Thursday, April 09, 2015

Team Strike Force and One of the Best Summers of Dr. Ken's Life

Many moons ago some friends and I played in a coed softball league and drinking team.  I'm not making a joke here; The sponsor bar actually kept track of how much all the teams drank after each game, certain types of drinks were worth different points, and the highest point getting team would win a free party for all their friends.  Hence, at the end of the season there would be a champion on the diamond and another in the bar.  This is not something that would be allowed now, and it probably wasn't allowed back then seeing as it encourages competitive binge drinking.  Team Strike Force finished near the bottom in terms of our record, but our drinking statistics were the stuff of legend.      

We weren't anything to brag about when it came to playing the actual softball games, but we did have one guy who was maybe the best player I've ever seen.  He could scoop up a ball on the run from anywhere, and throw from deep in the outfield to hit any plate he wanted right on the button.  Plus every time he stepped up to hit it was an automatic extra base hit.  Come to think of it, his girlfriend (now wife) was a really good player.  The rest of us were just biding our time to prove we were worthwhile at the bar immediately following the mere formality of the actual softball game.   

These were the two best moments on the field (because all the other memorable moments were at the bar):

1. One guy's girlfriend (also now wife) had no baseball experience whatsoever, so naturally we put her at catcher.  She was one of those people who could never get past pointing the open side of the mit straight up instead of turning the wrist inward so the open hand faces out.  You know, so you don't worry about plunking her in the face when you throw to her?  Consequently, she was very rarely able to catch much of anything, usually jumping out of the way to avoid getting hurt if you threw to her.  For this reason, the pitcher typically covered home in the event of a play at the plate. 

The RIGHT way
However, one time our stud player with the rifle arm sent one home with a runner on third and first and second base open, and our favorite female catcher was our only chance to tag the runner out.  She stepped up to the front of the plate, actually caught the ball, and jumped up and down saying "yay" as the runner trotted in behind her untagged.  There was no force at home, so she needed to apply a tag.  Nobody on our team cared because it was the funniest thing we had ever seen, and we didn't want to spoil her joyous moment of catching a softball.  Like I said, we sucked.

We would not have challenge the real Strike Force to any athletic event.  Except drinking. 
2. Then another time we were playing our arch rivals.  They had a guy on their team that was friends with a girl I dated not long before that team started.  This guy cheated on his girlfriend with a number of girls, including the one I was dating.  Not at the time I was seeing her though, but maybe.  Who knows.  She was not such a good girl for me, but at the time love was blind and I was young and stupid.  He was a butt hole on the field as well as off because he was like the coach figure, encouraging all his male players to take walks.  When you're a grown man you swing the bat.  That is what you signed up to do, right?

Also, he would yell at the girls when they screwed up.  This made us all really mad, and we found ourselves consoling his girls when they would get on the base paths and yelling at him to take it easy.  It made for a strange dynamic where the score of the game didn't matter; all that really mattered was that this a-hole drop dead.  Then there was another line drive single hit out to center field to our one good player who came up firing the ball towards home plate as Captain A-Hole ran home from third.  Boom!  The ball plunked him square in the back, and he winced in pain as he scored the run.  None of us gave a damn that he scored.  In fact, we were all cheering him getting hit with a ball.  You see, our guy is good enough to have gotten him out.  He chose to peg him in the back from fifty yards; He was that good.  It could very well have been the single most impressive athletic achievement I have ever seen and certainly the most rewarding.

We lost that game and many others that season, but again, in the bar we were champions.  I will never forget the two highest point-getters were a table tapper of Saint Pauli Girl, and a bottle of Tsingtao, a horribly skunky Chinese beer that led to wicked hangovers the following Friday morning.  Win or lose, our table would be littered with table tappers and buckets upon buckets of the green Chinese death juice: Tsingtao.  Then we would all text each other the next day how General Tsingtao had beaten us down with yet another crippling hangover.  But we would do it all again the following Thursday for the good of the team because champions fight through adversity. 

I remember one bye week (a week where our team didn't play) I still went up to the bar to make sure we at least got a few points.  I brought a girl with me who wasn't a heavy drinker.  She could only muscle down one Tsingtao that I insisted she order, and I powered back the other four in the bucket.

In the final week of the season we were eliminated from any chance of winning on the field, but we were very much in the running to win at the drinking.  The only team who had a chance at catching us was the arch rival team.  To make sure we beat those jerks we set up an evite (remember those?) and got all our drinking buddies up there.  We let all our friends know that if they helped us win, they would all be invited to the free party we would earn on a Saturday night for $500 of free boozy fun!  There were five or six tables full of friends for that last night to earn points, and some of those friends were very tangential.  We were marketing wizards and very heavy drinkers. 

And we "must have" bought a hundred that night.
The culminating pivotal moment did not come on the field; It came when Captain A-Hole from the team we hated came over to our table counting up all those buckets and table tappers and he asked, "Shit, you guys aren't team Strike Force are you?"  "You're damn right we are," we all said and a loud cheer roared through out our section of the bar.  Arch rival team only had five or six people to our giant hoards of booze hounds.  It was a lock for Team Strike Force.  We won that "free" party to drink whatever we wanted through paying for tons of types of beer we didn't like every Thursday night.  If you did the math, we likely lost a lot of money, but you can't put a dollar amount on being drinking champs and having that much fun.

I can't run around the bases as fast anymore, I certainly can't drink that much on a Thursday these days, but I can always can look back on that summer as one of the best of my life.  Let's put it this way, If someone asked me right now if I would rather be the first man on Mars or be transported back to the summer of 2005 to watch that guy get pegged with a softball in the back and tip back some celebratory horribly skunky Tsingtao, I would have to give it some serious, serious thought.      


Jimmy Fungus said...

Those were some pretty hilarious softball stories. The only thing better would have been if the ball plunked the a-hole in the back of the head giving him brain damage and turning him into a vegetable. Then you would have all had to visit him in the hospital and pretended you care.

Kenneth Noisewater said...

Hahha. That would have been tough. I just talked to a few people after posting this and he was an even bigger jerk in college.

Gorilla Bananas said...

Man, they should make a TV series like the The Wonder Years based on your booze and baseball memories. Captain A-hole would be like Kevin Arnold's elder brother Dwayne.

Steve said...

I was never any good at sport. Not the physical, run around kind.

I can just about play chess.

Sometimes I think I just don't know how to have fun.

Kenneth Noisewater said...

So long as you drank your share you would be a valuable player.

Mr. Shife said...

Hi Dr. Ken. I did leave a comment after I read this while I was at Kyle & Hayden's gymnastics class but it looks like it was cock blocked by Capt. A-Hole. I run into dudes like him all the time playing softball. Glad he got a nice bit of karma from the stud. Looking forward to drinking some Chinese death juice some day. I think i might have to put that on the bucket list. Thanks for the memories, chuckles and hope you have a good one, buddy. Take care.

Kenneth Noisewater said...

A solid comment from my most longtime blog buddy. Can't wait to collaborate soon.

The Grand Wave said...

I definitely played in a kickball league many moons ago and remember being the art museum team vs. Exxon, Chevron, Shell, and BP teams. We were terrible, but out drank all of them. They would show up with like 2 little styrofoam coolers and we would roll in with a couple of 4 ft. fish coolers. I pulled my quad by kicking the ground instead of the ball in the second game of the season and became drunk coach for the rest of the games.

Kenneth Noisewater said...

Grand: But I seem to recall you being a baseball player. I think you were better than you're letting on here. I also hurt myself playing kickball. I broke a finger somehow, no idea how. It really didn't hurt until the game was over. I was in the zone . . .