Redemption. Everyone deserves it or at least a chance at it. The young make mistakes that may define them and the old have memories that won't fade. Everyone deserves a chance at redemption, especially those that need it.
I began walking up to the plate. The bat on my shoulder was heavier than I remembered from my past. I haven't played softball in 3 1/2 years, since the days of Team Beer. You may remember reading about some of those triumphs, the days of glory and epic comebacks. Days where a hard slide often predicted the outcome, an outcome that we are reminded of now only by the scars left from that slide. Week in and week out we played on Team Beer rising from one of the worst in the league to forgone champs.
Those days are gone though. We have all moved on, had kids, changed cities. Work got more important, family time became a higher priority. So I left Team Beer, as many others did. I hung up my glove and put away my cleats.
But I was asked to play with my Dads in a charity softball tournament benefiting SIDS. I hadn't played in a little while. Hadn't caught anything other than a green bean being thrown at my head. But a chance, just a chance, to relive some of the past triumphs. How could I say no?
That's how I found myself walking up to the plate with the bases loaded with two outs in the very last game that we would play that day. The first two games didn't go well for us. I thought that, since this was for charity, that it would be a bunch of teams just playing for the fun of the game. That everyone would be playing around, we would be laughing, it was after all for charity. The first game showed me that I was wrong.
I don't like douchebag players in general. In any sport that I play, douchebags always seem to show up. You know the players. They are the ones that exploit loopholes in rules rather than let skill decide a game. This was the first team that we played. They refused to swing the bat. They wanted the walks. Mr and Mrs. Douchebag watched each pitch go by, not swinging. In a charity game. For fun. Lunch was provided for free. Elmo judges you.
We lost that first game by 19 runs. They might have had 2 hits. They celebrated their ability to stand still and do nothing at all. Who doesn't swing in slow pitch softball game for charity? For babies?
My competitive juices were now up but it was not enough to make up for some of my own mistakes in that second game. Some balls I fielded well, made strong throws to first. Others I let roll right under my glove. I had a chance to make an easy catch in left field. It hit my glove and bounced out while laughing at my small penis. It hit the ground and made comments about the promiscuity of my mother. I have had better games.
But all that was behind me as I stepped up to the plate. The third game was different. They were there just for fun to, just like us. I'm pretty sure the left fielder was hammered. This is the type of game I thought we would be playing all day. Everyone swung at the ball, jokes were being made, nothing was being taken to seriously. It was actually fun. But after losing the two previous games by a combined total of 1 million to 4, I wanted to actually win one.
We were down by 1 run. The bases were loaded. It was our last at bat. There were two outs. I dug in to the batter's box.
I should have had inspirational speeches going through my head. The voice of William Wallace should have been bouncing around inside my brain followed up by the Gipper being hugged by Vince Lombardi. But they weren't.
My knee's hurt, the first time in my life that has been an issue. With all my football and other sports, I have never had knee problems. Now they actually ached. And it turns out that I have also discovered what shin splints feel like. I threw my elbow out in the second game. My lower back was about to have a spasm. I was no Crash Davis and I could not breath through my eyelids.
I could hear Little Hoss cheering "Daddy! Daddy! Daddy!" louder than thunder. She's always my biggest fan and supporter and is never afraid to show it. Both of my kids where there and saw me make all my mistakes. But could they now see something different, that Daddy could still do it and come through? I don't want to fail in front of my kids, that's what was going through my mind. Please god, let Daddy be big and strong just one more time.
The pitch came. My forearms were burning and ached. The ball arched high and slowly rolled over it's apex to begin it's downward descent. My eyes got big. Redemption quietly came toward me as Little Hoss' voice got louder.
Everyone deserves at least a chance.