Monday, May 17, 2010

Of Ink And Horsehide

There are three types of people who read this blog.

The first are those who can’t stand it when I write about sports. They tune out immediately when I rave about my beloved Celtics, and they take a nap when I write about my own adventures in fast-pitch softball. As a matter of fact, they already left upon the first mention of the word ‘sports’, and are now visiting some other place on the internet; probably some blog concerned with organic gardening, or perhaps knitting. Fair enough. I generally beat a hasty retreat when I encounter those things, so why should I expect them to enjoy my odd passions?

The second group probably comprises the great majority of readers. They aren’t clamoring for me to write about sports more often, but they are willing to read on when I write about softball. They know that I sometimes throw in a tidbit or two NOT about softball, and they’re willing to gnaw on the statistics and other hardcore stuff in order to get to the small pieces of meat that may be attached to the bone. They seem to like me, personally, and are willing to indulge my penchant for heroicizing softball bums, much in the same way many of us put up with an eccentric uncle who sometimes yammers on about the glories of 3/16” hex bolts during a family reunion. We know that sooner or later he’ll shut up, and he’s harmless otherwise, so we just let him run out of steam rather than clock him over the head with a 2x4.

The third group – possibly insane, but I love them - actually look forward to me doing one of my softball posts. For the most part, these are teammates of mine. The allure for them is understandable. Don’t you like it when you see your name in print? Of course you do, unless it’s in connection with an ongoing murder investigation. However, within this group of nuts, there is a sub-group of one, and his name is Knucklehead.

(Well, OK, that’s not really his name. That’s the name he writes under. His real name is somewhat of a secret. The reason for that is because, when he was writing under his own name, one of the people with whom he had to interact on a professional basis complained about him making fun of people like her in a public place. He didn’t want to risk losing his job or having people like her come to his door with an ice pick in hand. MY WIFE thinks that I should worry about the same thing happening, so she hates it when I say that we live in Watertown, so I don’t.)

Knucklehead is such a fan of my softball posts that he requested an autographed softball, signed by all my Sunday softball team, the Bombers.

Oh, OK, to be honest – and aren’t I always? – he didn’t request one signed by the whole team. He requested one signed by Cam Zirpolo.

(Here, lest any of you get the wrong impression, I hasten to point out that Knucklehead is neither gay nor a pedophile. He is, in fact, rather lustily heterosexual, currently in an ongoing relationship with a lovely grown woman named Theresa, and father of at least one daughter and one son. No, the reason for the odd fixation on my left fielder is because Knucklehead thinks that Cam Zirpolo is the best name, ever, for a ballplayer. I don’t agree. I’ve always been sort of partial to Vinegar Bend Mizell.)

Be that as it may – and we’ll pretend it is, even if it isn’t - with this being the opening week of my Sunday softball season, and with the entire roster being present for the first doubleheader, it seemed like an appropriate time to fulfill Knucklehead’s request. So, a ball was presented to the team for them to sign. Most did so. Here’s the ball, which will be winging its way to Knucklehead any moment now.


Those that didn’t sign did not refuse to do so. It’s just that, as is the wont in such loosely organized activities as Sunday softball, they just sort of drifted off towards home following the games. We don’t have a clubhouse, like in the major leagues, wherein our lockers might ring a centrally located table with a box of balls on it needing autographing. The ball was in Jack Atton’s equipment bag, and thus not highly visible. I told folks about it, and requested they sign it for an actual real fan of ours, but the first order of business was playing softball and trying to get off to a good start in this new season.

And, as I’m sure Knucklehead (and a few other of you) will be happy to hear, we did.

BOMBERS – White’s -
BOMBERS – White’s -


And here, I must make a confession and let you in on a little secret. You may be wondering why there are no scores (and, perhaps more curiously, why it says [photo] where there was supposed to be one.) That’s because we didn’t play.

"But... but...," you say, "How could this be? You wrote about your teammates signing the softball, and... I’m so confused, Sully. Please explain?"

