It should surprise no one that I'm an incredible big geek. What might be surprising is that I'm also a bit of a sports nut - especially baseball, and especially when it comes to making sense of statistics and talking strategy.
I last played baseball proper when I was 20 years old - in part to win a scholarship (based on academic merit and not athletic ability - yes!) but also because I missed playing the game. That season reminded me that baseball didn't exactly miss me back: in representing my home town in the all-too-appropriately named Northern Elite League, I helped (?) my team win 2 of 17 games, and my batting average was embarrassingly low. (I won't tell you how low, except to say that it was nearer the current average of Andruw Jones than Adam Jones.) And though it's no real consolation, there were about as many players on my team with a worse average as there were with a better one. Oh yes, we were awful.
Over the past four years, I've played softball at the University of Toronto with the English grad students' team. (I was only enrolled in the department for one of those years, but they've been kind enough to keep inviting me back.) For two summers in row, I've also played in a softball "beer league" (which is a misnomer - we can't actually consume alcohol on city property) with my older brother and some friends (one of whom blogs) on a team that I named The Blitzkrieg Boppers. (It's a pun, but at least it's halfway clever, right?) I've also joined another University of Toronto intramural team, this time to play on a team that represents a program that I have never been a part of - Pharmacy. (For reasons that I'll eventually get to on the blog, I'll never be able to play games this often again, so three teams seems an appropriate degree of overkill. I just hope that my ailing ankles and Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde-esque throwing elbow forgive me.)
There are at least two things that make softball a marked improvement over baseball: First, it allows someone like me, who is not particularly fast on my feet, to play shortstop and center field because the fields are smaller and the players are similarly out of shape, where in baseball I was relegated to the corner infield positions. Second, and simply put, I like hitting home runs, and that's a) nearly impossible in real baseball, but b) seems to happen for me a couple times a week in softball.
One final note: I organize the batting music for the Boppers, editing songs into 9-12 second clips and burning them on to CDs that we play as our team members walk to the plate to hit. (Just like the professionals, of course.) It's absolutely silly, but it offers a perfect source of levity (for those who like to laugh and relax before an at bat) and excitement (for those who need to feel pumped up). Or, for me at least, a little bit of both, since my personal favorite tracks tend to hit hard but not without irony. My top 3:
The Stooges' "Search and Destroy" where Iggy sings "I'm a street-walking cheetah with a heart full of napalm" (because, naturally, I am)
The opening to "Pour Some Sugar on Me" (the emphasis on "bomb" serving as inspiration and striking fear into the opposition)
And most recently, Gowan's "Strange Animal", the iteration of the chorus - at about the 1:43 mark of the video - that begins with Gowan screaming "How can I get enough?" (because, uh, I'm a strange animal who can't get enough? really, this one is just here because its an awesome song that makes for perfect batting music)