3hree Things: Species of Slow-Pitch Softball Goons

Watch out for 3hree Things every Tuesday, in which Riley Breckenridge, drummer of Orange County's favorite local alt-rock band Thrice, gives his take on life in Southern California as an OC native.

Saturday, I played in the annual "Irvine Classic", a day-long men's slow-pitch softball tournament held at Barber Park in, uh...Irvine. Some old high school buddies of mine put a team together about five years ago, and every summer (that I'm not on tour) I join them for some healthy camaraderie, vicious sunburns, postgame pizza and beers, and a ton of unintentional comedy along the way.

We're a pretty laid-back group. Obviously, we'd prefer winning to losing (and we've actually won the championship three out of the last five years, if I may toot our collective horn), but at the end of the day, it's more about having fun, catching up with old friends, and making it to the postgame party in one piece. It's not the World Series, it's not life-or-death, it's not the type of thing that could or will ruin our weeks. Unfortunately, that ethos doesn't apply to many of the other teams we faced this weekend. There was a staggering amount of douchebaggery and idiocy on display, and it almost made the people-watching as satisfying as the winning.

En route to a championship, that people-watching showed me that there are three pretty distinct species of slow-pitch softball goons in the area, and I thought I'd dissect them a bit for this week's 3hree Things.

Batter up...

1) Look Good, Feel Good. Feel Good, Play Good. Play Good, They Pay Good...Wait, We're Not Getting Paid?

This is usually a younger guy, still struggling with the fact that his "baseball career" ended in high school, who sees a slow-pitch softball league as a last ditch effort to get to the Show. He's in brand new $100 spikes, tailored baseball pants, a jersey with his name (or even worse, his nickname) on the back of it, a pair of batting gloves, a pair of baserunning gloves, two wrist braces, wrist tape, four wristbands, two Power Balance bracelets, an elbow brace, a couple of Phiten woven necklaces, eye black, a thick coating of AXE Body Spray, Oakley blades, a $200 glove, and a $300 bat. This guy is always far more concerned with how "pro" he looks than how well he plays, so even when he's blowing it and flying out in every at-bat or booting grounders right and left, he's making sure that he looks cool as hell while he does it. He's mimicking Albert Pujols' pre-pitch mannerisms in the field, he's got Ichiro's between-pitch-batter's-box routine down, he's flashing pickoff signs at his catcher, etc. And it's all for naught, because (in most cases) he's pretty bad at softball.

You can wear a lab coat and a stethoscope and wander the halls of a hospital, but that doesn't make you a doctor.


2) The Ticking Time Bomb 

The "Aggro Guy" species is probably the most common. Every play is life or death. Every pitch has the potential to flip Aggro Guy's switch from uncomfortably-intense to full-blown-manic. Every swing, throw, or catch is accompanied by a testosterone-fueled grunt. If he gets called out on a close play, he'll get right up in the face of an umpire (who's getting paid next to nothing to give exactly zero fucks about a pointless softball game that's being played by a bunch of fat, out-of-shape zeros) to argue until he's pulled away kicking and screaming by his teammates (who secretly hate him.) He'll talk trash to the opposing bench. He's ready to brawl. He wants to brawl. He CAME. TO. BRAWL.

We had a run-in with "Aggro Guy" in our quarterfinal game. He blew up over getting called out on a close play at the plate. Like, blew up. He was purple-faced and frothing at the mouth, telling anyone and everyone that told him to calm down to "Fuck off!" (There were a lot of us.) He completely lost his mind and broke into a 10-minute tantrum in the middle of the field. About softball. And it got me wondering: If he's really that high strung at a softball tournament, is he like that in all facets of life?

"Sir, I'm sorry...we're out of the Extra Medium Affliction T-shirt with the bedazzled demon placing a fiery crown of thorns on an bald eagle that's carrying two skulls in its talons."


"Yeah, we sold the last one a couple of days a-"

"PFFT. FUCK YOU! /throws a pile of shirts across the room

"Sir, if you could just calm down, we c-"

"I AM CALM, YOU SONOFABITCH!" /gets in clerk's face

I have no idea how a human being who is wired like that has managed to survive for as long as he has, and I feel awfully sorry for his family, friends, and/or wife/girlfriend (although assuming he has the latter two is probably foolish of me.) There are few things in life worth fighting over, and a blown call in a mildly competitive softball tournament is definitely not one of them.

Take a knee, "Aggro Guy." 


3. "You've got your ubulus which connects to the upper dorsimus. It's boring, but it's part of my life."

As we all know, the beer-bellied, pizza-chub-saddled, back-fat-having, aging-non-athlete build is probably the most prevalent body type among slow-pitch softball players, but this year I noticed an influx of overly muscular, pinheaded, shaven, greased up, Muscle-Milk-fueled goons on the softball field. I'm all for being fit, but there's a difference between being functionally fit, and turning yourself into a walking deltoid.

There were a few guys in this tournament who were wearing tank tops or sleeveless Under Armour tees (of course) that looked like they'd been doing nothing but curls, shoulder presses, and steroid cycles for the past decade.

And with all that upper arm, these guys end up swinging a softball bats like they're swinging an oar underwater, and throwing a softball like they're heaving a shot put. Every movement ends up looking like they're onstage for a final pose down at a bodybuilding competition, and while they bring very little to their team in terms of softball prowess, they provide loads of unintentional comedy for the teams they play against.  

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