Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Church Softball League

About a year ago some great guys in my ward put together a softball team to play in a Monday night Church Softball League in our small town.  Most teams that play have been playing for years and so they know the umps and everyone knows everyone.  We were the outsiders.  The LDS Church members in my ward were not ready for the swearing and drinking associated with this "church" softball league and after one season disbanded.  One of my last memories of the season was of two members of the team getting into an argument - I was one of them.  Not my most shining moment.  The other gentleman kept yelling at my teammates and I felt inspired to ask this man to be quiet and leave everyone alone until he calmed down.  When we returned to the dugout, an atomic bomb went off and hurt feelings were everywhere.  All of us were yelled at and all of us were in the wrong.  He asked me to speak to him in private in the middle of the game and I told him I wanted to wait until I calmed down.  Anyway, it ended poorly.  It was the demise of our team.  It was unfortunate.  I had a ton of fun.   I shoulder a lot of the blame for the argument.  I played other sports with him before and knew I should not have played any role in stress of the situation getting worse.  I should have known better.

Some of the things that I have learned from this situation:
  • Find out who think winning is the most important thing and don't play with them.
  • Some things are better not said even if you are right.
  • Forgiveness is necessary even if you feel like you have not done anything wrong.
  • Making someone feel like they are successful at something they are not good at will go a long way.

One of my favorite LDS themed films is Church Ball (my favorite is The RM).  Please make sure you read Gary Coleman's quote on the movie ("Whatcu' talking about Willis?") from the link.  I find this movie regarding Church sports so funny because it is so true!  LDS Church basketball truly is the brawl that starts with a prayer.  I don't take my sports so serious.  It doesn't matter the sport.  I think loosing a close, good game is more fun than winning by a landslide.

My personal philosophy on sports is something my Dad used to tell me:  "You are a Fish-er, don't get used to winning."  Some would call this setting me up to loose but I would say that it was setting my expectations realistically.  I play hard.  I do the best I can.  I know I will not win every time I play.  I am no Michael Young.  I am OK with that.  I am more out there for the exercise and having fun even though I loose.  Sometimes beating the softball with a bat to get out life's frustration is worth it and feels sooooooooo good.  I play a pretty decent first base and can dig most throws out of the dirt.  My batting has suffered for some reason but I play the bottom of the order.  What else do you expect?

So a couple of softball seasons ago, I had a guy I really like at my part time job ask me if I have ever played softball.  I told him I had.  He asked when position I play.  I told him first base and he asked me to play on his friend's team he plays on.  We played last season with teams that were way better than us.  It was the summer and we had 70+ days of 100+ degrees.  Most usual teams didn't play that season because it was so hot.  We did poorly.  We left the field not only hot but also with a lot of losses under our belt. 

This fall season (fall is a generous term in Texas) I have played again with my team but the "usual" teams have returned and our talent is more similar.  We have had either some slug-fest with other teams or defensive slug-matches.  It has been a good season.  At least until last night.

Last night attitude reflected leadership.  Our team captain lost his cool time after time.  He was yelling and swearing.  So did some others.  Our game went from bad from worse, in my opinion, because of our attitudes.  I tried to talk the captain off the ledge.  So did some other players but they didn't do it so Scout-like.  I truly tried.  I learned my lesson just over a year ago.  The game ended shortly after one of the opposing players slid into 3rd base and into our Captain.  Our player lost his balance and it appeared to the other team that he tried to step on the other player though he had just tried to regain his balance.  There was yelling and screaming.  At the end of the game, I went over to the other team to mend some fences.  I even put my arm around the guy that slid into 3rd.  He did the same to me.  There were no hard feelings.  I explained the situation.  I don't think I fixed everything but some of them yelled their thanks to me as I was leaving.  I was punished for going over to the other team to smooth things out by not being the Captain for the second game of our double header.  I was told I would not be taking the ball and the line up out to the umpire.  (One small note on double headers as a fat guy of 35 years ~ I feel old after two games.  The morning after I sound like a bowl of Rice Krispies ~ snap, crackle and pop!  I smell like a whole tube of Ben Gay.)

This morning I was called by my friend that asked me to play on his friend's team.  He explained that he wanted to start a new team in the spring because it was time to start a team that didn't have a bad attitude and where a good game is a good game even if we loose.  He told me it was unfortunate that this might end his friendship with his buddy.  He asked me to play on his team.  I like both guys.  It is unfortunate that I have to choose between the two.  I know what I must do.  I will end up upsetting one of my softball buddies.  I appreciate that he sees my attitude as bringing something good to the team.  In the end though, attitude reflects leadership.

The situation reminds me of Wood Badge and the movie Remember the Titians.  If you have been to Wood Badge and they used that clip, you know what I am talking about.  We need to be forming instead of storming.  Purposeful storming is not OK.  

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