Wednesday, July 04, 2012


Your job is simple enough: you just have to throw strikes and make the hitters put it in play.  Three outs and your team, now up by two runs, will win the hard-fought game in extra innings.

But you commit the unforgivable sin for the slow-pitch softball pitcher: walking the lead-off girl hitter.  Then, to make matters worse, you put the next hitter on base via the free pass, too.  Six pitches later, you’ve issued a base on balls to another girl, this one who you struck on out three pitches last time she was up, and who had no intention of swinging at all this time around.

The next hitter pops out and your team perks up a little, chattering encouragement behind you.  But the slow-motion train wreck inevitably unfolds: “walks will haunt” as they say, and the next batter smacks a bases-clearing double.

The winning run crosses the plate, the opposing team mobs her; you toss your glove at the fence, kick at the dirt, and go sit in the dugout with your hat pulled down over your head.

A couple members of your team come over to console you; they say things like, “Nice game; you kept us in it;” “Softball’s a team game; we all could have played better,” “Tough loss; we’ll get ‘em next time,” but you know (that they know) it’s all your fault.

You’re the goat, the loser, player who lost the game; it’s a fact, even if people pretend to deny it.

The pain is interesting enough; you get to experience the feeling that real athletes must feel when they blow the game; it makes you wonder how the Ralph Brancas and Bill Buckners of the world can live with themselves. 

Letting your teammates down hurts; you lie in bed that night reliving your failure and beating yourself up for being such a loser.

Next day, it’s a little easier; three days hence, you can even write about it.


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