There Is No Joy In Mudville

, , , , , , | Healthy | August 2, 2021

I have been playing baseball since I was about eight years old and this story takes place when I am eleven, in 1991.

There are a couple of league rules for our age group and the most important one is no cleating. For anyone unaware, this means that when you slide into base, you are not allowed to put your foot in the air with the spikes/cleats on the bottom of your shoe into the person guarding the base. You have to keep your feet down when sliding. Anyone that cleats will be kicked out of the game and suspended for other games or kicked from the league, depending on the infraction.

The season has just started, we’re only a few games in, and everyone is having fun. Today is the day my mom is volunteering at the concession stand, so she’s not down by the field watching my game. She can see us playing from where she’s at, but she can’t pay attention to all of the game since she’s helping people. My dad is working; he can’t be at the game at the start and will be around about halfway through.

The game is still pretty early, just starting the third inning. I’m put in to replace the pitcher. I take over the mound and there is a runner on third. The runner is the biggest kid in our league. He’s in sixth grade, but he’s already a good foot taller than most of us and weighs a good sixty pounds more than most of us, too. 

I strike out the first batter I go up against. Two more outs to end this inning.

The next batter hits a pop fly out to shallow right-center field. The outfielder comes in and makes the catch, and the runner on third tags up on the base and starts to run to home plate, but he holds up as the outfielder throws the ball to the catcher. Unfortunately, the throw from the outfielder is wide and the ball goes behind the catcher and rolls to the backstop. My job now is to help cover home plate. The catcher runs back to the ball, turns, and tosses to me. Because the throw to home plate was bad, the runner on third runs home in an attempt to score.

I’m now straddling the side of home plate, waiting for the ball to come to me so I can attempt to tag the runner out. I catch the ball and swing my glove down to make the tag, but the runner slides into home and cleats me. He ends up cleating my left arm, kicking my arm out of the way, and forcing me to drop the ball. At the time, it doesn’t hurt, and I turn around to take a few steps to where the ball landed. I go to scoop the ball off the ground with my glove, and when I try to turn my arm, that’s when the pain strikes me. I drop to the ground in agony, clenching my left arm.

One of the other parents runs up to the concession stand and gets my mom. She comes over with a bag of ice and we end up leaving for the ER to get x-rays.

About thirty minutes after my mom and I leave, my dad shows up and he sits in the bleachers and starts watching the game. After about fifteen minutes, he notices that he doesn’t see me on the field and asks one of the moms sitting near him where I am. The lady tells him what happened and that I left to go to the ER.

My dad looks at the lady, with a deadpan face, and asks, “Did he make the out?”

The lady is so upset with my dad’s lack of concern — because she doesn’t understand that he’s joking — that she punches him in the arm, actually leaving a bruise, and tells him he should be ashamed of himself. My dad tries to tell her he was joking, but she wants nothing more to do with him.

The kid that cleated me broke my arm, and he is never kicked out of the game or suspended for cleating. In fact, he never receives any kind of disciplinary action against him… probably because he is the kid of one of the coaches. The kid develops a bad habit of cleating others until someone gets tired of it and cleats the kid back.

X-rays show a fractured ulna, and because some strain is put on the ulna when you twist your forearm, I can’t just have a short cast put on. I have to have a full arm cast — from my hand to my bicep — for six weeks.

I spend the summer being unable to do most things — playing ball, hitting up the pool with friends, and wrestling. The upside is that my mom feels so bad for me that she takes my younger brother and me to an amusement park. I can ride some of the roller coasters, and as we stand in line for a ride, one of the employees sees me and asks why I am waiting in line and not using the handicapped entrance. He says I should be using that entrance and gives us a pass to use them. We get to bypass the long lines and I have a blast that day.

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Soccer Is Always Bloodiest When Parents Get Involved

, , , , | Healthy | CREDIT: xylophoneplayer88 | July 8, 2021

When I am about eleven or twelve years old, I play for a local girls’ football/soccer team as the goalie. We play on a field not far from my house for home games.

We go up against another local team in the county tournament. This team has a girl on it whose mother is a known problem. She’ll scream if her daughter is so much as touched and has been known to be threatening to both parents and players. [Girl] is lovely, and we actually know each other from school. There is a friendly sort of rivalry between us.

About halfway through the first half, [Girl] comes at the goal and we end up both going for the ball at the same time. Her foot connects hard with my ankle and I immediately know it is broken. [Girl] apparently heard the break, and helps me to the ground, yelling for help. When I look down, my foot is at a very strange angle.

Both coaches help me off the pitch, [Girl] beside me holding my hand, both of us crying. Other players are gathering round, but the coaches tell them to step back and give me some space. My parents appear and sit with me while my team’s coach calls for an ambulance.

