We all have bad days. The kind of days where you walk by someone who asks, “How’s it going?” and you reply with “Good!” even though you are the furthest thing from good. As people we like to hide our problems and insecurities while acting like everything is going well. Athletes are among the best at doing this. They have to be. Mental toughness is the reason Tiger won all his majors. Or Iron Man winners push through the pain of training and running the race. Or why Brett Favre is still considered one of the best QBs of all time despite throwing the most interceptions. The athletes without mental toughness eventually get weeded out and will never be heard of again.
How does this relate to slow pitch softball? Well if you read part one which can be found here, I mentioned how humiliating it is to swing as hard as you can and whiff at a grapefruit sized ball being lobbed to you. Sometimes in recreational softball, you have bad games just like MLB players have bad games. Warning: The game I am about to describe to you might not be suitable for children under a certain age but should be used for teaching purposes as what not to do. Viewer discretion is advised.
Setting the Scene/Inning 1
The date is October 29th the Year of Our Lord 2018. Round one of the playoffs. As the 2 seed the team is playing the 3 seed. In the regular season match the team that was the 2 seed won handedly. Pretend that I, the narrator, would be playing left field during this game. The first inning goes by as normal and I don’t get a ball in left field nor do I get a chance to come up to the plate. Let me note that this is the best inning of the game for me because I did not have the opportunity to contribute to negative WPA (Win Probability Added).
It was again pretty slow in left field. I scoop up a slow roller and throw it in like any capable left fielder is expected to do. At the plate was a different story. The girl ahead of me got on with 2 outs. Runner on 2nd 2 outs is the situation. I get up to the plate and take the first pitch as I have made the mistake many times throughout the season of swinging at a terrible first pitch. I take the 2nd pitch for a ball. I even go so far as to take the 3rd pitch as a ball. Now all three of these pitches were not even close to strikes. What do I proceed to do on the next pitch that’s going way deep for a ball? I decide not to take the base and extend the inning but rather to swing as hard as I can and just tick the ball. That’s an out for men. Poor AB. Kids reading this, if a pitcher shows no command and you get ahead 3-0, just take the pitch. Don’t try to be a hero. You are helping the team by just getting on.
The nightmare that started now continues into the field. We all dream of making that Web Gem diving for a ball and robbing the batter of a base hit. Well I had that opportunity. I see the ball off the bat and get a great jump on it. I dive and I feel the ball go in my glove… and then pop out as I hit the ground. It was my chance. The pain over last innings strikeout could have been forgotten about had I been able to hang onto it. The inning continues, and I secure a can of corn for the 3rd out, again as any capable left fielder should be able to do. Now as an athlete you need to forget about missed opportunities and look forward. As hard as it is to forget that play I almost made, I have to let it go.
Out in left field another ball comes at me. This one a bit more elevated and could be another Web Gem opportunity. I decide not to because the ground is hard/bumpy and I had injured my leg on the previous dive. Ok fine I can live with that. Couple batters later a line shot comes to me and you can only guess what is about to happen. You keep in in front of you and knock it down right? Yes, kids that would be correct however I did not and instead of a single, the ball gets by me and the batter ends up on 3rd base eventually scoring. After another bad route on a ball the inning finally ends. Where does my WPA stand now? Oh, I don’t know maybe -.43 or something like that. Bad.
Does this night of horrors end? Yes, but not in the 5th. The team is starting to rally. We score a run to pull within 2 and I come up with bases loaded and 1 out. I can easily tie this game up. Again, I take the first pitch. Then there is the second pitch. Now this is where the night goes from bad to Milton Bradley throwing the ball into the stands with 1 out bad. Or Jeremy Guthrie against the Yankees in 2015 where he gave up 11 runs in 1 inning of work bad.
I swing as hard as I can and pop the ball up to the pitcher. Infield fly rule was called. Now this had to have been the only infield fly rule ever to be called in a beer league softball. How does that even happen?? No runs score obviously and now its two outs. The last batter grounds out and the inning is over. I was feeling the pressure from they guy at the 35 second point in the video above. Kids here’s another lesson. Don’t try to do too much. Just put the ball in play. I went for the grand dinger and instead helped the team in no way.
Inning 6/Ending/ Closing Remarks
We did nothing in the 6th and the game ended with us losing by 2. I could tell the team blamed me. How could one be THAT bad at softball? HOW!? It happens to the best of them. Kids, remember, bad games happen, and you just need to have mental toughness to get through them. In life there will be ups and downs. Don’t try to hide the bad days. It happens to everyone. Use bad days as motivation to grow as a person. The fact is that bad days shape who we are and any successful athlete, CEO, doctor, lawyer, etc. will agree. All there is to do is hit the gym and prepare for next fall. Use that bad game as motivation for next season. I know what you’re thinking, “Bro, its rec softball. Chill out.” Yes, it is just rec softball, but it paints a picture for bigger things in life. Go after that Web Gem and swing for the fences. It’s only a matter of time before you succeed!
*This player may or may not have been me. It was just easy for me to narrate it this way.