Comeback kid tests positive for Geritol

August 19, 2009

Guelph Mercury, 08/19/09TheKid

See ball. Swing. Pop. Groan. Repeat.

I’ve been playing baseball since I was shorter than the bat, but this is new. ‘This’ is that sudden, awful, painful sensation in my shoulder, the one that causes that popping sound.

It comes with every swing now, announcing like a trumpet blast what I already know: Yer gettin old.

Funny how that happens. One minute you’re young, next you’re not.

I was reminded of this recently after joining a recreational, three-pitch softball league run by the university. It started with promise, though I hadn’t played in years. In my mind I had only gotten better. This would be the come-back story of 2009. I had already prepared was I was going to say to the ESPN interviewers.

Besides, this was to be baseball-lite, with no stealing, no leading off, no sliding and a seven-run mercy rule. Your own teammates pitched to you. Everybody would hit. They practically guaranteed it. Only problem was deciding how many home runs I’d hit in the first game.

I won’t tell you how I did during my first at-bat in this new league, except to say that three strikes doesn’t really seem like enough of chance. I can relate to what mighty Casey went through on that afternoon so many years ago. There was no joy in Mudville.

Then, I began to notice all the other sprightly players, bounding around the bases, swinging without pain, reaching home plate without needing an oxygen tank. Something was out of place here. In a league of 20-year-olds, I was suddenly the old man on campus. Even the commissioner was younger than me by about five years.

“Who brought their dad?” they seemed to say in glances stolen my way.

With every play, I felt like a walking ad for Extra Strength Tylenol. Sprint out of the batter’s box. Ouch. Throw to second base. Owww. Swing for the fences. Yikes.

Maybe you should see a chiropractor, they said. Chiropractor? That’s for old people. But then again, maybe I’m becoming one of them.

There once was a time, believe it or not, when I could play ball all afternoon in the front yard, then pull on an ill-fitting uniform for a three-hour game that night. I bounced like rubber. I could tumble and get back up. Injuries and soreness were something parents dealt with. Ice packs? That was to keep drinks cold.

Now, I play 75 minutes and needs a nap. And a Tylenol.

So it goes. As you age, sport has a funny way of humbling you, of rectifying the gap between reality and your own perceived ability. Your mind might think you can stretch out that double, but your body didn’t get the memo.

At some point this summer, I began to see the appeal of lawn bowling, with those bright white suits, the gentle rolling action, the lack of running. I needed a low-impact sport like that — perhaps with mandatory nap times and breaks for sandwiches. I needed a sport with a doctor on the sidelines and a pharmaceutical rep in the stands.

So, perhaps this baseball comeback story would have to wait for another hero. Maybe I should try darts.

But enough about all this whining and moaning. The team needs Dad to give it another crack. Time to step back in the batter’s box, take another painful hack.

See ball. Swing. Pop. Groan. Repeat.

One Response to Comeback kid tests positive for Geritol

  1. Doc buttons on August 31, 2009 at 7:39 am

    Hey Merc, Hang in there… get some A5-35 and smelling salts. Nice work lately. Just catching up on the blog had some good laughs. Does that OG in the post play croke? kinda looks like Jebodiah.

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