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Soup of This Day #396: No Need To Run

October 31, 2014

Rawlings PM125BT
Honestly, wearing the glove doesn’t much slow down the typing rate anyway – Photo: Longworth72, 2014. Neither Rawlings or Easton are affiliated with Longworth72.

I have around 75 minutes in which to write and publish this post. It’s a Sunday night and I have to go to work tomorrow so my viable bedtime is around 10:00pm. It never used to be so early – I’ve almost always been a night person, doing my best work around about midnight.

But then I got older and tired. And then we had kids and the tired got epic. So now I follow the mantra of ‘sleep when you can’ and that means crashing onto our mattress at 10:00pm.

It is crashing that I do too – I’ve given up just sliding into bed because none of my component bits slide anymore – They jar and jam instead – and so I sort of position myself above the bed before allowing all of those component bits to just give up on resisting gravity. Most of them keep up but occasionally a joint won’t get the message in time. These lapses end in involuntary groans and only-partly sympathetic chuckles from my wife.

Because I’m not aging gracefully.

I should be doing better at it. I’ve long battled depression and exercise and diet are key for me to get on top in those engagements. I know this but my follow-through is lacking some impetus.

Because I’m older and tired. And scared. I can’t play football any more because I’m frightened of doing a knee. Apart from the pain – which would be bad – there’s the monumental inconvenience of not being able to contribute as fully as I can to family life.

My wife and boys would have words for me and they wouldn’t be nice ones.

So I need a sport in which I can maybe be a little less active. I’ve considered cricket – As an Australian I’ve long thought it is my manifest destiny to wield the willow in anger. Except that cricket requires a lot of time – Pretty much whole weekends are lost to games. This would again divert me from contributing as fully as I can to family life and yes, my wife and boys would have words for me and no, they wouldn’t be nice ones.

The two-year-old in particular would say something like, ‘I love trains,’ and that would seem to be ok except that he would frame it in such a way that he was making clear the contrast between his love for trains and his love for his Dad spending the whole weekend playing cricket.

Which means I need a game that is like cricket, but doesn’t take up a lot of time and maybe has some trains involved.

This is baseball. Except for the trains bit.

Never mind that I’m 39 and I’ve hardly ever played the game seriously. I have a glove, a ball and a sudden desire to find out if I could manage a stand-up double. I’ve watched a lot of the pros play the game – How hard could it be?

Probably pretty hard. The pros in any sport have this knack for making the exceptional look easy. Take a game of football I saw a week ago for example.

It involved the Perth Glory Women and it was my first look at them for this season. Last term they didn’t do so good – I watched maybe three or four games and spent a chunk of those outings watching passes go astray. The ability to pass accurately is a pretty good base measure for how a team is progressing and so it was apparent early on that, after the near miss of 2012/13, the 2013/14 W-League season was not going to have a Glorious outcome.

This season feels different. Partly because the squad got a pre-season make-over with the injection of what seems like half the Australian national team. That’s just the bones of promise though – The real meat has come from the results of the first four rounds:

Perth Glory Women 2-1 Brisbane Roar Women

Newcastle Jets Women 1-2 Perth Glory Women

Perth Glory Women 3-1 Adelaide United Women

Western Sydney Wanderers Women 1-10 Perth Glory Women

Yeah, that last result isn’t a typo – The Glory Women scored 10 goals in one outing away from home and in their four victories from four matches had notched up 17 goals in total.

By the time we’d got parked and through the gates at the unfamiliar Ashfield Reserve, the Glory Women had added another to that haul to lead 1-0 over a classy Canberra United outfit. That early goal though seemed almost against the run of play – Canberra’s midfield and forward units were cutting through Perth’s defence and only some stout keeping by Glory stopper Mackenzie Arnold kept her side in front.

Arnold is a great study as a keeper – She’s relatively quiet and not overly demonstrative – She is though a fantastic shot-stopper and in this game she showed off a range of skills, notably palming a fierce drive deftly over the bar and then getting down low and early to thwart a one-on-one charge.

