With the spring air pushing itself into New England it can only mean one thing, it’s time to go golfing with your buddies play some beer league softball. Beer League Softball is a glorious game that allows men (and sometimes women) to relive those glory days from high school by hitting a 260 foot blast over the left field fence…basically off of an invisible tee. Or, beer league softball allows you to live in your not so glorious high school days by striking out in slow pitch. Ah, but your team drinks for free. Win-win scenario…except for you.
Beer: It seems that as you get older and play more recreational sports that more and more alcohol is involved. It’s an unbelievable phenomenon. Does it improve performance? Does it make us feel better? Does it make us forget about the pulled groin we got or are about to get from bending over and picking up our glove? Does it give us the perception that we are far better than we really are? The answer is yes to all of these in varying degrees. Alcohol (for those not on the wagon…or on the wagon? Whatever.) is essential to playing past the college days because it alters the perception that you actually do suck at baseball now. This is a good thing. You may think you are good but do remember that you are hitting off a guy lobbing you a ball the size of Pamela Anderson’s fourth breast augmentation. The beer keeps morale high and keeps the level of play at it’s highest possible level. And hey, if you lose? You’re still buzzed and feeling good.
Common beer etiquette is as follows. Always bring a minimum of a six pack. If your squad has arrangements for certain people to bring a 30-rack or two than that’s even better. Be sure that the hops and barley WILL be cold upon consumption. Purchasing cold beer and putting the contents inside of a cooler with ice is your best bet to avoid humiliation and ridicule. There are plenty of teammates that consume the aforementioned beverage at varying times, so don’t purchase the warm stuff and assume everyone is drinking afterward. There are guys that need to pregame, or drink during, and then of course, drink after. Your best bet is to plan ahead or your teammates will pants you without heed and everyone will point and laugh. I do not want this to happen to you…it may be cold outside and there could be girls around.
Uniforms: What you put on to represent your team is a vitally important. The main goal here is to recognize your team/sponsor but not be obnoxious and stand out like Brian Scalibrine at a hip-hop concert. Last summer I played against a team that had bright lime-green shirts that were equivalent to the vests that police officers use for road construction detail. It was awful and they looked ridiculous. They were also ALL ringers and the best team in that particular tournament so, we didn’t have the ability or the right to talk any trash…to their faces.
Another important item to note is what you wear along with your uniform. No men’s league softball tournament or actual league has ever been comparable to the major leagues. It would be in your best interest to leave the head band, the four wrist bands, the nine pieces of UnderArmor, the blue glove, the huge Oakley’s, and the glowing shoes that look basically unused despite you playing three times each week with your name and college number at home. It’s also not funny to wear the number 69 anymore. We get it, it’s sexual, completely original and hysterical. Stop it, you are a much bigger idiot than you think you are a comedian. It hasn’t been considered cool since six months after Varsity Blues came out (which is still a great movie). If you want to be funny, tell a joke.
Pitcher: The pitcher is the single most important position in slow-pitch softball. It may look easy to do what they do but there are many athletes who can not put the ball consistently over the plate. All you will need on the mound is a guy who puts the ball over the plate. There’s no need for fancy curves or backspin because that will come with time. Just DO NOT walk people. It’s not only embarrassing for yourself as the pitcher but it sucks standing out on the field watching you walk the bases loaded and having zero impact on what goes on. The pitcher does not always have to be your fattest and slowest guy. However, often times, those particular gentlemen have an epiphany by realizing this may be their only shot at Beer League Softball glory so, they perfect the art of the 11.5 foot arch. Don’t blame me, these are the proven stereotypes that have been placed before me by professional scientists who asked to go unnamed. Example: John Daly has embraced his fattness personal lifestyle and took up a sport that can be done without being in tip top shape.
Also, be sure you are throwing strikes to gain respect around the league. The opposition is there to hit and bat around. Make the other team beat you and you will be sure to enjoy your summer. I can’t stress this enough. Do your best to avoid this scenario because we’ve all played in games like that on both sides of the diamond and it’s torture no matter how you look at.
The League: Always ensure that you are placed in the correct division. Do not play in the A division if you belong in the stands in the C division. First of all, you are clearly in way over head and secondly the other team will hate you for it. They didn’t drive all they way out on their precious free time away from work to participate in a non-competitive blowout. The same goes for A teams playing in B or C leagues. “We get it. You are awesome and way better than all of your opponents according to the mercy rule. Your nuts must be huge, enjoy Cooperstown.” I think you get where I’m going with this…
Coed leagues can also be very fun and quite competitive at the same time. I participated in one last summer and it was run beautifully. The trick to this is figuring out your team identity. If you are there to socialize then your female make up does not matter, just get your friends out there and have some fun. If you want to win be sure to go out and get some chicks who are dead ringers who played division 1 softball. In coed leagues, the women are always the difference regardless of your male composition and if you can get women who look and play as well as Jenny finch then that’s a bonus. Speaking of composition…
Team Composition: This is vitally important to a successful summer of alcohol induced softball participation. The team basically needs to have guys who show up and bring beer. That is literally the bottom line. It’s so simple it’s practically stupid. People are so unpredictable these days though that it’s often difficult to get the perfect team together. Another minor, but still important, factor is having players who are serious enough to make a consistent effort to show up but not serious enough to want to head for nearest bridge after a ground out to the 3rd basemen to end an inning. If you are able to manage all of this, success will be had.
Statistics: These days, between work and family obligations it’s difficult to enjoy personal success. Softball statistics can often bring light to a wild world that we all exist in. A lot of times the worst hitter on the team will bat around .300 and if you don’t over think or get down on yourself, that’s not terrible place to be at all. Ideally, you want to be floating around .425 but that all depends on the compete level of the league. Either way, the statistics are something that can keep us going week to week…if, of course, the beer doesn’t already do that for you. Be sure you have a manager that updates the stats and posts them because it’s fun to compete amongst yourselves and have something to talk about afterward that doesn’t involve “I found this in my kid’s diaper” or “my boss made me do such and such today” or the always popular “this chick at work…” I think you get the picture. It just helps break the monotony when you see everyone at the ball field
Team Rules: 1. Always have fun and leave your problems in the parking lot. Softball is an escape from your bills, your work, and anything else that has the opportunity to bog you down.
2. Always bring beer when you are scheduled to. God help you if you forget to make a stop at the packey and grab the 30 rack you were supposed to snag. Pray to everything you can think of that a store is open or that someone else was dumb enough (and in turn, a genius) to think it was their week to bring the goods. Follow those and you’ll be just fine.
Good luck this summer and remember, if you’re not going to park it, hit ’em down and hard and dig it out.