JOURNAL ENTRIES

Sports



Monday, July 24 at 2:12am. I'm still awake, but I haven't done anything since my last entry other than ingest and excrete things. And since I didn't ingest any of my excretions, I have nothing interesting to report. Therefore I probably shouldn't be writing. But I can't sleep, so... Thus commences chapter four. And chapter four shall return to the subject of baseball.

"Ishmael, can we please talk about something else?"

No.

"But baseball is boring."

Look, reader, I'm thrilled that you've taken such a personal interest in the topics I choose to discuss in my journal. But if I were to comply with your every thematic whim, this would cease to be my journal. I would just be your scribe. And that would be boring for me. That said, I'm writing this journal as an exercise. And exercises of any regard are rarely entertaining. So you, reader, should consider it a blessing that my journal has been totally, totally riveting thus far (right up until this exact moment). And you should consider it your fault entirely that it's not anymore. If you hadn't ruined my thing about bees, maybe I wouldn't have been forced to discuss baseball, which I realize is boring because it is an inherent trait of all stadium sports that they be totally uninteresting.

"Football's not boring."

Yes it is. That's why things like announcers, gambling, and cheerleader porn exist; to make an entertainment out of an otherwise dull affair. Gambling most of all. You can always tell exactly how dull an activity is by how inclined people are to wager on it.

"I was talking about American football."

Me too. I don't know how that wasn't obvious. I certainly wasn't talking about soccer. You don't see too many obnoxious drunks resorting to point spreads to better balance their soccer bets. Nor have I ever once heard a sidelined soccer player describing "barely legal teen porn" during the penalty kicks. Though I also haven't spent much time around the local football field in the off-season when it's a soccer field. I can't be bothered to go when I don't even consider soccer a spectator sport. I don't know how anybody can watch it. I can just as easily watch foosball.

"Whatever. You don't know what you're talking about."

You're right I don't. I don't even know the rules to football (or foosball for that matter). But I do know this: there is an inverse linear relationship whereby the more prone someone is to put money on an activity, the less interesting the actual activity is. And your precious football illustrates this law perfectly.

Actually, I guess the perfect example would be poker.

Playing poker without money is among the most tedious activities a human being can be subjected to. And God forbid you should have to play by yourself. Poker is thus the worst game ever invented and, predictably, the neediest of an ante.

Contrast that with something like running. Running is an amazing sport. It doesn't even need competition, let alone wagers (excluding things like Jog-a-Thons; the unfortunate progeny of the sport which would have been better off being aborted with a motor oil dip stick; that's how I've successfully aborted fetuses in the past).

There is one beautiful thing about all sports though (stadium sports included): they end.

Except cricket.

So technically all sports without crumpets end (while that's not as pithy, it's certainly more accurate).

Non-crumpet-sports (NCS) have a well defined beginning and a well defined ending. Compared to regular life, which just kind of goes and goes until it doesn't anymore, this is actually quite beautiful. Maybe "beautiful" is a stretch, but there's definitely something to appreciate here. Conversely, I find it really hard to appreciate the end of regular life; how it just slowly trails off. It's like watching someone mumbling past bedtime. There's nothing climactic or ultimate or even interesting about this. It's just dull. You have to be extremely long-suffering to watch it.

For anything to be interesting, it has to have a clearly marked end. Take music for example. Songs that end with a note (as opposed to a gradual fade-out) are infinitely better (anyone who thinks differently has never heard a song).

And every NCS ends with a clear note, which always accompanies the proclamation of a winner and a loser. And during the entire duration of the song (i.e. event), there's someone specific to root for.

Even if every person's life was ended with a shotgun blast, there isn't necessarily someone specific to root for prior to that point. And even if there was, the event itself drags on for way too long to maintain any amount of dedication anyway. That and there's way too much downtime. Even the most interesting lives in the history of the world are still 80% downtime. Nobody has that kind of attention span.

