Learning Curve: Baseball

1 February, 2006

ARGH!! I typed half of this post, and lost it pre-save. Figures, esp since it was about the frustrations I’ve hit this week with two of my current interests, baseball and photography.

baseball first–more positive. It was so unbelievably beautiful on Saturday–a perfect day for my first outdoor practice. It was me, my team’s organizer/coach, the guy she is friends with who coaches another team, and a woman from that team, who has coached herself. Started at the tee where I felt pretty much OK about how my swing is coming along. Then the guy got a fungo bat and me and the other player went to the outfield to shag flies. This was the first time they’d seen me in the field and I was DETERMINED to be as perfect as possible on fielding fundamentals, figuring that unlike throwing and hitting this would be the same between baseball and softball. And that’s just how it happened, my friends. I fielded all but the toughest stuff. I got a few beautiful grabs (nothing like catching a line drive to impress everyone, even if they should know better–it’s the easiest thing in the world, but looks SO DAMN awesome.) When he hit me a few grounders, I took a deep breath, reminded myself I had no runner to beat and to take my time, and set up far back to give myself time to scoop it up as cleanly as possible. (One thing I was NOT GOING TO DO is have a ball go through my legs in my first practice.) I could hear my aunt shouting from 22 years ago about the importance of fundamentals at every level of play.

My throwing, though. UGH. I wish I knew what I was doing wrong. I totally throw like a girl and can’t figure out what has changed from what I used to do, and how it’s supposed to feel. At one point, the three of them stood around and we had an intensive all-me-focused throwing lesson where every motion I took was analyzed and constructive-criticized. It was useful and next time I’ll find I’ve internalized a lot of that (as happened with my batting). It should have felt awful, though. I should have been nervous, felt incompetent and klutzy. But, as my social-life persona has changed here in DC (bars? talking to strangers? dating? my Chicago friends barely believe my stories), my physical self-image needs updating to jive with how others see me. They look at me and see someone lithe and fast and flexible and athletic, and figure my bad throwing is just something I’ll learn, not some reflection of how crappy I am at learning things. They were so patient with me. None of the frustration with me that I remembered from past coaches, which would make me so much more nervous and so much less competent. If not for that I’d likely have quit by now in the face of all the new things that I suck at.

On the “I can’t believe that’s how people see me now” tip: at one point I threw the ball in, and asked the other people in the field for feedback on what was wrong with thatthrow (as I’d been doing each time). Nothing, they said; just underpowered. Then the coach yelled “Next time, put all 103 pounds into it!” !!! a skinny joke? Me?? I had to laugh. On the next throw, which I whipped the fuck out of, I yelled back “I’ll have you know, I weigh 1*10* pounds!!” ha ha ha. (actually 140. Which I haven’t weighed since I was 17.)

Going for a far-to-my-right bouncer, I got hit in the right hand. I so wish the bruise were photographable, at the time you could see where the SEAMS had made their impression. hehe! And I’d thought that my nice-bruise days were over now that I’m not playing rugby anymore…

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