So it's Thursday night, the second game of our double header in company league softball. We're all a little irritable because we got run-ruled pretty severely in our first game (something that hasn't happened in quite some time) and had an hour between games to drink a couple of cold ones and reflect on our first loss of the season. I opted for dinner with my mother and wife because I hadn't eaten yet. I return to my rowdy teammates ready to dismantle this team on the other side of the infield. Everything started out as we would've wanted it to. We hit well, ran well, got an early lead, 8-2 after two innings of play. I was in the DH spot so my play was limited, but I was ready for whatever. I go up in my first at-bat and line a shot down to third base and reach base safely. My second time up, with the score 8-4, I come to the plate and as I step into the batter's box, I hear a mumble from behind me, "Batter's out." I play like I didn't hear it. Certainly, he wasn't talking to me. He returns louder, "Batter's out," to which I snap my head around and look at the five year old umpire for an explanation. He then says, "We asked you before the game to remove any jewelry," he said motioning to his wrist. I look at my wrist and notice the following:
I've been wearing this wristband to support my brother's Cubbies since the beginning of the MLB season and wore it to every game in our early season AND had worn it to the plate during my first at-bat of this ballgame and NOT ONCE was I called on it. I stare at the chump thinking to myself that he has to be kidding and I reply quickly with, "I wore this the entire first game that YOU called and you made no mention in my first at-bat of this game," to which he replied, "I didn't see it." Short of any fancy comeback (and relatively PG because of the family that was in attendance) I shout back to him as I walk back to the dugout, "Go back to calling tee-ball, jerkoff!" My comment received little rebuttal, but leave it my teammates to stir it up. Walking back in after the third out, my teammate, we'll call him "Brian" walks right in front of the homeplate umpire and yells to the dugout, "Don't worry, Jeff. If there's one thing I've learned, it's you can't argue with a ten year-old." The umpire snaps to his feet and glares at "Brian" as he enters the dugout. The fuse has been lit for what would become an explosive situation.
Now, what I don't get, is that my quarter-inch wristbands are a distraction to a fool pitching a 10 mph, underhanded ball with an 8 foot arc, but Manny's wristbands would not be considered a distraction at all to a guy hurling 90 mph fastballs:
It's insane. Well, regardless, my wristband, it appears was the downfall of the civilized world.
The game was terribly called on both sides of the field, but decisively against us. EVERYTHING was called: runner interference, not tagging up on a fly ball, double-plays incorrectly called "safe", obvious "balls" being called "strikes" and ending at-bats. It was horrible. After a close call at first base, I hear, we'll call him "David", in a complete uproar, completely going off at the field ump. "Call the game! Call the game! You've been missing calls all night!" The ump kept replying, "Do you wanna get kicked out? Do you wanna get kicked out?" at which point I yell to "David" from the third base line to shut up and get in the dugout.
"David" walks out to the ump with his finger pointing directly between the eyes of the ump and says, "SHUT UP AND CALL THE GAME!" which left a hush amongst teammates and spectators. Complete hilarity. And after all of this, the UMP DIDN'T HAVE THE BALLS TO KICK "DAVID" OUT! Amazing. Anyhow, it begins to pour rain with about ten minutes left in the game. We were in the field when it started and it's BRUTAL playing the field in the rain and our opponents began mounting a serious comeback making it 14-12 with us in the lead--a little too close for comfort. After a brief rain delay and everything in our favor as the home team, we try and run the clock down as it ticked under three minutes. I went up and took as many pitches as I could but he struck me out looking in three straight pitches, just my luck. Of course, only one of those pitches was correctly called. I'm telling you, at this point the homeplate ump:
wanted to see us lose no matter what the cost. And his wish would be granted. In the top of the inning, our opponents would hang on four runs to take the lead 16-14--an incredible comeback--you gotta hand it to them. It wasn't just the umps' calls. But the game came to the end on a horriible call at first base with "Brian" diving back to the base after a snagged line drive by the third basemen. "Brian" was basically lying on the base after a head-first slide when the ball arrived to this base. Immediately, without hesitation, the field ump emphatically yells "yer out!" "Brian" jumps to his feet and goes off the radar. He starts by digging into the field ump and then the field ump signals to the homeplate ump (see above) because of "Brian"'s appeal. Well, if anyone's gonna call "Brian" out, without a doubt, it's the homeplate ump. Sure enough, with his voice cracking and tears in his eyes, he signals "out". "Brian" goes crazy. In a hail of "you sucks!" and "you're a little b**ch!", "Brian" stomps through the dugout, grabbing his gear and heading to the parking lot. The umps were expecting a fistfight. During the rain delay, they called over some of their buddies from the nearby fields to help walk them to their cars after the game. It was insane.
The next day, the emails at work began to circulate. "Brian" began it by offering an apology to everyone on the team. In no more than thirty minutes, we filed a complaint with the league about the umps, found their addresses and, after someone google'd their names, discovered that the field ump was USSSA ump of the year for 2003 and one of our players was distant family through marriage to the homeplate ump and didn't recognize him with a hat on.
Todd, I'm holding you and your Cubbies personally responsible for what could've been a much uglier moment in Office League Softball history. Luckily, it didn't go there.
As my mother, who was witness to all chaos, looking for something to say, could only offer the following: "Well, that game had all the elements."
It certainly did. Our record stands at 2-2.