Sunday school usually lasts an hour. That's an appropriate amount of time. Imagine if that hour concluded with the announcement of a winner and loser people could align themselves with. The hour would certainly be filled with a lot more spirit and cheer. Just a little something to think about there, Jesus.

Anyway, back to baseball.

Actually, I think I'm going to go make a pancake.

Not a real pancake though. It's more of a protein biscuit. I take a quarter cup (roughly) of protein powder and a quarter cup (roughly) of pancake batter, mix in a little water, and stir it until it looks like chowder. Then I microwave it for eighty seconds, at which point it looks like angel food cake. Though it's much dryer than angel food cake. In order to swallow it, you have to use something like cool whip as a lubricant. I usually just run the sink over it for a minute.

Anyway, I'm off to go make and eat that. I'll be back.

...

Okay, I'm back. And ready to continue the subject of baseball.

When I was a junior in high school, I got in trouble. I realize that sentence doesn't appear to be about baseball. It is. Here's why: while I got in trouble a lot, this particular occasion ended my baseball career.

Before it was over, I played for South Salem High School and in the two years I was allowed on the team, we lost two games. I have no idea how many games we won, but I assure you it was a lot. Mid-thirties maybe. And while I can't actually take credit for any of the wins, our two losses certainly weren't my fault either. Maybe they were. They probably were. I worked really hard at forgetting every single game in which I didn't play well. That way whenever the subject of baseball comes up, I can believe myself when I talk about how great I was.

In reality, I wasn't very good. I was a serious beast - no question - but an utterly graceless one.

Let me take a moment to establish a grace-scale (which I can then place myself on).

Physical grace only.

At the bottom of the scale is Helen Keller, for obvious reasons. At the top is Eli (a thirteen year old lanky black kid who has been doing ballet since he was a fetus). Eli is essentially a hyper-pigmented Baryshnikov.

Based on this scale, Courtney the baseball player was 97% Helen Keller and 3% Eli.

Nobody in the league could outrun me, nobody could jump as high, throw as hard, etc. I could outperform everyone 100% of the time so long as the performance required that the competitors be ungainly heaps of force, completely devoid of motor coordination.

And when the performance was the sport of baseball, my beastly gracelessness could outperform about 50% of my teammates on a good day, ensuring that there were roughly as many players who were better than me as there were worse, which rendered me a mediocre starter.

But we were a big school... and we were by far the best team in our league. So if you do the math favorably, perhaps I could have been a star on a lesser team. Still not a Wolf-Rayet star, but maybe a red dwarf in a little elliptical 3A galaxy.

Freshman year I was shuffled between pitcher and the outfield. While pitching, during my first inning on the hill, I could consistently throw an eighty-five mph fastball and could go the whole inning without throwing a single pitch out of the strike zone. By the third inning, my top speed was fifty-eight and every pitch came packaged with a wince.

Micah Tiffin (my coach) learned pretty quickly that I was a one-inning guy. Maybe two if we had a shallow bullpen. Should I go a third, that would invariably put us in a pinch. A bad one. Especially since all I had was a fastball. And as soon as the other team got my timing down, I'd get shelled. This usually happened in the second inning, where every pitch was ten miles per hour slower and waist-high.

My only move at this point, since I had no breaker to mix in, was to throw the ball as hard as I possibly could at the current batter's face. If he managed to get out of the way, he'd spend the remainder of his at-bat standing completely out of the batter's box and I could wince in a few half-fast balls along the outside corner. If he didn't get out of the way, they'd bring in a pinch runner for him and I'd do the same thing to the next batter (who would be a little more prepared to dodge - having been in the on-deck circle when the last batter was skulled).

I learned this move from Mark Rouska - my little league coach (who also happened to be my favorite coach ever)... and it might get me two more outs, but as soon as my speed dipped into the sixties, batters were no longer scared of me. And I was officially done. Really done: I'd spend the rest of the game on the bench, massaging my arm and making noises while I breathe (mostly the hiss of sucking air in through my teeth).

