Pick A Lane!

How many times have you been cruising down the highway in the passing lane (and I mean that literally, I am a ‘cruise-a-holic’ when it comes to highway travel), when some aggressively speeding imbecile decides to whiz by you in the right lane? Personally, I feel it’s ridiculous on their part when they pass on the left or right.  I’m already locked within a safe  margin over the speed limit (under potential speeding ticket range).  And might I add, I always set my cruise 5-6 mph above the speed limit set by state law, so it’s not like this ‘Miss Daisy’ is just slowly driving along.

Regardless of my competitive nature, it’s not the fact that the irresponsible buffoons race ahead of me in traffic it’s how they dangerously go about putting themselves in the “lead position”.  Highways that have more than two lanes merely give these people more passing lane options.  You will notice I am using the non-gender specific pronoun “they” and “people” here because I have evenly dealt with both male and female self-appointed NASCAR drivers.  I have on numerous occasions found myself in the middle of a need for speed NASCAR qualifying race on the freeway.

Recently I reviewed the MLB rules for pertaining to how a batter is allowed to overrun first base and I rediscovered the running lane.  My initial understanding of these rules was simple, yet I learned what I believed to be true about running through first base wasn’t entirely accurate.

Here’s what I originally thought: I believed it mattered in which direction the runner turned after he crossed first base as to whether he could be tagged out.  I was wrong.  The official MLB rules states: 

In running the last half of the distance from home base to first base, while the ball is being fielded to first base, he runs outside (to the right of) the three-foot line, or inside (to the left of) the foul line, and in the umpire’s judgment in so doing interferes with the fielder taking the throw at first base, in which case the ball is dead; except that he may run outside (to the right of) the three foot line or inside (to the left of) the foul line to avoid a fielder attempting to field a batted ball; Rule 6.05(k) 

Got it?  Well, first, take a look at the photo below.  The running lane is clearly marked in chalk-and by my larger, orange markings (which I know, aren’t straight but…).  The line begins halfway, 45 feet down the first baseline and then stops of course at first base.  The lines marking the three-foot lane are a part of that lane and a batter is required to have both feet within the three-foot lane or on the lines marking the lane. The runner is permitted to exit the three-foot lane by means of a step, stride, reach or slide in the immediate vicinity of first base for the sole purpose of touching first base.Runninglane4Labeled

Referring to the MLB rules again, there is nothing in them that state which direction the player must turn. The rule states that the runner cannot be tagged out after overrunning first base as long as returns to the base.

Of course, there is an exception to this rule (and more in which I won’t discuss in this post) in that the runner can make no attempt to go to second base or he can be tagged out.  This comes down to the judgment of the umpire and not whether the player turned into foul territory or not after crossing first base.

Wouldn’t that be interesting if someday the MLB implemented instant replay to decipher a runner’s intent after touching first base?  Yikes.  And by ‘interesting’ I mean, please no.  Let’s draw a chalk line in the dirt someplace that we won’t cross.

I understand crucial umpire calls have seemingly determined the outcome of games.  Being a Detroit Tiger fan, I remember the blown call at first base by an ump (whom I will not include his name here, the man felt bad enough) that kept Armando Galarraga from his nearly perfect game on June 2, 2010.

To error is human.  Sometimes those mistakes we make are just more painfully obvious.  I have mixed feelings about instant replay in this game of baseball I love so dearly and I plan on writing another post about that in the future.  For now, I will just share that I like the human element, the imperfection of an umpire’s vision.  It ignites a rip-roaring anger within me when a call goes against the Tigers, yes but I still prefer this over “rewinding the tape”.

I wish I had the authority to tag other drivers ‘out’ when they are hastily passing me on the road.  I would be benching those that dangerously passed me on the right. And ejecting those jack holes that have to hurry and pass me on the left only to cut immediately back into my lane, just before exiting off the highway.  Remember, it’s not that other motorists pass me that irritates me, it’s how they go about it.

 

Thankful to be Called ‘Safe at Home’ When Anxiety Disorder Attacks

I found myself thinking about my personal and professional goals and dreams while I sat in the quiet stillness of the night.  Somehow, I ended up pushing my already anxious mind over the edge into an anxiety attack.  The creative mind I have been blessed with often doesn’t know how to slow itself down and I realize too late that my thoughts are in a speedy sprint with one another.

A week ago, I had an episode come on while sitting on the couch.  My daughter was playing and I was giving her the remaining bites of a tasty dinner when I sensed my mind literally telling me to run.  I quickly stood up and indeed ran to lay down in the quiet of my bedroom with my eyes closed.  The anxiety attack subsided after about a half hour and thankfully I was okay the remainder of the evening.

Imagine if you will, you’re watching a baseball game.  A base hit has just been drilled by your favorite team’s clean up hitter with a runner on second base and it’s the 7th inning. You intently watch and cheer, hoping the runner gets the green light to score a run.  The excitement builds as the center fielder cleanly fields the ball, throwing it to their cut off man and the infielder decides to let the ball go through to the catcher to make a play at home plate.  Acquiring this run would give your team a 2-run advantage with only two more innings to play.  The runner is only steps away from home plate as the ball flies into the catcher’s mitt.  Intensity rises as the two bodies collide, both determined but wanting to hear the umpire yell completely different results.  Those seemingly delayed seconds as you listen for the umpire’s decision creates an intense anxiousness until you finally hear, “safe!” along with the familiar motion of the ump’s arms.

