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Monday, June 01, 2009

The Talmud and Watching Girls' Softball

There's a proverb that goes something like this: "he who uses the world becomes it's slave; he who holds it back is his master."

So, I attended my daughter's playoff game tonight and stood far on the outfield sidelines with a friend whose daughter is on the team. The game was getting out of reach (with my daughter's team on the losing end), and the umpire was having a bad night. Physically, he resembled Sam Drucker, the proprietor of the general store in both "Petticoat Junction" and "Green Acres", but he moved with all the speed of "Uncle Joe" of the former show, about whom it was sung in the theme song, "And there is Uncle Joe, he's a movin' kind of slow at the junction."

Why that's relevant is because he didn't bend too much and had a strike zone the size of the average portable refrigerator, starting at the ground and moving up to a player's waist. Saying that he called the low strike is an exaggeration. He called strikes that would have been balls for groundhogs had an ump with a more reasonable strike zone been behind the plate.

Anyway, I held a penny between my fingers, as sometimes is my wont (reminding me to keep my thoughts to myself at times like these). My daughter came up, and the first pitch bounced either before the plate or on it and the umpire called it a strike. That called outstripped the boundaries of my incredulity, so from my far perch I bellowed, "C'mon blue, that ball bounced." My friend jokingly moved away from me (in an unfortunate incident not of his making last season, he ended up being suspended for a game by the league). (I should add that one of my daughter's coaches had been jawing with the ump most of the night about his strike zone and his calling of foul and fair balls). So what happened next?

The next pitch was worse. Not only did it bounce, but it was outside. The call?

"Strike two."

At that point I figured that either the ump had to get home for his Lawrence Welk re-runs on TVLand or he just wanted to get home. The fans gasped at the call, and my friend and I joked with each other that the ump was showing my daughter's team who was boss by compounding his first bad call with a second. On the next pitch, my daughter smacked a hard grounder, but the first baseman made a good play to get her out.

After the at-bat, my daughter, who has a good sense of humor, came out of the dugout and toward me, laughing.

"Dad," she said, "I heard you in the batter's box. You were right, the ball bounced on the plate, and the next one was outside."

"That may be," I replied, "but I cost you a strike."

"That's okay, dad," she said with a smile.

I suppose you had to be there, but the whole thing was pretty funny, as the strike zone was one of the most bizarre I had seen. And, yes, my daughter's team lost, but I'm reminding myself to keep that penny firmly in my hands and not say a word during my son's playoff game tomorrow night (where, as I will note in a future post after the season ends, there have been many examples of coaches behaving poorly).

So, back to the Talmud.

You don't get in trouble for what you don't say -- at least much of the time -- do you?


Blogger greyCat said...

A penny between the fingers? I am a terrible "fan" of my son's soccer team. I will have to try that, thanks.

10:19 AM  
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