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Battling the Batting Cages

On my way back from visiting a friend out of town, my roommate, my cousin and I passed by one of those Mini-Golf/Driving Range Physical Activity type amusement parks. My roommate and cousin may have had plans of stopping in on the way back. I wondered why they were bringing a baseball bat and gloves to our friend's house but I figured that maybe he owed them some money or something.

When we arrived it was a circus type environment, little kids running around, people buying cotton candy, bears riding bicylces, that type of thing. It was one dollar for 10 pitches so I figured that I'd give it a whirl. What the heck, I hadn't swung at anything with a baseball bat since I was fourteen and then I think it was at a nail because I couldn't find a hammer.

The batting cages were set up as such:

There were about ten cages in a row. They started on the far left with a sign that read "Super Fast." I chuckled warmly to myself and decided that that just wouldn't do. The next cage read "Fast," then "Medium" then "Slow." So I continued to walk along hoping to find a sign that read "Ridiculously, Embarrasingly Slow." No such sign was found but I did notice that the further down I walked the slower the balls were travelling. My roommate and my cousin took modest places in their cages while I smartly set up camp in the last cage on the right, the slowest possible cage.

Batting CageI examined my new surroundings. There was a barrel of bats to my right as I entered the cage. I couldn't help but notice that the bats were pink. As if it wasn't enough of an embarrassment to be a grown man in the slowest possible cage, but they gave me no options other than a pink bat. Looking to my left I could see a little girl, no older than ten years of age, hitting balls. I deposited my token and took my place at the home plate set up on the ground before me. I hit my bat against it and took a few practice swings (because I've seen that done on TV) and waited for the ball come at me. At first I thought that I must have done something wrong because there was no ball coming out, however I did see the machine in front of me doing something. Finally after a long time a ball hiccupped its way out of the machine. This was no ordinary ball, it was a giant yellow sphere much larger than a softball. It must have been about the size of a cantaloupe just rolling in agonizing slow motion at me.

I waited and waited and finally took my swing. Nothing but air. I thought that I heard the mother of the ten year old girl snicker but it couldn't have been her because when I turned around she was just looking in the air and whistling. I looked at the girl next to me as she cranked one over the fence. Gritting my teeth I whacked my shoes with my pink bat then pointed off into the distance with the bat. I wasn't going to let this machine get the best of me. The next pitch lolly-gagged through the air at me and I swung. I felt nothing until the ball rolled into the back of my foot.

I looked to my right to double check that I hadn't missed a final cage that had beach balls set up on tees but to my dismay I hadn't. It was okay, because I was going to beat this thing. The steady cling sound to my left as the little girl kept knocking them out of the park wasn't helping my esteem. I made brief eye contact with her and received a sorry glare. I didn't need her pity. I squared my shoulders and took my award-winning batting stance once again.

This time I connected with the ball. My excitement didn't last long as I observed the grounder roll back to the machine almost as slowly as it had come. In fact it almost didn't reach the machine at all.

I took my remaining 37 swings and met with mixed results. Usually if I hit the ball it just bounced off the ground or rolled away from the cage. I got a few little-league-style hits later on but nothing to be too proud of. Luckily the guys I went with were far enough away where they didn't witness my inferiority to a ten year old girl at such an easy sport. I made my peace with baseball though. I don't like it and it doesn't like me. And while my friends may be good at it I'd like to see them beat Ghosts N' Goblins.

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