(or How Kat Survived Scoring, the TBPOE and Softball Friends)
A few weeks back, Steve Rushin of Sports Illustrated lamented the downfall of scoring baseball games. Baseball fans now attend games to buy overpriced chicken tenders and drink manically overpriced Bud Light, and children aren’t being taken to the park with their grandfathers and being given one-on-one hands-on lessons on how to hand score. He did point out that the only growing population of hand scorers is Little League Moms (not to be all left behind with the soccer mom phenomenon now), who keep stats on their 8 year olds (who the Boston Herald would like you to believe will have Tommy John surgery by the time they’re 12. Gotta love the Herald and its Fox-like embellishment and dramatics.)
However, despite the fact that I adore Rushin’s writing, he neglected another growing population of hand-scorers:
Ladies and gentlemen, I bring to you Kat, The Softball Girlfriend.
I am the unofficial scorekeeper—okay, I’m embellishing like the Herald, I only was on Monday—for the North Shore’s own “The Buzz,” a men’s softball league that counts among its members my boyfriend, Chris, who plays the outfield. (Where did Chris come from, you ask? See last fall’s entries where he was known as Fantasy Football Confidant.) I decided to tag along for The Buzz’s double-header on Monday up on the North Shore, hoping to witness their first win of the season.
Chris, his friend Todd, and I showed up for game 1 at Ward II in Peabody. They were playing St. Mikes, a team whose average age had to be a good ten to fifteen years older than The Buzz. However, with age comes…well, not exactly ability, but possibly arm strength from lifting up their kids, and therefore, St. Mike’s is known as a powerhouse in B League play. Both teams are warming up (which, in grand men’s softball tradition, meant that alcohol was being consumed in the parking lot) when Chris handed me a top coiled notebook and a pen.
“You’re keeping score,” he said.
“I am?” I answered. “You didn’t notice last week’s intramural debacle?” (Someone on Chris’s Boston University softball team handed me the scorekeeping clipboard as they went to take the field, and I didn’t realize I was supposed to hand it to the opposing team when they were batting, and so I sat there staring at it until the ref yelled at me. It was quite embarrassing.)
“Oh, this one is easier. Plus, you don’t have to give it to the other team.”
Chris sat down next to me on the bench and gave me what had to be the quickest scoring primer known to man in the two minutes before he had to get up to bat (he bats third in their rotation). And then, I was on my own. A few F-7s and 5-3s later, I was feeling the hang of it. Soon, I could take the time to mark strikes and walks. I felt competent (which really doesn’t happen often, especially with the aftermath of being beaten to near-death by my master’s degree.) I was relishing my role as the Softball Girlfriend, even offering to call out the batting order (which resulted in me calling Al “A-L” because I thought it was someone’s initials and not really the name Al. Fun times with my stupidity right there.)
St. Mike’s shut out The Buzz, and since I didn’t have to score the other team, I can’t tell you what the score exactly was. It was then time to go cross-town to Ross Park for the most important game of the season thus far—a game against the last place team in the league, who were a half-game in back of The Buzz in the standings.
Ross Park will be known for the rest of this entry as TBPOE, an acronym for “The Buggiest Place On Earth.” (My feet are currently still swollen from bug bites. That’s what I get for wearing Chinese net slippers.) The Buzz arrived at the TBPOE early only to see their opponent, the Paddy Kelley’s (a bar in Salem) second team, lose after five innings to some other team with really spiffy embroidered shirts. (A game in this league is called after five if one team is up by 12 or more. They don’t like to humiliate people on the North Shore I guess.) The Embroidered Shirts handily won that game and sauntered off to let The Buzz take the field.
The scoring notebook and I found our place in the metal stands at the TBPOE, two rows above the female fans of Paddy Kelley’s. I don’t know if they are Softball Girlfriends, like myself, or just Softball Friends, but they show devotion as fans that I think the first place teams would kill to have. They made tank-tops for themselves, which were slathered in bug spray, which wasn’t really working at the TBPOE. The Softball Friends were quite nice, and offered me bug spray on many occasions, which I appreciated.
The Buzz was pumped even though the Softball Friends were talking smack about them before the game. (“We’ve got this game. We do. They’re last like us.) However, it wasn’t until the 3rd that The Buzz’s bats awakened and they just lit up the TBPOE with runs. They also capitalized off Paddy Kelly’s infielders’ errors, which I am beginning to learn are key in the game of softball (seeing that I got to second on one last week in my own game.) With Chris, my favorite outfielder, scoring twice, The Buzz beat Paddy Kelley’s 15-7 to get only their second win in their four years of existence. My scoresheet, which I handed to Todd after the game, will be framed and placed next to the framed scoresheet of the other game they’ve won.
The Buzz left the field to the cheers of me (the Softball Friends were silent at that point, despite their cheers during the game of, “That was almost a nice catch!” and “That was some good running! Maybe next time!”), and soon gathered in the parking lot, where they gathered around one of their cars, watching reverently as Todd carefully wrote on one of the softballs used for practice that night, “The Buzz vs. Paddy Kelley’s, 15-7, Ross Park, June 13, 2005.” As I hung back, I enjoyed watching the team excitedly look at the ball and what had been written on it. Us twenty-something females may be correctly stereotyped as constantly lambasting men as insensitive and emotionally disappointing, but if any of these disparagers had been standing with me at that moment, they would have to think otherwise.
I promise to write more later about my hiatus from my blog, especially because it makes for excellent blogging material. Just know that it involves me, four states, and more hockey than I could ever imagine seeing in a NHL lockout season. I just wanted to get this one up while it was fresh…and now that I am the proud-but-defeated recipient of a master’s degree, I will be writing more often.