There is no crying in baseball. But softball? That's a horsehide of a different color.
On Thursday evening, at the storied 4th Street Park in Ogden, the Standard-Examiner softball team made its ignominious return to the links.
Now, by "ignominious," I mean exactly what that implies: shameful, dishonorable, disgraceful. And by "links," I mean that one of us in this conversation clearly doesn't know the first thing about the sport -- because anyone can tell you that "links" is not a baseball term.
See what I mean? Now imagine a guy like me being an integral part of your company's softball team. Truly, there is no joy in Mudville.
I come from a long line of athletically challenged men -- men who are particularly well-suited for watching sports, not so much for playing them. Oh, I dabbled in a little softball in my younger days, but it's been at least 15 years since I've chased down a fly ball, or taken a cut with a bat, or tried to run between bases without stopping to catch my breath.
And on top of that, I'm now in my 50s, which means I'm even slower than I used to be. So even if I did somehow manage to hit the ball out of the infield -- and that's a whale of a big "if" -- given my blazing foot speed, there's a better-than-average chance they'd still throw me out at first.
Every year, in a misguided attempt to foster good will and camaraderie among its various companies, Business Depot Ogden -- the industrial park where the Standard-Examiner is housed -- hosts something called the BDO Corporate Games.
Employees compete for their companies' honor in a number of team sports -- including basketball, volleyball, dodgeball and softball -- as well as in individual events like running, biking and racquetball. And on Thursday, Team Standard-Examiner played softball against a squad from The Home Depot.
The Home Depot? Correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't this the same company that hired a bunch of Olympic athletes to "work" at various "jobs" while they trained for the Olympics?
I looked that one up on the Internet. In the 16 years that The Home Depot sponsored Olympic teams, it employed 600 athletes, who won 145 medals among them. In exchange, the athletes would be required to work 1,000 hours a year, for a salary of about $25,000.
That's something like 19 hours a week, at a wage of $25 an hour. Good work if you can get it.
Granted, The Home Depot's corporate offices dismantled the Olympic athlete program in 2009, citing difficult economic times. But who's to say that, locally, the home improvement store's managers haven't continued that tradition, hiring ringers for their company softball teams? I mean, A-Rod's gonna have a little time on his hands, am I right? I could totally see him selling reciprocating saws in between games.
Alas, in the end, we lost our first -- and only -- game in the single-elimination tournament when The Home Depot's Mark McGwire hit a three-run dinger in the bottom of the fourth inning.
I suppose I should feel more broken up about the loss, but when you think about it, looks to me like the only thing The Home Depot team won was a chance to stay out there in that heat and play another game.
Besides, the good news is, I'm not writing this from a hospital bed. Other than some sore muscles and aching joints, and a few bruised egos, no one got hurt.
Meaning, even if Thursday's game wasn't a moral victory, at least it was a medical one.
Contact Mark Saal at 801-625-4272, email@example.com, or follow him on Twitter at @Saalman.