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.