Freeplay Softball Exemplars, Debacles, and Experiments

Dr Kolb's Swing

As a student of the mechanics of swinging a bat at the softball, this Freeplay Softball Season, and once again, my top rating goes to our founder, David Kolb. His compact swing is matched with a steady sightline on the ball to produce an effortless flat trajectory off the bat. On our rock-hard bumpy field this season his line drives have on a number of occasions rolled endlessly for homeruns.

A newcomer, Dicky, gets runner-up honors in my estimation. His swing is classic. It’s compact, smooth and supported by a predictably timed step into the ball. My guess is that he honed this swing about fifty years ago and has been rolling with the muscle memory for a long time.

Happy Freeplay Campers

This was the third photo I snapped on Sunday, after I exhorted the grumpy element to manufacture a smile. This came after a rout, again. I’m the so-called handicapper, who for nine seasons has been charged with creating well-matched line-ups. My goal is always a one run game. This season this goal has mostly eluded me.

In July we instituted an experiment, calling balls and strikes without an umpire, yet using the surprising convention of a specially-shaped carpet laid over the plate the ball must touch to gain a strike. Also, with two strikes, the batter only gets two free foul balls. So, two experiments aimed to move the game along, and, disadvantage the “Mike Hargrove” school of–what shall I say–selectivity. I’m a charter member of the long at-bat club under the old regime of not calling strikes, although I am also one of the batters who tends to select pitches out of the strike zone. Noting my own example, I’m not a member of the epic at-bat club, and so the hyper-selective hitters in this epic club are compelled to nowadays manage the strike zone. This has been very amusing. We’ve only witnessed one swinging strikeout and one called third strike, and these go along with several more retirements by foul ball.

I mention this because doing experiments is part of the aesthetic of the game, even if we don’t do many experiments at all. Of course the game itself is an experiment unfolded over twenty-six years: one in which anybody over thirteen years of age shows up in our open space to participate in a game about playing, rather than one about the final score.

Routs have little standing. Smile for the camera please.



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