You have a right to be confused, and I’ll try to explain. See, here’s what I sometimes do. On the night before our games, I sometimes write up the part of the softball blog that doesn’t have any actual game information in it. Then, after we’ve played, I fill in the rest; the statistics and individual heroics (or my blunders, as the case may be.) And I had every intention of doing so this time around. However, we didn’t actually play. As a matter of fact, we never even got down to the field.

At about 7:30 this morning (Sunday) the phone rang. I was busy putting on my equipment, so MY WIFE answered it. When you get a call at 7:30 on a Sunday morning, it’s not usually good news. I stood there in my jockstrap and two knee braces waiting to hear what it could be. She handed me the phone. It was Jack Atton, my manager. The games were cancelled. The team we were supposed to play had, at the last minute, decided to drop out of the league. I have no idea why they waited until just an hour-and-a-half before game time to tell anyone, but that’s the way it was, so no games for us. And, as a consequence, no autographed softball for Knucklehead, either.

I could have just erased everything I had already written, and then written something entirely new and truthful, but that would have been far too much work for a sluggard like me.

(MY WIFE, in her usual brilliant fashion, suggested that I pretend that this blog was a tape recording and then pretend to rewind the whole thing, typing the entirety of it backwards from the point at which I left off, thusly:

s’etihW - SREBMOB
s’etihW - SREBMOB

.did ew, raeh ot yppah eb lliw (uoy fo rehto wef a dna) daehelkcunK erus m’I sa, dnA

And so forth. But, since it took me about five minutes to figure out how to write that little bit of it, no way was I going to do the whole 950 words that followed. It would have been impressive, no doubt, but it also would have been more insane than even I’m willing to admit to being.)

So, those of you who wanted a softball post didn’t quite get one, and those who left early, because they thought this was going to be about softball, left too early. The vast majority of you, from the second group, probably aren’t thrilled either. It’s not like this was vastly entertaining. Oh, well. If it’s any consolation, imagine how I feel. Instead of getting grimy and sweaty and tearing up my knees catching and having my 53-year-old thighs yelping at me all day tomorrow for having done three hours worth of squats, I had to settle for a nice hot cup of coffee, some peanut butter toast, and a leisurely read of the sports section.

Believe it or not, for me that sucks.

.ffuts retteb erom htiw, nooS

P.S. Since I didn’t talk about softball as much as I had planned, how about those Celtics? Up 1 – 0 on Orlando, and, well, Woo-Hoo!

P.P.S. For those of you folks particularly fond of horses, I may as well mention that the softballs we use in our league aren’t really made using horsehide. They might have been, back in the 20th century, but now it’s some sort of synthetic material (which is no doubt poisonous if ingested, and every time one of them gets hit by a bat, a little bit of murderous powder is probably released into the atmosphere and we’re all going to die, but the horses won’t, so after we’re gone it will be just them and the cockroaches.)

P.P.P.S. I should just shut up now, huh? OK.


Expat From Hell said...

Something in me got deflated when I read (at the end, finally) that your Sunday was reduced to peanut butter toast and coffee. Is that the softball player in all of us? And, while I'm at it, not all of us Angelenos are pulling for the Lakers. Kobe needs some come-uppance. You green boys had better deliver. EFH

Jewels said...

ROTF. Peanut butter toast and coffee sounds like the perfect Sunday to me. However, this sunday I happened to be at softball practice for THE BOY and forgot to take pictures. What a dunce.

Incidently, I'm in group number 2.

Bruce Coltin said...

This may be the best story ever told about a game that never happened. It makes me think that if the next game also doesn't happen, the story will be even better than this one.

Carolina said...

Ouch! I felt that!
Is softball different to baseball? Seriously, I haven't a clue about any sports involving balls. I've had tennis lessons and still can't keep the score. It just doesn't make sense to me.
Sometimes I read past the numbers and the technical softball stuff you write about, but occasionally it just makes me lose the will to live and I give up. Sorry. To each their own I say. As a horse lover.

How is your relative doing?


Anonymous said...

Well thanks for the mental image.

"I stood there in my jockstrap and two knee braces waiting to hear what it could be."

Perhaps a [photo] would have been more apropo?


