Cue the Jaws movie theme…

Occasionally my mind travels in weird loops instead of the normal linear process that most people enjoy. It’s not all bad. Sometimes I get an idea out of the blue and run with it. This morning it was shark cages.

Now I didn’t say Shark Tank like the popular TV show. I said, shark cages, you know like the metal ones they drop into the ocean with humans inside who want to ‘swim with the sharks’? Crazy mofo’s is all I’m saying there. But nonetheless, the idea of shark cages kept darting at my brain like a moth to the softball field lights at Wolffs Softball Haven during the late games of league.

Shark cages. How much does a ‘nice’ shark cage cost? How much does a cheap shark cage cost for that matter? Who makes a quality product and who has negative reviews (if they survived to post about it)? Can I get one on Amazon.com and get free two day shipping with my Prime membership? Does it come pre-assembled or is there like an 80-page booklet of instructions to go with 361 unique parts to put together? Do they offer an extended warranty?

With the miracle of Google, I was able to cultivate some rough information but most of it is skewed towards people just wanting the dive experience with a company that has existing cages. For example, this one company near San Francisco offers a special $825 price per diver in the cage (max 4 people in cage) but they also do not guarantee that you will see a shark. No refunds for shark no-shows or equipment malfunctions (air tank failure? boat sinks?) to boot. Although, for that $825 price it included a boat charter, time in the water (in the cage) and wet suit with air tank rental. So all-in-all that seemed like a decent time unless Megalodon comes along and swallows your cage with you safely still inside! In hopping from site to site, I did see one place overseas that offered “kids swim for free” (in the cage). Sounds like a great traumatic experience for impressionable young minds!

But eventually I did find some rough pricing for buying a cage. Depending on what size and what bells and whistles you wanted, you could get a ‘personal’ cage for about $8000 and other more industrial cages went for about $25,000. The caveat being that you needed to have a vessel capable of first hauling, then dropping and withdrawing the cage from the ocean.

Hopefully you found this post both informative and enlightening. If you were on the fence about purchasing a shark cage or swimming with the sharks and this piece didn’t sway you one way or the other, perhaps watch the movie 47 Meters Down.

Glub Glub Glub GLUB!

That was me underwater saying to have a great day.

Peace.

SSIBC – SouthSide Indian Ball Club – 2016 Billy Rahm HOF Edition

IH_ball_CB_Small

Hello and I hope the day brings you good tidings.

Today is Monday, August 22, 2016. I am here to talk about something that is very near and dear to my heart. Softball. Big shock there. But more specifically, Indian ball and the SSIBC (SouthSide Indian Ball Club) that I have been a part of for four and a half years. I started as a rookie in April of 2012. Being a Rookie means you have to be beer b!tch to all the senior club members as a kind of quasi-hazing. It’s not all that bad and if you aren’t particularly mouthy, you can slip under the radar and not have to do it that much.

Over the handful of years that I have been with the club, more than a few of the faces have changed significantly (figuratively and literally). Many of the guys I started playing with, including the member who recruited me (Joe “Commish” Ritrovato), are no longer active members of the club for various reasons (family obligations, health, etc.). All told I have only been semi-seriously playing softball since 2004. From the time I played my last softball game in middle school (circa 1984), I did play six or seven games at company picnics and for a work team but that was it. There were no composite bats or fielders wearing protective masks or guys my size hitting balls 350 plus feet. My last swings before the almost twenty year break were with a true aluminum bat that had a thin black electrical taped handle grip. The barrel of the bat was the light green of today’s Worth Boogers. If I had to guess, I would say it weighed about thirty ounces. On one of my last swings, the opposing team’s first baseman moved well off the first base line. I waited back and smacked a line drive about two feet fair down the first base line. The first baseman just stood there dumbfounded since most of our hitters were dead-pull hitters. I ended up with a triple and an RBI on the play. The day was hot and dusty and neither of my parents saw it happen much like most of my softball career.

