Or more accurately, opening week. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I am the commissioner for the softball leagues my church runs. I was brought in not unlike Judge Kenasaw Mountain Landis was after the Black Sox Scandal to cleanup the sport. My first act was to ban for life the players known as the Miken Methodists for using illegal bats. Following that controversy, I implemented a league wide substance abuse policy with emphasis on the use of performance enhancing substances, such as Red Bull, espresso coffee, and Snickers bars. When the players unionized I headed up the collective bargaining effort on behalf of the league, narrowly avoiding a player strike over the issue of the courtesy runner rule. With that near conflict a distant memory, I have presided over an era of unprecedented growth and popularity for the leagues. In 2007 we achieved an historic milestone by officially desegregating, starting a Monday night coed league. We also launched an initiative to join the 21st century which culminated in our website, where teams can find schedules, standings, rules, and other useful news and information. Parity within the league has lead to a new champion virtually every year. The future looks bright for SRBC Softball.
Ok, so most of that stuff was made up. I am in fact the commissioner and we did start a coed league last year, but I have yet to institute any kind of testing policy. Who wants to deal with all that urine? Whenever I tell people that I’m a softball commish, I always think that they must envision something reminiscent of a church picnic. Folks leisurly sitting on the lawn sipping lemonade, watching the players casually jogging around the diamond, laughing and carrying on. Everyone just there to have a good time and enjoy the sun. What a fun little summer distraction being commissioner of this idyllic and serene pastime must be. And I almost always say, “It’s a lot more work than you think.”
Between the three leagues I’m in charge of there are probably somewhere between two and three hundred people that participate. Fortunately I only need to keep track of about 23 of them, the coaches, but trying to keep even just 23 people informed and getting all 23 to turn in their paperwork and fees on time is a little like getting the guy that plays Newman on Seinfeld to skip a meal. It just ain’t happening. All the coaches are great, and I know they will all get their fees in eventually, and they are very encouraging and appreciative of the work I do, but it can still get a little bit hectic.
Besides that, I have to make sure the fields are in order, have someone to prep them every week, make sure there are enough softballs and chalk on hand, deal with the officials association, make sure there’s enough money in the budget to pay for everything, keep track of the standings, organize the end of season tournaments, and deal with any base malfunctions, on field confrontations (such as players throwing bats or verbally abusing their opponents), and any other unexpected crises.
Here’s an example: I spent a good part of the last week making sure everything was ready to go for the first games Monday night. The softballs I ordered had arrived, the fields were in game shape thanks to the cracker jack church maintenance crew, the umpires were scheduled (and paid), my field prep kid was trained and ready, scheduels were sent out and received, and all but two teams had turned in their fees, which was pretty good. The only thing left to do on Sunday was put a few tools in the storage closet for the field prep kid. I thought I was golden. At about 7 PM on Sunday, for some unexplained reason, we’ll call it a divine swat upside the head, I realized I’d never bought the chalk. Minor detail. I’m sure the games could’ve been played just fine without baselines or a batters box, but just my luck one would end with the winning run coming on a ground ball up the baseline that wasn’t there and controversy would ensue. Of course all the hardware stores that sell chalk were closed by this time. Fortunately I was able to take a long lunch on Monday and deliver the chalk well before game time. Crisis averted.
I won’t bore you with any more of my commissioneering woes, except to say that despite of the stresses it really is a lot of fun. It’s great getting to know people from other churches, and now that I’m into my fourth year of doing it, it’s fun to see and talk to the same folks I’ve been dealing with for the past few years. Everyone seems to enjoy the leagues and that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
I have my first game tonight, as player and coach, against our infamous intra-church rival the Red Team. I can’t wait to start off our title defense by pounding them into the ground. There’s nothing like a good old fashioned church softball tail whooping.
One last thing before I end this bloated post, you may recall my freind and teamate Jim who I wrote about having a heart attack on the field last year. Well, I’m glad to say he’s back with the team and looks better than ever. God is good.