26 June 2007

Sausalito summernight

I'll have a burger and a root beer
You feed the heap some of the grape
A shot of premium to boot, dear
We'll get across the Golden Gate

They are middle-aged guys, overweight guys, younger guys, dads of teenagers and dads of toddlers. The tie that binds them, beyond being guys, is enjoyment of softball, and a willingness to drink Coors Light.

They gather on Sunday nights, and play a game or two in a men's league. Some of the opposing teams they like, and some they really don't, but it's Sunday night, the most depressing night of the week when you work M-F, and there is softball and beer.

Well, there's softball. There isn't supposed to be beer, but the Soaring Rodents sneak it in their bat bags, giggling over their "rodent juice." About once a season, they get caught by the umpire, and they have to pour their beer out, and they all look guilty and sulky and about 5 years old.

Being middle-aged and young, overweight and not, married or divorced, stressed with work and family life, they are not predictable in terms of their sports prowess. Sometimes they don't win more than a game or two in a season. Sometimes, like now, they win 14 in a row.

They rarely have fans because Sundays are tough if you have kids who have to go to school on Monday. Usually they just show up and play, and that's good enough, especially if there is also beer. I send the spouse off with a kiss and a simple injunction: "Win."

He likes that.

Last Sunday, however, was the playoffs, and there was no school on Monday, so the kids and I showed up to cheer. "Look! Fans!" said J., the pitcher. His own brood showed up later, and actually by the second game of the doubleheader, the Soaring Rodents had a respectable fan base, who clapped and cheered and squeaked the squeaky rodent toy and yelled, "Rodents!" at the right moment.

The first opposing team showed up in little uniforms. Uniforms are not Rodent style. Sloppy old gym shorts, torn knee braces, t-shirts, dirty caps, your basic motley, now that's Rodent style. The opposing team smirked a little. You could see the wheels turning above those clean little uniforms: sloppy old fat guys.

Until the Rodents got up to bat, and hit 11 runs. That game ended in a mercy win for the boys in motley.

The next team showed up, and they had uniforms, too, after a fashion. And tattoos and a few shaved heads. But the older guys were pretty laid back, the younger ones a little feistier, a little more temperamental. And they were good. But the Rodents still prevailed.

It was a beautiful evening for softball, and I watched the spouse hit a home run. I watched the moon rise. I watched the birds, and my kids throwing a Frisbee and kids flying kites.

The Rodents took the championship, third season running. Feed the heaps some of the hops and all is good.

Go listen to some good music: "Sausalito Summernight" from the album Watts in a Tank by Diesel.