Sometimes the truth is staring right at me and I don't want to see it. I think there are times in everyone's lives when the reality is that the gig is up, so to speak, but we aren't ready to accept it. A leaf turns. It's now fall and winter approaches, but we cling to the fleeting notion that another gorgeous day is around the corner...then we wake up and the frost is so thick you need a shovel to get it off the windshield. In the big picture of things, what I'm really talking about is life and the changing seasons we all travel through. For me, that moment of epiphany came on a recent Saturday in a place where some of life's greatest lessons are learned.
Yes, it was on the Wiffle Ball field. In the first round of the playoffs of the Wiffle Ball World Series at Sabo Field in Courthouse Square, the truth nearly caused me to sprain my neck. At the precise moment I hung a forkball that was supposed to drop off the table to Ethan and he hit it to North Carolina is when my new reality smacked me in the face. Well, actually I jerked my head so hard to watch the ball go over the house I nearly sprained it. The next thing that hit me was the realization that at the ripe old age of 40, my best Wiffle Ball days were very likely well behind me. Somehow I managed to keep the game close by sticking with my game plan of busting Ethan inside with cutters, then throwing the occasional changeup and curveball out of the strike zone hoping he'd chase it. He did and I managed to survive without much more damage. But at the plate I was just flailing. I hit two balls hard all day; one for a long single and another that nearly left Taylor, who was playing shortstop, a eunuch. Somehow Taylor managed to deflect the ball or otherwise he still may be writhing on the ground in pain. Ethan prevailed 2-0 in the three-inning, first-round game. I'm left with the prospect of trying to fight my way through the "loser's bracket" to get another shot at Ethan, but then I'd have to beat him twice to be crowned champ.
I think I can accept this Wiffle Ball mortality. Accept the fact that when I play my teenage sons it will take the supreme effort to keep the game close. Maybe I'll be able to sneak in a win here or there through guile, luck and perhaps a nail file secreted in my back pocket or some lubricant hidden on my cap visor that will make the Wiffle Ball dance in an unhittable trajectory on its way to the plate. It's been a good run. I look back over 15 years or so of playing Wiffle Ball with my older boys and have so many great memories. The "green monster" of elm bushes at our back yard field in Prineville, Ore., and the day that the boys still reminisce about when Julie hit my unhittable rising fastball over the green monster, a veritable moonshot that will live in infamy; or the time Dave Erickson (who's now a missionary in Asia) hit one over our barn in Corvallis, Ore., in a blast that we still marvel over; or the historic day when I threw a no-hitter in a six-inning game against Brenton at our house on Mill Pond Drive here in Gloucester, in a performance that rivaled Don Larsen's perfect game in the World Series ... I'm sure there are plenty of good times to come. They'll just be different times. And to think that down in the minor leagues are four more Sabo boys ...
To see Ethan's home run, captured on video and expertly edited by Taylor, check it out here: