Breakfast and Baseball: Bobby Valentine, Unlikely Stolen Bases, Field Jumpers, and the Inability To Throw Harder Than Moyer

Thanks to my girlfriend's older brother* becoming the new captain of his men's softball team, I suddenly have joined a men's softball league. We had our first "practice" Wednesday night and for being one of the newcomers, I think I successfully convinced the regulars that I am a paradox.

* If you remember TheBlackFreighter hanging out around Twinkie Town in the past, this is the same guy.

Exhibits, please:

1. I showed up about half an hour late due to the fact that I could not find the field. To make things worse, I was trekking from Blaine to Eden Prairie, so I was adding time on to the 45 min. I had already spent in the car. I was on the phone with the captain about 4 times, and I still got lost. *facepalm*

2. I immediately ran out to the outfield to shag fly balls during batting practice. First ball hit to me, I looked something like this. Seriously, I knew I had to back up, but I was looking over the wrong shoulder. Then, I turned the wrong way (so I had to backpedal for a couple steps) and by the time I got myself facing the correct direction, the ball fell to the ground about 4 feet from where I was standing.

3. I did catch a lazy fly a couple minutes later, but then I had another one hit over my head. This time I didn't get turned around. However, I wasn't in the right position so I had to reach above and behind my head to catch this fly. It ended up hitting me in the wrist.

4. Now it's my turn to bat. First swing, I one-hop the fence in right-center. Wow, that even surprised me (I hit righthanded, and although I do deliberately try to go to the opposite field, I was amazed that I hit the ball THAT far). Next swing, I pop out to the imaginary first baseman.

5. Finally I get a chance at first base. I consider outfield my best position, but during our infield practice, I snagged an errant throw with a Daric Barton-esque stretch and scoop. Everyone was impressed that I was able to return to an upright position with both groins intact. I make 4 more scoops during infield practice en route to nailing down first base as my position for the first game this season.

6. I wore effin' basketball shoes to a softball practice. I do own baseball cleats, so I have no idea why I did this.

Okay, enough about me. Let's start the more interesting stuff.

  • Bobby Valentine sure is out to make a splash in Boston. Seemingly the only way someone could drop a bomb that was anything remotely as damaging as Ozzie Guillen's Fidel Castro quotes was accomplished by Valentine, as he publicly questioned the commitment of Kevin Youkilis. I was surprised by this, as Youk seems like one of the most intense guys on the baseball diamond I have ever seen. Yeah, he's got that goofy stance and that odd bald head + goatee combination, but he wouldn't be someone I'd consider to fail to take the game seriously. Anyway, as usual, we got the ol' "I didn't really mean to say that" backtrack from Valentine after he learned that Youk didn't take too kindly to his words. I don't know, but it'll be interesting to see who lasts longer in his new home between Bobby and Ozzie.
  • For being a rather hefty individual, Prince Fielder actually looked pretty decent at stealing a base earlier this week. I was shocked to learn that Fielder actually has 17 stolen bases in his career, because that seems like 16 more than he truly should have. Despite the similar body types, he did manage to look more graceful than David Ortiz stealing a base, however. On a related note, if you watch the outfield shot of Ortiz running, he seems faster than you would expect.
  • I believe it was the first year of Target Field when we had an extremely young field jumper. That's the euphemism for "moron that decides running on a field during a sporting event is worth being thrown in jail." That time, it was a ~13 year old boy that went on the field, jogged around a bit, then went back into the stands and sat back down in his seat. When I saw this, I accidentally (as I was working at the Twins game that day) audibly said, "You idiot!" as he returned to his seat. Anyway, I think I've now found the new youngest field jumper I've ever seen, and he decided to disrupt a White Sox - Orioles game. Well, I suppose that if I was going to inject a little excitement into a game, the one that would need it most might be White Sox - Orioles. I keed, I keed... sort of.
  • Finally, Jamie Moyer accomplished something absurd when he became the oldest pitcher to win a game on Tuesday. No, it wasn't that he became the first octogenarian to win a baseball game. Rather, it was that he failed to throw a single pitch higher than 80 MPH in the game. Now, this isn't normally that surprising because we've been treated to Tim Wakefield for so many years, but it's the fact that Moyer is one of the other 99.9% of pitchers in MLB that doesn't throw a knuckleball. As a result, I feel that I need to carry on what Aaron Gleeman started over at Hardball Talk - who among us can throw harder than Jamie Moyer? I feel ashamed knowing that I played baseball all the way until my senior year of high school, and yet the best I've ever done with a radar gun is 62 MPH, and that was back in my awkward, 110 lb. 9th grade body. Apparently I didn't sacrifice enough virgins to the baseball gods when I was a kid in order to receive the gift of a golden arm.

I've got a softball scrimmage later this morning. Let's hope I can hit a ball over an outfielder's head. If I get one over the fence, I may break out in tears.

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