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August 3 2000: Diamonds & Plastic Wiffle Ball Takes Over

If you’ve been reading my column on Yankees Xtreme, you already know about corwin’s wiffle ball obsession.

Well, actually, when I wrote about it on Xtreme (read it HERE), it was only an interest, a curiousity. But now I can definitely say it’s an obsession. He imagines himself pitching while he’s trying to go to sleep at night.

He’s organized a whole pile of friends to play Wiffle Ball on Sunday afternoons, and Kimberly bought him a whole outfit (complete with eye black and a rosin bag) for his birthday. He’s contemplating formalizing a league.

For many of us, myself included, playing wiffle ball in the past few weeks was the first time I played an organized team sport of any kind in over ten years. I played soccer once when I was in college with some friends from my tae kwon do school, at a picnic. That was the last time since high school I’ve played a team game.

What’s wonderful about wiffle ball is that physically it really isn’t very demanding, and yet it simulates baseball closely enough in its rules and form of play (i.e. battle between pitcher and batter, etc) that we can get totally into it. We play with actual baserunning, unlike some wiffle ball leagues (yes, there are LEAGUES) who use invisible baserunners. We like running the bases.

Thus far in my wiffle experience I’ve had my Derek Jeter moments (catching the ball in the infield and doubling up the runner), and my Jeff Nelson moments (striking out a batter, but unfortunately after walking in two runs…). And get this, it turns out I’m a switch hitter. Mechanically, it feels just as “good” from either side. I use “good” in quotes, since I can’t hit terribly well from either side. I feel like my eyes don’t track the ball very well. It doesn’t feel like I’m being “fooled” by the break in the pitch, rather I feel like as soon as the ball leaves the pitcher’s hand, I forget to keep looking at it. So no matter what the ball does, it doesn’t matter, since I can’t see it anyway. Sometimes it’s obvious it’s going to be out of the strike zone and I don’t swing. But if it is coming into the zone, it’s invisible. I swing and hit it some of the time despite not being able to see it. I’ve been on base a lot with walks and singles. I suppose it’s something that comes with practice.

We aren’t weenie enough to be keeping stats, but I’d be willing to bet that if the obsession lasts much longer, corwin probably will.

The next step is nicknames, I think. We don’t have team names since we just rotate who plays with whom, who’s captain, etc., depending on how many people show up on a given day. So yeah, we need wiffle nicknames for the individual players.

Of course, my secret agenda is to hopefully work a couple of people up to giving MY birthday present a try–an aluminum bat. Not for use with the plastic ball. If not this season, maybe next…?

Meanwhile, it turns out we’re not alone. There are wiffle leagues all around the country. Wiffle PARKS. Check out these links if you want to know more about the wiffle craze:

Pardon me now–I’ve got to start warming up my pitching arm.

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