Fair anger in adult league softball

The other day I was part of an adult coed softball game as the pitcher and to start this off… I LOVE playing softball and pitching, also. This particular league has double-headers every Wednesday so there were 2 games and when I saw who the umpire was, I committed within myself to just be cool. Go with the flow. Have fun. But this umpire is the most incompetent umpire I’ve ever encountered. Inconsistent, unaware of the rules, I’m sure he’s a nice guy, though. I had no idea the mountain in front of me was too big to climb. But let’s start with the first game.

Actually, Game 1 was fine. Mostly because I was playing outfield, just about as far away from him as possible. It could be that he made some shady calls but I was too far away to see the details of the plays.

Then we get to Game 2. I was moved to pitcher and in hindsight, I should’ve just stayed in the outfield. Being in the infield I was able to see up close his bad calls. The thing is, he was making wrong calls for both teams! So I guess he’s consistent that way?

By the end of the second game he and I (and the opposing team’s pitcher) had words and he asked the captain for my name. Darn it! I was so close to having a controversy-free night! I won’t get into the details of his incompetence because I’ll just get riled up again but what this post is about is the anger that rises up when things don’t go the way I think they should.

I went home proud of myself for the way I was mostly controlled in my conversations with him, instead of just being mean. Trying to define what it is that frustrates me so much is what I wanted to think about after the games. Am I just being too competitive? Am I cruel?? AM I NOT BREEZY ENOUGH?????? I discovered this: it’s not that the umpire is making decisions I disagree with (because that happens in sports all the time), it’s that he was making unfair calls and being disrespectful. I get super fired up when officials aren’t treating people or teams fairly. I’ve always been that way when it comes to fairness and cheating and good ol’ boy stuff. Now I’ll admit, I’ve been competitive my entire life and sometimes (most of the time?) the desire to win and be “right” can overtake my civility. I’ll be the first to admit it’s an ongoing problem but it’s getting better, I promise. The encounter with this umpire, though, wasn’t about me being right. It was about being treated fairly. The other pitcher was involved because in Game 2 he decided to act in a way that breaks rules of the sport but he’s one of those “good ol’ boys” that thinks he can get away with it because he’s friends with the umpire. I called him into a conversation with myself and the umpire and well, neither of them liked what I had to say.

But again, this isn’t about them specifically. I’ll wrap up by saying I’m happy with how I managed my emotions when usually I might get snippy and catty. This time was full of thoughtful, although perhaps not friendly, responses. It still ended with the umpire flexing his “official” muscles and the other pitcher telling me to go home to my mother’s basement. 🙂

Maturity all around.

I’m sincerely hoping this umpire is nowhere near the softball field next week but I’ll be sure to update if he’s scheduled to ruin more games.

-Out of the Wilderness

The challenge of being too competitive

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?”

Sassy britches.

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