So flash forward to 2012: My friend Commish, who runs the Lager Sluggers Softball Club and the annual Turkeybowl game (flag football for fun and charity) at Fenton Park, recruits me to play Indian ball. I show up to the field which at that time was off Telegraph in South County. The first game was already underway. The hitter was facing the three infielders (about 2/3 as wide as a normal softball field) and about 10-11 outfielders. It was crazy. I saw a bunch of guys I knew mostly from softball reputation and these guys could not buy a hit. Line drives, deep towering fly balls and vicious grounders – all ending up in a glove and very few hits. Unlike softball where one guy can get a hit and a (home)run instantly, this required four guys to get a hit to tally a single run before three outs were tallied. It was amazing and intense. As a regular softball player and being used to hitting with composite bats, it was a little intimidating to swing a wood bat with all those fielders in every conceivable hitting lane. I think that first season I batted about .250 and I felt pretty good about that. By contrast, in regular softball if I hit less than .600 I would feel like the biggest failure on the planet.
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So now that I am in my fifth season, my perspective has changed a bit. Indian ball is played on Sunday mornings from spring until late summer. Granted there are some Sunday mornings I would rather sleep in, but getting up and heading to Santa Maria’s for Indian ball is a highlight of my week. There is a lot of new faces this year but the smack talk is still alive and kicking which I think is actually the most entertaining part.

With every swing of the bat, something happens. A squibber, a rocket, a Plinko board grounder, a guy catching a ball with a beer in one hand and a cigarette in his mouth, a line drive to your pitcher’s chest (you pitch to your own team), a driving grab, a bobbled grounder to an infielder, a tip drill catch in the outfield, a ten hopper that knocks over the foul cone, a ball the paints the “Trot-line”, a long fly ball foul, a two-handed snap off, a guy catching a ball with enough pine tar in his glove to stop a woolly mammoth and countless other scenarios. The best plays are when a guy makes a play that he would never make again in his life. That gets the peanut galley going nuts. And with each play, someone spectating has their two cents to add. It’s a great time. At the end of the games, it’s almost irrelevant who wins. Almost.

The Indian ball season is broken up into two parts: the first and second halves. There are four teams. If the respective half winners are not the same team, the two half winners square off for bragging rights and championship jackets. In 2016 with the first half winner already decided, it will come down to the last week (next week, barring bad weather) to decide the second half winner and potentially force a playoff game.

In the midst of the playoff chase for the SSIBC, the club took a moment this past Sunday at Santa Maria to honor one of the club’s greats. Billy Rahm, who had been with the club for over three decades, passed away this summer. Mr. Rahm was a huge part of the club and like Norm from Cheers, everyone knew his name. I was introduced to Billy the very first day I played Indian ball. He was a nice guy and along with Mr. H (Hastey), I think I got a handshake and how are you today from them each and every time I saw them. Between the third and fourth games of the day, all the club’s members in attendance lined up along the foul lines to have a small ceremony to present some of Billy’s family members in attendance with Billy’s Hall Of Fame plaque. When presented with the plaque, his family members spoke with choked up voices about how much Billy loved the club and how much it meant to him, even choosing Indian ball over other family events a times. It was a great moment and it gave me goosebumps to see his family choked up like that.
SantaMaria
To share my own Billy moment I will go back a few years ago. The SSIBC hosted a tourney at Wolffs Softball Haven down in Barnhart, Missouri. I was playing on one of the two teams the club had entered. In our third game, we were already down eight runs in the fourth inning and it looked like we might get run-ruled. I came to bat with two runners on and two outs. I hit a three-run home run to the short porch in right field. The next inning we got a couple of runs closer and held the other team scoreless. I came to bat in the sixth inning again with two on and two outs. Again I drove a pitch over the short porch for another three run homer. What made this a little comical was, the right fielder immediately spiking his glove to the ground as soon as I swung the bat since the result was near identical. With a little back and forth I came up again in the extra frame with us trailing by two runs and no one out. The right fielder starts screaming at his pitcher, “Don’t do it! Don’t give him that outside pitch! He’s already hit two (expletive) bombs.” So the pitcher did nothing but throw inside pitches to which I slapped one through the third base-shortstop hole to plate a run. The rest of my guys took it from there and we went on to win by three or four runs (we were the away team). We won the next game and won the tourney. I remember Licker (his real name is Scott Litzinger) asking everyone if they were OK with giving the trophy to Billy. Of course, everyone thought that was a great idea and we presented him with the hard fought trophy. After the games, Billy came up to me and said, “You did the club proud today son.” I took that as a pretty big compliment. If memory serves me right, that was in 2014 and I think that was the year Billy lost his wife but I could be mistaken.
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Anyway, I guess this piece was just my way of saying that the SSIBC has become like a family and a bunch of brothers to me. I don’t have any siblings and I haven’t really had any fatherly presence for most of my life so it’s just a nice place to go and feel like you belong. Hope you are up there or out there somewhere Billy. If so hope you are enjoying these last few weeks of Indian summer.

