Friday, April 21, 2006

When Power Cores and Powercells Collide

Everybody lately is aghast and dismayed and chagrined (what ever those terms mean) at the latest hike in gas prices which has driven the per-gallon price upwards of anywhere between $2.75 and $3.33.
Since I’m a complete advocate of that e-mail which was circulated to everyone on Earth a few years ago which informed us that gasoline is cheaper-by-the-gallon than Aquafina, Aqua Velva, Heineken and Mop N’ Glo, etc … I was definitely more taken aback (if only I knew what “aback” meant) by what I saw at the sporting goods store yesterday.
An Easton softball bat (specs = 34 in., 26 oz.) on sale for $175.
It made me think, “What price freedom?”
We Yanks pay $107 per lb. for molded aluminum.
We pay $61 per ft. to defend softball freedom.

And we're up in arms that sweet crude is $70 a barrel?

I can’t do anything to influence OPEC, but I can do my part to keep SUVmerica free by piling up baseknocks on the softball diamond.
And, another thing: I didn’t buy the bat because, well … I’m audtioning for a new softball team tonight and, well, it seems smarter not to be “too showy” on the first date.

That’s why I’m sticking with the 34/33 Easton Model S80 (purchased in 1989, I think … no intimidating words printed on the barrel, other than “EASTON” and “Power Core”) and the Worth Powercell (purchased a few years back).
To me, the art of using a round bat to hit a slo-pitched round ball squarely boils down to the utilization of power cores and powercells and not submitting to a tool which has words on the barrel such as “Ultimate Weapon” or “Wicked Insanity” or – you gotta be yankin’ me – a neon green apparatus with “ENVY” printed on the barrel???
That's Mizuno's contribution to the softball party ... “ENVY." As if it's a fragrance for men (or the sort of "envy" we're not 'sposed to talk about after holding a fallic-shaped tool).

Say ... isn't “Wicked Insanity” some type of chocolate concoction at the Cheesecake Factory?

Look … unless a bat makes a powerful statement such as “The Decapitator” or “Nut Cracker 2000” or “The Home Wrecker" then everything else is simply false advertising.
Might as well just call it “Your Typical 3-Hopper To Shortstop.”

That covers the bat – now, I have to deal with the ramifications of making a softball splash by debuting with a new glove for the first time since the 1980s.
The Wilson A2051 which I’d been using since purchasing it in 1987 has been replaced by a Worth TM140.
The Wilson slogan on the inside of the glove-thumb is “designed for the professional.” The Worth slogan on the outside of the glove-pinky is “performance through technology.”
We’ll just see about that.

The Worth glove was an out-of-season purchase from last Oct. – and I’m not sure if I fell in love with it because it’s part of the Tumble Milled Series, because of the Silencer Palm Pad or because it’s mostly black-with-gray-detailing.

Should I have asked for such customized racing stripes?

What it represents is a break from the conventional brown glove, which the Wilson was as it served me dutifully during the Calif. Softball Wars (’90 thru ’97) and The Great Mid-Atlantic Softball Ambiguity (’01 thru ’05).
Not that the Wilson’s self-proclaimed “snap action” and “deer tan lining” were unsatisfactory, per se.
It’s just that, sometimes, the spirit moves a guy to take a walk in the Tumble Milled forest and walk along the path of the Silencer Palm Pad.

Besides, I want to be prepared for the next time some jackass whips out his Palm Pilot so that I can disarm Mr. Important by boldly proclaiming, “Yeah, I’ve got one of those Silencer Palm Pads, too.”
That is, unless everyone ditched his Palm Pilot for a Blackberry, I dunno.

Hard to believe that I’ll be taking the field tonight with a bunch of strangers … and the chief weapons at my disposal will be a Worth bat and a Worth glove and a skills-set which, since it’s been a long time since the end of last season, worthless.
Seems like a long way from the days when I was contributing for the Felix Legions and the armies of the north during victories in Germania.
But, then, sometimes a soldier gets separated from his unit and he finds himself alone in the outfield with the sun on his face … but he is not troubled for he is in Elysium and he is already dead.

Seriously, I don’t know if I can help Elysium reach the playoffs. It’s just that I enlisted for volunteer softball duty with a stranger I’d been talkin’ to for an hour … and now I’m on the squad as, like they say in the biz, “a non-roster invitee.”
Sure wish I knew if my new teammates more closely resemble the lineup for the Gashouse Gorillas (access your vintage Bugs Bunny cartoon file) or just a bunch of squids like the doofus patrol that I was pitching for at this time a year ago (I fashioned a nifty 3-13 record with an ERA probably somewhere between 13.38 and 17.54).
That team disbanded due to a corporation which imploded, so, for those dorks, well … that’s why God gave them golf.

