Our very own Jeff Kamrath plays Adult Co-Ed Rec-League Softball with some of his friends and former college teammates. Unfortunately, half of his team was at a wedding for the game yesterday, so he asked if there were any people in the office who would be willing to play. Needless to say, he found enough volunteers. It was one of their last games of the season, and they were sitting just outside of the playoffs: a win and they were in.
Well, we gave up 6 runs in the first inning, and found ourselves down 7-2 in the top of the third. Bases loaded with two outs and one of our best hitters at the plate, we were looking to chip away at the deficit. After the first pitch, the umpire stepped out from behind the plate, pointed at Ursula, and called her out for being off the bag.
Now, Ursula had “never caught a ball with a glove” before that particular game (though it turns out she has quite an arm), so we argued a warning might be more appropriate given the relatively low-key tone of the game and her lack of experience. The umpire said it was up to the other team, who, aided by our protests, agreed to let the at-bat continue. A ground ball to second quickly ended the inning.
Fast-forward to the bottom of the 6th (out of 7 innings), and our team is leading 10-7 after a valiant comeback. Runner on first, no outs. I’m playing the keystone when a girl on the other team hits a sharp line drive to short. “Drop it!” I yell, hoping to turn the double-play. The short-stop lets the ball land in his mitt, drops it on the ground, and tosses it to me as the batter has barely left the box believing she is out. We turn the double-play.
They didn’t protest, or I think we would have overturned the play. But I have rarely felt worse about a play that I’ve been involved in. Setting aside the issue that the short-stop likely controlled the ball and the batter should have been called out on the line drive, I have pretty serious moral quandaries about this play. Given the friendly nature of the game, it was probably inappropriate to take advantage of an inexperienced player like that. This is even more true considering how generous the other team was when one of our players was called out due to a lack of understanding of the rules.
Now, I can probably justify our play. We probably would have turned the double-play even if she had run to first. We were taking advantage of the rules of baseball instead of a player, whereas our player was called out purely because she didn’t know the rules. But none of this actually made me feel better.
As much as I hate losing, I will say I’m relatively glad that we ended up losing this game by giving up 5 runs in the bottom of the 7th. Justice has a way of working things out like that.
Disclaimer: Jeff was not pitching like this during the game.