I hope Larry the Cable Guy falls down and dies.

Today was the first day of the softball tournament season for
X-Factor, the competitive men’s team I play for. We got our
championship rings a week ago from winning the ISA Big Ten
championships, which is kind of a big deal considering the amount of
competition. The rings followed t-shirts, clocks, and pullovers as our
prize for 2007’s great work. ISA softball features a different set of
rules than most of you may be familiar with, instead of 7 home runs we
can only hit between one and three depending on the tournament [we
typically play in Woodstock, Atlanta, Rome, Conyers, Cartersville, and
Marietta for tournaments and Alpharetta and Roswell for league play]
and the league has stealing in it, which keeps the games fast-paced and

We went 0-2 after sweeping the Earth for about three months to end last
year. The rust was evident in just about everyone’s bat (I went 1-5
with a walk and a run scored, which is abysmal though I hit the ball
decently for the most part) and our defense was atrocious, though our
ace shortstop wasn’t in attendance today and we had a few people
playing out of position.

This will be my Saturday existence until I possibly need to go out of
town for an extended business trip this summer. Softball with rednecks.
People to whom “Git ‘Er Done” holds vast significance. Our team’s the
white-collar team in these tournaments, communication via spoken word
rather than clicks and grunts and jobs outside the ballpark that
involve us either being in charge or in a position of some weight. I
love playing despite the horrible atrocities I witness at these
tournaments. A few things I’ve seen:

1. There’s a giant man who weighs about 260 pounds (down a half century
from last year’s playing weight so good on him) who grinds his feet in
the ground like a bull before slamming his bat against his back before
an at-bat. This is meant to prepare him for a pop-up, I suppose. His
teammates eat it up, but his teammates include a player named… I shit
you not… MIDNIGHT.

2. Trashy redneck players who bring their children and allow them to
run around playing with broken glass or whatever while daddy plays
ball. The only thing keeping these kids from being abducted is the cone
of stench surrounding them from poor hygiene.

3. Teams where the entire roster stands outside the dugout while the
team bats talking and being generally annoying while the rest of us are
trying to play the game. If ever a group was more deserving of a really
hard hit foul ball…

4. Teams where each player has like five pieces of “flair” on their
person. A towel, gloves in the back pocket, mouthpiece, and their own
time-consuming batting ritual that includes making a mound of dirt,
standing back out, doing a series of gestures, and sometimes even
gracing the world with a wad of spit. AND IT’S SOFTBALL!

5. The dumbest terms ever. “Hit that ball in the mouth!” comes to mind.
Also, there’s a very common yell that goes “Ba-woooop!” that some of
these primates make when they’re swinging that makes me want to
suffocate their childhood selves with a pillow and a shotgun blast.

And there I am out there with the rest of them, fitting in like an
octagonal peg in a trapezoidal hole. Granted, I currently am sporting a
wild man’s hair and beard configuration that, if couple with a
one-piece camo outfit, could have me appear as one of them. A spy in
their midst. At it stands I just make a point to do my part in
reminding them how much better I am than they are.

When a player makes a circuitous route to a pop-up I invoke the name of
Sir Francis Drake. When someone screams “ball in” I make a reference to
Anne Boleyn. When someone says ‘Git ‘Er Done” I fuck their wife’s mouth.

I often wonder why I do it. I’m not the best player on the team and it
could do just fine without me. I get seriously banged up over the
course of a season. I spend my Saturdays with a handful of great
teammates and a cadre of stinking retards (except the stoner team Yeah
Buds, who are awesome).

Somehow I do it. It’s like that last link to youth. For some of the
guys out there on the weekends, this is IT. This is their 15 minutes of
fame, recycled every weekend when they can adopt a persona of the
fictional softball legend MIDNIGHT or BIG EARL or THADDEUS MAELSTROM

For me it’s either the hair of the dog that bit me all those years ago
when I was actually a capable ballplayer hampered by atrocious grades
and five feet and seven inches of “altitude” or a serious flaw in my
character I feel compelled to retain. Either way, you will rarely see a
more interesting collection of truly mediocre human beings than on a
Saturday tournament softball field. It’s truly staggering.

Ladies and gentlemen, your 2007 ISA champions:

- Nick Nunziata doesn’t know why he looks so sad to be a winner.

And now… a Mary Worth War Strip from the vault…

Click the image to Large It Up!

All apologizes to the creators of the strip. This intended as parody only and not an attempt to be the best thing ever.