This is the best way I can describe what happens internally when I experience a panic or anxiety attack. From even before the crack of the ball on the bat, the possibility of a base hit sets the nervousness inside you in motion.  You can feel it coming on, I can feel the intensity of it rise and then most likely spins out of control.

Not only am I relieved to hear the words “safe” as my anxiety attack fades, I’m also grateful to feel “safe at home” as a freelance writer who is temporarily living with family who have provided me with a safe haven. It truly is a blessing due to my anxiety which often seems to be brought on when I’m in publicHowever, only in the last couple of years have I experienced this type of anxiety disorder.  Truthfully though my work is liberating, I enjoy writing and creating.  Currently, I have a laundry list (and a couple loads of laundry to do!) of web design and content I need to implement and fuse together.  Am I stressing over it?  Eh, not really although I do wish I had more uninterrupted time to accomplish these short term goals but I am a Mama first and foremost.  Perhaps it’s the personal battles and issues (both those I have control over and those I don’t) I am dealing with that are bubbling to the surface lately.

I am by no means claiming to be an expert in knowing how to combat anxiety but I have learned by focusing on my breathing, this does wonders in helping  any anxiety-related episodes subside.  Counting sheep, thinking of anything or anyone that makes me happy or praying revs my mental muscles up too much so those don’t work for me.  When I concentrate on my breathing though I’m focusing on only a breathing exercise, I’m physically and mentally giving myself something to do.

Regardless of how you tame your anxieties,  I hope you have a team that supports you through your tough seasons and cheers you on during your victories.  Anxiety disorders, mental illness, emotional problems, etc can be embarrassing and very difficult to face on your own (trust me, I know).   Seek out family and friends that can pick you up and dust you off after an untimely strike out or during a batting slump or after a fundamental fielding error.

Find those people you can be yourself around, chances are they feel the freedom to be themselves around you as well, and be a loving support to one another!  Life is tough.   Share the good and bad seasons with those you trust and with those who make you feel ‘safe at home.’

Of Mitts and Mutts

So purchasing a new ball glove was a tough decision for me back in the days I played softball competitively.  I  preferred using my Dad’s but my parents generously figured I would like to have my own.  I thought I did too, but I found myself bringing the ol’ reliable mitt, as well as my new one to almost all practices and definitely for any games.  I tried breaking it in but…I ended up using  that huge shovel of a glove most of the season 🙂 If I could have combined the old glove with the new, I certainly would’ve been ok creating a mutt of a mitt.

‘Scoop’ naturally became my nickname as a shortstop due to my broad fielding range and also due to the ‘front end loader bucket’ I called my softball glove.  I had this inner determination that told me I could make plays that were seemingly impossible.  My brain would see  the ball off a bat and it would quickly relay the message to my body, “Go!”

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And I would most often make the play (or at the very least kept the ball in the infield).   My confidence increased significantly when using  the Rawling’s glove my Dad and I shared.  In addition to this being a man’s size ball glove, it was also created for an outfielder.  Infielders tend to make more plays that require catching and immediate throwing than outfielders do.  Because of this difference, the two types of gloves are somewhat different in design.

For those of you that didn’t know, infielder’s gloves have varying characteristics specific to benefit his position on the diamond.  For example, a first baseman traditionally uses a style that is more like a mitt with extra leather layer in them and also are a bit longer than other infield positions.  In baseball, the phrase “get the sure out” means as an infielder, if the ball comes to you, throw the ball to first base for the out.  Using this logic, the size of the players mitts are related to their distance from first base.  So that being said, the second baseman has the smallest glove, followed by the shortstop.

Overall, outfielder’s gloves are larger, heavier and more thickly padded than infielder’s gloves.  I  had no business using one as a shortstop, and perhaps my former coaches should have pushed me to use the new infielder’s glove but maybe they knew I needed to part with it when I was ready.  Eventually I did let go of my big, leather security blanket and let Dad have his mitt back.  If I’m being honest, when using that glove, I felt Dad with me on the field and I liked that.  I wouldn’t call myself a Daddy’s girl but our sports connection had always been a strong one and I wanted to continue to hold onto it.

At this time in my young life, I still wanted to play backyard ball with Dad, I felt safe.  Playing slow pitch ball with a church league with family and friends was a whole different ball game than finding my place in competitive sports at school or Little League.  It was time to put on my big girl sliding shorts.  I conditioned that new mitt with oil, placed a softball inside it and wrapped a large rubber band around it regularly to break it in.  It only took a few weeks to truly feel comfortable playing entire games with this new Rawlings infielder’s glove.  It appeared strikingly similar to Dad’s actually which was exactly the look and feel I was going for…but it was fit for me.  New glove, new season of life.