Uncle Skip, said...

I'm partial to the name Yorvit Torrealba, though Vinegar Bend Mizell ranks pretty high. Is it true that he was called 'Vinegar Bend' because they didn't want fans to confuse him with the other Wilmer Mizell?
The team that dropped out should have their spikes put on the inside of their shoes.
I'm happy my Sunday plans weren't canceled... got to spend the day with my grandson.
Ooh... and I have an autographed softball. It is signed by both teams from a high school all-star game where I was asked to throw the first pitch. I'm not sure if I was more thrilled to receive it or they were more thrilled to actually have anyone want their autographs.

Michelle H. said...

I stood there in my jockstrap and two knee braces waiting to hear what it could be.

Instead of getting grimy and sweaty and tearing up my knees catching and having my 53-year-old thighs yelping at me all day tomorrow for having done three hours worth of squats, I had to settle for a nice hot cup of coffee, some peanut butter toast, and a leisurely read of the sports section.

Okay, I have to ask, were you still wearing the jockstrap and knee braces during the coffee, toast, and sports reading?

Jazz said...

a) why would you eat a softball?

Cricket said...

Classic Sul. Love it. I suppose I'm in group 2, but every now and then you get on a tear and push me into group 3. With so much extra softball this season, that could happen more often this year.

I don't know if Cam Zirpolo is the best name ever, but it's up there, I have to say.

Chris@Knucklehead! said...

DAMMIT! For a minute there I was pretty psyched.

While Cam Zirpolo is indeed a great sports name (and has a distinctly Bostonian ring to it, possibly because I associate it with former Bruin Cam Neely), there are a few others that are equally awesome. In no particular order:

Mickey Mantle
Van Lingle Mungo
Steve "Bye Bye" Balboni
Mookie Wilson
Fast Freddy Goodman
Harvey Haddix

Thanks for trying, Sully. Maybe next week?

Suldog said...

Expat - The Green will (and are!) trying their best.

Jewels - I love all that is softball. Please take photos next time!

Bruce - The story may be better, but I will be sadder :-)

Suldog said...

Carolina - Thank you for asking. The problem, as I understand it - and if anyone knows better, please correct me - is that a kidney tumor can be encapsulated and, if so, there is no real way of knowing if it is cancerous or not until the kidney is actually removed. So, the decision is still being debated. Very tough choice.

Suldog said...

Quirky - MY WIFE would have had to snap that photo. She would have had little problem doing so, of course, but she definitely would not want the end result (no pun intended) to appear in public, so...

Uncle Skip - I am all for whatever form of torture can be thought up for the offending team. Forcing them to read my stuff for the entirety of the season might do it.

Suldog said...

Michelle - Sorry to disappoint, but I had changed into pajama bottoms and a Celtics T-shirt. Thus far, I have found no need to wear a jock and knee braces while eating breakfast. I hope I never do!

Jazz - Because I am really, really, really dedicated to my sport?

Cricket - Thanks! See Knucklehead's comment, and below, for more on the subject of great baseball names.

Knucklehead - More great ones, in no particular order:

Oil Can Boyd
Dizzy Dean
Dazzy Vance
Cool Papa Bell
and, of course, El Guapo (a.k.a. Rich Garces, the nickname being Spanish for "The Handsome One". You have to have seen Rich Garces to get the full impact, so for those who never have...

Eva Gallant said...

fI stuck around and read this post for a couple of reasons: Knucklehead is one of my favorite bloggers, and I wanted to read what you would say about the Celtics. Was that an awesome game, or what???? I panicked at the end--scared they'd lose, but they didn't.
Also, I'm concerned because I read this week that softball players are lesbians, and I didn't know that about you.

Suldog said...

Eva - Yes, I am a lesbian in a man's body. It's the best of both worlds!

As for the Celtics, Woo-Hoo! Scary near the end, but a win is a win is a win.

Buck said...

I was gonna type my entire comment sdrawkcab but you're right: too damned much work. Especially for a retired guy.

slommler said...

