While I was at work yesterday, I could not help noticing the ESPN headlines about Jorge Posada: He was so angry that he wanted out of the Yankees; Laura Posada’s texts about her husband’s aching back infuriated Brian Cashman; The Baseball Jesus condoned Posada’s hissy fit and everyone else got pissed off; then, Derek, Brian, Hank, and Hal hugged it out over a conference call; and now the Yankees are playing the Rays in Tampa and everyone is besties again. It was like the plot of a terrible Saved by the Bell episode.
And that got me thinking. I mentioned in the comments yesterday that the Yankees remind me of my high school softball team. On the field, we were kind of awesome. Off the field? The ridiculous drama poisoned our run to the state championship. We pulled crazy stunts and created unwanted episodes for our poor coach. No matter how genuinely talented we were, we could not mask all of the off-field issues. And I can’t help but compare the Yankees, this group of millionaire professionals, to a bunch of teenage girls.
Like the Yankees, we had a diverse mix of personalities that clashed as often as we clicked. We had angry, arrogant temper tantrums like Jorge. I mean, two of our starting pitchers brawled in centerfield over playing time. After a win, we were all sitting around our coach in the visitor’s outfield for a team meeting. Our angry, scary, and arguably unstable pitcher – known, in part, for wearing a silk ribbon in her blonde ponytail and forcing the rest of us to wear matching ones – was talking smack to our angrier, scarier, equally dramatic pitcher. As the rest of us sat there partially stunned and partially (beyond) entertained, the two hurlers started throwing punches. Our coach, who was very Girardi-like in her ability to calmly manage and diffuse tensions, somehow intervened. This was mid-season, and our pitching staff was never the same again. Did we win? Yes. Did they hate each other? Most definitely.
We had cold wars like the one between ARod and Jeter. Quite frankly, there are too many to describe here. We had oblivious, unaffected, and seemingly innocent people like Freddy Garcia or Phil Hughes. One underclassman’s rather large mother chased down my car in the school parking lot, did the sign of the cross, and told me that I had a “precious package on board” and to make sure that everyone was wearing their seatbelts at all times. She probably should have been more worried about the bottles of Zima and Mike’s Hard Lemonade that we had stashed in the trunk. We had creative and cheerful types like Nick Swisher – a smart, sassy girl created and led all team cheers, one of which was called “Like a Leadoff” to the tune of “Like a Virgin.” We had questionable alcoholics. Stolen bases and stolen boyfriends. Whiny hypochondriac bitches like Carl Pavano. All of these divergent attitudes and personalities did not mesh into a melting pot of high school softball deliciousness; instead, the game became a chore. It was the opposite of fun. And we totally played like it.
That said, we shared some of the best memories ever; and during those high periods, we were duped into thinking that everything would be okay. We had a certain spark from shared experiences; we sort of cared about each other and, at those times, we played well together. For example, two of my favorite girls, our trouble making Melky and Robinson BFF duo, thought it would be entertaining to steal a magazine from a gas station on a bus trip. They stole it solely for the Justin Timberlake pin-up, which they then gushed about to everyone. Their chatter made its way up to our coach, who promptly turned the bus around, made them return the magazine, and apologize to the clerk. We were all equally ashamed (and amused). And then we went on to kick ass. I am hoping that such a bonding experience will occur over this ridiculous Jorge hissy fit and extended losing streak.
My softball team also had our own talisman, much like Jason Giambi’s infamous gold thong. See, one Thursday afternoon before practice, a group of us were watching TV at our second baseman’s house. I wanted to watch Friends, which I had recorded on a VHS, before the new episode came on that night; I was told to use the VCR in her parent’s room. When I popped out the tape in their VCR, the first thing I saw was “Between the Cheeks: XXX” hastily scrawled on the side in black sharpie. My mouth dropped. In typical teenage-fashion, I called out to our first baseman, one of my best friends, that she must join me immediately. Then we played the tape. Imagine the worst/best 80’s porn ever – sparkles, mohawks, leather, hot pink hair dye, untrimmed shrubbery, fat people, a sex lesson that involved a cat, and a frighteningly sexual alien. We were horrified, but could not stop laughing. And that is when everyone heard us. When the rest of the team came in, the poor girl babbled about how her parents were given the video as a joke gift. When she finally ejected the tape, she danced into her parent’s bathroom and, like, threw it under the sink. Which I found super weird. Then everyone dispersed and we went to practice – but not before I asked to use the bathroom.
I locked the door and began my investigation to find the missing porn. Oh, I found it. Along with about 60 other pornos. I felt like Bob Woodward. And this porn was, quite literally, my Deep Throat. I didn’t know what to do with my new-found information, so I just went to practice. But I immediately began plotting how I could steal the porn. And during a party the following week, we finally had the opportunity. This is how it went down: even though her parent’s room was (finally) off-limits, our first baseman snuck in and grabbed the porn, while I distracted the second baseman in her garage. When my co-conspirator came out, she saw the second baseman and instinctively threw the contraband into a large bush next to the house. There were too many people and we could not climb into the ginormous hedge to get the tape. So that night, at like 2:00 a.m., we drove back to her house, climbed into the bush, and retrieved the video. Basically everyone else knew we did this except the girl with the kinky parents (also the title of an unreleased Stieg Larsson novel). I still have the tape.
After we stole the porn, my team did not lose again. That is, not until the state championship, which we lost 1-0. Even though we had a great run, playing softball was never as much fun as the Between the Cheeks Incident. We still more-or-less detested each other off the field. We all still cared more about our own playing time and where we were going to college and who everyone else was taking to prom. We never clicked as a unit and we had no business even making it to the state championship. And I guess that is my point. All of this drama gets in the way. We can gloss over the Yankees’ issues and pretend that they don’t matter, that they are too talented to fail on the field, and that all of these controversies will blow over. And they might. But this drama could also be the difference between a 28th World Championship and an early fall vacation.