I know...I haven't blogged in a while. I've been swamped at work, I'm dealing with teenage hormones at home with my son, I fell and jacked up my back, and it's the holiday season. For all of these transgressions, I am heartily sorry.
Oh yeah, and I got a Trojan on my computer that wiped my hard drive. Seems my son disabled my Anti-Virus because it was "interfering with his gaming". I'm not even going there right now. So I got a new laptop and my son got grounded from any computer use.
But I digress. This is a sports blog. And I have a heck of a blog tonight!
First, I have to tell you all...I'm a published author!!
Well, sort of. I interviewed Pete McEntengart, author of the 10 Spot Blog, and he introduced "Ask the 10 Spot" as a new feature. Check it out!
Okay, now back to our regularly scheduled blog.
Some of you may have read my blog about Anthony Smith of the Steelers and his "guarantee". Ugh. I won't rehash my rant except to say...I told you so.
So, Anthony Smith (who, as of Monday night is STILL running his mouth) got me thinking. He and his comments were obviously a motivator for the Pats on Sunday afternoon. Football is as much of a mind game as it is a physical one. I think that most sports are that way. I've got a story from my own athletic archives that I think illustrates this phenomenon fairly well.
I was 16, and I was the catcher on my varsity softball team (I was pretty decent at softball). It was actually my 16th birthday, and we are playing the last game of the season. We were tied with our archrivals, the team from the other high school in town. It was the top of the last inning, and we were the home team, so the other team was batting. They had two outs, and their ace stepped up to the plate. Now...she and I didn't like each other very much. We had met before...I had ruined more than one of her streaks, and she had ruined more than one of mine. She was this huge hulk of a human. I'm not kidding...I bet she was 6 feet tall and weighed 200 pounds. That's a huge 16-year-old girl. I'll call her Mammoth Punk.
Now, we were already out of the playoff hunt, so we were playing for pride. I was bound and determined that Mammoth Punk was NOT going to score. She looked down at me as she locked into her stance and snarled, "Oh, this is going to feel good," (she actually ended that sentence with a noun that usually describes a female dog, but I know that the FanNation censors frown on that phrase). Oh, that's good...talk smack to me, I thought. I needed no other motivation to make sure I got her mammoth behind out.
Now, you know how the movies always show pivotal moments in a story in slow-motion? I swear to you, I experienced that in real life during this game. So, try to imagine the rest of this action slowed down as you read the rest of the story.
My pitcher wound up and released the ball, and it traveled toward home in a perfect arc. Yeah, it was a beautiful pitch--for Mammoth Punk. I saw her tighten her grip on the bat and shift her weight to her back leg as the ball inched its way over the plate right in the middle of the strike zone. She pulled her bat around, and it kissed the ball ever so slightly as the laws of physics took over. The force that Mammoth Punk was exerting on the bat transferred to the ball, and the ball's direction suddenly changed toward left field. Mammoth Punk dropped her bat and started trotting toward first base.
I stood up, flipped my mask off the back of my head, and watched as my left fielder missed the ball. Mammoth Punk hit the bag at first base.
My left fielder turned and grabbed the ball and tossed it to the girl playing second. Of course, this would have been a great play if Mammoth Punk hadn't already hit the bag at second base. Can you see why we were out of the playoff hunt?
The girl at second threw the ball to third...which would have been great if the third baseman (girl...whatever) wasn't still in left field chatting with the left fielder. I kid you not. She had run into left field to help cover when the left fielder missed the ball. The shortstop realized this in time to prevent the ball from going into the dugout, but not in time to get Mammoth Punk out at third.
So, now my shortstop had the ball, and she had a pretty good arm on her. Mammoth Punk was barreling down the third base line. I stepped in front of home base and stretched my left leg behind me, with the toe barely touching the bag. This was one of my trademark plays--the move gave me an extra four feet or so when reaching for a ball. The shortstop threw the ball. Mammoth Punk was about halfway down the third baseline. I looked back at the ball, and watched as it inched toward my glove. I glanced back at Mammoth Punk, and she was three steps away. I looked back at the ball, and watched it hit my glove. I closed the soft leather around it, looked to my left. All I saw was a blur of Mammoth Punk.
My next memory of that day is waking up looking at the sky. It was a perfect azure blue, with some wispy, cotton candy-like clouds. The breeze was soft, and it was the perfect spring day. Except for the fact that it felt like someone was repeatedly smashing my left knee with a sledgehammer, it would have been a pleasant way to wake up. As I started to regain my senses, a circle of faces appeared above me. I could hear the whine of an ambulance in the distance. My coach looked a little concerned. My teammates looked a little concerned. The trainer said, "Don't move." I knew I wasn't critically hurt...I was in too much pain.
"Did I get the out?" I asked. My coach shook his head and grinned.
"Yeah, Kari...you got the out."
I also got a concussion and a shredded knee, but I smiled. I got the out, and I couldn't have been happier.
Remember when I said that all I saw was a blur of Mammoth Punk? Well, that was because Mammoth Punk was about to run into me at full speed. Full speed! Seriously, I think that I may have been able to press assault charges on her. That little...okay, I won't go there. Let's say (generously, I think) that Mammoth Punk was not a good sportswoman. As the paramedics were putting me on the stretcher, she sauntered over to me, and said, "That stretch move is sandlot crap. Bet you never do that again."
Well, she was right. I never pulled that move again--but not because she intimitated me. I never pulled that move again because Mammoth Punk shredded my knee so badly that I could never play organized softball again. But as I limped through the next 6 weeks on crutches, and 3 or 4 months in rehab, I held on to the thought that we had won that game. Mammoth Punk may have barrelled into me, sending me 20 feet down the first base line, but I still won the war.
During the next spring, I went to the softball team's first game of the season as a spectator. Guess who we were playing? Yep...Mammoth Punk's team. I laughed outloud when Mammoth Punk stepped up to bat in the first inning. She had made a point of eyeballing me during warm-ups. She knew I was there. But I knew something that she didn't--not one of my former teammates forgot Mammoth Punk's last words to me as I was loaded into the ambulance the prior spring. As our pitcher wound up, I knew what was coming.
Mammoth Punk walked to the bag at first rubbing her arm, which must have been stinging like heck after taking a high speed pitch right to the meaty part of her bicep.
Yep, I thought...keep talking smack, Mammoth Punk. We'll see who gets the last laugh.