Tag Archives: Teams

Pop Fly

There was ease in Madie’s manner as she crouched behind the plate.

La Mancha is the posh section of town where the streets are

winding and the house numbers are hand painted on Spanish tile.

The La Mancha girl softball team—the Amazons–had worked their

way to the final game of a double elimination regional tournament.

The Amazons’ catcher Madison “Madie” Sommerset was a

prototypical example of a self-absorbed La Mancha teenager. She

imagined the adulation she would get when the Amazons won.

Photographers would run onto the field. She saw herself yanking off

her brand new $140 catcher’s mask as news photographers

crowded around her.

The Amazons had won their first game against the Fairfield

Fusions, but to everyone’s surprise, had lost the second game. In a

powerful effort to put the Fusions away, the Amazons scored four

runs in the first inning. Then their bats went cold, but they led 4 to 1 in

the top of the final inning of the tournament.

Before the last inning, officials called a five-minute time out to

re-chalk the batter’s boxes and check the infield. Madie slipped

away and ran to her car. Open cosmetic containers were spread

across the front seat. Madie grabbed a hand mirror and applied a

thick coat of a New Air Foam foundation to her face. Advertisers

said the air foam foundation make-up would give her face a

“perfect matte surface.” She sprayed the foundation on thick,

smoothed it quickly, jammed on her catcher’s mask, and dashed

back to the dugout.

“Play ball,” the umpire shouted.

The bottom of the Fusion batting order was coming to the

plate. It was time to send the Fusions home with a runners-up cup.

The Amazon pitcher wasted two inside pitches trying to intimidate

the first Fusion batter, but the batter refused to back up. The next

pitch zinged in waist high and right over the plate. “Crack!” The

batter slashed a sharp line drive between first and second into right

field. It went all the way to the fence. The Amazon short stop cut off

the throw as the batter slid into second. The next batter got a single,

and the runner held at third. The Amazon pitcher walked the third

batter purposely to load the bases and get at the last batter in the

Fusion line-up. She was a scrawny substitute who had come into the

game after a Fusion player was hurt in a collision with Madie at the

plate. The first two pitches came in straight, fast , and right over the

plate.

“Strike one. Strike two,” said the umpire.

Then the Amazon pitcher’s fingers slipped and the pitch came

dawdling toward the plate looking as big as a volley ball. Scrawny

Arms closed her eyes and swung. When the dust had settled the

Fusions had three runs in and the batter was hugging third.

Fusion’s lead-off batter stepped to the plate. The pitch.

“Crack!” It was a broken bat pop fly. The ball sailed high, looked

foul, then drifted fair between home and third.

“I got it,” yelled Madie. The other Amazon players held up.

They had learned long ago what it meant when Madie yelled, “I got

it.” It meant “Get out of the way or get clobbered.”

Madie yanked at her new catcher’s mask with one hand as she

raced toward the fly ball. The mask wouldn’t budge. Somehow the

foundation make-up that Madie had just put on had bonded –like

glue–with the inside of the face mask.

The ball fell into fair territory two feet from Madie and rolled

toward the pitcher’s mound. The runner broke for home and

crossed the plate standing up.

The Fusion team picked up the scrawny sub and marched her

around the field on their shoulders. Photographers had a field day.

Madie was able to wrench the mask off just as three

photographers reached her. A three column by eight-inch photo

close-up of Madie’s face ran on the sports page the next day. The

padded mask had left inch-wide tracks in the thick make-up down

both of her cheeks. She looked like a raccoon.

-30-

Dr. Larry day is a retired J-School professor turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available for purchase via his website: http://www.daydreaming.co

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Hacked Off

It hacks me off when television news commentators and sport announcers say, “Who will be the next xxx-college player to opt for the NBA?  We’ll tell you when we come back.”  Then the station goes to a four-minute commercial.  I’m in mass communications.  I realize  that the station (or the network) needs to make a buck.  But the technique of  “Mommy will give you a cookie after you eat your turnips,” still hacks me off.

