Thursday, January 24, 2013

Everything I Need to Know About Women I’ve Learned from Baseball

Editor's Note: Today, we welcome our newest writer to the fold, my (Justin) long-time friend Nick Badinelli. His interest in writing has recently been re-sparked and I was eager to have his bizarre, challenging and sometimes perhaps upsetting views and unique writing style become a part of Stars & Slights. It's a new year and this is the first of many efforts we'll make to continue to improve and expand our little operation. I hope you enjoy, and as always questions, comments and insults are appreciated.

By Nick Badinelli

Women are a mystery. They have been for the better part of human existence. Their thoughts, motivations, and most frustratingly, their emotions, have been the source of near constant speculation and confusion for the more animalistic sex.  

To my knowledge, no man has ever cracked their code and “understood” the fairer sex. That being said, I will graciously admit that the following attempt to derive meaningful conclusions about women from the game of baseball, will in large part be complete bullshit. I caution you however, to read it in its entirety as I plan for this bullshit to be of the utmost quality. 

Baseball. It’s a game of millimeters in which winning and losing is decided by the most minute factors.  Many times a player will find himself standing on the field wondering how the game got away from him in the final few outs of the 9th inning. The player stands, dumbstruck, attempting to learn a lesson from the events that most recently befell him.  

Men often find themselves, after a failed attempt in pursuit of women, just as lost and searching for answers. Like the ballplayer standing upon the grass, the answers lie between the foul poles. Analyzing the game of baseball will provide the answers, and will better prepare a man to play to win before the first pitch of the next game. 

The nature of the game, and its required attention to minor details, make it a perfect construct for explaining female behavior and subsequently mans ability to understand it enough to play ball. There are two distinct facets in baseball, as with most sports, that mirror relationships with desirable effect:  Offense and Defense.

Offense. This tends to be the primary focus for man in most matters. Whether in sport, or real life, man strives to dominate, destroy, and conquer. Its importance cannot be understated. Without offense, you can never “win” the game, only keep it going as long as possible.  

"This field, this game...There's a lot of wisdom here Ray."

When it comes to Women, a lack of offense will land you in the friend zone by the 5th inning. While a late surge of offense can still result in a win, the opportunities become fewer and farther between.  Especially when she starts throwing relief and closing pitchers with swooping curves and blazing fastballs. Don’t take a chance with late breaks,  score early and as often as possible from the get go.  Offense is broken down into the following categories. Preparation, Timing, Plate Discipline, and Base running.

Preparation. Always be ready. If you’re not prepared she’ll know exactly what pitches to throw to keep you at bay. It’s critical to keep this from happening. The best way to do this requires the same swagger it takes to hit a ball. Stand in there, stare her right in the eyes, and let the confidence ooze from every pore. Go ahead and put a lil' wiggle on the bat to let her know you’ve got style to couple with that confidence. Throw on a nice shirt, smell good, and make sure you’ve brought the right equipment: watches, sunglasses, a cool phone, etc. Its important the pitcher gets the impression that you know what you’re doing. Once everything is in place, its time to swing.

Timing. Timing is everything. You swing too early or too late and you’ll either miss the ball completely or awkwardly hit it in a less than desirable direction. Good timing has everything to do with hitting the ball directly over the plate to ensure solid, impressionable contact.  

When it comes to women, timing can make or break your chances of getting on base. Look for scenarios in which something has changed. For example; she just got out of a bad relationship, she’s hurting, and looking for someone to fill the man sized hole in her heart. Another, opposite, example could be she just got a new job, everything is going well, and she’s in search of someone to make it even better.  

If you find yourself presented with such opportunity, get your feet set, dig in and wait for just the right pitch.

Plate Discipline. You’re now prepared, you’re looking good, you’re confident, and she’s presented you with a golden opportunity for success. She is going to start throwing you pitches, also known as flirting.  As a hitter, this is the start of the nitty gritty of your plate appearance. She’ll likely lead off with fastballs, i.e. what’s your name, what do you do?  

While you may be tempted to go ahead and try to tag one over the center field wall, hold off in the early innings of the game. You’re gonna want her to throw a lot of pitches and expose her defensive weaponry so you can best determine when to make your move, ensuring the greatest chance of success. If she’s a talented pitcher, you may want to play some small ball, use your teammates, and just focus on getting on base. A savvy pitcher is going to throw what she hopes will get you off balance and force you into making mistakes.  

You don't always have to launch one into the seats Larry.