Peace.

Billy Rahm

 

Epilogue

Indian ball wrap up for games on 8-28-2016 with an early 8 a.m. start.

Right out of the gate, it was team #3 (my team) as the visitors versus team #1 (the would be champs). Team #3 needed to win this first game to put pressure on team #1 for the rest of the day. Without a win by team #3 in the first game, the rest of the day was meaningless in the standings but still would have batting race implications.

Team #3 (dark gray shirts) came out swinging…and mostly hitting at’em balls. First three innings for team #3 netted just a single hit and obviously no runs. Team #1 (blue shirts) immediately loaded the bases with three of their first four hitters smashing ground balls for hits but their rally stalled when the next two hitters flew out. The next two frames for them went quietly. Team #3 had an opportunity with two on and one out in the fourth inning but couldn’t muster up any more hits. Again team #1 came to bat and again they were denied in their 4-6 innings as well.

The second half of the season boiled down to our seventh-eighth-ninth innings. If we didn’t find a way to make an ugly run or two to give us a chance…the title would go to team #1 (blue). Our guys dug in and produced two hits with no outs in the eighth inning but then three straight outs dampened that flame of hope. In the ninth, the defense held us hitless and there was the season. For formality purposes we played the bottom half of the 7-8-9 frames and kept team 1 from getting the win but the tie clinched the second half title for them. Congrats to the blue team (team #1) on their first and second half wins. Fun bunch of guys and they had a great year.

To recap the rest of the day, team #1 played game number two with a lot less intensity and lost on a walk-off 4-3 on a ball that slipped through a glove. My team played the third game and we also won on a walk-off 1-0 on a dropped soft liner to the middle of the outfield. Honestly I do not know who won the last game between team 2 and team 4 (orange vs light gray) because I had to scoot to get to a fantasy football draft in Columbia, Illinois. But my team got three points (when we needed four). We played pretty solid defense the last month or so of the season and just could not overcome losing the first four games of each half. Just like in baseball, all the games count the same so it’s best to try to win them all.
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Hats off to the blue team and all the guys from the SSIBC. It was the most fun I’ve had in my five seasons with the club and I look forward to next year and will lobby to see if I can be a team captain.

Have a great week everyone. Peace

Unsportsmanlike Conduct?

Good morning and now this from the sports desk.

…Bottom of the eight inning here at Wolffs Softball Haven. The Score is tied at 14 with a bit of rain falling. A runner on first and one out, here is the pitch…a swing and a drive to left center field…the left center fielder does not even move or turn around as the ball clears the twelve foot fence…HOMERUN! Game over! Team in the field trots in to exchange post game hand-slaps with the victors.
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Was this the culmination of an epic series holding vital implications in the universe? Hardly. This was two Monday night coed teams playing on a muggy night in June as part of the normal league batch of games. In the first game of the night, we eeked out a win by a couple of runs and this was their chance to even score so to speak. The opposition actually was in the lead 14-11 until we scored 3 runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to tie things up and send the contest to extra innings (in slow pitch softball regulation games are usually 7 inning contests).

