Have a ball? Have a ball!

When I’d reached my self-imposed word limit yesterday I said I’d return today with recommendations for working through a hamstring injury and ways to prevent it from happening again. Which I’ll get to. But first I need to tell you about an orphaned ball.

It was a good hour until dinner, the early evening was warm and sunny, the rush of kids coming home from school and parents from work over. A perfect opportunity for fun in the burbs.

“Who wants to go play in the street?” I yelled. As expected, I had three takers. We armed ourselves with a soccer ball, a junior-sized football and a basketball, which we noodled around with in the cul-de-sac before I spotted the orphaned white ball. It was your basic play ball, the kind stores keep in big wire cages and sell for a buck. It was bleached of color but held air and was otherwise in good shape. It had no heft, no weight, and no matter how hard you kicked it, didn’t matter if you were Rhys Lloyd, this flighty featherweight wasn’t going out of the cul-de-sac, let alone through a neighbor’s window.

“Let’s play kickball!”

Kickball. That staple of grade school recess that for most — but not all — of us vanished after 6th grade. Unlike its more successful cousins baseball and softball, kickball isn’t as demanding or demeaning for those of us of lesser motor skills. It also doesn’t hurt as much when the hand-eye coordination isn’t what it could be. Similar rules to softball and baseball, but much more laid back. Plus, everyone tends to get in on the action; there’s less of a “Put-Joey-in-right-field-because-no-one-ever-hits-out-there” element. Especially when you’re playing two-on-two, which is what we were playing in the cul-de-sac.

When you’re in the field with a full nine players, you’re only responsible for covering 1/9th of the playing surface. Ball goes to left field, you’re in right, not your problem; Stand, watch, wonder what mom packed in your Roy Rogers lunchbox. When you’re playing with just two players, you’re responsible for half the field — and if you’re a competitive 53-year-old feeling the need to prove yourself to two 14-year-olds and an 11-year-old, you assume responsibility for more.

It was the second inning and we were only down by two but, as I believe I mentioned yesterday, I could feel the game slipping away. They had the bases loaded; we needed this next out. My 14-year-old teammate rolled the pitch, our 11-year-old adversary delivered with a wounded duck down the first base line. “Mine!” I yelled, followed quickly by, “Aieeee!” That’s when my hamy — the semitendinosus, to be exact — went. I hobbled and short-hopped the fly ball; the 11-year-old was safe, the ghost runner scored, I was done. Or would be after we played another three innings and lost 7-6.

The strained muscle aside, this little orphaned ball gave us a great  workout before dinner on a school night. We ran, we kicked, we threw, we ducked. And had I had the foresight to warm up, to maybe jog slowly up and down the street for a few minutes before starting, I wouldn’t have spent the evening Googling “semitendinosus injury” and pestering my running coach for advice on how to quickly work through this injury.

Advice I will share tomorrow, because, again I have exhausted my self-imposed word limit for the day.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *