Senior Scene By Buster Grimm - Halfway Home
By Softball West
Halfway through the season (with few exceptions), most of us will take the time to lay aside glove and bat to reflect on all that has happened. Here in the Northwest, we have a spring/summer season and a summer/fall season. There are ten games in the spring half and usually a few less during the fall. This varies in some cities, but this little pause in between the two seasons serves as an opportunity for players to take a mini vacation with the family, or to just heal up a bit and relax. It allows players to reflect on their team's performance or their own.
If the team had slipped below .500, some dark thunderclouds might be floating across the mind, thoughts of ways you might have let the team down, or some of the other reasons the team hadn't performed well enough. Usually, players stoically arrive at the place where they just decide to return to their team and give it another go-round. After all, it's just a game_right? During this break time this perspective comes back into sight. A break can cause us to step back and see the whole picture with a calmer, more detached perspective.
The more complex, vague and immeasurable elements to weigh out are those that have to do with your own personal game: How was the overall performance and did any standout incidents occur to you this season? When you start down this trail, there are almost always a few choice old bones that immediately get dug up. Some "bad calls" by the umps, a disastrous thing you might have done or the good hits that you got and the great glove plays come right up. You might remember how you felt one way or another and funny little things will come to mind. Some happy, frozen scenes of the dugout with the guys laughing over something. The big "screw up" you did in the important game-that one gets put back in the file in a hurry, it has been examined plenty before. Quickly comes out the well-worn pages of the entire story about the "big hit" you had gotten in as many games as you could remember. And, oh yes, the camaraderie with other players after the games_sometimes that lazy ride home after the game was one of the high points. Just going back over the game was a comforting reward of playing. One private feeling that cannot really be shared is the playing through a pain that only you knew about. If things worked out, then it was a bit of satisfaction that you might feel. If your game had gone badly, then one of those dark thunderclouds would pass by and cause some streaks of lightening to flare for a while. Ah, such is the up and down life of the idled player.
One of the elusive facts that the reclined ballplayer comes up against is that no one really knows the true batting average of a softball player. Many so-called hits are not real hits, but that's another story. The scorekeeper is, most times, an amateur and not the same person most of the time. At best, it's guesswork to trace the entire batting history throughout the entire season. Thus, a general average is what players must truthfully settle for, if even that. Most managers go on their gut feeling when making a line up card out anyway. What is important is how EACH game goes. It is a game-by-game sport more than most others.
Hey, here's an original saying that fits. "It's how you play the game." It's what you were feeling. How much it fit into your real life, who you really are. Did you act like your real self out there towards others and even yourself? In a very big way, a softball game is a test. Even if you managed to have your best year in senior ball yet, what does that matter? The prevailing question with us is always, are you going to come back next season? The only statistic that matters to us is if we are going to return. Hang in and come back? Yes! You're a winner!
Not seeing your present game as being like the first and last one sort of mixed together is missing a couple of special benefits that can come to a senior as he plays. For one, this attitude causes you to play with all that you have. It puts an extra sharpness to the little events of the game. An injury or other circumstance may really make it true that it would be your last game. Play it that way and you will automatically move your game up a notch. The other factor in doing this is more subjective. Just being grateful that at your age you can still go out and do such a thing puts a good feeling inside of you. This really is a special event in your life. How many seniors your age could do such a thing? This drama you are going through brings up great feelings from way back in your life and also is a positive, direct reflection where you are at right now in your life. Do it and you are living it. This reflection of your life is a positive influence on many others around you. It's your attitude that counts at the end; this is what others both on and off the field see most in your playing. Play hard to help your ball club, play fair to help everyone out there and your playing will be fun. That's what we are looking for.
You've done your reflecting already as you read these words. You have made the turn at 3rd and are sprinting for home. Use a few of the things you found of value when you did that looking back for a brief time. What were you able to give to your senior league, your team and even yourself that helped things along in a positive way? These are the things to consider as you shape your second half of the season. Great players keep growing. Not just their batting averages, but in their influence on others in the game. There's a lot of ways to give out there. This is the true way to find the lasting fun of the game. Go out there, one more time, see how much fun you can really have by helping others along with their game, because some of them won't reach home before they're called out. What did you do to pick them up? It could be you next time. After all, it is a team sport and realizing this brings you in to home every time-with a smile on your face.