So why am I bringing this up in my blog? A few reasons actually. First off, the pitcher for the team we were playing is probably one of the worst in the long history of the sport (at throwing strikes). Dude threw maybe a dozen legit strikes (combined) in both games and yet was complaining that a couple of our hitters actually took walks because we didn’t want to rent a step ladder to try and swing at pitches that soared over our heads or landed two feet wide of the plate. To add fuel to the situation, not only was he complaining that we were not helping him out with his terrible pitches, but then when they started winning he started talking some smack (layman’s talk: he was dogging us because his team was winning).
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Now I do not care if people want to jib jab back and forth – it’s actually amusing considering we are playing a sport where someone lobs a ball at 15 mph and you can literally wait a few seconds before deciding if you want to swing. Normally I play against people I consider friends or at least people I am acquainted with so there is some teasing and good-natured ribbing. Where things can sometimes fall into a gray area is when you have someone you really do not know who says something that could be considered a taunt or b!tching. I play softball with the notion of having fun plus being competitive but primarily having fun. So activate my competitive nature and mix in a guy I don’t know that well who is kind of talking smack.

Now jump back up to that scenario I described in the bottom of the eight inning. Here is a bit more of the setting: With the rain falling, someone in my team’s dugout said: “Lose one!” and my friend Woody who was umpiring made eye contact and said: ” Time to walk it off, Freak.” And now their pitcher, circles the pitching rubber proclaiming: “This guy hasn’t hit a game winning home run since little league!” To which I replied, “But it still counted!” Cue the pitch and ensuing swing…
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I know how this piece sounds…like I’m bragging. But it’s not really the case. Any one who knows me, knows I do not brag about softball. I’m not the guy building himself up to his friends talking about his eight grand-slams that all cleared the fence, the condo across the street and kept going until they got shot down by Maverick from Top Gun. This was more of a shut up and do it for your team kind of piece. I understand the psychology of the sh!t-talking by their pitcher and I honestly do not think there was any malice involved there. A lot of softball is simply doing. Thinking about it only complicates things and often times screws you up. So kudos on a good strategy on his part to try to get me to think about hitting the homerun and potentially botching it. In this scenario I got the swing I needed and everyone was relieved to have conclusion. Men rejoiced. Ladies wept. Beers were lifted in toast. OK so probably none of those last three things happened but the bottom line is we won.
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To step things down on the softball topic, I enjoy playing ball and have since I was re-introduced to the sport in 2004. My talent is nothing but grit and instinct. Rarely am I the best player on the field but I give the sport I love all my effort. I tend to focus more on my failures as opposed to the things I did right. For example, in a recent tourney in Rolla, (Missouri), I batted seven times and made one out. That out was in the last inning of our last game and for me it overshadowed everything I did that day. Every time I make an out while batting or have an error fielding…those are the things I have stay with me. Softball is a parallel to life for me. Have fun and do not let those around you down.
No-Failures
Have a great day and may you find something to inspire you today.

Peace.

