I love playing ball. I always have. From the moment I played my first game of tee ball at Lessard Park I was hooked. What I lacked in natural God-given talent I made up for in heart and soul. Baseball has always been my favourite participation sport and I've given 100% in every inning I've played.
I've been playing with Raging Storm for about five years now and we've had quite a bit of success and plenty of good times along the way. We've played in a few different leagues in the GTA, currently climbing the ranks of the RSPA. A few years ago, we started keeping stats.
As a fan of Major League Baseball, I'm obsessed with stats. Ask me who was the first Jay to hit .300, smack 30 homers and drive in 100 RBIs in a season and I have the answers. I can tell you who recorded the first 20 win season, who hit our first all-star game hit and who pitched our first no-hitter, hit for the cycle or won the AL MVP award. Major League Baseball and statistics are a marriage made in heaven. When it comes to your summertime slo-pitch team, I've always been a great deal less sure.
I opened this matter up to debate at the beginning of the year, and the general consensus was that keeping stats was a good thing. Agreeing to satisfy the general will, I've been happily recording our batting statistics on our official page and I'll continue to do so. Following our fifth game of the season, however, I had an epiphany.
We are not professional ball players. In fact, we pay to play in this league. When you pay to play there is only one objective. We're playing to have fun. That's not to say we're not playing to win, we're definitely playing to win as winning enhances the fun, but we're certainly not playing for our stats, or are we? I had myself down as 2-4 in the game but when the official stats came in I was listed as 1-4. The mistake was mine, when I reached base the second time it was recorded as a fielder's choice. Suddenly, the difference between a fielder's choice and a single in a game of slo-pitch on a Monday night meant something more than it ever should. It meant a significant drop in the batting average.
I played Monday in a great deal of pain, playing first for all seven innings because it hurt to move and even calling for a courtesy runner for the first time in my career when I reached base in the last inning. I'm glad I played, because it was a lot of fun, and that's exactly why I play. I play for love of the game. I play to be part of a team, ideally a winning team, and I play because I've loved playing since that first game of tee-ball. I don't play to ensure my batting average stays above .500 and I've removed my stats from our page to ensure I never lose sight of this fact. If other members of Raging Storm wish to follow my lead, I'll gladly remove their stats as well.
It's time to start a revolution. I am not a number. I am a ballplayer.