Got up early this morning and drove up to NYC. It was the first practice with my softball team, the Ball Breakers.
Traffic was a nightmare. Right past the tollbooths coming off of 78 going onto the turnpike extension, there was a huge traffic back-up. It was a parking lot as far as the eye could see. I made a quick turn and headed onto the NJTPK North bound for the Lincoln Tunnel instead of the Holland. I hate the Lincoln Tunnel. It's always a hassle, and this time, of course, was no exception. And since I'm not familiar with getting onto the FDR from Midtown, it took some doing, but it went alright. I was only ten minutes late. Good thing I gave myself two solid hours to get there or it would have been a huge problem.
Great great great to see all those guys again. We have some new Ball Breakers this year. Last year's crop of new players was... ...um... not so successful. With two notable exceptions. Last year, we had two cops and one firefighter. This year, it seems we'll have three firefighters and one cop. (The other cop has now become a New York City public school teacher and is happy as a clam. (Clams are happy? About what exactly?) So firefighter Ball Breakers will outnumber police officer Ball Breakers in the 2007 Season.
(There are members of the uniform services who are straight, right? Although you sure couldn't tell from the Ball Breakers.)
Practice went great. We started with fielding (got some work to do there), and then worked on our batting (got some work to do there, too).
Things I must remember...
1. Be aggressive, go after every ball;
2. Get under the ball;
3. Open up my glove;
4. Hit my cut-off man;
5. For a grounder, put my body in the path of the ball.
1. Stand so the meat of the bat is centered over the plate;
2. Plant my back foot;
3. Keep my right shoulder and elbow up;
4. Swing right across my chest, nice and level;
5. Keep my eye on the ball because you hit what you're looking at.
I've gotta find some batting cages near me! I found a place down outside of Philadelphia, but they want $60/hour. Which is absolutely ridiculous. I mean, for that money, I'd want an actual pitcher, catcher and coach to work with, not just a machine spitting balls out at me. Deeeee-ammm.
There was a dire moment during practice. Two seasons ago, our manager had his leg broken badly by a total asshole on a team of total assholes. Completely unnecessarily. We protested to the league and got the guy suspended for a few games, a decision we all disagreed with. It was a nightmare, almost ending our manager's softball career. (And now, of course, we have to hear him talk about it Every. Chance. He. Gets. (We Ball Breakers delight in giving each other a hard time, so I generally refer to this tragedy as "the bad toe stubbing incident.")
Anyway, our manager was pitching during batting practice, and caught a line drive right on his shin. On his good leg. He dropped to the ground, and there was this moment of "no way" as we gathered around him. It turned out it wasn't a bad hit: no lasting damage, just painful and he'll have quite the goose-egg on his shin.
And that will probably be the last time he leaves his shin guards in the car.
Then, we headed back to Ty's on Christopher Street, our sponsor, and I had me a good dose of hangin' with the Ball Breakers. Sweet. We cought up. We picked on each other mercilessly, nothing being sacred. (Except the job of our first baseman, who even though it involved him digging through Anna Nicole Smith's garbage down in Bermuda or wherever in hopes of finding one of Danielynn's diapers so his boss could run her own DNA testing... is off limits! Which drives me crazy.)
And there was pizza. I love pizza.
One by one, Ball Breakers headed off home. Before I faced nightmare traffic going home, I decided to fortify myself with a nice triple-venti-two-pump-vanilla-latté from the new Starbucks at 10th and Hudson. This is a great development. (Once again I rhetorically ask, "How many Starbucks do we need?" to which I answer, "At least one more! That one!") Now I won't have to hike all the way to 7th and Christopher to get an iced latté before I head to the piers to smoke a cigar in warmer weather. And given the foot traffic, a significant proportion of it homosexual men, that Starbucks could very well become My New Hang in NYC.
On the way home, traffic was much worse than even I anticipated. Personally, I don't see too much wrong with the medians on the Casciano Memorial Bridge, but I guess those must have been some serious hairline cracks in the median to warrant backing up traffic for ten miles on a Saturday night; or else North Jersey is rife with corruption or something, and that couldn't be the case, right?
And the season starts.
And tomorrow morning, I get to sing my all time favorite hymn, "All Glory, Laud, and Honor" while walking through Doylestown holding a palm in my hands.
Could things get better?
(Yeah. I would really have loved to meet up with Bruiser while I was up in NYC, but that was not to happen. Darn it. But I'll bide my time and keep hope alive there. And life seems to offer its little compensations.)