April 19th – Tuesday

Good afternoon to you and hopefully your healthy fingernails.
You just checked out your own fingernails didn’t you? Don’t lie.
avgJo
Today I am suffering from what is commonly known as fat finger syndrome or FFGSsdAFD. Dang fat gingers. Fingers! Oy vey! It’s amazing I can get anything out on the screen. Luckily I can cut and paste to limit my need to place my fingers on the keys. To this point, I was looking on Google and Ebay for an Average Joe’s Gym t-shirt from the movie Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story. Of course I mistyped the search string. Instead of Average Joe’s Gym – omitting the apostrophe, I typed: Average Jose Gym. Not going to lie, my subconscious was amused for a second. I feel based on my current fitness level, it would only be fitting to seek out a shirt of a fictitious fitness center with low standards as my jumping off point to get in shape.
ebay
For those who are curious about how my first official league night of (coed) softball went for Mondays at the Wolffs Softball Haven – it went well. Minimal injuries outside of a bad hop in the outfield that slightly bruised my breast bone to report. On the hitting side I did OK, even socked my first home run of the session to left center field that landed a good six or seven feet behind the fence. From a team perspective we swept both games, winning the first one by a few runs and the second contest in bottom of the 8th inning (extra frame) by one.
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All in all it was a dusty, muggy good time. No softball action on the schedule for tonight but I do return to the diamond at Fenton Park for a single game on Wednesday. Normally the session would be double headers but due to the flooding and damage caused a couple of months ago the powers that be decided to make the schedule all jacked up for everyone by playing single games instead of doing double headers and mixing in some byes until the park is fully repaired. What…ever.

To those out there who may read my blog and are having a bad time of it: chin up, this too shall pass – it just really sucks right now. As always if you would like to chat me up I can be found on all the usual means of communication: Text, Facebook IM, Tweet, Snapchat and good old fashioned phone calls.

Enjoy today…don’t wait for tomorrow because it may be completely different than you expect.

bacon-emoji.

Peace.

Monday – The Blog Movie!!

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OK so I fibbed. There is no movie or even Youtube shenanigans. Just a well rationed amount of purposefully chosen words to have you scrolling until your fingers bleed! Aaaahhhhh!

Sorry felt I bit like going on the melodramatic side this morning here state side. A wonky weekend of great weather and softball has me feeling a bit enthused about the onset of fall even if the temperatures are projected this week to climb near 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 degrees Celsius).
Toto
Interestingly enough the band Toto from the 70’s had an album release in 1986 called Fahrenheit. One of my favorites from the band. Mellow and yet fun. Next summer will be the 30 year anniversary of that classic. Check out their extensive discography for more great lyrics and time withstanding tunes.
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So to hop on the softball train for a second – I played softball on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. I played each day respectively: 4 games, 3 games and 2 games. In that time span (to toot my own horn) I collected five home runs. Granted all of it was slow pitch softball and only two games were men’s games – but on Saturday it was Missouri USSSA Coed State in Lebanon, MO. I played with Team Ramrod and we took 5th (out of 8 teams). I consider it a successful weekend when I play ball and have no facial bruising or healing gashes from taking bad hops to the face. Yay me!
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As a plus, we finished off the night on Saturday at a great little BBQ place called Missouri Hick BBQ in Cuba, MO. Second time eating there, second time leaving stuffed and very satisfied.
Nahla
To rewind a little bit more, on Friday I spent the morning and early afternoon volunteering at the Stray Rescue of St Louis again. I saw a few familiar faces from the doggy ranks but a few of the ones I personally walked had been either fostered out or outright adopted so that was great. Of the new doggies, my favorite was Nalah. A little black and brown shepherd mix – she was a spitfire and very affectionate. This time around there was a huge group from my employer plus another smaller group was there too so the dogs got out early and often. This isn’t always the case as one of the other volunteers said they only had four volunteers the day before which means the staff has a lot more work to do with walking the dogs and cleaning the kennels which naturally takes longer which means more of the dogs don’t get out until later to do their business which in turn means more accidents which in turns means more to clean. It’s a vicious cycle. I did a search on my girl Kool-Aid from my first visit and she is still available for adoption but is not at the shelter but with a foster family presently. Here’s to hoping she gets her forever home soon.
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Right around lunch time, the founder Randy Grim stopped in and thanked us for our time and efforts walking and helping with the cleaning chores. He also laid out some philosophy about how forgiving the animals can be even when they have been repeated abused or neglected. So many of the animals arrive in bad shape but in the cleaning and treatment process, they still will nuzzle a palm or lick someone or wag their tail. Most of these animals just want what all of us want deep inside: someone to love them and treat them well and in return they have affection and faithfulness that knows no bounds. Again I cannot adequately express the admiration I have for Randy and his entire staff for the service they provide these animals. Everyday, 24/7, they are there feeding, watering, cleaning and interacting with these animals who have all been dealt a hard hand to play. Holidays, weekends and late nights – doesn’t matter – they are there for these dogs and cats. Most of us have a set amount of hours at our jobs and then we switch off and don’t think about it. These people associated with the Stray Rescue pretty much live it nonstop and for them, I tip my hat and cannot wait to volunteer again. Cheers to each and every one of them.
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A special wish for the dog Whitey Herzog (white lab mix) that was there on Friday. He is a boy dog that resembles my girl Ginger (best dog in the world) that we had to have put down with medical issues last summer. I hope he heals up and finds a loving family and they feed him almost until he is fat and he has a very comfy, fluffy bed to sleep in. That’s all I wish for him.

