Softball Should Be Fun....Right?

Softball Should Be Fun....Right?
Play hard, but respect the game, and your opponents.

I don't get much athletic competition anymore.  The once-per-week softball leagues I play in provide me with a chance to have some fun and compete at a game that I grew up loving.  Last night, the game became not so fun.  Let me explain...

So the team I play with on Monday nights has been playing together for several years now, and truth be told we're pretty good.  Last night we played another good team, and by the 4th inning the outcome was not in question.  It doesn't matter who won the game because it's not relevant to the story.

One guy had pitched the first part of the game for the other team, and then they brought in a new pitcher.  My brother Owen (who coincidentally turns 21 today) was the second guy to face this new pitcher, and he took the first pitch.  As the catcher threw the ball back to the pitcher, Owen does what any normal batter does between pitches.  He adjusts his feet, taps the plate, whatever.  He's no Mike Hargrove up there.  Well, the instant the pitcher catches the ball back from the catcher, he quickpitches to Owen.  I was coaching third base at the time, and saw exactly what happened.  As soon as I saw that, I asked the umpire "Hey what was that!?!?"  He apparently called the pitch illegal right away, but I didn't hear that.  Quickpitching is against the rules, and quite Bush League if you ask me.

So the pitcher then turns to me and says. "Dude are you really that mad?"  I said "Yeah man that's Bush League."  The umpire intervened, and that was the end of the conversation...for now.

So the next inning I think I was the second guy up to bat.  As the first guy finishes his at bat, and I'm walking up to the plate, the pitcher throws the ball as if to pitch, clearly mocking me.  I turned to the umpire and he couldn't help but chuckle.  Fine, whatever.  I swung at the next pitch and flew out to left center.

I came up one more time in the game.  This pitcher threw the first pitch behind me.  We all know what happened in a recent White Sox game when Quintana threw behind a Rays hitter.  You don't throw it behind someone, in most cases, unless you absolutely mean to.  Make no mistake about it, this guy meant to make a mockery of me.  So now the count is 2-1 (in softball, you start with a 1-1 count).  On the next pitch, he just stood on the rubber, stalling.  After a few seconds, I called time and backed out.

If there were ever to be a bench-clearing brawl in a rec league softball game, this would be the time.

I got back in the box, and got a base hit on the next pitch.  The next guy also got a base it, and I ended up on second.  As the pitcher got the ball back from his fielder, he asked me again "Were you really that mad?"  I said, "Yes, it was Bush League".  Then his shortstop chimed in and said "Dude it's C-League Rec Softball."  I said "That's exactly my point!".

We're out there first and foremost to have fun playing a game.  Winning should come secondary, even though everyone wants to win.  Respecting your opponents, and furthermore, respecting the game should also be high on the list of softball priorities.  It's no fun when one guy continues to be a douche bag out on the field.  He makes himself and his teammates look bad.

You have no idea the amount of restraint I showed not to stoke the fire anymore with this guy.  Like I said earlier, I was ready to drop the bat and charge the mound.

It's one thing to joke around with the other team, but there's a right way to do it and a wrong way to do it.  Respect the game, respect your opponents.  If you're going to be an asshole, stay home and watch the Cubs game in your underwear.

Filed under: Stiff Arm, The Ugly

Tags: Softball

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  • "As soon as I saw that, I asked the umpire "Hey what was that!?!?" He apparently called the pitch illegal right away, but I didn't hear that. Quickpitching is against the rules, and quite Bush League if you ask me."

    Did I read this correct? He Quickpitched and the ump called it. You didn't realize the ump called it and drew attention to it?

  • In reply to darkangel:

    Yes you did. Either the Ump said it quietly during the pitch (some umps will only say "illegal" so that the batter can hear it), or at the same time that I called out. Either way, I didn't hear the ump make the call. Had I heard that or known that he had made a call, I wouldn't have said a word and this blog post wouldn't exist.

  • As a former athlete and a current hack, I get way too excited for softball and can also spout off on occasion on the field. Knowing I do this and that I'm more of a dick on the softball field, makes me more tolerant of when I perceive opponents to be kinda dickish. At our age this may be the only adrenaline rush we get all week, and it's fun to let it run it run amok.

    So I don't really care what gets said on the field, as long as you can shake hands at the end of the game and smile about it while tacitly agreeing that you both got a little overzealous and you aren't jerks in real life. Getting along after the game is what separates sportsmen from douchebags.

  • In reply to TRSlyder:

    You and I are in the same boat. I'm very vocal on the field, but I'm not an instigator with the other team. That said, I don't have a problem calling them out when they pull a move like this.

  • If you were really pissed at the pitcher, why didn't you just blast one back at his face in the next AB? Softball justice is much more subtle than bench clearing brawls.

  • In reply to Ratmoss:

    I don't want to hurt anyone intentionally. Shooting middle on purpose is more Bush League than what this guy did. Guys apologize to pitchers all the time when they go up the middle unintentionally. A base hit was good enough for me.

  • From my years on softball diamonds as both a player and an umpire, this situation is not uncommon and all too frequent because of the people involved. My mom used to explain away bad experiences to me by saying, "Honey, just consider the source." End of story. The guys AND women (on co-ed teams) who run their mouths are usually drunk or getting that way. So what they say is nitwit dumb-shit and should not be confused with reason. As an umpire, I've warned and ejected dipsticks with over-inflated egos because of their competitive arrogance coupled with the mistaken assumption that complaining would result in changing a call. In the game discussed here, the umpire should have warned the pitcher that the next quick-pitch would knock him off the mound and then move on. All players and teams should keep a positive, pleasure-seeking approach to the game. When things get testy, leaders need to redirect the jerks and force them to take a "time-out" for a few minutes. Most leagues have zero-tolerance rules that umpires need to enforce. I've had to call time and inform both teams that if "it both teams don't settle down , immediately, this game will end in a double-forfeit." Boom!

  • In reply to dqjohnson:

    I wish the umpire would have stepped in sooner. I mean obviously he called the illegal pitch, but after that the guy was just trying to get a rise out of me. The umpire did nothing to stop him for a long time. I didn't even want him thrown out of the game, I just wanted to play softball like normal human beings.

  • I'm sorry are you really crying??? You are the person who made the situation heated. The umpire called it already and you became that guy who wouldn't let it go. As long as the pitcher is set and presents the ball it doesn't matter when he throws it. I would have mocked you too in this situation. The score does matter because it will help us put into perspective why you are really mad about the game.You say you go out to have fun yet your competitive nature made you start and argument with somebody over a quick pitch, when you were probably losing and frustrated with the game in general. This guy was playing the game for fun too until you tried to call him out and then he began to mock you for it.

  • In reply to TK13:

    You know, you're probably right that had I not said anything at all, none of this would have happened and this blog wouldn't exist. That's completely fair to say. What's completely unfair is blaming me for this guy continuing to act like a five year old when I did nothing, absolutely nothing at all after the fact to provoke him in any way.

    If you read the comment threads above, and the article itself, you'll see that I did not hear or see the umpire call the pitch illegal. My brother, the batter in this situation, told me that the umpire said "Illegal Pitch" very quietly. That's standard protocol for a pitch that might have too much or too little arc, but I have to think that for a quick pitch like that (something specifically against the rules), if I'm umpiring I'm being a little more vocal about calling that one illegal.

    And no, the score does not matter. You knowing the score of the game would deflect from my overarching point. It doesn't matter whether we're up by 100 or down by 100, I would hope that everyone involved can respect the game enough to play it the right way. This is C-League Rec softball, not the friggin World Series.

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