[Girl]’s mum appears. I hear her before I see her.

Girl’s Mum: “What’s going on? [Girl], get back on the field.”

Girl: “Mum, I broke [My Name]’s ankle. I want to stay with her. I’ll be red-carded, anyway.”

Usually, if there’s a foul you get a yellow card, and two yellow cards cause you to be red-carded and sent off. However, if a foul is particularly bad or causes serious injury, you’re red-carded straight away.

Girl’s Mum: “Red-carded?! Why, because she didn’t get out of the way in time?”

My Mum: “No, because it happened. I don’t think [Girl] meant for it to happen, but it still did.”

Girl’s Mum: “Well, I think your daughter did this on purpose to make [Girl] look bad. I bet she’s faking it.”

I’m still crying and in too much pain for patience.

Me: “If you think I can make my ankle bend like that myself, then you’re stupid.”

Girl’s Mum: “How dare you?!” *Turns to the coach* “I want the police here, too, for defamation of my daughter’s character.”

The referee comes over to check how I am and to let [Girl] know that, as she thought, she’s red-carded. [Girl] doesn’t seem to care, but her mother explodes.

Girl’s Mum: “You can’t red-card my daughter. Red-card that little b****. In fact, ban her from the game! She’s putting it on on purpose. Look!”

She kicks my ankle. It’s not hard, but it still causes me agony because of the break. I scream, and my mum jumps up to take the woman on. The other team’s coach has to get between them to stop a fight.

An ambulance shows up during this, and the paramedics come to help me. They manage to get both [Girl] and me laughing and help to secure my ankle so as not to cause more injury. My dad tells them about what [Girl]’s mum did, and one of the paramedics shakes her head.

Paramedic: “You can’t help stupid, I guess.”

The police also showed up while I was being sorted out. I didn’t see this part but was told about it by other players later. [Girl]’s mum started yelling that my mum and I should be arrested for defamation. However, after the police were told by several witnesses what had happened, [Girl]’s mum was arrested for assault.

I was taken to the hospital in the ambulance, my mum riding with me and my dad driving the family car. It turned out that I had a break in two places in my ankle. I have a strong suspicion that one of the breaks was the result of [Girl]’s mum’s kick, though that couldn’t be proven.

I had to wear a cast for six weeks and missed a week of school. [Girl] and other members of both teams came to visit me at home in the following days.

[Girl]’s mother was cautioned and released but was issued with a lifetime touchline ban by the team’s coach. She apparently tried to show up at a couple of games, but other parents made her leave again. Thankfully, [Girl] is still lovely, and we remain friends to this day.

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Smiles For Miles!

, , , , , | Friendly | June 10, 2021

My wife and I race grass track sidecars in our spare time. We are getting our bike ready the morning of an event when we are approached by a man and woman with a child.

Man: “Hi. We don’t want to bother you, but would it be possible for our son to have a sit on your bike? He’s going through chemotherapy right now and could do with a smile.”

Me: “If I can get permission and it’s okay with you, I can do one better and have him come out with us on the parade lap if he wants?”

The boy’s eyes go as wide as dinner plates and his smile’s not much smaller as he looks at his parents expectedly.

Woman: “I think that’s a yes, then.” *Laughs*

I went to check that it was okay with the right people and came back with the good news. I also told them I’d arranged a surprise during the presentations afterward. They thanked me and left until it was time for the parade lap. When it came to the presentations, the boy was asked to come up onto the podium and help hand out the trophies, prize money, etc.

I often see the family when we are at events in the area and the boy is now all clear and healthy.

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Racing To Make Accusations

, , , , | Friendly | February 5, 2021

I race dirt oval stock cars a few nights a week. I’m in a mid-level class — not the rookie divisions, but not the top-dollar, fastest cars, either. Mostly, it’s a class for drivers to have fun and compete without needing to spend multiple hundreds of thousands of dollars every summer. As such, as competitive as we are on the track, all of us drivers and our pit crews are also great friends who go to great lengths to loan each other spare parts or extra hands during emergency repairs. We want to race each other, and racing is no fun when all the other guys are broken down in the pits.

On opening night one season, a bunch of us have gotten to the pits early and are hanging out shooting the breeze, waiting for the racing to start. At the last minute, a massive enclosed trailer shows up at the pit entrance. This thing is easily fancier than any other trailer in the pit area — even the top-level classes — and looks like something that should be on pit lane at a NASCAR race, not just a weekend dirt track show.

The pit area at the track is generally divided by car class, and to everybody’s surprise, this fancy trailer heads over to the class that I race in. They park and start unloading the car, and all the pit crew guys are wearing matching uniforms — compared to everyone else in grubby jeans and T-shirts. Nobody from the trailer makes an effort to introduce themselves to anyone else, and they’re giving off an arrogant vibe, so we all comply and stay away from them.

