Sunday, June 6, 2010

"Balls?? We're talking about balls out here?"

First, get your head out of the gutter. I’m not talking about balls and strikes either, I’m talking about baseballs. More specifically, I’m talking about the baseballs that were used in my Great South League game last night. I’m fortunate enough to manage a summer club in the Great South League, which is a collegiate summer bat league with teams in Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Tennessee, and South Carolina, and last night I had an encounter that was worth talking about.

We’re playing the East Alabama Big Train, a team out of Birmingham, and after 5 innings, we’re up 3-1 and the game is moving along nicely. In the bottom of the 6th, our short stop, former Pirate Grason Wiggins, spokes a deep liner off the left center field wall to drive in another former Pirate, Alex Montes, from first base. Very nice, we’re up 4-1. As soon as the inning ends, I notice there is a little meeting forming over on the other team’s side of the field, and of course it is only a minute or two before I’m asked to come over as well.

Now, I’m walking over there thinking there is going to be some sort of discussion about substitutions or the Extra Hitter (college summer rules allow for a 10th batter). What I got was a bit different. Waiting for me, along with both umpires and his head coach, is the opposing team’s GM (that’s general manager for those who don’t know the lingo), who has made his way onto the field from the press box. Obviously, I’m eager to hear what has drawn such a distinguished crowd, and I’m a bit disappointed when the GM tells me, “Uh, we’re concerned that we’re not using the right baseballs. Our pitcher says he’s having a hard time getting comfortable with the balls you’re using.”

I know… For me, this is the most asinine thing I’ve ever heard, so my only response is “Well, we’re using the baseballs we’ve been supplied, so I’m not really sure what the problem is.”

“Well, we’re supposed to use Diamond baseballs, and these are Wilsons… And that’s ok, but I think a couple of different types of balls are being used.”

So there it is… This guy thinks I’m tossing out different baseballs for his guys to use to gain some sort of advantage. At this point, I’m actually getting a little pissed off, because not only should the GM NEVER be on the field interrupting a game, but this fella is actually accusing us of cheating! Long story short, I tell the guy that I’ve got a lot more important things to think about than trying to beat him by rigging baseballs, and hits me with the classic “Dash, you’ve been around long enough to know…” routine. “Well,” I say, “I’ve been around long enough to know this is a stupid thing to be interrupting a game for. I can’t believe we’ve just stopped play to talk about the baseballs we’re using in a summer ballgame. Balls?? We’re talking about balls out here? We’ve stopped the game to talk about the baseballs?? This is a waste of my time.” I felt like I was Alan Iverson giving his “Practice??” speech all over again.

At that point the drama was ended, we all got back to business, and my Columbus Woodbats finished laying a 5-1 defeat on the Big Train.

Oh and by the way, unless the ball is wet, made of plastic, or is flat on one side, any pitcher who is complaining about the balls he’s got to throw probably isn’t worth the mound he’s standing on. I think it’s more likely that their GM felt they should be doing better and the pitcher got thrown under the bus, but seriously, our guy was throwing the same Wilson baseball out there as their guy was, and he didn’t seem to have too many problems dicing up their order.

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