So I'm on my office softball team, and I've gotta say, it pretty much sucks. Being relatively new to my job, I thought it might be a good chance to meet people and be "one of the guys." But that might be backfiring. Each time I've played, I've basically left the field irritated and demoralized. After thinking about this a fair amount more than I should or need to, I've concluded that the reasons for this are twofold.
One, as the season has unfolded, one unavoidable fact has surfaced: I'm just not very good at softball. I'm pretty decent at other sports (basketball and football come to mind in particular), but in the baseball genre, I'm a little weak.
As with most problems, this one can be traced back to childhood. Due to a variety of reasons that are not worth detailing, I only played three or four seasons of Little League (and no teeball), and before this softball team hadn't played organized sports in the Baseball Family of sports in, oh, fifteen years or so. So my skills are not exactly well honed or, you know, developed.
I guess I don't really embarrass myself out there. I make decent contact with the bat and have good hands (probably my best athletic quality), but the rest of my skills are slightly below average at best. My biggest problem, I think, is instincts. I played second base last night, and didn't even know where to stand. When I was a kid, there was one particularly dismal Little League campaign in which I got maybe three hits all season, and I was actually called out on one of them because I carried the bat to first base without thinking about it. That's the kind of basic stuff I'm talking about. So to try and compensate, I do the worst thing anyone can possibly do when playing a sport at any level - I overthink. I end up freaking out on every routine play. I freeze with indecision. And basically, do everything I can to prevent myself from finding any kind of comfort zone.
The second reason is the atmosphere. One of the most grating traditions of the office softball league is that whole "everyone's a winner, let's just have fun" mentality. For someone as hyper-competitive as myself, that's like being suffocated with an itchy blanket. People seem to be trying to one-up each other to see Who Can Be The Most Positive, to the point where people are congratulating teammates for striking out and missing cut-off men. Huh? And after I forgot to call for a fly ball and let it drop between myself and the right fielder, the last, LAST thing I want is for people to greet me with a condescending "hey, great try out there. You'll get 'em next time!" Well, why don't you just stick the Special Olympics pin on me right now. Jerks.
With our team behind in the last inning yesterday, I started clapping my hands as our first batter went to the plate, and I said "rally time!" Judging by the reaction, I might as well have shouted out that I was thirsty for human blood. The guys around me jumped in to say things like "let's just have good at-bats," and "let's focus on one swing at a time," and other meaningless pablum. Because you see, me actually encouraging a rally made it too much "about winning." And we can't have that here at the Special Olympics.
So take that cloying atmosphere, and combine it with my lack of skills, and I'm pretty much hating life out there. Why isn't there ever an office basketball league? That I could do. Or an office billiards league. Or an office drinking league. Seriously, who wouldn't join that? We need to think outside the box, people. But don't worry. We'll get 'em next time!
Technorati tags: softball, Work, office politics, Life, Personal