Write Derek at drksmart @ gmail.com
Write Phil at phil.bencomo @ gmail.com
by Alex Ciepley
Enough with the Cubs. Last night saw the glorious birth of a much more notable team, a team destined to rewrite the annals of sports history, to bring freedom to Myanmar and Tibet, to cure polio and chicken pox. Last night the softball team I call Mi Famiglia, the Bearcats, played their first game.
The Bearcats are a rough-and-tumble collection of softballing scrubs who come to the team either as Binghamton alums (thus the nickname) or as employees at my company--one guy dips in both pools, bringing the two disparate cliques together like peanut butter and chocolate.
I'm not so fond of the team name, but then again I'd proposed "Matt's Bitches" in honor of our manager. My coworker also had an unsuccessful entry into the name-that-team contest we held last month: "Alex Ciepley Rox My Sox".
Oh, if only that name would've stuck, because I do indeed Rock peep's Socks on the softball diamond. Let's review.
My first faux pas: I'm wearing maroon instead of red. We don't yet have our team t-shirts, so the instructions were to wear red shirts. I'm pasty. Real bright-white pasty. I don't do red.
Apparently, this isn't an excuse. My lovely wine-colored top is met with modest disapproval.
The initial lineup card has me batting fourth. This is utterly hilarious. The manager wisely rethinks my hitting prowess and makes a few adjustments. I'm now batting eleventh.
We suck. It's the top of the third, and I'm taking the field for the first time with the team already down 7-0. I suck. I'm put in right field, the traditional Dunce Cap position in softball leagues.
My first at bat, in the bottom of the inning, is positively Neifi-riffic. One pitch, one groundout to the shortstop.
The top of the fourth. I take right field, but no one's at second. In a regrettable panic move, I run up to play the infield.
With a runner on first, a sharp grounder to the shortstop. I cover second, the shortstop turns, flips the ball to me... and I drop it. Did I mention that I Rock your Socks? E-4.
A lefty pull-hitter at the plate now, more panic. A groundball headed my way! I scoot over, reach down for the ball. I'm Katarina Witt at the keystone, I'm thinking. Watch me dance.
I trip, fall flat on my face, the ball scoots away, and a run scores. E-4.
Come the fifth inning, I'm graciously informed that I won't be needed in the field.
Our game only lasted five innings, and entering the bottom of the fifth, we were trailing 11-0. Hey, we were playing Foot Locker, what the hell did you expect?
Then, an almost-miracle. Thanks to a wild opposing pitcher, we started piling people on base, and the runs began coming in. 1...2...3... 10! Ten runs in before a short pop ended things with the tying run on third. Final tally: 11-10, Bearcats lose.
I regaled Derek last night with tales of our oh-so-narrow defeat, and he commented that my team was the Cubs. You suffer for ages, only to discover hope in the form of an unlikely march towards victory. That hope is then squashed.
It's only fair, I suppose. You can turn a Cubs fan into a Bearcat, but you better be prepared for him to bring his heartbreak along for the ride.