After spending the past six months in various forms of rehab, with only slow running and biking, I was excited to get back to a different athletic activity. I was looking forward to doing some sprinting for the first time in a while. Of course, my only goal was not to get hurt. My knees have been feeling pretty good lately, but my hamstrings were a little tight from inaction. I spent the warmup period telling myself no pops, no pops, no pops in reference to my hamstrings. As long as I wasn't expected to run too far, say stretch a double into a triple, I was confident that I would be fine.
As always, we elected to bat first. Despite missing the first game of the season last week, Coach put me at my regular #7 spot. I got a chance to hit in the first inning and managed a hard single up the middle, just under the pitcher's glove. The next batter advanced me to second on a soft ground ball. I felt good that at most I'd have to run the length of two bases. The inning ended with a flyout to right so I was not challenged running-wise. So far, so good.
I took my usual spot out in right field. That's a good place for a fourth outfielder like me, and there's usually not too much action. Naturally, the second batter hit a hard drive to right field that cut away from the field. I lumbered up to a "full sprint", feeling plenty of tightness. No pops, no pops, no pops went my inner monologue. The ball was ready to go past me. No pops, no pops, no pops... I reached out as far as I could to snare the glove. Pop! To my extreme surprise, it was the sound of softball being ensnared in leather. I knew this was only half the story though. Running at full sprint away from the field, with the weakest arm in the league, I would need to do my best Willie Mays impression, planting hard on my front foot to turn and make the throw to second. No pops, no pops, no pops... I closed my eyes and made the plant. No pops! The throw was good enough to hold the runner at second. I had prevented an inside-the-park home run. And prevented a lot of pain. Phew. Hopefully that would be the end of crazy sprinting.
In the second inning, I hit a long fly ball to the right fielder, who was obviously having trouble tracking it down. I figured he might drop it, and I could maybe go to second. Drop it he did. The first base coach flailed his arm to send me to second. No problem, although I hope I get to stop there. No such luck. The third base coach was flailing too. Fine, I can make it one more base, I just hope I don't have to hurry. No pops, no pops, no pops... I felt good about reaching third. Unfortunately the coach was still flailing! I couldn't believe I had gone fast enough to make this a reality. Why couldn't they leave me on third? Ok, I'll round the corner. Repeating the mantra no pops, no pops, no pops. It felt like slow motion and I had to slide into home. Safe! Now I was really hoping the crazy sprints would stop. When I got to the dugout, Coach Mike asked me if I was still running marathons. I told him about the knee rehab and tight hamstrings. He laughed and smirked "well softball will straighten them out!" (Hint: this is likely untrue)
With a respectable play at the plate, and another in the field, I figured I was done for the night. Usually I don't contribute much more. However I got the rare opportunity to play Short Fielder, the first time I was entrusted with this assignment. I think I caught three or four line drives and bloopers, so I made the most of the opportunity. Not a bad night!
Final line: 2 for 5, 2R, 3RBI, with a four-base error and a handful of outfield plays.
I believe consumers systematically exaggerate the importance of gas prices to their budgets. The typical American just doesn’t spend that much money on gas. The way we buy gas — every week or two, with the prices staring us in the face as we stand at the pump — makes price fluctuations far more visible than for other goods.I wholeheartedly agree. Though it was painful to fill up the truck last week!
Two strings walk into a bar and sit down. The bartender says, "So what'll it be?"
The first string says, "I think I'll have a beer quag fulk boorg jdk^CjfdLk jk3s d#f67howe%^U r89nvy~~owmc63^Dz x.xvcu"
"Please excuse my friend," the second string says, "He isn't null-terminated."