Making a case for beer league baseball
By Sophie Isbister, Life & Style
“We’re a drinking team with a baseball problem.” Maybe you’ve heard someone on a beer league softball team say that—and they would be right.
There are a lot of ways to stay active in the many outdoor spaces in our fair city. Jogging is a great option for the anti-social set, and tennis is fantastic if you only have one friend. But what if you like the idea of combining an amazingly fun sport with another amazingly fun activity—drinking beer with 15 of your friends?
That’s just one out of a million things that I love about softball. I’ve been playing since I was nine years old. Now obviously I wasn’t celebrating with a Cariboo shotgun between innings at the age of nine, but my youth in little league gave me an appreciation of the game and a solid grounding of the rules—solid enough that I know what’s going on even when I’m six beers deep.
Baseball is the perfect combination of strategy and instinct, of waiting and action, and of teamwork and fierce individualism. Every play has rules and specific moves, but in the moment you just rely on your hand’s ability to reach out and catch the ball and your brain’s ability to immediately know where to throw it. Sure, there’s a lot of standing around, but if you’re playing right then your downtime is engaged. You’re aware and ready to spring into action because as soon as the ball hits the bat, anything can happen, and that’s where training meets action.
The thing that helps you the most on a beer league team is remembering that beer comes before league—it’s right there in the name! We may be keeping score (and even keeping stats), but we’re all here to have fun and let off some steam on the weekend. Getting along with your team is key; the team I play on is the best in the league (for team spirit) because we genuinely enjoy each other’s company. We have team meetings and pub nights where we all show up and party together, and believe me, that camaraderie shows itself on the field. It cushions the losses and makes the wins feel even better.
Finding a team can be a challenge. I played on a few different slo-pitch teams until I found my fit. There are a few ways to find a casual team to play on, and if you’re keen, then now is the time to start looking! Check Craigslist under the activity partners classifieds section. Many leagues also have a Facebook presence, so if you can find their group, that’s a good place to post a note telling people that you’re interested. It also helps to notice which leagues play in your neighbourhood. If you see people practicing, don’t be shy—go and ask them who they play for, and if the league has a website.
If all else fails and you can’t find yourself a team for the 2014 season, that’s alright! You can still get together with a few of your friends, a bat, and some brews. Skills training never hurt anybody. Spend this summer perfecting that T-shirt tan and falling in love with the real beautiful game. If you have enough keen friends, maybe you can start your own team next year.