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Play Ball!!


yeah, I’m all-star like these guys… in my head I am, at least!…

As is my usual summer right of passage, I’ve signed up to play softball.  With the moving around that’s defined the past 2-3 years, I’ve wound up joining a new team this year.  Well, new to me – they mostly knew each other from prior years already.  A buddy of mine has been on this team for a while, and told me there was a spot open.  Sweet, sign me up!

The past few years, I’ve always played in “C” league, 3-pitch, very recreational leagues.  They’ve been fun, if not especially skilled.  I don’t consider myself a great ball player, but I’m hardly terrible.  Let’s put it this way: relative to my peers, I think I’m a much better ball player than triathlete!

This year, I’m playing slo-pitch, and on a team in “A” league.  It’s worlds different!  I’m not sure if the competition is that much better, or if it’s simply exposed my overconfidence, but either way: I’m playing TERRIBLY!  4 games into the season, I’ve dropped more fly balls than I’ve caught and have only a few singles to show for my batting struggles.

Worse still – it’s getting into my head!  It reminds me of being a teenager, and trying out for the city rep softball team.  I thought I was good enough to play – turns out, they were just desperate for bodies.  I mostly rode the bench – played in the outfield for a few innings each game, and struck out more often than I hit the ball.  And nobody on my team would talk to me.  It was terrible.  And now, in my early 30’s, I’m going through the same self-doubt and anxiety about going out to the ball diamond that I did way back then.  I want so badly to impress my new team, that I can’t do anything!  I thought softball would be a fun bit of recreation this summer – a few extra hours of “cross training”, running around in the outfield and a few beers after the game with my team.  Instead I stand out in the outfield by myself, just praying I catch the next damn ball hit my way!

So during last night’s game, while standing in the outfield kicking myself for dropping a perfectly routine fly ball, I got to thinking about why I love triathlon so much.  There’s a lot of reasons (most of which have nothing to do with this post) but one of them being that it’s a battle against yourself.  You bust your ass in training as much as your own fitness, pain tolerance, life schedule, and personal interest allow for.  When you race, you give it everything you’ve got to try to best a personal goal, or your own time from a previous race.  And if, in spite of putting in the work, you blow a tire or pull a muscle or just happen to SUCK in any given race, you only have to rationalize with yourself.  And even if you’re like me – and usually your own worst critic – you don’t have to look around after dropping a fly ball to see a bunch of teammates wondering why you’re not back on the bench!

Playing ball is serving it’s purpose of giving me some extra cross training though, between the extra hours running around the outfield after all the fly balls I didn’t catch, to the extra bicycling getting to and from the ball diamond, my training hours have skyrocketed this past week:

WIR 140527

My body is a little on the tired side, as a result.  I need to find a way to balance some of my traditional triathlon training with my ball and bike commuting.  My running is certainly sacrificing from my led legs due to all the bike commuting.  With any shift in routine comes the accompanying need to rediscover balance, and I’m working on that still, it seems.  I’m sure – much like my softball play – it’ll all sort itself out.

Do you do any summer sports as cross training?

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