the loser would go the ignominy of defeat, to the winner the right to brag for the rest of the year. So needless to say, we all played horribly.

There were shining points — both teams had their rallies while the outfield scrambled madly to catch fly balls, and the infield shut down runners with Terminator-like efficiency. There were also the downpoints … like my batting. I didn’t hit a darn thing all night. Nada. Sqwat. In fact, I *think* I *might* have actually disturbed the ball’s wake once. Struck out every time I went up. At least last year I tended to hit the ball more often than not.

I need to spend an afternoon in a batting cage…

I will say one thing about the fields in Calgary — like the Prairies, they’re flat. It’s great. No worries about a fast rolling ball suddenly flying up into your schnoz. I’m not really looking forward to reliving last year’s little injury.

The game lasted only seven innings — we had a double-header, and the sun sets just after 9:00, leaving only about three hours of play. Both teams played hard, and for a while, I thought we were losing (rather badly) to the other team. But in the bottom of the seventh (we were up at bat), I was surprised to find out that we were only three runs down. Then it was two … one … and then tied. We ended the game with a final run.

Then the dispute began. The Cooters believed that we had miscounted, believing they were six runs ahead. Name calling and insults — the usual interoffice banter — erupted around the diamond while the score keepers sorted the mess out. Despite the loud by-the-books manager of the Cooters (who I’m told is the CEO’s brother), they missed an entire inning of runs. We hailed victorious.

Somehow, I’ve got the feeling that’s the only win we’ll see this season.

The second game was … well, I was going to put in a neat little literary description to give you an idea of how badly we lost. The only problem is I can’t think of one good enough to convey such an utter defeat. The only thing that comes close is Napoleon’s naval defeat in Aboukir Bay by Admiral Horatio Nelson in 1798. Nelson claimed “there is no word to describe such an utter victory”. It was the most decisive battle in naval history.

No, I didn’t just pluck that little fact out of my head — living on my own, I’ve had a bit of time to watch TV, and I’ve been watching a lot of The Learning Channel lately. They had a show on Napoleon’s Obsession with Egypt — quite a fascinating show. I can certainly understand why Napoleon was so revered. (Perhaps more interesting was another TLC show that told the story of Napoleon’s murder many years later on the island of St. Helena.)

Okay, so I’m a geek with lots of useless trivia. Let’s just say that I’ve never needed to use a lifeline on “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire”. Not that I watch the show with any regularity at all. In fact, I think I’ve seen parts of about seven episodes. I usually turn the channel because I end up screaming at the guy who can’t remember if Humpty Dumpty fell of a wall or a horse.

I played right field during both games. In the first game, I was bored. The Cooters are all right-handed batters. But The Screwballs (the second time) not only had left-handed batters, but had people who could place hits. I was running all over the place. That’s how I got injured.

Relax, no blood loss. I was sprinting after a shot (that I should have caught), but as usual I was too shallow. Realizing this, I quickly pivoted to lunge and catch it. Only problem was that while my body was turning, my right leg decided to mutiny. I somehow ended up wrenching my quadricep. I barely made it through the inning, and ended up sitting out the rest of the game.

Today, I’m sore. That’s to be expected, I guess. I haven’t played in about nine months. But I’m not as bad as I thought I would be. I’m going to the batting cages — I’m in dire need of practice. Hopefully, I’ll do better in this weekend’s tournament.

You can all stop laughing now.