I am four hours away from doing something there is no way I should be doing. This is because I am a man, therefore I am an idiot.
I should rephrase as not to confuse. I love being a man. We are very clearly not always idiots. But when doing things we obviously know are not only foolish, but come with painful consequences, then there is no other term to describe us. We become idiots. The man in us becomes a simple dude, one with the pack of other dudes.
Such is the case today, where I have chosen to be a dude and not a man.
It started with a simple text message from another half-man, half-dude friend of mine named ZZ. I needed to come up with his long-term pseudonym for this blog, and I chose ZZ because my friend has a beard and I always associate beards with ZZ Top. My friend’s beard is not even remotely close to a ZZ Top-esque beard. It’s more of a close-cropped, slightly unkempt beard. Think Steve Carrell in Little Miss Sunshine. That type of beard. Definitely not ZZ Top despite that I’ve decided to call him ZZ.
This is just another way in which I demonstrate my ability to be an idiot.
Ahem. ZZ sent me what would seem like a harmless text earlier in the week. “We need a player to fill in for baseball, you available?”
I wasn’t sure if I was, but the prospect of shagging fly balls in the Southern California sun on a lazy Saturday was appealing to say the least. I’ve played baseball all my life, and only recently vowed that I would lose it for an indefinite period of time. This was a painful decision, although not nearly as painful as the elbow and shoulder problems I had developed and left untreated as a result of throwing 80 mph fastballs for well over a decade. Those injuries were minor compared to the lower back problems I have battled since senior year of high school.
There is no doubt these back problems are from a myriad of activities, but nothing causes a bout of excruciating pain like playing baseball. To give you some semblance of understanding, a one hour game of softball leaves me in pain for two days afterward. Softball.
Baseball was a guaranteed week of pain with the added bonus of possibly seeing my Doctor for a vicoden prescription just so I can muster enough energy throughout the day.
But one game and a few throws from the outfield were borderline in terms of should or should not, and of course I wanted to do it.
I knew ZZ didn’t need me to pitch, so I decided to go for it. Hell, I missed it. This wasn’t a terrible decision, more of a ‘not so great one’ that I could argue in favor of. I wasn’t yet a complete idiot.
Then ZZ hit me with the followup text…
“Awesome! I’m going to be gone, so they need you to catch.”
Now, at this point, I would be a moron to say yes. My back, the one that often keeps me from rising out of bed for twenty minutes in the morning, was not going to handle crouching down for inning after inning of awkward movement. Not to mention the throws down to second base. And if that wasn’t worst of all, the backstop at this particular field was a good fifteen feet away from home plate. This meant sprinting out of said crouch position every time our pitcher bounced a curveball in the dirt, with full gear on, in a futile effort to try and stop a runner from getting an extra base. Which, by the way, never happens. They always get the extra base. And yet we continue to sprint and slide, thinking maybe this time will be different.
I should not be catching. This isn’t a championship game. I’m not even on the team full-time. This game means nothing. I won’t remember it five, four, or even a year from now.
But... I could.
And that’s why the stupid dude portion of my brain said yes, pushing the intelligent and practical man portion of my brain to the side with authority. It’s probably also how I came up with ZZ for my friend’s pseudonym.
Yes, one of the primary reasons me, and other dudes of my ilk are willing to put themselves through immense pain is that it could be a game we remember. Maybe I’ll hit a home run in the clutch, or maybe I’ll throw out six runners trying to steal. I don’t know. There aren’t many scenarios that haven’t happened in my career, but you never know.
I’m not alone in this. Every competitive man I know is capable of becoming a dude when faced with a similar choice. My cousin, the War Machine, does this every week. He plays basketball Monday nights. Not such a big deal, only that he comes to softball on Tuesdays with more patched up parts than Iron Man after battling Ultron all weekend while being slightly intoxicated. My cousin limps (hamstrings), throws rainbows from the outfield (elbow and shoulder), and awkwardly slides (ankles and knees) nearly every week. We beg him to let us give him a courtesy runner and he refuses. Because he’s a dude.
Remember, dudes are idiots.
Dudes need to relive their youthful glory, if only it resides in their mind. They need this, because we are all afraid of growing old as men. We’ll fight to play more games during the week, whether it be golf or pickup basketball. If our girlfriends, wives, or fiancées plead otherwise? We’ll still resort to being a dude.
There will come a time when we can’t physically play the sports we wish. Where it’s not annoying pain we’ll have to deal with, but potential life-threatening injury.
I should not be catching today. It’s ridiculous, unneeded, and stupid. But the dude in me says it has to be done... and so I go.
I’ll probably come home with thoughts of joining the team full-time in the Fall, and The Angel will have to aid me in putting on socks tomorrow morning, a result of not being able to bend down.
But I'm still going. What can I say, growing up can be overrated sometimes.