No Crying in Baseball

June 14, 2006 - 12:00am -- swingbug

So we're through another election and almost nothing I voted for passed (libraries and schools, folks; this is a no brainer), and network neutrality took a hit in House. Sigh. At least I can say I did my civic duty and thus preserved my right to bitch.

And speaking of laws and rules, can we switch to a horse of a slightly different color and talk about stupid P.C. sports rules for a minute?

My husband plays volleyball in a pick-up game on his lunch break everyday. Apparently they switched to new rules on Monday. The net was lowered to make it easier for female players to spike the ball, but now to compensate, the male players must play from 10 feet behind the net. Speaking as not only a woman but also a woman who enjoys playing competitive sports while possessing no real aptitude, can I just say that that's stupidest thing I've ever heard of?

I used to play in a co-ed softball league with some friends through Davis Parks and Rec. The People's Republic of Davis is well-known for stupid rules and they've permeated its baseball diamonds. In general, I think the less rules the better (for example, I think the infield-fly rule is retarded but that's a post for different time) but this particular league has gone way over the line. Most co-ed leagues will stipulate that you must have at least as many female players as male players and that the batting order should be staggered boy-girl-boy-girl. Fine. Makes enough sense. But in this league, they have added the following rules:

  • Girls hit a smaller, harder ball than the boys. Thus the umpire has to keep the extra ball and switch out with the pitcher for every other batter. You see, men tend to have stronger upper bodies so, in general, they can hit the ball further, so let's put a restriction on them. Heaven forbid that the outfielders would come in a pace or two when a girl comes up to the plate. That might hurt her feelings.
  • Catchers aren't allowed to block the plate. You see, if a small, frail girl was catcher and a big dude was coming down the home stretch, you'd be putting him in a bad position. He'd have to decide whether to bowl her over and score a run or whether to be chivalrous and opt not to risk hurting her. Can't have that.
  • Half the infield players must be girls. This is apparently designed to keep team captains from banishing girls to the outfield because our little arms can't make that long ass throw from 1st to 3rd.

Yes, people are built differently and yes, there are differences between the sexes. In general, boys are larger, stronger overall, and have stronger upper bodies. In general, girls are smaller, have stronger lower bodies, greater endurance, and greater flexibility. These are generalizations. There are advantages and disadvantages to both in all circumstances, even baseball. Maybe your female teammate can't crack the ball out there quite so far as her male counterpart, but if she's a little shorter than it's a little harder for the pitcher to get that ball over the plate in her strike zone, now isn't it? Perhaps the pitcher should be able to pitch a strike to her if the ball crosses anywhere between her head and her ankles, to make it more fair. What do you say?

I'm reminded of a Kurt Vonnegut story I read in highschool called "Harrison Bergeron." (You can find it in Welcome to the Monkey House, which is a great read, by the way.) In this particular futuristic story, all smart people wear government-enforced devices on their heads that shock them every now and again to disrupt their chain of thought, and all strong people wear handicapping devices that impair their strength. By making us all slow and stupid, they finally acquire true equality.

The truth of the matter is that when you're playing on the just-for-fun scale, the boundaries of your abilities are usually not your physical attributes anyway, because you're not so good that you're pushing your body to its absolute limits. Your boundaries are set by your technique and how much you practice.

Okay, so here's what I have to say about all this, as a member of the weaker sex who is supposedly benefitting from these P.C. rules. Outfielders are not going to hurt my feelings if they step in a few paces when I come up to bat because I'm a girl, especially when I crack that ball out over their patronizing heads. If your female players can't throw the ball from 1st to 3rd, they probably can't throw it from right field to 2nd base either so junking them all into the outfield is no good. And as for blocking the plate, well, if a team captain puts a 100-pound girl in as catcher, he deserves what he gets -- an injured player. (And if you hit a pop-up into the infield it's your own damn fault and you deserve the double-play the other team will get.) So there. Don't coddle me and don't surround me with cushioning little rules so I won't get hurt. Injury happens and I won't make a fuss about it. And you know why?

Because there's no crying in baseball!

So suck it up and play ball or go home. Get out there and vote or shut up about the State of the Union. And if your tall buddy spikes the ball over the net, then do what team players do and give him a high-five. We're supposed to be playing with the people on our team, folks, not against them.

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