Thursday, 21 May 2009

soft balls


since the last time i wrote about sports (and sports injuries, coincidentally), we were in the middle of flag football. now my base is ablaze with chatter about the softball contests taking place almost nightly on the same barren, post-apocalyptic, mad max-type field that is home to every sports team here aside from the wrestling team (they actually compete in the Thunderdome). the rocks and dirt mounds make fielding ground balls a chore, and the multi-million watt bulbs lighting the field make fly balls disappear on the horizon and reappear on your upper lip (SPC Turkey Jerky took one to his eating hole, and it wasn't pretty). running on the field is the one fun aspect of a sandy field. after sprinting to make a play (or NOT make a play if it's me), you can turn around and see a cloud of dust behind you. the feeling that you were moving so fast that your speed-vortex caused a windstorm in your wake is quite satisfying.

our softball team has jerseys. theyre very nice, and quite out of place in this feces-scented dirtbowl. white with blue pinstripes, they would make the yankees drool in envy. i actually do not have one, so i drool with envy while playing, which makes it very hard to discern where my strike zone is while i am batting. these jerseys cause our opponents to lust after our funding and collective sense of style, and how seamlessly we can transition from an army uniform into one specifically for softball.

the rules are simple: pitch underhand, swing hard, and talk as much trash as possible to your teammates. games are considered 'low-scoring' if one team ends with less than 30 runs, and a mishandled ground ball can turn into a grand slam at the whim of a pebble. the bases are literally 5 running strides apart for me, and this leads to hilarious base-running mistakes and collisions that would make destruction derbies proud.

our record is currently 4-2, and we are led by a fiery coach/captain/third baseman who pumps us up using his enthusiasm for the game and intimidatingly pronounced neck veins. every team meeting is treated as if we were down by 12 runs, and i do my best to take this as seriously as possible. keep in mind that 1/4 of our pep-talks are in spanish, as are the insults hurled at each other. the three other non-spanish speakers and i just look around, admiring passing female corn children or inspecting nearby rocks for possible phallic semblance.

since the unit replacing us has arrived, my company's command has taken a sudden interest in our extra-military activities. having these people show up and toss words of encouragement our way ("score more runs than they do!") puzzled me for a few minutes, but then i realized that they feel the need to appear to give a shit about us after 11 months of enjoying being the enemy. it is nice to have a cheering section, but they never participate in The Wave or some of our favorite chants ("hey-yo MALDO!" or the team favorite "Hey Tiller, stop strangling him!"). it's like having a father show up to his son's first baseball game... when the son has already earned his varsity jacket.

our first playoff game is coming up this weekend, and we are all set to face off against the KBR team (named the Master Batters... how great is that?) who have been playing together since conception. they are undefeated and quite talented, but they lack one thing that we have in spades: dominicans. sociological note: dominicans are literally born with bats and gloves, and they are sent, 300-style, to brutal, no-holds-barred baseball camps when they turn 7. they are dragged away from their teary mothers and subjected to base running drills while being chased by puerto ricans (dominicans can't stand them). fighting wolves in the snow armed only with a wooden Louisville, they must triumph or face the possibility of never being able to play baseball again.

Recap: provocative titles = more readers, dominicans fight wolves, im batting .820.

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