We get through hot laps and move into the heat races. I’m in the same heat as the new car from the fancy trailer. The green flag drops and we all take off racing.

A few laps into the race, another driver and I make contact, and I get knocked off course — and straight into the new car. I end up hitting him hard and damaging both our cars badly enough that we can’t finish the race. We get towed back to the pit area, and before the new car is even off the hook, the driver is out of his car and storming over to me.

Before I can get out of my car, he starts yelling.

Driver: “I’m going to sue you for damaging my racecar! You ruined my easy win against all you amateur fools!”

Blah, blah, blah. I stay in my car because I don’t want to risk getting suspended from the track for fighting on opening night, and the other driver eventually gives up trying to fight, turns on his heel, and stomps back to his own trailer.

I climb out of my car and some of the drivers and pit crews from my class and other classes gather around to make sure everything is okay. I explain what happened, and after my adrenaline wears off, I walk over to the fancy trailer to try and explain what happened and offer to lend a hand to their repair efforts. 

Pit Crew Member: “Get lost!”

So, I headed back to my own trailer while they loaded up the car and left the track.

Meanwhile, the other drivers, knowing that sometimes bad stuff happens in racing, helped me bodge together a quick repair job on my car, and we managed to get the car running in time for the feature race later that night. I didn’t finish the race — some of the bodge jobs just weren’t permanent enough to stand up — but at least I started, unlike the guy with the fancy trailer that I assume was filled with all sorts of professional-quality tools and spare parts.

The team with the fancy trailer continued to show up every weekend and continued to give off the same arrogant vibe. I don’t know if they ever actually tried to sue me or not. I can’t imagine they found a lawyer who agreed to take on a case where a RACE CAR got damaged during a CAR RACE. But even if they had found a lawyer, all drivers at the track have to sign a waiver agreeing that they accept the risks and that they can’t sue the track or other drivers for car damage or injury unless it is blatantly intentional, so I would have been covered anyway.

I managed to win a handful of races that season. The “professional” team with the fancy trailer won absolutely nothing.

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Don’t Mess With Donna Reed

, , , , , , | Working | February 3, 2021

I’ve been working here for almost two years, but due to her work schedule conflicting with any of our social events, no one has met my wife outside of her popping into the store to drop off my lunch or swap cars. My wife runs a side business making vintage-style dresses — which is almost successful enough to become her full-time job now! — which she started because she loves to wear those 1950s swing dresses anyway. Because of this, my coworkers have only met my wife fleetingly, dressed like a 1950s housewife and being her sweet, polite self as she’s a little bit shy.

Our local council has put together a fun sports event where local businesses can put together a team of their employees and their families, and everyone can compete to both raise money for charity and win the donated prizes. Our store has signed up for two teams: cricket and field hockey. The cricket team immediately fills up as our boss is from India and has a large family filled with people who are absolutely mad for cricket. I quietly sign up my wife and myself for the field hockey after confirming with her, which my coworkers laugh about.

Coworker #1: “Is she going to play in one of her pretty dresses?”

Coworker #2: “I dunno if shin guards will go with those fluffy petticoats!”

The only coworker I have who knows my wife socially grins at me and we stay silent.

The day of the competition arrives. My wife has to work up until twenty minutes before we start, and she shows up at the last minute in leggings and a hoodie. My coworkers greet her and say something about her being dressed differently than usual. She just smiles; again, she’s a little shy. Our friend-coworker and I smirk and giggle when my other coworker offers her a stick and to go over the rules. She looks at the stick in his hand for a second.

Wife: “No, thanks. I brought my own.”

She pulled off her hoodie to reveal her T-shirt, which was from when her hockey team went to the state finals the previous year. She pulled her custom stick out of her bag, popped in her mouthguard, and walked onto the field with the rest of us.

It took about five minutes for my coworkers to realise that my shy, quiet wife is the most competitive person I know and is better at hockey than the rest of us put together. She actually wound up in a fight in the last quarter because one of the jerks from the air conditioning place on the other team tried to grab her butt as she ran past. She won the fight AND the game. During after-game drinks, she beat everyone at darts by a huge margin and wound up singing karaoke with my boss. 

I think my coworkers were more confused when she showed up on Monday to drop off my lunch again in one of her pretty swirly dresses and was as quiet as ever. No one ever considered her anything less than a total bad-a** ever again. The council said they’re bringing back the contest next year. My coworkers found out that she also does netball and volleyball and are fighting over which sports to sign up for so she can be our ringer again!


This story is part of our Best Of February 2021 roundup!

Read the next Best Of February 2021 roundup story!

Read the Best Of February 2021 roundup!

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