Here we are again, a little later and a little more impatient but finally, despite our bitter winters and our stingy coast winds, Spring has come to New England. And while our forefathers sought out the red-breasted warblers as their harbingers of the solstice's face, I look for the red-skinned bounce of the hollow rubber on un-managed dirt. Kickball is back. The new American pastime, has come to New England.
Some of us will undoubtedly strap on a helmet, or the walking shoes, they'll take walks along the river, and duck tours in the river. They'll watch the sun set in the harbor, the moon rise over Fanueil, and watch a Citgo moon well into the depths of those midnight 9th innings. And while I begrudge my fellow Bostonians nothing, I've come to recognize a different celebration of the fairer weather here. It starts with the smell of the plastic as you rip open a new season of socks, or the vodka mixing with the jugs of lemonade. The familiar scream of support, laced with disparaging nicknames that remind you of those last summer nights of debauchery, the ones you tried to forget, and the ones we won't because we have the photos to prove it.
There are those who disparage it. They say things like "hey that was cool...when I was 6" or "you play what?" I was even told by someone I was recruiting that they only played "real sports." I don't know, but I had to assume that meant slow pitch softball with a bunch of has-beens reliving past glory. But I've learned that you can't relive that dropped fly to save the game in little league, and I've come to grips with my father never loving me because of that. but I've forged ahead, and blazed new trails into what the marketing boys up at WAKA HQ call, the new American pastime.
In the past few seasons I can say I've honestly made some great friends, friends who helped me earn those Friday "sick days," and pick the fibers from my fake mustache out of my beer. I've known the thrill of the kickball hook-up, the heartbreak of the unannounced the departure, and the other thrill of beating her team the next week on the diamond.
I've finished dead last some seasons. Last summer I was on a team that took the league. But regardless of how we finished, I've always conducted myself dignity, and like any good kicker, I've never lost sight of what dignity looks like. If you're new this season, feel free to introduce yourself. I'll be the one in the viking helm.