On the Porch


(photo courtesy of uniwatchblog.com) Let’s face the facts; intramural softball has plenty of unwritten rules that include etiquette on trash-talking and diving, among other things. On Zach’s porch, the season is just starting.

(photo courtesy of uniwatchblog.com) Let’s face the facts; intramural softball has plenty of unwritten rules that include etiquette on trash-talking and diving, among other things. On Zach’s porch, the season is just starting.

If polo is the sport of kings, then slow pitch softball is the sport of beer-bellied plumbers who love Miller Highlife and wife beaters and who, ironically, quite possibly touch their wives up on occasion. There is a common perception that anyone can play slow pitch softball. As one of my friends who I interviewed for this article put it, “Grandmas and old wrinkly men are capable of playing slow pitch softball at a high level.” I understand the reasons behind this theory, but the truth is that it takes a special athlete to excel at this sport. There are many intricacies to the sport that the average individual might not take into account. With the Mercer Intramural softball season in full swing, I thought I might give a few tips as to the imperatives of being an intramural softball athlete.

Trash-talking cannot be underestimated as a means of disrupting the chi of the opposing team, or as a motivational tool for your teammates. For instance, one of the players on my team, Kevin Canevari, could barely hit the ball at the beginning of the season until we started referring to him as “the beast.” This was obviously meant to be an ironic comment on his diminutive size, but he took it seriously and has been hitting lasers ever since. Everybody wins in this situation — we all get a good laugh at Kevin’s expense and in the meantime his confidence and batting average has sky rocketed. That is a perfect example of how trash-talking your own teammates can be extremely beneficial to the team. As far as trash-talking the opposing team’s players, the rule book (where is this rule book? Has anyone seen it?) states that speaking of any kind as the ball is pitched is against the rules. However, it is not clear what the penalty is for this infraction, and if there is one I have never seen it enforced. So it’s perfectly okay for the catcher to yell “Move in” toward the outfield, or “My balls are sweaty” to distract the batter as the ball is traveling towards home plate. Try this and watch the opposing team’s batting average plummet.

Willingness to give your body up for the team is also important, but limited to only a few situations. There is a time to sacrifice your body, like when you could settle for a single but decide to turn it into a double and pull your groin in the process. Diving and sliding, however, should be avoided at all costs. The only thing you will achieve by doing so is ripping the skin off whichever part of your body happens to hit the infield dirt. Let’s face it — if you think you need to slide, you probably don’t, because the last time the person throwing the ball played at a competitive level was coach-pitch in the third grade. If you happen to be in left field and a line drive is headed your way, but just out of reach and think you need to dive, don’t be stupid and think twice. You’re not going to catch the ball. So save yourself the pain, suffering and embarrassment of sliding or diving and stay on your feet. Or don’t, and everyone can have a good laugh as the ball flies by your glove or you face-plant two feet away from second base.

Lastly, a healthy fear of the ball should be a major point of emphasis in intramural softball. If you hit a grounder to the left side of the infield, do not look away from the person who infields the ball and wings it towards first base. If you decide to focus on the base and run as hard as you can, the chances of you getting nailed in the head are about the same as Rebecca Black having a drug addiction in the near future (I will refrain from bashing her hit song, “It’s Friday,” because everyone is doing it … but that song is more abominable than genocide and if I hear it one more time I might take a scouring iron and burn my eardrums to a bloody pulp, because total silence for the remainder of my life is more appealing than even the slight chance that I might hear a passerby humming that terrible, terrible song. I’d like to add that she is probably a great person and a very talented singer, and I hope she does not become addicted to drugs. And also, genocide is not worse than her song, but I would be open to a debate on the subject). So block out the memory of your dad or little league coach yelling at you, “Don’t be scared of the ball!” They didn’t know what they were talking about. If you think I am lying to you, there are some people walking around campus with brand new teeth and short-term memory loss who would back me up.

You now know everything you need to know to have a successful intramural softball season. If you are not a slow pitch athlete but one of the plethora of intramural softball fanatics who fill the bleachers on a nightly basis, then hopefully you have a better understanding of the game. Next time a base runner for your favorite team misses first base because he ducked to avoid an errant missile coming from the other side of the field, you should applaud him for his acute awareness of what is going on around him. If you hear the catcher for your team yell something that effectively disrupts the batter’s concentration, a loud cheer should be the result. If your favorite softball athlete chooses to let a ground ball roll through to the outfield instead of risking his safety and self-respect by diving, don’t think any less of him — he obviously understands the fundamentals of the game and that should be appreciated.