What I DO know about tonight is that the opponent on the schedule is something known as "the Maulers."
That’s worth rolling my eyes – and then formulating a workable logistics matrix which’ll turn the Maulers to “The Mauled.”
I never liked those gimmicky team nicknames which are not directly tied to sponsorship. I mean, if you’re not “Gideon's 7th Avenue Texaco,” y'need to come up with a more-creative team name.
Y'know, it can be anything which'll fit a range of motifs, from musical ("2 Legit 2 Quit") to political ("Softball Jihad") to theatrical ("The Naturals") to extravagant ("Softballapalooza") to real-world pragmaticism ("Unable To Process Self-Loathing").
It's best to steer clear of impractical, nonsensical team names such as “Fellowship of the Onion Rings."
Maulers ... gotta change that one ...

Anyway, if I am to join forces with strangers and lead the transformation of Maulers to Mauled, we’ll see what dividends were paid by some cagework on Mon. and Thurs.
“Cagework” … that’s what we softballers call sessions spent fine-tuning mechanics in the batting cage.
What I SAW the other day was 10-year-old (I’m guessing) Erin making occasional contact and her pudgy sister 9-year-old Brittany getting frustrated.
My conclusions about hitting were these:
Seven years from now, Erin’s gonna have college boys hittin’ on her. And, seven years from now, Brittany’s STILL gonna be hittin’ Mickey Dee’s pretty hard after school.

What valuable self-discoveries were revealed from cagework? Well, five minutes after Erin and Brittany departed, an Asian man stepped into the cage as he wore his Goodyear sneakers.
Apparently, Goodyear makes a sneaker.
Evidently, it's available only on the Pacific Rim's black market.
And, as far as we know, Goodyear makes a fielder's glove with more bells and whistles than the tumble-milled Silencer Palm Pad.

Well, at least I learned a lot about Erin and Brittany and the guy with the Goodyear sneakers.
Self-exploration seemed like a waste of time because, let's face it, in my first AB, I’m likely to snap a deltoid or wrench my back while jogging toward first base following that neck-straining pop-up to shallow RCF.
What I hope to do is "be there" emotionally and spiritually for my new mates. If that means leading the pre-game and post-game team prayer, then so be it.
In these softball experiences of Biblical implications, I usually tend to lean toward the New Testament and the Book of Revelation, particularly Chapter 12, Verses 3 and 4: "Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on his heads. His tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that he might devour her child the moment it was born" -- and
Chapter 13, Verses 1 and 2: "And I saw a beast coming out of the sea. He had ten horns and seven heads, with ten crowns on his horns, and on each heada blasphemous name. The beast I saw resembled a leopard, but had feet like those of a bear and a mouth like that of a lion. The dragon gave the beast his power and his throne and great authority."
Wait ... Revelation 12: 3-4 = Red dragon w/ 7 heads, 10 horns, 7 crowns on his 7 heads ...
Revelation 13:1-2 = Beast w/ 10 horns, 7 heads, 10 crowns on his 10 horns ...
That's the thing about the New Testament ... we never know why the Beaast has 3 more crowns than the Dragon.

Sure ... I've thought about sticking to the Old Testament as my softball playbook, specifically Deuteronomy 19:5: "For instance, a man may go into the forest with his neighbor to cut wood, and as he swings his ax to fell a tree, the head may fall off and hit his neighbor and kill him."
Even though it seems like a Biblical bloodbath, I find it less-confusing than thinking about what I need to say when one of my new teammated gets a solid basehit.
Do I go with "Nice rip, buddy" or "That was a solid 'knock" -- or do I simply scream "No, you DITT-INT! No, you DITT-INT!"
(Note: "We must protect this house!" has become so terribly passe)

Apprehensive though I may be, I haven't lost sight of the two activities which made this nation great: 1) Rec league, slo-pitch softball and 2) Getting dressed for rec league, slo-pitch softball.
I like to personalize my statement (y’know, stick it to the Establishment and to Deuteronomy) by goin’ w/ white cleats, the lid turned backwards and an incessant chomping of two pieces of grape Bubble Yum.
Not Bubblicious.
Does it say Bubblicious?
Then why are you asking about Bubblicious?

It's too early to predict if this new adventure will be the equivalent of winning a truckload of trophies (as it was in California) – but it probably won’t be like some of the recent memories when I’d come to bat leading off the third inning and we’d be trailing, 20-0, and I'd try to tie the game by hitting five grand slams in one at-bat.
It’s about always having two Sharpies in your equipment bag in case there’s A LOT of kids waitin’ for ya to autograph their packs of Marlboros and Camels after the game …

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