Keep It Warm For Me

     Yesterday, I went to my local college’s rec center to play pickup basketball with my basketball playing black friend. I had the day off and wanted to do something fun, and I thought that would be it. I don’t attend the school, so I had to pay seven dollars to enter. I was under the assumption I would play until I was tired- simply game after game until I didn’t want to play anymore. That was anything but the case. In pickup basketball, the individual who calls “next” (or next game,) gets to choose who is going to be on their team. I was picked once. We lost. I was never picked again.  Never being picked to play is a common occurrence for me in the basketball world. For some reason, being small and white is a slight deterrent to the next-ers of the court.

     I started playing basketball when I was in fourth grade. That year, I wasn’t strong enough to get the ball to the basket from the free throw line. I played many minutes then, mostly due to the complete ineptitude of my team (we didn’t win a game all year.)  That trend continued through the duration of elementary school.

     Junior High was a whole new ball game. On the last day of try-outs, the coach sat me down and flat out told me he was going to cut me. I had no idea why this occurred. Just six months ago, I was a starter. I was just as skilled as the other boys, and I definitely had as much potential. As I started to well-up, he told me I could stay on the team, but I wouldn’t get much playing time. In the next two years, I got into only one game before halftime.

     After the Junior High debacle, I decided to hang up the high-tops. I just couldn’t deal with the fact I never really got a chance. Many people have dealt with this over time, and we bench warmers have a combination of two things in common- a fear of inadequacy in literally everything that we do, and a much stronger desire to prove ourselves to the authoritative figures in our respective warm-assed lives.

     This is a skill we men and women can use in our adult lives to propel us past the rich-parented ass-kissing always playing douche bags of our basketball days. They have no sense of desire to achieve something they do not have, for they’ve always been handed everything in their life. We do. We as benchwarmers will stop at nothing for approval. When given a seemingly impossible task, remember those days you spent bench-warming; the deep hatred you felt for your peers- and channel it into completing the task with more fervor than conceivably possible. You will be rewarded by once again watching the game courtside, seeing the starters out on the floor- but this time it will be the NBA Finals, and they’ll be wiping the sweat off the floor.

 

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It’s Been Awhile

Over the last few months, I’ve had many disappointments in life. One could say these are results of my own mishaps and just blatant underachieving, but there is much more to it than that. I have a feeling in my head of complete and utter inadequacy and I shouldn’t. I’m not a terrible guy. I’ve got many great things going for me. But there is something missing

Many people feel as if they are “depressed,” or not fulfilled in their current lives and situations. They think that a quick change of scenery (a divorce, job switch, etc.) will fix the emptiness and make them feel as If they have finally achieved an internal state of happiness. Some believe church will be this quick fix- throw a little Jesus in ya and you can take on anything. They are sometimes rewarded, but only the most fervent- the others are left slowly deteriorating into the wooden pews, eventually lying on a deathbed questioning their lives, asking, “what could I have done to be happier?”

I want to avoid this. If I have one hope for my life, it’s to prevent it from happening.  There is one simple problem, though- I don’t know how. How the hell do I know what I want? I’m an 18-year-old boy. I should want to skip class, get drunk, and spend way too long and way too much money to get a piece of paper. But I don’t want any of that. I want to see the country and the world. I want to fly jet planes, I want to be president. I want to drive a nice car, have a nice house, and have a hot wife. I want everything society as a whole say a short white kid from West Virginia can’t have. I don’t want to be another subject of the “man.” I want to be special.  I’m going to go for it. If I fail, I can lie on my deathbed and smile, saying “Hey, at least I tried.” You should too.

America’s Pastime

In thinking about what to write my second post about, I’ve decided to take an approach slightly different than the family dynamic theme in the first and talk about another prominent feature of my life- sports. I love sports. All sports. Any sport. The sport where they sweep off the ice with the brooms in the Winter Olympics is awesome to me, as well as the more obscure practice of Ferret Legging. I have favorites though, none more so than Baseball.

The sport of baseball has not been good to me, at all- playing wise(I once endured an 0-22 little league season) or fan wise. Being born and raised in North Central West Virginia, the only Major League team with any proximity to my home is the Pittsburgh Pirates. If you’ve watched literally any of the Senior Circuit at any time between now and say, 1992(!!!), you know the Pittsburgh Pirates are the definition of futility. For the past two seasons the Bucs have been in contention for both the playoffs and a winning tally deep into the season, only to absolutely decimate those chances with no roster changes from the winning baseball formula in the dawn of the season. How can this happen, you say? It’s because they’re the Pirates. They have now set the record for most consecutive losing seasons in the history of American professional sports, which is considerably surprising after watching THIS team. I have been in a very one sided relationship with the Pirates for as long as I can remember (it’s constantly take-take-take my emotional stability with them,) with few bright spots.

The brightest spot of my time with the Pirates was on a dark, gloomy weeknight game in the midst of a 67-95 season in 2006. I had won tickets at my local pharmacy, so my father and I hit the road and trekked the 90 minute drive to PNC park to watch Jack Wilson, Jason Bay, and the rest of the Pirate “stars” (in my young mind) with a crowd of about 5,000. It was late in the game and fittingly, the hometown team was getting destroyed. My spirits dampened by the rain and score, a foul ball was struck down the line. Freddy Sanchez, (eventual batting title winner!) made eye contact with me as he fielded the ball. A few seconds later, it was sitting in my glove. I had just achieved the true American dream, acquiring a ball at a Major League game.

I tell that story for one simple reason- if that ball would have gone to any other person, my love for the Pirates would have been lost. I just couldn’t put up with the mediocrity any longer without a “spark” in the relationship. Heartbreak after heartbreak, the Pirates are finally putting out in this complicated relationship.

A feeling only comparable to the most satisfying sexual satisfaction, the Pirates are leading their division. They also have the most wins in all of baseball. You heard me- all of baseball. History tells us that no team 51-31 through the half-way point in the season has finished under .500. History will be written, no matter the outcome. If failing to come out on top, 21 straight losing seasons will once again enhance the already formidable record of 20 and they will be the first team to do so with such a great first half record. If the team comes out on top, a different story will be told.  The record will be broken, fans will be out in droves, and I will witness the first winning season in my lifetime. The “foul” ball I caught was a symbol of the baseball that had been played for 20 years, and maybe- just maybe, it will finally be fair again.