Without question, I put the ‘A’ in ‘Jockstrap’

Even keeping my eye on the ball wouldn't help much.
Even keeping my eye on the ball wouldn’t help much.
Yesterday, I had my first baseball practice in 30 years. It was with a group of guys with names like Chico, Blaze, Rip, and Easton — guys who even sound like baseball players.

My name is Ned, which is why this morning I am so sore my nostrils are the only part of my body capable of responding — albeit only to simple verbal commands such “Flare” and “Sniff.”

For this reason, I’d like to apologize in advance for any typos you may find in this column. Please keep in mind it was typed using only my nostrils, and a dried lima bean that was strategically dropped onto the appropriate keys through a combination of sniffing and flaring.

I should also mention the Spellcheck feature on my computer requires holding down the SHIFT key while simultaneously pushing F-12. Although I tried, I was unable to execute this function successfully before dislocating my tongue — which is actually easier than you might think.

Especially if your tongue becomes pinched between two keys and, in an attempt to dislodge it, you begin swinging the keyboard from side to side until you are knocked unconscious.

Let’s face it: given my athletic background, I have no illusions about being a great player. I’m 46 and have a grand total of one year of organized baseball experience. That experience came when I was 10, while playing on a team called The Giants, which was quite possibly the worst team in the history of little league baseball.

We had nicknames like “Squint,” “Waterboy,” “Strike,” and “Phlegm.”

I remember these names because they were at the top of the rotation. Our only win of the season came by way of forfeit when, after witnessing Phlegm blow a large mucus bubble, the other team was too nauseous to continue.

This season, taking into account my lack of athletic talent, fundamental skills, conditioning and — according to our coach, a league a rule prohibiting the use of oxygen tanks anywhere on the field — I’ve tried to set realistic goals for myself this summer.

Here are a few examples:
1) Realistically, I should be able to run all the bases in 15 seconds, as long as it doesn’t have to happen in a single game.

2) Realistically, by the end of the season, I should be able to catch a fly ball; next year, I’ll try for two.

3) Realistically, I should be able to stop thinking of my athletic cup as a bull’s-eye, and therefore overcome my fear of getting hit in the groin on a line drive from someone nicknamed “The Sterilizer.”

4) Realistically, number three is never going happen, but I’ll learn to deal with it.

5) Realistically, I will have to stop blaming pretend gophers every time I miss a routine grounder; eventually, I will need to bring in real gophers.

And lastly,

6) Realistically, I should be able to hit a home run if I work on my fundamentals and eventually execute them in a game where, in one unforgettable moment, the entire outfield is swallowed by a giant sinkhole.

By setting achievable goals like these, I can measure my progress and hopefully contribute to our team’s success.

On the other hand, it doesn’t mean I don’t have a back-up plan. I’m not going to tip my hand to the opposing teams by getting into the details here.

But Phlegm, if you’re reading this, please give me a call.

(You can write to Ned Hickson at nhickson@thesiuslawnews.com, or at the Siuslaw News at P.O. Box 10, Florence, OR 97439.)

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Ned's Blog

I was a journalist, humor columnist, writer and editor at Siuslaw News for 23 years. The next chapter in my own writer’s journey is helping other writers prepare their manuscript for the road ahead. I'm married to the perfect woman, have four great kids, and a tenuous grip on my sanity...

25 thoughts on “Without question, I put the ‘A’ in ‘Jockstrap’”

            1. I just finished reading it when my “quote” icon lit up. What you wrote of re-discovering yourself is so absolutely true, Susan. And I’m truly flattered by your reference, and appreciative to be among those men who “know who they are.”

  1. I never played as a child, and was on a co-ed adult slow-pitch team. It was quite clear I had no skills or natural talent. Yes, I was embarrassed. What I want to know, I have small hands…and WHY is the softball so damn fat? I can barely get my hand around it to give it a good throw…that’s what I would blame when I released the ball and it didn’t quite go the direction it was supposed to…or it bounced a couple of times in between…can’t get my hand around the ball. sorry. It popped out of my glove, the ball is so fat, sorry. 🙂

  2. I have this eerie feeling that your baseball experience was rather similar to mine in softball. Just imagine is we were swept back in time and out lives actually depended on throwing and catching things. Sad…but…wait…
    …oh, now I get it…our ancestors were the ones that invented farming! Yes, that’s it :>)

  3. OMG Ned….I almost peed myself reading this. Actually, now that I look down, I DID…..This was hysterical….Still laughing. Hehehehehe……Still Peeing too….Hehehehe…

  4. OK… read this to my kids… they were rolling on the floor laughing and I was laughing so hard reading it that it took forever getting through the post…. we could actually imagine your tongue stuck to the computer etc… LOVE it… thanks for the good laugh!!!

  5. That was almost painful to read. My entire body hurt for you, Ned. What position do you play? I used to play third base, and I’m proud (I think) to say, I was single-handedly responsible for creating a triple play against my own team. My coach had smoke coming out of every orifice and even his eyes. I may have been thrown off of the team for a couple of weeks. 🙂

    1. Ahhh, kindred spirits of shame. I’m an outfielder, mostly because I have a long stride, and this makes it appear as if I am a threat because I can cover a lot of ground — at least until they realize I can’t actually catch the ball.

  6. Baseball? Isn’t that the sport that makes grown men use a skinny stick to try and hit a flying round object that if it hits you…could knock you senseless? And isn’t that the game where these grown men run around a diamond in the ground and try to outrun the other guy with an oversized glove that he’s trying to slam into your back, while holding that flying round object?

    I don’t know sounds like a lot of work and frustration…I’m gonna grab me a beer and watch the show that has grown men running back and forth on a giant field while trying to knock the crap out of one another by body-slamming each other. The uniforms are better

No one is watching, I swear...

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