A new (winning?) season

They'll be plenty of time for me to bitch and moan about the Cardinals as spring turns to summer. (I'm already up in arms about their weak bullpen, the joke of a right fielder they signed to a 3-year contract, the lower payroll cap, and the price of tickets at Busch III.) On a positive note, thanks to the local cable provider dropping Fox Sports Chicago and picking up Fox Sports Midwest -- I made at least 10 phone calls to them pleading to do so -- I can now watch just about every Cardinals game this season. Tonight I'll be watching yesterday afternoon's game, which I taped but couldn't watch last night after work. Since the Cards don't play tonight, M and I are going to catch up on that missed game -- Chris Carpenter's domination of the Pirates. I've managed to steer clear of any giveaways about the game, other than the fact that the Cards won, 4-0.

But Major League Baseball aside, it's also a new season for slow-pitch softball and the company team, the SP Sluggers (yes, a truly inventive and inspiring name). The question, as always, is, "How well will the knees hold up?" Something about the specific movements in baseball -- maybe turning to leave the batter's box as a lefty, or rounding the bases at full speed -- cause the knees to ache. A few seasons ago, I developed a case of tendonitis in my right knee. It really was painful, keeping me out of serious athletic activity for a couple months. I bought one of those cheap knee braces that slip on, and used that while playing basketball. That seemed to do the trick, but when I returned to the diamond, so did the pain.

Over the past year, I developed some minor tendonitis in my left knee. I tried wearing knee supports on both knees while playing basketball, but that didn't work out so well. I just experienced extreme cramping in my upper legs, which I attributed to the braces cutting off the blood flow to some degree. (Oddly enough, the sudden movements in dodgeball didn't seem to bother the knees too much. Maybe that's because I didn't move too suddenly?)

Anyway, we've got a lot of players this year on our co-ed team, so I'm going to fill the role of super-sub, playing only on nights when they need an extra guy. I hope the knees hold up, because I need to do start contributing on the field to make up for my laziness off the field. I'll keep track of my stats for you, including outfield assists. (Hey, you laugh, but I nailed five baserunners a few seasons ago.)

By the way, for some reason my mom saved the stats from my 1984 Little League season spent with the Rangers, which correspond to the above photo. (Not certain why our manager -- or anyone for that matter -- was keeping track of stats for 8 and 9 year-olds.) Enjoy:

AVG: .294
Extra-base hits: 1 (woo-hoo -- a double!)
Strike outs: 10 (I've always been a free swinger)
Runs: 3
Sacrifices: 0
RBI: ??? (apparently the stat heads were too busy tracking sac flies)

As you can tell from the stats and the photo, I was more in the mold of Willie McGee rather than Jack Clark.

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