Crouching: (v) stooping or bending low.
After all my years of human travel, experiences, lifestyle changes, enlightenments and detriments, I still can find reasons—new ones every day—to hate baseball.
You would think I would run out of possibilities and begin to repeat myself, but even now, as I looked at the word, “crouching,” a new manifestation of my disdain for “America’s pastime” has surfaced.
I must be candid with you.
The reason I hate baseball is because I never took the time to learn to like it. When I was young, kids divided into categories:
Kids who like to fish and kids who hated the smell of fish
There were kids who liked girls and kids who held tightly to the conspiracy theory about the “cootie” thing.
There were kids who liked baseball and kids who liked football. I was part of the latter group.
But every once in a while, I would find myself caught on a hot summer afternoon, when everyone thought it was stupid to play football, squeezed into a corner with a bat and glove, to play with my fellow-warriors.
Matter of fact, I even tried out for Little League because my friends thought I would be great, I was kind of funny and would be a thousand laughs in the dugout.
So when I arrived at the ball diamond and the coach met me, I didn’t even get a word out of my mouth before he ran over, patted me on the shoulders, looked into my face and said:
“You’re chubby. You’ll make a great catcher.”
I didn’t like being called chubby. Chubby was not a manly term. And God and John Wayne both knew—I was manly.
But I was willing to listen.
He presented me with some sort of padded vest which didn’t fit—well, because I was chubby. So he taped it onto me, gave me the catcher’s mask, the big catcher’s mitt, and led me behind home plate. I stood there as he waited for me to assume the correct position.
At length he said, “No, no. You’ve got to crouch.”
Did I mention earlier that I was chubby? When you have a few extra pounds, crouching is not a given.
But again, I was willing to try.
What I didn’t realize was that this crouching thing was not a one-time event. As a catcher, you not only need to crouch, but you need to stay that way through the entire half-inning and be able to get up on your feet quickly from that descended position so you can make plays.
Without going into a lot of painful detail, I didn’t have any of the aforementioned qualifications.
My knees kept hurting.
I got a cramp in my thigh.
I was always falling over onto my side.
And every time I tried to stand up from the crouch, I felt like Atlas with the world on his shoulders.
I lasted through two innings before the coach took me into the outfield, handed me a glove, said, “It’s quieter back here”—and relieved me of my misery.