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  • It’s a transitional time. After a long wait, the blossoms have suddenly started to pop all over the Washington, DC, area. They transform everything around here, making the world look and feel like a magical place, for their brief and shining reign of spectacular colors and grace.

    Also after a long wait, baseball and softball are back! I finally got out for a good softball practice on Monday night, and felt all the aches and pains associated with that Tuesday and Wednesday – but it felt damn good. It’s a time of year when I move very much more into my physical being, as the endurance of playing softball three times a week begins to kick in.

    Between the blossoms and the increased physicality, I move more away from the introspections of winter, and out into life, as I find it. There’s no question that the physical part of playing softball gets a little harder to get used to each year that I get older. My resistance to go there becomes a little greater. A part of me whispers, “It would be so much easier to just sit back, and enjoy life – why must you put yourself through this, every year?”

    I listen to that, but don’t pay it much mind. I push right past those thoughts, and keep working out, keep going, because I know the rewards that await on the other side of that push. There is nothing quite like the feeling of being out on that field, in my element, in the moment, waiting for that next pitch, and for the on field drama that will unfold as soon as the ball is released from the pitcher’s hand. Let the ballet begin.
  • If I’m playing third base, I’ll crouch down a little closer to the ground, ready for that hot shot grounder that I’ll need to just react to with my reflexes and glove, scoop it up, and fire it across the diamond to the First Baseman, making sure to breathe as I go, and not to hurry that throw, as that is what always makes it go a little wild. You just slow everything down in your mind, in the moment, and rest in the confidence that your throw will beat that runner nine times out of ten. So, there’s no hurry. This all happens in a split second, but that confidence that this thinking brings to your game, makes you a good third baseman. And, it works. They keep inviting me back to play, even after becoming 60 years old. As long as I can make the plays, I’ll keep coming back.

    Tonight, I’ll be playing First Base in the first game, and Catcher in the second game. This team already has a solid Third Baseman. I play wherever they need me. Any position but Pitcher. I love playing Catcher. I get more of a workout when I’m catching than any other position. I play it right. When the batter hits a ground ball, I race him down to first base. I need to get there ahead of him, so I can back up the First Baseman, and get that errant throw from the infielder who forgot to breathe before he made his throw over. It can save an extra base – and gives me the satisfaction of knowing that I can still run with the young guns.

    I’m not worried about my bat (my hitting). I’ve gotten enough strokes in, between the batting cages and Monday’s practice, to feel good about my timing. My right hand is still real sore, but that won’t keep me from being able to hit the ball. Once the game starts, I’ll be in a zone at the plate. I plan to get on base every time I get up to bat. But then, that is always my plan. If it works out 60 – 80 % of the time, it will be a good night. If not – it will still be a good night. As a guy I once played with used to say – “A bad night on the ballfield beats the hell out of a good day at the office – every time.” It does!

    Can you tell I’m looking forward to playing tonight? I can’t wait. It’s been a long wait. Our first league games – if we don’t get rained out. Right now, it looks like about a 50-50 chance that we’ll get to play.

    I’m ready.
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