Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Trading a Diamond for a Degree

Leaving the mound for what would be the last time after throwing hard and impressing no one after having the similar results of a 16 year old taking a drivers test and running the car through an antique store while busting the rare Faberge egg on the high shelf behind the counter with a cracked pane of storefront glass, what was there to do for someone who's hobby was sports.

Hung up the breezers and helmet last year, love for volleyball was still three glorious summers at Mama G's bar and the rusty old Robbinsdale school away, but baseball was front and center for getting my head out of a computer, my only social machine for a recluse stick-figure of a kid with a hearing problem.  Then came a bored night in Champlin at Clyde Andrews Park while I watched my best friend play softball and scoffed at these adults hitting an oversized ball being lobbed to them as if they were swinging from a tee.  "Baseball players don't stoop to this level" I told my overconfident, snobby self.  But it took one feel from my right arm, remembering all the nights of ice packs, stretching, massaging, and of course the pain as my underdeveloped arm never had a chance of going more than seven innings due to the overuse and it would only get worse.

I played in jeans and Reebok high tops that night like a rookie and after getting handed my first softball jacket and jersey, stepping back on the mound would only happen at the State Fair speed pitch game.  Three nights a week, tournaments on the weekend, 2 for 1 pitchers, and a couple in the parking lots, the adult tee-ball game of slo-pitch softball filled the void of needing competition as I would soon find a couple of great girlfriends and eventually a wife thru its social aspect as well. 

After the head injury at work, my life changed, no longer important was making that tournament in Becker or closing down DeLisi's on Tuesdays.  Kids came into the picture while I attempted to get back on the field, seizures be damned.  A marriage was crumbling yet softball was still a consistant, playing a co-ed team was the one way both us were able to get out of the house, away from the blackness that our vows continued to be weighted down by. 

A new home, a new baby, a new start soon came after and softball took a back seat to the birth of another group of friends that showed that my love for cards, gambling, and sarcasm was to enjoyed via writing.  Thus the birth of this page of which I've chronicled the last nearly six years of my life.  Effectively giving both my marriage and my self-worth a big enough boost to live again versus going through the motions of the average.  Working at the PokerStarsBlog for the Sunday Majors along with WCOOP and SCOOP Poker Tournament showed me what could happen if I'd step out of my comfort area of plunking numbers into spreadsheets.

Bringing me to today.  For the first time in 16 years I will not be donning the jersey of a local pub, auto body repair shop, or local construction company on the fields in Crystal, Brooklyn Park, or Maple Grove.  Between school, work, family and friends is were my free time will be this spring and summer.  Playing catch with my son and daughter in the backyard for the past two nights nailed the coffin on my playing days.  Sure, I may step in for a special guest appearance on the diamond like Wil Wheaton stepping onto may different sets including playing Sheldon's neimsis on Big Bang Theory (which I watched the show for the first time on Monday and got hooked).  And if school goes well, I may find myself playing an abbreviated season in the fall, but as for the kid who watched behind Field #3 16 years ago, he might have grown up a bit in the respect of placing what is truly important.

Don't worry, one part of me will never break the Peter Pan spell which I'll hold to till death as becoming a GET  OFF MY LAWN type will have to wait until I'm sitting on my porch on an Arizona golf course several decades from now sipping my morning scotch pelting the country club types with my Daisy BB gun for trying to retrieve their horrible shanks.


Dr. Pauly said...

Godspeed Drizz!

StB said...

Hanging up the cleats is never easy. I hope you can stay away from the sport longer than Brett Favre did.

BamBam said...

Can you add my name to the list please? You know, the list for the Arizona Golf Course and morning Scotch.

Together we'll yell, GET OFF MY SAND!


lightning36 said...

You can always go back. After playing softball on four or sometimes five teams during those glorious young adult years, I pretty much retired, not playing much for several years. A few moves, a few jobs, and a few kids later, I got back into the game.

Of course, things are now different. This guy who was known for speed and defense had to adapt to a new physical reality of the more *ahem* adult years.

Well yeah -- I play in a recreational league, but that doesn't mean we don't compete as hard as we can. It was some game, though, when my church team full of older or kind of dorky players whupped the team full of guys who were just getting their drivers licenses.

You can always go back. It may not be quite the same, but hell -- what is?