The summer season of softball has me taking the mound for the CMT Swingers. I usually play outfield but I’ve really enjoyed pitching, and didn’t know I would like it so much. I’ve even worked on a knuckle ball. Whether the knuckle helps at all is up for debate because a few batters had solid hits off of it. But I’ve also struck out a few that surprised me. Another “trick” I like to do is pitch the ball quickly when the batter gets in the box. My philosophy as a pitcher and a batter is when you’re in the batter’s box, you’re in the game. But a lot of times the batter will stand in the box, get their feet set, look down as they wave the bat around a bit. Then the moment they look towards the mound for the first pitch, it’s falling over the plate for a strike. Boom, got ’em! I like it when I can get a strike called. So in the game I played recently, one of the batters commented to the plate umpire about the pitch coming before he was ready. I overheard the umpire say that it’s legal, but it’s dirty. His reply stuck with me the rest of the game because there are a few things I know about myself when it comes to sports: 1. I love competing. 2. I want the ball and 3. I hate cheating.
So when the umpire said the quick pitch was “dirty,” I was immediately affected. Whether it was called a strike or not, it felt like a strike against my character, and directly opposed to the aforementioned thing I hate (cheating). I didn’t do it again the rest of the game.
I’m not saying the two are related, but looking back, I think after the umpires comment I loosened my grip and lost the mental control I had over the batters. It proved true in the last inning when we were winning 9-7 and I walked 2 of their worst batters. The next guy up to bat became the winning run.
Could the controversy for me be playing to win vs. playing so people like me?
Is it no holds barred vs. having class?
Kind vs. competition?
These things I will wrestle with for the next few days because this coming Wednesday? It’s playoffs. My spirit and body will give 110% on the field, but it’s my mind that needs to be made up by then.