So overall I really enjoyed my weekend of softball, spending time with friends, my girlfriend and the furry quadrupeds. I hope each and every one of you finds a happy wave and enjoys your week.

Peace.

Weekend Update

Good day ladies and gentlemen. Today is a special weekend blog for the ever faithful. Nothing really that special just a chance to gather some thoughts albeit brief and share. For those who have taken the time to get to know me or regularly read my blog, you probably have gotten the indication that I tend to be a little morbid. It has been like that since my long since past teenage years. It is just the way I am programmed. With that being said, I skew decidedly dark on my humor or find humor in some things that others might not find funny or amusing at all. The double edged sword of that quirk is it also tends to make the really dark periods in my life nearly unbearable and suffocating.

You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have the facts of life. You gotta get’em right. Sorry had to randomly interject a 80’s sitcom theme. If Misses G were alive today (Charlotte Rae) she would be proud…wait she is alive…my most sincere apologies C.R. Sorry for the sidebar but that is sometimes how it goes in my brain.

So in my morbidity I started wondering, if I got hit by a bus or an asteroid or some other spontaneous auto-tragedy (Sharknado anyone?)…what of my things would my girlfriend, mother or friends want of mine to remember me by (if anything at all). My FRIENDS DVD collection or some of my more obscure DVD and Blu-Rays maybe. I would imagine my clothes would be split between Goodwill and the dumpster. My out-dated game systems would probably find their way to a friend I suppose. Most of my furniture would probably be sold relatively cheap to strangers on Craigslist.

When I really take inventory of my material things, most of them are pretty modest and inconsequential. I do not really create anything (anymore) that could really be considered art. So there is really not much that would encapsulate me and my essence. When you break it down like that I am very close to being an Etch-A-Sketch picture on the screen as a five year old kicks the Etch-A-Sketch down a flight of stairs. A few unrecognizable broken lines and scattered blotches against a gray backdrop is all that might be there for the world to find.

Did I mention sometimes I am morbid?

I have never and will never be an elite athlete broadcast around the globe. My ability to create things is on par with adding crumbled bacon to a box of Mac N Cheese. I cannot hack into electronics and send them to destroy my mortal enemies. When it comes down to it, I merely exist. If the universe interprets that harshly and became dyslexic, it can plot any number of exits for me. So each day I try to be humble and value the people in my life (plus my kitty!) who have affected me and whom I look forward to inspiring me to do a little something to leave some finger prints and a nose print of my existence on the tinted limo window of life.

Today is Sunday, July 12th and I nearly got heat stroke playing softball. Yes I am crazy/stupid about that game, whether it is 95 degrees or 25 degrees, I love playing ball. If I would have died on the field of Wolff’s Softball Haven…I could live with that ending and hope that at least a few people would miss me and think of me every time they step onto the field to play.

Have a great weekend my friends.

Peace.

