Saturday, April 23, 2011

April 23rd-Brought To You By the Letter 'W'


    Apparently, some mouth-breathers in the New York State legislature have taken it upon themselves to declare that certain children’s games are inherently unsafe.  No doubt victims of the athletically inclined (or even competent) when they were kids themselves, they have proclaimed that Red Rover, Tag, Capture the Flag, Disemboweling the Slow (ok, I’ll give them that one), and Wiffleball (wiffleball!!) are as dangerous as a Seder at Osama Bin Laden’s house and, so, should be banished as activities for our youngsters.
    Of course, concerned parties could petition the state for a waiver.  Then, for only a $200 fee, they could outfit their kids in head-to-toe bubble wrap before venturing forth to play Four Square (where their self-esteem is in jeopardy if they get chalk on their pants).
    Luckily, common sense and a flood of bad publicity stopped these knuckleheads from carrying out their plan.  For now.
    Just to be sure, though, I’m asking Butchie Zowine from my old neighborhood (he may be out on parole) to head up to Albany.  Where he will give atomic wedgies to these idiot legislators if they change their minds.
    We loved wiffleball when we were kids.  It was the perfect game to while away hot summer days when nobody actually felt like heading to High Park to chase a baseball around.
    You didn’t need nine players on a team, you didn’t have to run the bases, and there was zero chance of breaking the neighbor’s windows or each other’s jaw (are you listening, New York?).
    In fact, since we first started playing by pitching to each from across the street, the worst thing you had to worry was zinging a passing car driven by a large man.  Or losing your ball when it went into Mrs. Pender’s rose bushes. 
    Prickers and bees.  Yikes!
    It was one of my brothers and I favorite activities (until we discovered girls).  It even stayed with us when I went into the Navy.  To this day, we continue to play it.
    As a matter of fact, there’s an annual Wiffleball competition that is held primarily on the East Coast (details on  I’m not making this up).
    Two of my brothers and I competed in this in 1999.  Of course, we were disqualified when some joker poured super-glue in our armpits and we couldn’t move our hands.
    Our own children have taken up the mantle and play against us.  Although, I have to admit, they’re better (also “faster,” “agile,” and “less prone to sore muscles”).  But, my brothers and I can drink beer, so it’s kind of a wash.
    So, it is with no small amount of disgusted amusement that one of the most cherished games of my childhood (beside “Fling Dog Poop at Kathy”) has been designated lethal to life, limb, and tender sensibilities.
    As I was tagging along with my wife on one of her grocery shopping excursions, I noticed a summer barbecue set-up near the ice cream.  Predictably, there were lounge chairs, coolers, sun screen and, lo and behold, a collection of wiffleball equipment.
    Ignoring her pleas to help load a crate of bathroom tissue into the cart (“Hey, it’s on sale!  I don’t care if it’s a hundred rolls!  We can always use toilet paper!!), I took a look at the collection of little yellow plastic bats and balls (hee, hee, hee. I said “balls”).
    Upon further inspection, I noticed that, printed on the cardboard sleeves, were directions how to toss the ball up into the air.  Essentially, how to pitch to yourself.
    I thought, “What kind of pathetic loser doesn’t have any friends that he can play wiffleball with?”
    Then, I remembered....
    New York State Legislators


  1. guess I'm glad I don't live in NY state

  2. That is so funny! You sometimes wonder why these guys can't find more important things to occupy their time. Here in Maine, the legislature spent weeks trying to decide whether to make the Whoopie Pie the State dessert! That was after they passed legislation making it legal for one armed people to carry switch blades.

  3. @baygirl: Me, too. And not just because it's full of New Yorkers. DISCLAIMER: I merely used the preceding statement for its comedy factor. It, in no way, is meant to impugn the wonderful people of New York, many of whom are not in sanitation and, thus, could make me disappear in a landfill. Go Yankees/Mets/Sabres/Giants/Bills/Islanders/Rangers/Sabres/Jets/Knicks/Nets!!! (Eat your heart out, North Dakota)
    @Eva: I read in a Dave Barry book that Maine has designated the Whoopie Pie as the state snack food. I thought he was kidding (most times you can't tell with that guy). Apparently, he wasn't.

  4. DISCLAIMER: I merely used the above statement merely for its comedy factor. It is, in no way, meant to impugn the wonderful people of North Dakota, many of whom live in the middle of nowhere. But, probably own guns.

  5. That was a great read Al. Loved wiffleball, my brothers and I grew up with it as well and it was so fun. Better than any xbox, playstation or computer game out there. Plus we got exercise and fresh air. Ah the good old days.

  6. Great post Al!!!!

    I am glad I am not the only one who thinks that they are fucktards for that.

  7. LOVE the instructions on the packaging - some of the most instructive I've ever seen.

  8. Athletic activities should be torturous and not fun. Better yet, for safety reasons children should stay indoors at all times. I NEED a sarcasm emoticon.

  9. Ah, Al! You are the voice of sanity! I loved every word of your post! Funny and true.
    I got a huge kick out of you and your brothers competing... wish I could have been there!!! (I'm assuming that fact was true?)

    My hubby use to run track competitively. A no contact sport, right? Wrong! Elbow jabs and shoves were common. Competition is a part of life. Those legislatures are nimwads.

  10. I grew up in Queens, New York and never heard of wiffleball. We played stoopball, stickball and King and the "anyone around my base is it" game, I can't remember the name of that game. We played street hockey (no skates). If kids don't get no exercise they gonna get fat, let em play. When I was young my mom always told me to go out and play already.

  11. It's amazing, the laws some of these idiots try to pass. I've heard of a few real winners lately, but most seem not to pass.

    Good luck on the rest of the A to Z Challenge!

  12. @Barb: We stopped playing last year. Believe it or not, we felt too old for "competitive" wiffleball. It felt like our arms were going to fall off!
    @OT: A lot of other people did, too, thankfully.
    @Lady E: I couldn't believe it!
    @AC: It was amazing the variety of games we came up with (e.g., throwing dog poop at our sister)
    @PAMO: Oh, yes, we did compete! We even have a trophy which my son won at the last family "Wiffleball Tournament" (I included a picture of me competing for that one). The trophy is close to 30 years old and went to the winner of the annual tourney. Maybe I'll post a picture of it....
    @Anthony: A friend of mine from Philly taught me how to play stickball. It was tough to hit the tennis ball with a broom handle, but once you did, that sucker flew!
    @Shannon: I'll keep paying attention, but I think we're safe. For now.

  13. I'd love to see a photo of that trophy!

  14. I'll find it. I have a photo of my son holding the coveted plastic and wood bauble. . And I also have a picture of it sitting in front of the plywood strike zone I made. I might use that one.

  15. i grew up in ny, around albany, actually, and wiffleball was one of the few sports i didn't despise. i guess my family who still lives there won't be able to play legally anymore. maybe they'll play at night in remote fields where they're less likely to get caught.