Wednesday, May 09, 2007

My Managerial Debut

Due to various, well, pregnancies, I almost wasn't going to have a coed softball team to play on this summer. That was, until F-Bomb and I decided to take charge of the team. Despite being a little last minute, we were able to secure a sponsors and (almost) enough players to put together a team. Once that was settled, I spent the next few weeks researching various thoughts on the defensive spectrum and lineup optimization. You think I'm joking. As I told Dave, it's like one of my EA Sports "people I know" dynasties, but in real life. Of course, there's also the human side of things, like scheduling, "egos," and the like. (In our case, though, most egos need to be inflated rather than deflated.)

The season opener finally came this past Tuesday. Starting Monday night, I was very fired up for my managerial debut. Of course, the league decided to antagonize my anxiousness by giving us the latest possible start time - 8:30. I struggled through work Tuesday, running over dozens of lineup combinations in my head. After I got home from work at 5:30, I immediately fired up Major League in my laptop. I figured there was no better way to mentally prepare for my debut.

Finally it was time to get dressed and make the long drive out to Westlake. I got there 30 minutes early, and was thrilled to see some of my teammates already there. I had too much on my mind to warm up, so instead I made sure everyone had a contact card filled out. The game before us ended at 8:20 (early? what?), and the umpires immediately yelled for lineups for our game. Great, we were still a girl short. I scribbled down a lineup based on some of the options I had prepared in Excel earlier that day. (Again, I kid you not.)

When it came time to take the field, we were still a girl short, and the umps were in no mood to be patient. I quickly reshuffled our defense, and tried to line myself up to cover the entire left side of the outfield against a lefty batter. Of course, the batter promptly hits the ball to the opposite field. As I drifted to my right, I realized I had taken a bad route, and watched the ball sail over my head. Turning back to recover it, I hit an uneven patch with high grass. I struggled to keep my balance, but it wasn't happening. Our season began with an inside the park home run and me flat on my face. Great.

Our final girl showed up a few minutes later. I was my usual uptight self, but fortunately I had F-Bomb in full robble robble mode to keep me in line. Highlights from the rest of the game:

  • Yes we were run-ruled, and yes we only scored some run, but there's some talent on this team. Look out.

  • Our shortstop is a left-handed thrower, but he played fantastic defense to earn his spot.

  • Speaking of defense, we still have some kinks to work out, but there's a lot of potential out there.

  • Personally hitting was just as interesting as my defensive play. For my first plate appearance, I was leading off an inning. I was so preoccupied, I stepped into the box while the pitcher was still warming up... and promptly too a practice pitch square to the crown of my head. There's still a little "rug burn" from my hat on my forehead today.

  • I was afraid to do a Google image search of ball+face, but this isn't too bad.

  • In my next at bat, I hit a trademark infield single. I beat this one out by more than a step, so either I'm getting faster, or the infielder bobbled it and everyone was too nice to tell me.

  • After running out my infield single, I didn't have enough gas to make it to second when the girl following me hit a first-pitch grounder to third. I was easily thrown out at second, and on my way back to the dugout I was chided by our shortstop for not "accidentally" taking out one of the cute middle infielders with a slide. He had done a similar thing last year, and ended up with the girl's number.

  • When the umps announced the end of the game, I told my team to "Shake hands and go drink!" Sounds like a great motto for this team.

Go Ironwood!

Oh, and I already have a great newfound respect for managers and coaches alike.