Thursday, August 13, 2009

A Swing and a Wiff

When I got the announcement that the Second Annual Adobe Wiffleball League was starting, I meant to join. I used to spend hours playing wiffleball in grade school and high school. And college. Unfortunately, a part of me resists Seattle in general and the Adobe culture in particular. For that reason or some other, I didn't sign up.

A member of the Knee Sox came into my office and said I needed to be on the team. "Sure." When I went to play in my first game, 18 players showed up for our team. Only 6 can play at one time. There's an old wiffleball saying, "Six is company, eighteen is a crowd," so I looked for a new team. A player on Ken Wiffey Jr Fan Club had just gotten injured, so the captain of the Knee Sox happily traded me to Ken Wiffey. He joked that I was being traded for a bag of peanuts.

Everyone thought this was a great solution except for Dylan. Dylan is the mentally challenged mail deliverer. And by "mentally challenged," I don't mean that he struggles with 4-star Sudoku puzzles. I mean he is mentally retarded. No matter where he is, he speaks loudly, slowly, and clearly.

"WE HAVE A BIG GAME TODAY, BOB. IF WE SCORE A LOT OF RUNS, WE HAVE A GOOD CHANCE OF WINNING."

That was the last thing Dylan said to me. Now he doesn't talk to me. You see, my new team, Ken Wiffey, played against my old team, the Knee Sox, and we destroyed them. Whenever I came up to bat, people made jokes about my being a traitor, and then I would crush the ball, and that would be followed by "enjoy your peanuts" humor.

The next time I saw Dylan, I told him it was very hot outside. Instead of saying, "YES, IT IS SO HOT I WOULD RATHER STAY INSIDE," he stared at the floor of the elevator. My friend who convinced me to join the league told me that Dylan was still upset that I switched teams.

Here's the odd thing. I really got into wiffleball, as challenged as that sounds. Our team won five games in a row and moved into playoff position. In last Thursday's game, with two out and two on in the top of the final inning of a tight game, I smacked a three-run homer that went over the bushes and landed on the Burke-Gilman Trail. And by smacked, I mean crushed, creamed, smeared, whacked, cold-cocked. I jogged around the bases, stepped on home plate, and bashed forearms with delighted teammates.

I know it's goofy, but I walked around after the last few games with a smile on my face. It put me in a good mood. When I saw a guy on my team, we stopped and chatted about the next game. All we had to do was win the final game -- against a team that was 1-9 -- and we're in the playoffs.

We played tight. In the last inning, we were down a run, and I was the first batter. I needed to get on base to start a rally. The pitcher threw two curves, both balls, and I knew he would come in with a fat pitch to get a strike. Instead of calmly waiting on the pitch and driving it, I opened my hips early, peeked at the Burke-Gilman Trail, and hit a dribbler. Out. Two batters later and our season was over.

Here's the thing. I'm going to have a difficult time sleeping tonight. I choked. I am going to toss and turn worse tonight than I did after the Colts lost to the Chargers in the playoffs last year.

I need to forget about the whole thing. I need to keep this failure in perspective. I need to settle my rift with Dylan and put it past me. I need to trick myself into believing that wiffleball isn't that important.

No way. Wait til next year.

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