Even the Losers
July 25, 2014 | by Dan Piepenbring
Even the losers
Keep a little bit of pride
—Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
About a month ago, when I last wrote about The Paris Review’s softball team, I called us “damn fine.” “The Parisians are on something of a hot streak,” I had the gall to say, noting that we’d “met with defeat only once, at the hands of The Nation.”
Then July happened.
Reader, you gaze upon the words of a broken man. (Specifically a broken right fielder.) Today, that “damn fine” is inflected with callow hubris; that “hot streak” runs lukewarm. After three more games—against Vanity Fair, New York, and n+1—our season is over, and our win-loss record is a measly 4-4.
The close of yesterday’s game found us supine on the Astroturf, wondering: What happened back there? That’s for history to decide, or the trolls in the comments section. Whatever the case, our early, easy victories against the likes of The New Yorker and Harper’s now seem like distant memories.
The trouble started with our game against Vanity Fair, whose chic black-on-black uniforms belied their brutish athleticism. (And their trash talking: “Don’t just tweet about it,” shouted their third-base coach, “be about it.”) They eked out a 5-4 victory; I ate some of their pizza in recompense. Our spirits were still high enough, at that point, for a group photo:
Alas, that loss was only a harbinger of the slaughter to come. Our next challenger was New York, and even though a TPR ringer brought a drone to the game—its photography can be seen above—our opponents were unruffled. They hit dinger after dinger; they even hit the scoreboard. We stopped counting their runs, eventually, and passed around a jar of whiskey and a box of donuts instead.
And then there was n+1, whose early homers gave them an insurmountable lead. This season’s MBP (Most Beleaguered Player) Award goes to our beloved Justin Alvarez, who faced derision yesterday for his faultless pitching. “I remember you,” an n+1 staffer told him at the bar after the game, when everyone was supposed to cultivate camaraderie. “You threw those weak pitches.” I mention this disgraceful behavior in the hope that n+1 will be shamed into kindness after future victories, should any occur.
So ends another summer of softball. To quote Bull Durham: “It’s a long season and you gotta trust it. I’ve tried ’em all, I really have, and the only church that truly feeds the soul, day in, day out, is the Church of [Beer-League Soft]ball.”
See you next summer on the diamond, everyone. We’ll bring the drone; you bring the heat.
DC Comics: 5
The New York Review of Books: 2
*featuring the first-ever Paris Review triple play
The Nation: 15
The New Yorker: 6
Vanity Fair: 5
New York: ∞