Saturday, October 20, 2007

Hey Ump! Where's Yer Glasses!

Kailey and Kyra had their weekly softball double header this morning, meaning that we were up early and at the ballfields at about 7:20. The girls were warming up and Diane and I were setting up our chairs and chatting with another parent when the coach approached me at the fence. "Our umpire didn't show up. Do you want to ump?"

Hmmm. Let me think about that for a millisecond. "Do I WANT to ump? Hell no. Do you NEED me to ump?"

"We need an ump."

I looked down at Diane who was snickering at me from her camping chair. "Can I bring my coffee?" I asked.

"I'll HOLD your coffee for you," he replied.

And so that's how I came to ump my first girls "fastpitch" softball game. And I think I did a pretty darn good job...until Kailey came up to bat. Up to that point, I had established a pretty wide strike zone: literally from the knees to the chest. If the girls got the ball over the plate without putting it in the dirt, I called it a strike. And that didn't happen very often. I had called a few higher pitches for our pitchers and was ready to do the same for the opposing team, but they weren't getting the ball anywhere near the strike zone...until Kailey came up to bat.

After taking the first pitch for a ball, Kailey swung at and missed the second pitch. She took ball two and ball three, then the fifth pitch came in over the plate, chest high. Crap. It was probably a little high, but it was a pitch that I had been giving to our pitchers. "Strike two," I whimpered.

Her coach gave me a good-natured ribbing. "Oh MAN, that's your OWN DAUGHTER!" he yelled from the dugout.

I shrugged and lamely shot back, "Hey, I've been giving you guys that same pitch all morning." He just laughed. I felt sick.

The sixth pitch missed just outside. Ball four, which in this league means that the coach then comes in to pitch. He jogged out the mound to pitch to Kailey with two strikes. She fouled one off before striking out swinging. I felt like a traitor as I watched her walk back to the dugout. I didn't have long to dwell on those feelings because Kyra came up to bat next. The pitcher mercifully threw no strikes and Kyra hit into a fielder's choice to end the inning.

As I was walking back to the dugout to retrieve my coffee (coach must have decided against holding it for me), I ran into Kailey as she was taking the field. "Thanks a lot, DAD," she teased with a big grin across her face.

"Hit the ball," I teased back. "That way you can't blame ME for your strikeouts." She just grunted and jogged out to her position.

The game finished without much incident, but I didn't enjoy umping all that much. I couldn't root for our team and had to keep repressing my excitement over hits and scored runs. So I've come up with a plan. Next week I think I'll intentionally arrive five minutes late to the game so they'll have to ask someone else to do the umping. I think I've fulfilled my softball obligations for the season.

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