Saturday, I played in the annual "Irvine Classic", a day-long men's slow-pitch softball tournament held at Barber Park in, uh...Irvine. Some old high school buddies of mine put a team together about five years ago, and every summer (that I'm not on tour) I join them for some healthy camaraderie, vicious sunburns, postgame pizza and beers, and a ton of unintentional comedy along the way.
We're a pretty laid-back group. Obviously, we'd prefer winning to losing (and we've actually won the championship three out of the last five years, if I may toot our collective horn), but at the end of the day, it's more about having fun, catching up with old friends, and making it to the postgame party in one piece. It's not the World Series, it's not life-or-death, it's not the type of thing that could or will ruin our weeks. Unfortunately, that ethos doesn't apply to many of the other teams we faced this weekend. There was a staggering amount of douchebaggery and idiocy on display, and it almost made the people-watching as satisfying as the winning.
En route to a championship, that people-watching showed me that there are three pretty distinct species of slow-pitch softball goons in the area, and I thought I'd dissect them a bit for this week's 3hree Things.
1) Look Good, Feel Good. Feel Good, Play Good. Play Good, They Pay Good...Wait, We're Not Getting Paid?
This is usually a younger guy, still struggling with the fact that his "baseball career" ended in high school, who sees a slow-pitch softball league as a last ditch effort to get to the Show. He's in brand new $100 spikes, tailored baseball pants, a jersey with his name (or even worse, his nickname) on the back of it, a pair of batting gloves, a pair of baserunning gloves, two wrist braces, wrist tape, four wristbands, two Power Balance bracelets, an elbow brace, a couple of Phiten woven necklaces, eye black, a thick coating of AXE Body Spray, Oakley blades, a $200 glove, and a $300 bat. This guy is always far more concerned with how "pro" he looks than how well he plays, so even when he's blowing it and flying out in every at-bat or booting grounders right and left, he's making sure that he looks cool as hell while he does it. He's mimicking Albert Pujols' pre-pitch mannerisms in the field, he's got Ichiro's between-pitch-batter's-box routine down, he's flashing pickoff signs at his catcher, etc. And it's all for naught, because (in most cases) he's pretty bad at softball.
You can wear a lab coat and a stethoscope and wander the halls of a hospital, but that doesn't make you a doctor.
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3. "You've got your ubulus which connects to the upper dorsimus. It's boring, but it's part of my life."
As we all know, the beer-bellied, pizza-chub-saddled, back-fat-having, aging-non-athlete build is probably the most prevalent body type among slow-pitch softball players, but this year I noticed an influx of overly muscular, pinheaded, shaven, greased up, Muscle-Milk-fueled goons on the softball field. I'm all for being fit, but there's a difference between being functionally fit, and turning yourself into a walking deltoid.
There were a few guys in this tournament who were wearing tank tops or sleeveless Under Armour tees (of course) that looked like they'd been doing nothing but curls, shoulder presses, and steroid cycles for the past decade.
And with all that upper arm, these guys end up swinging a softball bats like they're swinging an oar underwater, and throwing a softball like they're heaving a shot put. Every movement ends up looking like they're onstage for a final pose down at a bodybuilding competition, and while they bring very little to their team in terms of softball prowess, they provide loads of unintentional comedy for the teams they play against.