Friday, September 02, 2005

In the movie Rounders, Matt Damon's character, Mike, makes the following statement:

In his Confessions of a Winning Poker Player, Jack King said, "Few players recall big pots they have won- strange as it seems- but every player can remember with remarkable accuracy the outstanding bad beats of his career."

While I have found this to be the case for myself in poker (not that I have a poker career or anything, but I have been known to play with friends now and then) I wonder if it is true in baseball and softball as well. Do I remember the mistakes and failures more than I do the good plays?

Brad Bergfalk has a great post at his blog Naked Religion about watching his son play baseball. His son makes a great play one inning and a bad play the next and his son's team loses.

I love playing softball, I really do, and no "love" is not too strong a word. I have to admit though, there is something masochistic about the sport. It is the most individual of all team sports, both defensively and offensively. When the ball is hit to you (or near you) you either catch it, field it cleanly, or not. There's not a whole lot your teammates can do for you. Sure, in the outfield they can warn you when you're about to run into the fence, or, occasionally, help you gauge the depth of the ball, but really, you're on your own. Team play only comes into play (hehe) after you have made the play (or even if you flubbed the play). Likewise at the plate, you either get on base or you don't. Beyond offering encouragement, there isn't much your team can do for you.

With this comes great joy and pain. I can clearly recall a ball bouncing off the heal of my glove two years ago and our team losing. Unfair as it is to myself, I was convinced that if I make that catch, we win. (A catch would have ended the inning and instead the other team took the lead and we ran out of innings to get it back.) I remember making the final out in our first playoff game this season. It's an awful feeling when you feel like you let your team down.

Unlike poker, however, I do remember some big plays as well. A bases loaded double early in my softball career that won the game for us. (Yes, unlike poker, I do have a softball career…just not one that pays.) I remember some big catches and even batting 6-6 with two BB in the next two playoff games which we won, one in a dramatic come from behind fashion. There was a grand celebration following both those games, complete with a champagne simulating water bottle.

Perhaps that's why I love softball so much. There's pressure- and it's on you. The highs are real high and the lows are real low.

Can't wait for next season.


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