Tuesday, April 22, 2008

A Tale of Two Teams

Around here there are two college-level softball teams. They aren't competitors, but their fortunes this year could not have been more different. The Lady Jacks (men's teams there are "Lumberjacks") are a solid, salty outfit. As of Sunday they stood at 44-14 on the year. I've seen them play. They go whole weeks without committing an error, have top level pitching and start each game expecting to break through sometime and deliver a decisive hit or defensive play. But if you were to see them out of uniform, you wouldn't take much note. As a group, they are slightly built, fast and gifted with great hand/eye coordination, but nothing about them screams "athlete" until they start to play. They've been very good over a long time, so they know how to recruit, too.
Then there's the College of the Redwoods (community college) Corsairs. This team has existed quite a while, too. Their coach wasn't dragged up from the mortuary science lab this spring. She's been around, and with some good years on the books. She could tell you more about what happened this year. Their season is over, breaking all records in futility with a (and here I need an adjective - take your pick: futile, stupefying, soul-sucking, pathetic, catastrophic, disastrous, scream-inducing, teeth-grinding, ego-destroying, life-altering, vomit-causing) 2 wins and 37 losses. The last 34 losses were (gulp) consecutive. They posted zero wins in their league, were shut out numerous times, and were saved/pitied by the "mercy rule" (umpire ends the game when one team is up by, I think, eight or nine runs) almost every weekend.
There were some games in which they threatened besides the pair they actually won. But a Chinese philosopher would describe them as consisting of "three nos" - no pitching, no hitting and no fielding. Did they ever just "quit"? Only they could say, but they actually lost one game in which the entire lineup had at least one hit. I think that one was something like 12-7. The games start to look skip-able once you've lost 15 or 20 in a row, but there was no time when they didn't have at least nine players show up for duty. That's saying something, too, because the road trips from here are like touring Europe.
What do you say when your kids and grandkids ask if you ever played any "real" softball, as opposed to the local slow pitch beer league? Would you tell the truth, or just lie and hope no one ever found out? I admit I played on a winless football team, but we did better the following year. But then the year after THAT they were winless again. So watchyagonna do?
Here's my contribution - The College of the Redwoods Corsairs 2008 2-37 Softball Team Top Ten List 10., 9., 8., 7., 6., NCAA rules state that teams with less than three wins can only have a "Top Five" list. OK, geez. 5. Voted by the league as "favorite opponents" 4. Team song - "Beautiful Loser" 3. Good news! All freshman lineup means all starters return 2. Bad news! All starters could return if no one flunks out, gets married or goes to jail! 1. "Coarse air" is what you have when the coach is cussing out the team after blowing both ends of a double header.


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