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August 7 2000: More Time on the Diamond

corwin-batsWell, my boyfriend and I and a large group of friends have been playing wiffle ball every weekend. And man, is it fun.

I think it’s especially fun for the baseball fans in the group. I think for us, playing wiffle ball is sort of akin to those guys who go out and play those soldier-of-fortune paint ball games. It’s not the real thing, not the real war, as it were, but it does have a lot of the excitement.

For us baseball fans, what matters is we are out there on the diamond. Our physical skills may be meager, but we are still recreating the battle of wits between pitcher and batter, the fielding and baserunning excitement. We have double plays, home runs, strike outs, and RBIs. We have great plays and we have errors.

Before every game, we have pitching and batting practice, and some of us are actually improving as the weeks go by.

For some reason yesterday I got locked in as a hitter. The week before I struck out a bunch of times–either caught looking or just swinging past stuff that was invisible to me. This week, even against two different pitchers, I put the bat on the ball just about every time up. I got several hits, some of them RBI hits, though we don’t keep stats. Maybe I’m like Ricky Ledee, and I’ll have a lot of 0-for-4 streaks and a lot of 4-4 streaks.

The second-guessing is part of the game, I guess, as Jim Bouton says in Ball Four.

Yesterday I also fielded a ton of balls. I was playing what I think of as shortstop position, though really with wiffleball there is no shortstop. Normally, besides the pitcher, we have either two or three fielders (there is no outfield, either). But I play in the shortstop hole, and most righty batters pull the ball right to me. That happened a bunch yesterday, so I was feeling good about both my batting and fielding.

The one thing I could NOT do yesterday was pitch. I pitched thirty warm up pitches in practice and only three were thrown for strikes. Ouch.

Today, because my right arm and shoulder were hurting so much from bowling, I could only bat from the left side. Good thing I’m a switch hitter! And I couldn’t really field for s***. Fortunately, my team jumped out to an early lead, and corwin pitched several scoreless innings for us. Bowling did a world of good for his arm slot, and he was throwing most of his pitches for strikes! Amazing. So when I didn’t field that well, it didn’t hurt us too badly, and for some reason, not as many balls came at me today anyway. I played a bunch of the game with my right hand in my pocket, to keep me from using that arm. I guess I should have been a DH today, except we only had four people per team…

But speaking of second-guessing. Right now I feel good and I’m able to declare that I’m getting better at hitting. But maybe I’m just lucky. I suppose that the only way to tell is, as in baseball, to compile stats over a longer period of time, to see how things average out.

I suppose, though, that’s one of the fascinating things about the game(s), isn’t it. It’s not just a game of numbers–it’s about what happens right now, this pitch, this situation. You can be 0 for 10 against a pitcher–but does that mean this pitcher has your number, or that you’re really really due for a hit against him? (or her?) Or even if that pitcher does own you, does that mean you’re not going to get a key hit in the game? Of course not. Think about Kirk Gibson (Detroit Tigers) facing Goose Gossage (when Goose and Graig Nettles had gone to the Padres) in the World Series. If you don’t know the story, Gibson hit a home run that sank the Padres. They were going to take Goose out of the game, but he argued, saying, no, I OWN this Gibson kid, look at the numbers. The numbers agreed. But Gibson knew Gossage would try to blow him away, and met force with force….

Anyway, I’m sure that the next time Phil pitches — a friend of ours who has long long arms like Randy Johnson, and so has a lot more giddyup on his ball than our other wiffle pitchers — I’ll be second guessing again. Oh, an off day for me, maybe. But who knows, maybe when it comes time to get that key hit, I’ll see the ball better. There’s no way to know until we get to that situation.

Until then, this wiffle warrior is going to tend her wounds (my shoulder is killing me–well, not so much from the two days of wiffle games this weekend as from the fact we went candlepin bowling last night…. and then there’s the swollen, itchy mosquito bite on my leg…) and bask in my glory. I only struck out once in the past two days, and I got on base in every inning both yesterday and today. That ain’t too shabby.

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