For example, don’t try to smash a 3-2 curveball off the outside part of the plate over the left field wall. Hit the ball where it’s pitched. If she won’t put that fastball middle-in to set you up for the Yahtzee shot to center, get on base and wear her down slowly. 

This is a good time to focus on the team aspect of the game. When you’re forced to play small ball, let your friends bat you around. Once you reach the relative safety of first base, a teammate’s offensive production will still foster success as you are already the lead runner and closest to scoring. It's OK to bat for average.  

Swinging for the fences may provide a satisfactory amount of runs for most men, but expect to strike out more often than not. Not every at bat will produce runs, but it’s a nine inning game with potential to go into infinite innings, i.e. marriage.  So wait for the right pitch and make the best of each at bat….and avoid extra innings as it will leave you tired, battered and broken.

Base running. Once you find yourself on base, and you’re allowing your teammates to attempt to bat you in, you still have a job to do.  

It’s important to keep the attention of the pitcher on yourself as a base runner. Don’t let her focus on the next batter, she needs to know that she’s still at risk of letting you round the base paths and making it home. Get a good lead to start. Before she begins pitching to your teammate, let her think she can still get you out at first. 

It’s vitally important at this point to be sure you can safely get back to first if she tries to catch you off guard and send your ass to the bench. Once you’ve established your presence on base, and she’s well aware that you only intend to advance, it may be time to attempt a steal.  

You’re gonna need to stretch that lead out a little further and get ready to make your move. Wait until the right pitch when you know she’s shifted her focus away from you for a moment.  That’s when you make your break. If your timing is right, and you manage to catch her off guard, you’ll easily progress to the next base without much of a fight. With any luck, her teammate will overthrow the base, and grant you an opportunity to steal two at a time.  If she and her team make enough errors, you may even find yourself lucky enough to steal home. However, do not get over zealous.  

You can quickly find yourself in a pickle and next thing you know shes got her whole team blocking any chance of advancement, or possibility of returning safely back to the previous base. The result of which is offensive failure coupled with a bolstering in confidence for her and her defense. It takes a hell of a base runner to get out of a pickle.  

Defense. The defensive side of the game is less complicated due to the nature of relationships in our society. Men more often than not are forced to focus primarily on offense due to the prowess of the female defense. That being said, defense is crucially important. Without it, even if you’re a slugger, she can put together enough offense to negate your efforts.  

If that’s the case, you may find yourself in a really high scoring, absolute mess of an extra inning game… a tragedy truly avoidable with good defense. Defense can be broken down into two major categories, pitching and fielding.

Pitching. Once you’ve scored a few runs you’ll want to protect your lead, and ideally, throw the best game you can for posterity. A win is a win is a win, however, perfect games go down in history. Keep her off balance. Work inside and out, and don’t throw her anything she can hit over the wall. Keep it simple and throw nice safe pitches.  

"You don't respect yourself, which is your problem. But you don't respect the game and that's my problem."

Its imperative to protect your lead and keep the hittable pitches to a minimum. Don’t give her the opportunity to gain the upper hand. Don’t let her in your head. If a hitter gets in your head she’ll move in up there and start rearranging furniture and throwing out your favorite things.  Keep that door locked tight. Remaining a mystery will help ensure you don’t have to call in early relief and take yourself out of the game.  If you’re going to give her a fastball, place it low and on a distant corner and Keep your curveballs in the dirt....Basically, don’t say I love you unless you’re drunk!  

Fielding. This is not important for personal success. Fielding better illustrates what it means to be a good wingman or teammate. If your pitcher throws a ball that gets hit, you do everything you can to make sure that she doesn’t get on base and get the upper hand on your boy. It’s your job in the field to make sure your teammate keeps his ERA to a minimum.  

If she gets on base, its better for the pitcher that it’s because you booted the ball. It’s also important to keep errors to a minimum as every good pitcher has lost a game or two due to the other 8 players on the field. Make the play however you can. Be smooth, quick, and fluid in your efforts. You’re the last line of defense. Play like a gold glover.

The ballplayer mentioned previously, the one dumbstruck and disheveled, unable to walk off the field and move on to the next game, has finally made it to the locker room. He pulls his copy of this piece from his bag, and reads it through, as he does after every game, and reviews his keys for success. He re-commits to offensive prowess and defensive synergy. He’s ready for tomorrow's first pitch. As he hits the showers a smile creeps across his face and he mutters under his breath..."Play Ball."

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