Rain

Looking-on-The-Rain
Over the last day or two, the skies here in Missouri have alternated between overcast with occasional broken clouds and a few streams of sunshine to banks of dark clouds coating most everything with light to moderately heavy rain showers. When the rains have come there has not been too much thunder and lightning (so far) unless it happened after I checked into the Sleepy Night Night Hotel. I love the sound of rain and the noise patterns are like a lullaby to me. In theory, I wouldn’t mind living in Seattle part-time and here in the midwest part-time. Go up to Seattle for about a month to get my fill of rain and the calming effects. Then when my inner being starts jonesing to play ball, jet back to Missouri for some humid and sweaty softball for a couple weeks. Lather, rinse, repeat.
rain
Some of you know my affinity for softball and my propensity for playing multiple times per week. But softball in the rain and soggy conditions is really not that fun. So this would be a cake and eat it situation. Almost nothing in sports is worse than playing ball in the rain or after it has rained and the field is soaked. Wet slippery grass and muddy spots on the field turn your shoes into heavy, nasty, squishing foot huggers. Then they sit in the car until the next morning. Upon entering your car the offending smell is as if a corpse has taken a Taco Bell dump under your seat. It’s awful and not easily dissipated. It is best to leave your shoes outside in a place they will not get any wetter and have a chance to dry out. OK that is enough stinky shoe commentary. Brass tax on the subject – softball is better in dry conditions – preferably cooler temperatures but I will take hot and dry over wet and cool.
ballpark
So back to my original thought: rain. There is something about the rain that mesmerizes me. When the dark clouds gather and the wind kicks up and the first few drops start falling, I feel a certain anticipation. I feel a greed. I do not want just a sprinkle of rain. Do not tease me. Have the sky turn black as night and let the drops get bigger and fall faster until it looks like a curtain of water. The water pools and joins with smaller puddles until they overflow and start trickling downhill. Those trickles join up and make a stream and those streams crash together and make a river. I love the white noise of the rain and the sound of the water smacking the pavement, cars and pools of water. Throw in a random rumble of thunder and it just feels primal and right. I guess I am just a freak of nature who enjoys thunder storms.
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Oh well.
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So whether (get the pun?) I am sitting in a dugout in Springfield, MO waiting for the showers to pass for the rest of my softball tourney to continue or in my car barely able to see out the windshield or home in bed listening with my eyes closed as the rain pounds down – I love the rain and the associated memories that flood into my brain. So let it rain, softball will wait.
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Happy Hump Day to everyone on the face of the Earth who has an internet connection and surfed into my tiny piece of cyberspace. Hang out for a second and soak up the concept. Feel free to leave me a comment or send me an email.
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Peace under a colorful umbrella to you…

Swimming

Good day to you and your pets (no fish are not pets) and/or children if applicable.
ocean
With the temperatures and humidity levels rising here in Missouri I thought it only natural to delve into a popular activity when it is hot outside – swimming.
snakes
Some people like to swim in swimming pools, some in lakes, some in rivers, some in oceans and some in debt. Given the choice of the above I would take a swimming pool with the correct levels of chlorine  and anti-algae chemicals. My second choice would be the ocean followed by lakes and rivers and lastly debt even though that seems to be the one I tread water in the most. The reason for my rankings is simple: I am a bit prissy. Fish poop, snakes, sharp rocks, other unidentifiable muddy slime, unseen sticks, submerged beer bottles and other debris diminishes the enjoyment of the swimming activity unless you are intoxicated to the point where none of those other things register. The last time I was in a pool was last summer at the Shuffle Board Champion Becky’s house. Her house is an outside wonder tucked away in an unassuming subdivision. But that’s a blog for another day.
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With temperatures reaching and exceeding the 90 degree mark yesterday, many people between innings of one of my softball games joked that the park needed to install a pool to cool off and draw in a bigger crowd for afternoon games. I think I will suggest that the park implements a suggestion box so I can place a suggestion in the suggestion box to add a pool to Wolffs Softball Haven. I think this may ultimately be a fools errand but you never know!
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For those of you out there enjoying some swimming, remember to apply enough sun screen and do not swim with any open wounds around hungry sharks. Also let’s address the elephant in the room – peeing while swimming. Many of you out there are doing it. If you are doing it in a pool you are a terrible person and should smacked with an open hand right in the middle of your forehead. For the other bodies of water such as rivers, lakes and the ocean – go ahead pee to your heart’s content as the wildlife is also doing it and the natural ecosystem will deal with it accordingly. Fish in the wild can deal with micro-amounts of human urine. Now if you are urinating in a fish tank – those domestic fish are not adequately equipped to deal with that – not to mention WTF is your problem? There wasn’t a toilet, bush or sink available?

