Those of you who've played rec or work league softball can attest to the myriad of characters one comes across when donning the $45 cleats you bought at Modell's the night before your first game because you forgot all about it and mesh cap. It's often a spectacle--as much sociology experiment as athletic endeavor.
Below, in all of its glory, is what you get when I briefly observe/examine those folks in tangential relation to our hometown (albeit struggling) heroes.
The Phillies as Your Company's Softball Team - A Definitive Guide
Shane is Diving Guy. Diving Guy is special in that he's simultaneously amusing and maddening. Ever aggressive, this sometimes-knucklehead is known for haphazardly launching himself after balls he easily could have caught had he not been staring at the girl on the beach chair watching the game over at field three when it was hit. He has been known to wear soccer socks to aid in sliding across the outfield grass after laying out for a gapper (that was actually only hit four feet to his right). He’ll also sometimes morph into Doesn’t-Know-The-Rules Guy, due to his severe ADD and questionable IQ; forgetting to tag up, not knowing how many outs there are, throwing to the wrong base, etc… you know what I’m talking about.
Cole is marketing intern that showed up to the first game wearing a brand new pair of incredibly obnoxious Oakleys and garish board shorts. You give him a lot of grief, but not too much because you know there’s a lot of talent beneath the easy-to-make-fun-of exterior.
Raul is old guy that wears his 1992 league champion tee and three knee braces. He couldn’t run well even when he was in his prime, and now he’s slowed to a glacial pace. The thing is, he’s too proud to accept a pinch runner, and you respect him so you don’t want to embarrass him in front of the team. He’s a really nice guy too, a softball lifer—so you just don't have the heart to put him in right center or bat him last in the lineup as an extra hitter.
He’s the guy that made senior management before 30, has a hot wife, and drives a company BMW. He’d be so easy to hate, if he weren’t so incredibly awesome in every possible way. Despite being the best player on your team (rumor has it he played D-1 shortstop, but no one will ask him), he has no ego to speak of. He’s funny in a self-deprecating manner, he buys the team beers, and you just know that he’d be up for a boys night out at the strip club, if he weren’t so hopelessly committed to his faithful (and did I mention incredibly hot) wife. He’s your truest man crush.
He’s the potentially insane and somewhat intimidating stoner that works in the warehouse because he gets to wear jeans and a t-shirt to work. You never really talk to him while on the job, but know he has connections... all kinds of connections. And, he’s a lot better at softball than he looks. The first time he threw a ball from the outfield you were all, “Dude, where did that come from?” For some reason, he also seems to quietly be a favorite of the wives and girlfriends in attendance. You’re not really sure what’s up with that. Once, he forgot his cleats and played a whole double header in flip flops… and went 8 for 11 with three triples. Oh, and he never remembers your name.
Gload is the angry meathead who, despite not playing much or being all that good, is REALLY intense. Like, he always has a mouth full of chew (on the municipal softball field, where kids play on the weekends), he can't stop dropping F bombs despite multiple warnings from the umpire, and even when he’s not in the lineup it seems like he’s trying to instigate a fight with the other team, calling them on their “bush league” tactics (like changing pitchers in the middle of an inning). After making an out, he’s slamming some other guy’s $400 bat made of spaceship materials (that he never asked if he could borrow in the first place) on the ground in disgust and throwing a mini tantrum because he, "hit the ball like a F***ING P***Y.” When someone tries to gently suggest that it’s only softball and he should calm down a little, he loudly questions their desire to win, and implies that he’s the only one amongst you “that leaves it all out on the field.”
Big Brown is the guy that shows up and really doesn’t care all that much about anything that doesn’t involve “hitting bombs, bro.” And he hits bombs, at least every so often—and when does, people stop games on the other fields just to watch where they land. The time he broke a windshield in the parking lot is legend. But everyone on the team is so mesmerized with his ability to hit a softball 400 feet on occasion that no one really notices he’s only batting .286 and throws sidearm all the time for some reason.
He’s the guy who you basically forgot was on your roster because he hasn't shown up for a game in like three months. Then one game he arrives out of nowhere and you have no idea what to do with him. So, the coach throws him in the game in the late innings when you have a comfortable lead and he incredibly manages to screw everything up beyond recognition. No one will talk to him at the bar afterwards, and he’ll never be seen again.
He’s the guy that keeps insisting, "No, no dude. I swear I can pitch--I used to pitch for another team that made it all the way to the state quarterfinals back in the day," despite all evidence to the contrary. He also insists on throwing his stupid trick pitch (the spinner) that everyone crushes, and he squeals when the ball gets hit back up the middle.
He’s the guy that never plays, yet shows up every week and volunteers to do the book and coach third. He’s also the guy that is annoyingly loud and consistent with his rah-rah chatter. But he has little variation in his repertoire, so you swear you’re going to kill him if he yells, “Talk it up out there!” one more time.
Jamie is the 67 year old pitcher that’s been playing slowpitch softball seemingly since Jesus was a boy. And, he’s absolutely IMPOSSIBLE to hit. Like seriously, the best people can do is hit a dribbler to third or pop one up in the infield. His Jedi-like mastery of trick pitches (curveballs, backspin balls, knuckle balls, Crisco-balls, sandpaper balls, one that he throws with the wrong hand, etc…) is complemented by his propensity to psych out much younger, stronger men, and his uncanny ability to throw the ball EXACTLY ten feet in the air on every pitch (although the umps probably let him go to eleven feet before they call an illegal pitch, out of respect). Despite his advanced age, he has somehow retained a cat-like quickness on the mound; he regularly steals routine ground balls to the shortstop just to make you look and feel stupid.
Juan Castro (RIP)
You think he’s your building’s security guard, but you’re not really sure. He showed up to the first game even though he wasn't on the e-mail invite to join the team, and he definitely didn't go to the orientation meeting that the captain held in the conference room. No one knows his name, and he doesn’t talk at all so you’re not even sure if he speaks English. But he’s using a well-worn hardball glove and he's not white, so everyone mistakenly assumes he runs really fast and is a naturally gifted middle-infielder (“They play with milk cartons for gloves in his country!”).
Despite being an okay player, he’s the guy that you slowly realize over the course of the season cannot catch fly balls. And he knows it, but doesn’t want to tell you. At first, you just thought it was a little funny when he would always play the infield during batting practice. Then, he volunteered to catch the night you only had ten guys, and two of those were the ancient guy from cost estimating and the dude with the reconstructed knee.
He’s Totally-Looks-The-Part Guy. He wears all the latest Under Armour and Nike gear, is really fit, runs fast, has a strong arm, and it's evident that he goes to the gym regularly and can beat the crap out of you. But he sucks. He struck out looking in that one game, never hits the cutoff man, and will still yank balls foul with a two strike count trying to jack bombs (though he's never hit one), even after he's used up the courtesy.
Harry Leroy Halladay III
Roy is the ex-Marine that's in ridiculous shape, never gets mad at the umps, never complains about the lineup, always gets on base, and basically makes you feel like you're a pudgy, whining, inferior donkey on the field. He's just that awesome at everything, without being flashy or loud. He's also the guy that, despite not being a VP, Chase Utley talks to the most and asks for advice.