Traverse City Record-Eagle

September 17, 2012

When body and brain are in the same ballpark

By Garret Leiva

---- — Fleeting youth is impossible to catch — or outrun to second base.

Every so often my body and brain have a disagreement. Unfortunately, there comes an age when you're smart enough to know better, but too stupid to admit it. When the worlds of 18-year-old behavior and over-40 body collide it isn't pretty; egos get bruised and hamstrings pulled.

I hold no delusions of triathlon grandeur. Nor am I joining the extreme sports BMX backflip circus or running with the bulls in Pamplona. My HMO fine print does not cover pathetic displays of male insecurity that end up in the emergency room.

However, I do consider myself midlife-Dad physically fit. I hike. I bike. I can dead lift a fifth-grader out of bed. I'll even get up and change TV channels if the remote is missing.

Rather than taunt 2,000-pound animals or surly teens at the skateboard park, I took up a new challenge: slow-pitch softball. Unlike street luge, it's a fairly risk-free sport — or so it seems. I honestly thought the greatest danger would be repetitive strain injury from all the twist-off bottle caps.

The word "soft" is a bit of a misnomer when it comes to this ball game. It can be hard to hit, run and catch — especially in the right order.

I feign understanding the fly ball tag up rule, however, my Charlie Brown base running proves otherwise. My three-hop throws to the cutoff man would make Jim Leyland start smoking in the dugout.

While not a 162-game Major League Baseball schedule, our rigorous Monday doubleheaders will take a toll. The old right shoulder already sounds like Rice Krispies in milk. It's snap, crackle, but thankfully no pop out of socket yet.

Thankfully no one on our team takes themselves too serious. In fact, our hitting is downright laughable. I'm the biggest joke at the plate.

One team we played on a Monday could have cracked home runs until Wednesday if not for the 10-run mercy rule. Our first game of the season we definitely put the wreck in recreational league softball.

When it comes to softball statistics, I don't track my RBIs or RISPs. My only concern is NTTs — no torn tendons.

Many grown-ups never really outgrow immature pursuits. Get a few guys together and watch the Darwinian theory towel-snapping at its worst. Two-handed touch football suddenly becomes drag-down tackle. A friendly light jog turns into a full sprint.

Youth might be wasted on the young but at least they have an excuse for their moronic behavior. I might have to call in a pinch runner until my body and brain are in the same ballpark. Although getting those two together might be a real stretch — hamstrings aside.

Garret Leiva can be reached at