Different photographs, same player. But he didn't take any steroids. No, sir.
When I first started this challenge (almost three years ago) I gathered up a few books to read by way of preparatory research. I would classify them roughly as “men having mid-life crises via the medium of ridiculous challenges”.
I read about Dave Gorman’s efforts to find other people called Dave Gorman, I studied Danny Wallace’s bid to have people join him (without ever telling them why), I examined in great detail Tony Hawks’ travails as he travelled around Ireland with a fridge, and I devoured Tim Moore’s account of his attempt to cycle the route of the Tour de France.
Two common themes emerged: the vital role played by alcohol in the initial conception of the challenge, and the importance of bending the rules of your challenge to accommodate the fact that it was maybe a bit too ambitious (and you were maybe a bit too drunk) when you came up with it in the first instance.
Having mirrored the first theme exactly (and continuously throughout the last three years), it’s now time to tackle the second theme and start bending the rules a little. Appropriately enough, in the week that one of US sport’s most notorious alleged cheats hit his 756th home run [YouTube] to become the new all-time home run leader, it’s with a bit of baseball cheating of my own that I’m going to begin.
As you will know if you’ve been paying attention (or as you can learn of you read the previous entry), I attended a baseball training session with the Oxford Kings several weeks ago. That night I batted, I threw the ball, I caught the ball and I generally ran around a lot chasing the ball. By the end of the session, I felt like I’d done more than enough to get a flavour of the game and to tick it from the list.
Promised an actual game that weekend however, I didn’t tick it off the list but looked forward instead to my first start in a baseball game. In the end, the game was abandoned due to lack of players.
Last night, I got roped into playing softball for the Oxford Angels. Although I’ve played before, I still don’t really know what I’m doing, but last night, I crossed some sort of understanding threshold, if not completely, then enough to realise that the game we were playing was exciting as it came down to the wire.
Despite trailing by several runs going into the bottom of the seventh (the final innings), we won. I displayed what I can only describe as incredibly uncharacteristic restraint twice in the last two innings when I got walked. I stepped up to bat and just watched ball after hittable ball float past me (and past the plate), all the while knowing that if I swung at one and got out Captain Jamie wouldn’t be very pleased.
In short, reader, I got involved in the ebb and flow of a baseball-derived game, and frankly, I’m ticking it off the list. Not only that, but I played softball too, which is on the girl’s list!
Baseball is the sort of game I think I could grow to like watching if I was exposed to it for any length of time, but I’ve always said that I didn’t think it belonged in the Olympics (and, along with softball, after Beijing, it won’t be on the programme anymore). For now though, I’m through with this leg of my challenge.
I got called back for more on Thursday night. It was the last game of the season, so the other team turned up in some very innovative fancy dress.
Yes, the catcher does have a pair of wings, but her outfit was fairly tame. There was a tiger in left field.
There was an angel catching, so naturally third base was being covered by...
Satan! Biting her nails.
There's video of the aftermath of this in the next post.
Posted by John McClure at 3:32 pm