I have to say that I too am scarred for life for that vision of you standing there in your jockstrap. Ewwwwwwwwwwwwwww!!
Loved the story though...except for the jockstrap and knee pads. The game that never was was great!!

Brian Miller said...

?tuo deppord yeht ecnis sniw owt teg uoy naem taht seoD

Maggie May said...

I think I fit into the second group. I put up with the sport because I like you! :-)

Nuts in May

Suldog said...

Buck - Ah, a man of leisure! Wish I was, sometimes.

SueAnn - Hold on there, sister. I don't believe anyone else said they were "scarred for life". I do believe, as a matter of fact, that one or two of the female persuasion may have said that they were sorry there weren't photos. Or I imagined it, anyway, and that's just as good.

Brian - .keew siht sruo tog ew dna ,eyb a emoceb dluow meht htiw etad deluehcs hcae snaem tsuj tI .oN

Suldog said...

Maggie - Well, I like you, too! Thank you!

Matt Conlon said...

I have a habit of seeing what things say backwards. I even named an imaginary comic book hero "Trafstar" once.

Carolina said...

Decisions, decisions. Often difficult and certainly in major cases like this. All the best to your relative again. Hope all turns out well.

Meanwhile, I've tried to make sense of the word 'deluehcs' in your answer to Brian (I'm not curious, I just like to know things that are none of my business) and I can't. I suppose it should be 'deludehcs' and now have a headache ;-)

Thanks for thinking of me (and my horses). They will be delighted to know they'll not end up being hit frequently by a big wooden bat or whatever you call these things. It seems to me that as a smoker you have worse things to worry about than toxic balls.

Lots of love ;-)

Teacher's Pet said...

I read every word.
I laughed FIRST at the eccentric uncle and his love of hex bolts..and had an image of him being hit over the head with a two by 4 WITH hex bolts in them...and then I began laughing at myself. (Not a whole lot to do this afternoon....) :)))
Watertown, eh? Nice to not know.
I love your blog...and continue to pray for your relative...knowing the decision must be a difficult one to make. I do continue to pray for him.
¡¡noʎ oʇ sǝןıɯs

IT said...

Pumpsie Green!!!

Sniffles and Smiles said...

Oh, I'm screaming with laughter!!! Your wife is my kinda gal!!!! I'm sure she and I would be the best of friends!! Backwards, huh? Here's something for you...hilarious if it weren't kinda spooky for people who are maiden name spelled backwards read "kansur"...not sure if that were an omen...ROFL...but in my family we were always spelling things backwards...So, I am even more convinced that YOU are a long lost relative :-) Jim, it doesn't much matter what you write about...I'm afraid you're stuck with me saying, "I LOVE it!" and I won't be just sayin'...It'll be take ordinary and turn it funny! And I love to laugh. Thanks for huge smiles on a rainy Monday...Hugs, Janine

Land of shimp said...

Ah but there is a fourth category of reader! Someone like me, who simply loves to see enthusiasm for things, particularly when they are things about which it would not occur to me to be enthusiastic.

I like the concept that nothing is actually boring, that all it takes is the right sort of mind, the right person to see a spark of interest in that subject, or that thing.

I'd rather hang around a person who could found an animating spark in doorknobs, than a world weary sort.

I may not understand the thrill behind it all, but I do so love to see people being thrilled. Even when a post about softball turns into a post about things other than softball. I really like people who find something in life to love.

My husband sort of casually collects stamps, and coins. He makes them interesting to me, because I love to see him interested.

Just as you render softball...or lack thereof...interesting too.

saz said...

LOL...when is a softball post not a softball post...

Thumbelina said...

.redaer fo yrogetac dnoces ruoy m'I

Best soft ball commentary I have read. Ever. Or is that, reve.

Ananda girl said...

I am not at all sure where I land in your groups... but I love sports, like being horrified and am always entertained here. I think your "MY WIFE" has become a hero of mine. ;-)

As for your Celtics... WOOT!

Craig said...

Vinegar Bend Mizell is one of the great baseball names of all time. So is Van Lingle Mungo (must be a 'V' thing. . .) I have attended exactly one Spring Training game in Florida, and Oil Can Boyd pitched for the Red Sox against my Tigers. . .

