I was pitching for my softball team earlier this week and everything was fine until the 2nd of a double header. In the first game, the opposing team’s pitcher was a bit flustered that a few of our hits were right back up the middle. You see, in those scenarios, it’s proper etiquette to make known to the pitcher a sense of penitence for the ball hit back towards him in a way that could cause injury. Basically, hitting it directly towards the pitcher is a no-no, a sports faux pas, an unwritten rule, one that seasoned players recognize and usually adhere to, or follow it up with an apology.
The second game starts and I’m pitching the ball to one of their batters, who happened to be their pitcher… the flustered guy. He lines one to me, shin-level, and I had to flail my body out of the way. No apology. No nothin! In that moment I felt the adrenaline rushing, not just for the hit, but for what it meant. He did it on purpose and no matter what level of competition, that’s not cool.
Did I let it go? Of course not.
So this is my problem: even at 40-years-old, I can’t stand poor sportsmanship and I take most things personally when there’s an attack on me or someone on the team for which I’m playing. Sometimes that’s just not a good idea! Relatedly, I also can’t stand laziness. This pitcher had the trifecta of things I hate: being a poor sport, lazy (he was smoking a cig as he pitched), and arrogance.
After his hit that nearly banged up my legs, I approached him on first base and asked him a simple question. “You’re not going to apologize?” His response: “Apologize for what?”
Maybe the title of this post doesn’t exactly reflect where the story went. It’s not necessarily that I’m too competitive, it’s that I expect everyone to be good. To behave. To treat others kindly. And it soooooooooooooo ticks me off when that doesn’t happen on the softball field, football or soccer field, basketball court, or ultimately anywhere a competition is happening.
The solution that I’ve come up with is just to do my best to harness my emotions, still defending myself or my teammates, but not let an opposing player, whomever he or she may be and whatever they’ve done, take me to that dark place where the rage monster lives. Because at the end of the day, we all go back to our homes and feed our dogs, or play with our kids, or turn on Netflix. Nothing gets recorded in American history and, in fact, usually no one besides those on the field or court that night will ever know what happened anyway.
But that pitcher was a turd nugget.
-Out of the Wilderness