But I digress.

Have a great day and suit up!

Peace.

Friday

I would like to start off today’s blog with a classic joke:

When I die, I want to go peacefully like my grandfather did – in his sleep. Not yelling and screaming like the passengers in his car.

This borrowed joke lends itself to my dark tinged humor. It points out that you never know when your tether to this world may disengage (unless you have a suicide schedule or are being drug down to the depths by a Great White shark or are in a plane with the fuel gauge on Empty at 30,000 feet or a myriad of other certain death scenarios). Your ticket could be punched in 1 minute or 75 years from now. Truth.

With that on the table, I like to play softball.
beast
Did I just jump the track on you? Let me explain.

I frequently play slow pitch softball which is a cousin to baseball and a step or two below fast pitch softball. Each has its own echelon of players ranging from the ridiculously great to the solid skill players and then the average and of course the hopelessly terrible. Depending upon the day, I think I fall into the average to hopelessly terrible categories. But skill level is really irrelevant for this piece. The game itself is my parallel for life.

Sometimes you are playing with your team in your comfort zone and your team is winning and everything is peaceful, maybe even joyous. You chip in a few hits, nothing spectacular but contributing. You aren’t hurting your team on defense either. Making a play or two, nothing highlight reel but coasting along to a team win. Good times. Then other times that same team is struggling. The pitcher is walking alot of the other team’s hitters. The fielders are dropping fly balls or making bad throws and your team just can’t string together hits to score enough runs. Guys (or gals) start trying to do things they normally don’t do (like learning to hit opposite field after being nothing but a dead pull hitter or trying to drop bombs aka hit home runs) and the unraveling process speeds up and you lose. Normally softball games are seven innings in length but if your team plays poorly enough you can get short-gamed (aka mercy ruled) when the other team puts up so many runs by a designated inning and you have very few in comparison. Thus invoking the mercy of ending the awful showing – with (So You Had A) Bad Day by Daniel Powter playing softly in the background.


Sometimes life invokes it’s own mercy rule. Maybe it occurs after a bad call was made and no one looked at the replay to say hey that’s not right but those are the breaks. So when life gives you a bad hop to the chest or you pull your glove up too soon on a grounder or your home run curves foul or you simply are left standing in the on deck circle as that last out is recorded when you know you had one more hit in you – take a breath and appreciate the scene. Chances are, what the landscape looks like today, will change by tomorrow even if it is only a slight change. Everyday you are here, those slight changes will evolve until the picture is completely different.
batflip
In life or on the softball field, you have your friends who you want to see do well and you cheer for them or pat them on the back for encouragement after an error or a bad at-bat. But on the flipside, there are those whom you dislike alot and you try to give a little extra effort or mental focus to beat. It’s pretty easy to overlay that template in life – wanting the positive for the perceived’ good guys’ and pulling for the dreaded Wolff’s Softball Haven bad infield hop to the throats of hated ‘bad guys’.
wolffs
So put on your fielding glove or batting gloves and go play. The score doesn’t matter. Winning and losing doesn’t matter. Just be there in the moment and enjoy it because when the game is over, it’s over.
upside-down-sassy-bats
In case I do not see you any further tomorrows, I thank you for reading and maybe smiling or nodding at the sentiments.

Peace and love my friends.