Mackenzie Arnold contrasted with Canberra’s goalie, Chantel Jones. Jones was with the Glory last term and is a dominant presence in the area. By manner she is almost a polar opposite to Arnold, being by turns brash and moody. There’s a lot of vocal work – cajoling and directing for her backline – but there’s also some stormy attitude seemingly on the brew. On the latter front, Jones had a running battle with livewire Glory forward Samantha Kerr, which to be fair doesn’t seem like an unusual occurrence around the diminutive striker.

Simply, Sam Kerr is going to get under a lot of people’s skin.

She’s undeniably talented – A pinpoint backheel volley flick to a wide player off of a 50m goalkick was a highlight, as was the winning of a penalty after being taken down by Jones in a one-on-one break.

There were lowlights too though. After winning the penalty Kerr mockingly applauded right in Jones’ face. When the American keeper responded with some innocuous push and shove, Sam waved an imaginary card at the referee in an attempt to get her fellow professional sent off. That’s poor form.

There was some humour to be had from the interplay though – At one point Chantel Jones took a booming punt down-field. Like most keepers she used all of her penalty area, releasing the ball just before crossing the line.

Or maybe just over the line, as Sam Kerr loudly speculated in the direction of the referee. Jones’ response was just as loud but even more heartfelt and dismissive:

‘Oh fuck off.’

I’m a Glory fan but also a former keeper so fair play to Chantel there.

All of that though was a sub-plot to yet another Glory win. They absorbed the Canberran attacks and hit on the rebound, scoring three goals to nil on the day, with a brace by Kate Gill. Gill had also notched up 5 in that previous rout against Wanderers. That’s some awesome form and a decent effort at making it all look easy.

Unlike after the game on an adjacent park, where the form was not awesome and hardly anything would have looked easy. Because there I got out my new baseball glove, a birthday present from my boys. Brother of Longworth72 had his glove and my eldest, all of 6 years old, donned 1 too.

Then we played catch. For some of the time anyway. Often we didn’t get the catch bit down pat, partly because we weren’t great on the throwing component, but also because baseball gloves don’t do all of the work by themselves The wearer has to take a fair amount of responsibility for ensuring that the ball lands in the right part of the mitt, and then sticks there.

Which it often didn’t for us – Unlike for Mackenzie Arnold, we didn’t make the glove-work look easy, although we did shadow her moves by palming the baseball away. A lot.

Which hurts. Also a lot. It hurts so much that I needed an ice-pack on my left palm later that evening. Brother of Longworth72 could have used one of those too – He copped a number of too solid and stinging blows such that a gypsy palm-reader would have had no trouble scoping a novel of imminent pain off of his southern paw. The 6-year-old meanwhile was ok – He used a soft rubber ball and favoured letting it bounce.

For the grown-ups though, the pain didn’t end there. By the next day I was down to using my forearms like some sort of tyrannosaurid – Feebly waving them around as I chased Julianne Moore and Jeff Goldblum across town.

Which I guess is fitting because I’m feeling a little like a dinosaur – It’s not just the playing catch either – I might have started this post with the intent of finishing it in 75 minutes, but it didn’t quite pan out that way.

That was almost two weeks ago.

Still, this dinosaur isn’t ready to go extinct just yet – If anyone knows of a master’s team for rookies in Perth’s northern suburbs, I’m up for some baseball.

No Need To Run

  1. sportsattitudes permalink

    I identify with your wariness about aging versus athletics. Also not aging gracefully but one thing I have prided myself on as I have aged is the ability to fully recognize both my strengths and weaknesses. I still can shoot hoops well and can hold my own in a half court game at age 56…play a decent game of tennis also…but any more intensive sporting activity is a thing of the past now. If I ever come to Australia I most definitely would help you work on your baseball skills. My best sport growing up before I turned to basketball. Just don’t ask me to slide…I might never get up…

    • Yeah, no sliding. I’ll consider it if there’s one of those water-slide things in place but even then probably not. Good to hear you can still mix it up on a basketball court – I reckon that for some sports as you get older you get wiser, more efficient with how you use space and movement. Found that with soccer – learned to turn into space to buy myself a fraction more of a second.

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