Better is better… so get over it

A column by Shara Springer in The Sunday Globe recently about getting “chicked” reminded me of the time I was struck out flailing by a Wilton high school softball pitcher. And “flailing” is the proper word.

First, a few words about getting “chicked” courtesy of Springer.

“Have you ever been chicked? Yes, chicked. That’s what happens when you get passed by a female athlete while running, cycling, trying to finish a triathlon, or tackling an obstacle race. … A Minnesota-based company even makes ‘You Just Got Chicked’ T-shirts with the phrase in bold, hot-pink letters down the back.”

I’ve been chicked running and biking, and I think I have to add softball to that. Here’s what happened:

Sometime in the early 2000s, The Cabinet decided to form a softball team, God knows why, and one day our manager decided that we’d scrimmage against the Wilton-Lyndeborough Cooperative girls softball team to help them get ready for their state championship game. I was our first batter. I don’t remember the name of the girl who was pitching, and I don’t want to and hope to never see her again, especially with a ball in her hand and me stupid enough to stand in front of her with a bat.

Anyway, she threw three pitches, all fastballs. Two were strikes, one a ball. I didn’t come close to hitting one, BUT after those three pitches, I thought, “I’ve got her figured out. I’ve got that pitch timed.”

And I did. I was ready. I knew EXACTLY when that fastball would be in range of my bat and I was poised, I was ready, I was …

I was just about flat on my face because she threw me a changeup. I’m halfway into my swing before I realized the ball wasn’t even close to the plate and there was no way I could adjust, no way to stop the swing and start again, and I almost fell over flailing and trying to just get a piece of that ball to stay alive.

Strike three.

Ugh.

Smart kid, smart pitcher: She knew darn well I was timing her, she set me up with those three fastballs and I fell for it.

Ugh.

But here’s the thing: It didn’t matter a bit to me that she was a she. She beat me fair and square, and I was no more embarrassed by being humiliated by a girl than I would have been being humiliated by a boy. I got set up, I got taken down, just flat-out beaten by someone with a lot more softball smarts than I.

And when I say “humiliated,” I don’t mean it in an “Oh, God, I can’t face life” sort of way. I mean, I really, really looked BAD up at the plate.

A few years later, I got conned into racing against two Souhegan High School students for a mile – one male, one female. I tied with the female; the male torched us both. And I only tied with the girl because she had just come off a respiratory ailment.

See, why should it matter what gender beats you at something? If somebody is better at something than I, then he or she is better. That’s all.

If I swim against Diana Nyad, I expect to be torched, but I still want to swim against Diana Nyad or Katie Ledecky or Michael Phelps. It’s the challenge.

I’ve watched the occasional college softball game, and those pitchers are FAST, man, and they are women, and if I had the chance … gimme a bat. Show me two pitches, and I’ll have that timing down PAT. And I DARE you to throw a changeup. C’mon, throw it. Of course, the problem there is, if I sit on a changeup and she comes again with the fastball. Uh-oh.

I hope that pitcher from Wilton went on to play college ball, and I hope she had a great career, and if she just happens to still live in this area and just happens to read this, well …

You got a ball and bat, kid? Because I’m ready to go again. And if you beat me again, well, it still won’t matter a damn what your gender is.

Mike Cleveland is former editor of The Cabinet.

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