Last night was a trying time for IVDUB. Coming hot off a two-win streak and seeded 4th (fate) in our slow-pitch softball playoff bracket, we suffered a stinging 7-19 defeat at the hands of a team whose name we never knew (probably an incredibly clever sexual joke name like “shafts’n’balls” or “big wood”). This by itself was not necessarily the recipe for a bad night – IVDUB has been known to lose a few in its day, and has always done so with poise and grace. What made the night…unfortunate were the words and actions of a couple members of the opposing team.
IVDUB had a rough first inning, and came up to bat with business on its mind and a spark in its eye. After a few at-bats, it became clear that the opposing catcher was not only inebriated, but determined to mouth off to us at every opportunity. He proceeded to do so loudly and sloppily over the next few innings. Now, it was clear at this point that the man was determined to make a complete ass of himself, but IVDUB is not perfect, and competition, testosterone, and brotherly bonds make for a potent combination. Words were exchanged on both sides, and tempers began to flare. At this point, even the inebriated catcher’s teammates were showing obvious disapproval and even verbally distancing themselves from him, apologizing and telling us he was “not their boy,” but “someone we just play with.” While we appreciated these sentiments, we were nonetheless agitated by this embarrassing little person.
Despite this, I soon began to realize why I’m so proud of IVDUB, so proud of these people I have come to call my best friends. While we were not entirely silent at the beginning, it became clear that we were the better men and thus held our tongues and turned our attention to the game. While I was still steamed, I felt a bolt of pride that while sharing both thought and feeling on the subject, every member of IVDUB could be mature and direct their attention to the game. I also speak for everyone in saying I was proud also of our fan section, who brought snacks, cheered loudly, and supported us in the utmost.
After the game, the teams all passed in single file to congratulate each other on a good game. As I watched, everyone in front of me proceeded to give a high five to sloppy catcher, including me. While we had a lot on our minds, we were still gentlemen and held our heads high, refusing to be petty enough to skip a high-five. As a disappointed IVDUB gathered its gear, sloppy catcher and a small, chubby redheaded friend walked by the dugout, mouthing off one last time. It was enough. Suddenly there was a wall of about ten IVDUB men standing shoulder-to-shoulder, and the two trash-talking children began to head off toward the parking lot, still yelling threats but conveniently and comfortably being pushed back by girlfriends and teammates. At this moment I felt another surge of pride. All of us, without hesitation, were ready to stand at one another’s side and fight if necessary. That it happened in seconds and without conscious thought only speaks to the bonds we have built over the years. We were a wall of blue IVDUB shirts, while these two were alone, distanced from embarrassed teammates who didn’t want much to do with them. While fighting is and should be a last resort, it was pretty damn clear that we were not scared to do so if we needed to.
IVDUB lost the softball game last night. That is beyond question. But I have absolutely no doubt that by keeping our heads held high, being mature and standing beside one another without hesitation, we came out with the biggest W of all. Be proud of yourselves, boys.