Line drives up the middle — a good way to ruin a night

It’s been a couple of weeks since I last blogged about the Alsco softball team, staples of the Monday Men’s D1 Summer Adult Softball League at Arroyo Grande Sports Complex. I missed a couple of games while covering CineVegas, which is an unexcused absence to this crew. What I can provide as an update is, we are the worst team in the league. We lost another doubleheader Monday night, to a verbose and mostly paunchy ballclub sponsored by T-Bird Lounge (and if the sponsor of that team was seeking to have his business associated with a bunch of juvenile pop-off artists, mission accomplished!) Alsco, the linen company that can’t seem to clean up, is now 0-8. We compete. We lose.

Last night’s twinbill – and they are all twinbills at this level of recreation softball – one of softball’s great conundrums unfolded: Whether to hit line drives up the middle. At this level of men’s softball, the pitcher is fairly exposed as the closest player to home plate. When someone hits a sharp line drive at the pitcher, an opposing player shouts, “Middle open!” That means that protecting the pitcher by hitting to the left or ride side of the infield is no longer expected. Since I hit lead-off for this team (and that a 42-year-old quasi-journalist is hitting lead-off is one reason we are 0-8), I usually break that rule during my first at-bat. My feeling is, if you can’t field your position, you should not be at that position. You should seek a safer place -- over a keyboard, blogging, for instance.

Last night, T-Birds must have sent two dozen line shots up the middle against our pitcher, Joe, who looked a lot like he was performing interpretive dance while attempting to dodge the barrage of base hits. Finally, late in the first game, Mike, our No. 10 hitter and a lefty, ripped a line drive at the midsection of T-Bird’s pitcher. This guy is also a lefty, which matters not, but he is one of these guys who probably hit No. 7 on his JV baseball team and, thus, is an accomplished athlete. He caught the ball, protecting his belly, and shouted, “Who’s the pitcher? Who’s the pitcher?” Before handing the ball to Joe, who was making his way out to start the next inning. This was something of a warning to Joe that it would be “middle open.” And more line drives were sent Joe’s way, needlessly.

Sometimes you just want to remind these guys that it’s recreation softball. But man, I hate being 0-8. At least Joe came out unharmed. He had to work today.

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