Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Co-Ed Kickball

In case you thought curling and disc golf were the only obscure sports I've been participating in...wrong! We have something new. Amber and I recently accepted an invitation from fellow curlers Adam and Maggie to join their co-ed kickball team. Yes, there is such a thing as an adult kickball league.

So, here's why kickball is a better option for us than most other sports. Over the years, I've played basketball, volleyball, and softball competitively (on an intramural level), and I was never very good at any of them. By basketball and volleyball standards, I'm too short, and I've never been good enough at either to make up for it. As for softball, well...my arms are weak and my hands are small, which made hitting, throwing, and catching a problem. Those three things are kind of important in softball, so I've never been a good softball player, either. Most sports require strength and height to be good; I've got neither. I've always been drawn to the sports that require "touch" and "precision" (golf, curling) more so than pure athletic might. Same goes for Amber. We also figured that kickball would be more of a "social" sport featuring people of all athletic abilities who are doing this just to have a good time, rather than a "competitive" sport featuring people who spend an hour in the gym every day and are playing competitive sports as an outlet for their athleticism. And, on top of that, this is a "co-ed" kickball league. (Each team must have a minimum of seven players, at least three of which must be women.)

"But Chris! How is kickball any different? Isn't it a matter of how far you can kick the ball?" Nope! I can't kick the ball very far, but in kickball, that's okay. Here's the general "batting" strategy in kickball, as I've learned so far:
- Keep the ball on the ground. Most outs are made via pop-outs.
- If there's nobody on base, or only a runner on first, a "bunt" towards the third base side is basically a guaranteed hit. (Note that there is a "bunt line" about 10-15 feet in front of home plate that every kicked ball must cross; if a bunt is left short, the runner is out.)
- If there are many runners on base, then you might be better off kicking the ball into the outfield, if you can. Personally, I can't reach the outfield with any consistency, but I'm very good at bunting, and that's why I'm "batting" leadoff.

All this gives me an opportunity to add a new statistic to By The Numbers: kickball batting and pitching statistics! I went 3-4 at the plate in the first game: three bunt singles with the bases empty, and one "fielder's choice" with a runner on 1st. I also scored one run. I don't know what Amber's average was in the first game, but she did have one RBI. Oh, right...we won the game, too (3-1). Woo!

My personal goal for the season is to bat .500 or better, average at least one run scored per game (that's my job as the leadoff guy, right?), and get at least a couple of RBIs. (RBIs are harder to come by when batting leadoff, so I'm keeping my expectations low on the RBI front.) I'm also our team's pitcher, and I'll be keeping pitching statistics as well, but I'll save the pitching discussion for another day, after we get a few more games in. Yes, there is strategy involved in pitching, even in kickball.

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