My sophomore year, I was the slowest pitcher on the team by at least twenty miles per hour. The fastest pitch of my best inning was fifty-three (on a generous guess). By the third inning, I was probably in the low forties. In my defense, I had a broken arm (my throwing arm; I had surgery on it immediately prior to baseball season... I didn't tell the coaches because I was afraid I wouldn't make the team).

A broken arm didn't slow my sprint speed at all though. I was still the fastest (and most graceless) player by a pretty considerable margin. My brisk jog could circle the bases faster than anyone else's all-out sprint. And thus, I was shoved into the leadoff slot.

It seemed appropriate.

But a few games into the season, realizing it wasn't just a slump, but a lack of skill, the coach demoted me to number six, eventually seven. Probably eventually to number eight, but - again - I've worked hard to forget such blows to my self-esteem. And, subtracting all those games I don't remember, the sum total of all my finest moments was worthy of an MLB draft. Maybe second round.

That is if I had been allowed to play during my junior and senior years. And judging by today's Wolf-Rayet performance, perhaps it was a mistake to give up so easily and not fight the school system (and possibly district) for my eligibility.

Granted, Matt Nass, the guy I got in trouble with (and who was extremely graceful as an athlete; by far the graciest on our team... perhaps 11% of Eli), did take on that challenge.

And they showed very little lenience, so... in consideration of that fact, adopting sprinting as my sport for roughly six weeks (until I thoroughly ravaged my hamstring) was just as worthwhile.

But, after today's performance, it's not unreasonable to assume that my coordination and bat speed could dignify a multimillion dollar contract.

...

I hope you realize this is my attempt at satire. If I were the girl my name suggests I am, the existence of the moles would have made me feel too rash in prematurely giving up my career as a veterinarian. Granted, in my case, it was rash. I'm serious when I say that people would pay millions to see me hit whiffle balls beyond the farthest mole hole. And thus, by the end of this journal, I expect to have a career in baseball.

Actually, having said that, it might be a good idea to set some real goals for myself. Not that baseball won't be among them - it most certainly will - but the cast of my ambitions should sweep a bit broader than stadium sports at my age. And 3:00am feels like an appropriate hour to come up with these goals. As follows:

Goal number one: baseball. I shall rekindle my aspirations to be a red dwarf in the major league galaxy. This doesn't mean become a professional player though, as that's just ridiculous. I could just as easily become a world famous ballerina. All I mean here is that I should rekindle aspiration enough for motivation's sake. Then, prompted by that motivation, I should do more home run derbies, or join a softball league with old, hairy men, or any other such pursuit of the sport.

Goal number two: while pursuing baseball, acquire some grace (like that of a ballerina). Perhaps I should just become a ballerina. Goal number two is that I become a ballerina. But not an impressive one, as that would be way too hard. Maybe just two-ninths of an Eli (four ninths would make for a memorable one... and I vow to become half of that).

Goal number three: leave Stockton with my degree and no plans on ever returning.

Goal number four: after graduating, try to work some jobs, be a terrible employee, and get fired (this is just inevitable, so if I turn it into a goal, I'll feel better about myself when it happens).

...

I think that's all. I'd make a fifth goal about locating some sort of spouse, but the probability that I'd follow through with that one is too slim. With the others, at least I have a shot. And should I attain them all, by the time this journal is over, I'll be a ballerina with a Master's who can't hold down a job, but is leading his softball team to victory in the local pennant race.

That sounds like an acceptable life.

...

I just realized something. I'm twenty pages into this journal and all I've done is buy a computer and hit whiffle balls in Fred's back yard.

These paragraphs must be so painful to read. I promise I'll begin doing actual activities soon. Though I don't expect my life to become interesting at all until I get to Stockton.

So I apologize now for the remainder of my pre-Stockton entries.