And heck, there's just something right about walking around the house in knee pads and a jockstrap before a softball game. . .

And you know, the more I know of YOUR WIFE, the more I like her. . .

And listen, you won't take it personal, willya, if I say I'm getting a little weary of Celtics-Lakers? Sorta like Yankees-Dodgers, back in the day. . .

Hilary said...

I certainly fall into group number 2 with occasional gusts up to group 1. Sports talk generally has me yawning and nodding off, but I love how you write and so you always keep me coming back for more. How can I not forgive the occas.. the frequ... the incessant sports talk? ;)

Char said...

Thanks for NOT doing the whole post backwards....I got tired trying to read one line!

I'm not a very avid baseball fan, but I always read your recaps because you are so damn funny.

I can't figure which catagory I'm in....but a pic of you eating breakfast in your jock and pads would have been interesting.

lime said...

well i have to agree with knucklehead on the point of saying cam zirpilo is indeed an awesome name for a ballplayer.

also, i am crazy enough that i'd like to see an entire post written backwards and would actually read it, though i'd hope it didn't reach 950 words in length

Jeni said...

Okay -so I'm late reading this but that's because whenever a post by you pops up on my reader, I always bypass it then and click it to "save as unread" so I can come back to it when I have time to read it, try to comprehend some of your more insane stuff and well, just enjoy the piece better that way.
Anywho -I'm trying to figure out what category into which I belong. At first I thought I should be in the 2nd group but then, you mentioned something about insanity being sort of prevalent in the third group and I said to myself, "Self, that's exactly where you belong because, after all, you are certified as being more than slightly insane!" And what's wrong with reading about knitting -or other crafts stuff anyway? You may need a nice quiet past time to occupy yourself once your knees give out completely and you are recuperating from having had knee or even hip replacement surgery, ya know! Oh and Kudos to your wife for her "type the words in backwards" suggestion. Sounds like she's got her own revenge system at play there.

GreenJello said...

After the mental image of you all braced up, I think I need mental eye bleach.

IT said...

Yuz forgot to mention the sub-group that cherry picks to get so far off topic that nobody remembers what the post was about.
Speaking of which... does anyone ever read Frazz?

veri word = sfeph

Jay Dot Rats said...


imagine my surprise when I got to the field at 10:00 expecting to watch you play one of the new teams and find ... NOTHING! I immediately thought I misread the schedule and we were supposed to have the early game. I panicked for about an hour until we could get someone to check the league website.

Suldog said...

Jay - Yeah, I was planning on staying at the field after our games and scouting the new team YOU were playing. How do they look? What were your scores?

Kathryn Magendie said...

Now I want some peanut butter toast and coffee and the funny thing is, about 2 hours ago I wrote a scene in a story where the character is having peanut butter toast and I wanted it BAD then -- now I come here and...and....DANG IT -

I'm having peanut butter toast and coffee in the morning,dang my hide and the hides of softballs to boot!

Jenn said...

OK the 3/16" hex bolt killed me haha. The [photo] had me scratching my head and the blank score made me think back if it was raining over the weekend. And then I read on & the a-ha moment came.

.llab taht ees ot ecin eb lliw tI

Hopefully next week you'll be able to regale us with your heoric tales of winning!

Angela Christensen said...

Suldog, some of us (maybe a BUNCH of us?) just like reading your stuff. In any well-balanced sports movie (The Natural? Hoosiers? Field of Dreams?) even people who don't like the sport in question - or sports at all - find the human connections we're always seeking. Good writing transcends the genre. And the blog as a metier helps many of us, in that we're not forced to be exquisitely effective in 2 hours or less...could that be part of it?

Mostly, I just think "Keep writing, bud; your writing makes difference for me", but maybe other people are thinking, "Is HIS WIFE ever going to pull the damn plug on him??" Naa. I'm just kidding. Thanks, and ever thanks, for every word, Celtics or no.
Love, love,
Angie at Eat Here

Karen said...

I love you *and* your blog, but sadly, I'm in Group 1. Onto the next post. LOL