 

Dr. Larry day is a retired J-School professor turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available for purchase via his website: http://www.daydreaming.co

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Soccer Grandpa (c)

Sports prowess runs in our family. Way back in the mid 1800’s my great grandpa Bill financed his family’s trek across the plains to the Utah territory by winning impromptu horse races in and around Winter Quarters Iowa. Brigham Young didn’t like gambling so my great grandpa quit racing. After that great grandpa just used his fleet steeds to get away from Indians, bad guys, and Johnson’s Army during the Utah War of 1857-58.

My father worked as a blacksmith in Utah in the early 1900s. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem describes my dad:

“The smith, a mighty man is he

With large and sinewy hands.

The muscles of his brawny arms

Are strong as iron bands.”

My dad used his brawny arms to win plenty of arm wrestling matches when he was young.

My mother, wearing long skirts, and using gut-strung rackets won many tennis matches against strong male and female opponents on the dirt courts of Tooele, Utah between 1908 and 1916.

Sports prowess skipped me—unless you count twenty years of second, third and fourth place finishes in 5K and 10K road races.

On my wife, Emmaline’s side of the family, sports prowess manifests itself in fandom. Her uncle Horace attended every home baseball game the Salt Lake Bees played between 1920 and 1940, and he yelled himself hoarse at every one.

Emmaline is a serious sports fan. Once when we lived in northwest Florida, Emmaline forced me into the car to drive to Atlanta where the Kansas Jayhawks were playing in an NCAA sweet sixteen basketball tournament. The reason she had to force me into the car was that a category four hurricane was steaming ashore right behind us. The hurricane came inland on the same course we were heading. Radio stations all the way north broadcast warnings: “get off the highways,” “seek shelter, now!” We just drove on through the storm. When we finally made it to Atlanta we had to wade through ankle-deep water to get to the entrance of the field house. The

Jayhawks lost, but because I got a chance to take her picture standing beside KU’s mascot, the Baby Jayhawk, Emmaline considers that Atlanta trip a great success.

When we watch sports on television I strap a pad to my thigh because I know Emmaline will pound on it with her fist if the game is close. When we watch regular television programs the dog lies on the couch beside Emmaline. But when we watch sports events on TV, the dog hides under our bed—Emmaline’s yelling scares her.

My daughter is a cross country skier, mountain bike rider and rock climber. My son is a softball player and epee fencer.

That brings me to the current generation. My grandkids Ariel, aged seven and Gorky, aged four, play soccer on Saturdays. That makes Emmaline and me soccer grandparents. It’s wonderful! The concept of “victory, victory uber alles,” doesn’t apply to the kind of soccer they play on the kiddie fields of Letongaloosa.

Gorky plays in the Hobbit League. The players, a dozen four-year-olds, wear green or yellow tee shirts that hit them at mid thigh, or sometimes at the ankle. Each player has his or her own ball. The players run around on mini soccer fields with mini soccer nets at each end.

Ardent, happy fans stand on the sidelines yelling encouragement to all the players:

“Great going, Turner, you actually kicked the ball!”

“Marvelous Gretchen, you got up off the grass really fast!”

“Hang in there, Thompson, lying on your stomach on the ground and pulling grass is lots of fun too!”

There’s a little more structure in the seven-year-old league that Ariel plays in. During the game there is only one ball on the field at a time. Seven-year-olds focus better and are a bit more intense than the four-year-old players, but the fans are just as positive and supportive as the Hobbit League fans.

“Go Red team,” they shout. “Go Blue team.”

“Good job Amelia, you kicked the ball right out of bounds.”

When either team makes a goal, fans on both sides of the field applaud and yell “Good job!” When the games end, scores are seldom mentioned. The players all give each other high fives and then run to the sidelines to get healthful treats.

In an age when sports competition is very intense, Emmaline and I have learned a lot from being soccer grandparents.

 

Dr. Larry day is a retired J-School professor turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available for purchase via his website: http://www.daydreaming.co

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