Friday, April 04, 2008


The 2008 wiffleball season officially kicked off yesterday in my company. Before you bombard me with emails (assuming you hire a private investigator to find out my email address, but you didn't have to do that, you could just have asked me) saying "uh...wiffle what?", rest assured that I am already on the case. I asked my colleague to explain wiffleball to me in immigrant terms. He replied, "It is baseball, but with a plastic bat and a ball with holes." And to make doubly sure that I understood, without a hint of of irony, added, "It's like cricket but not so fucking weird".

Wiffleball games are played on weekdays during the lunch hour between two teams comprising of company employees who still retain adequate control of their motor faculties and hand-to-eye coordination since these are basic prerequisites for playing wiffleball. This narrows it down to four people. Lets call these people Me, Irritating Guy, Bagel Guy and Russian Guy.

Irritating Guy is so named due to him being a non-stop irritant in my otherwise contented professional life. Here he is, bugging me to use the fake wax phone in my office to make a phone call to my boss. Here he is, preying on my not-unlimited stock of chewing gum. And here he is asking me questions to which there can be no possible answers. There are other undocumented, yet equally egregious irritants attached to his persona such as his frequent sneezing "Achoooo" which is unfailingly followed by a long-drawn-out "Aaaaah" which brings up unnecessary visions of various bodily fluids exiting his various bodily orifices. And then, his worst trait, which is the act of being startled each time anyone enters his cubicle and speaks to him, the manifestation of which takes the form of a yell " startled me". So let's just call him Irritating Guy and be done with it.

Bagel Guy is so named because there was a time when Bagel Guy, out of his good nature and curiously, of his own free will, used to bring us a bagful of bagels and cream cheese on fridays. After buying a house, having two babies and adopting a dog, he gradually ceased to engage in this admirable practice. But we still call him Bagel Guy in order to shame him, remind him of his previous philanthropy, hoping that the pressure of this honorary title will encourage him to resume bagel delivery operations.

Russian Guy is an enigma. He is Russian and hence the name. He is rumored to pledge allegiance to the Russian mafia, which, in turn, is rumored to exist. Russian Guy is good looking and an avid skier. He is the heart-throb of numerous ladies and especially well-beloved in upstate New York, specifically the Finger Lakes region. Russian Guy eats a lot of bananas at work.

So these were the chief wiffleball participants. Two teams were formed and assumed playing positions on the field. The wiffleball triangle was our parking lot, which is bounded by our office building on one side and two creeks on two sides. To my disgust, I was paired with Irritating Guy, which meant that today would not be my chance to finally vent out years of pent-up hostility towards Irritating Guy by hurling a plastic ball with holes at him. But hey, there would always be tomorrow.

My team pitched first. I decided to pitch, being fairly confident in my pitching abilities. In India, I used to be a crafty fast bowler in cricket, having a long run-up, a vigorous tossing action and when the batsman was quaking in fear, I would throw his timing off-kilter with an extremely slow ball. That was my technique and I stuck to it, every ball, every game.

I used the same time-tested technique to try and dispatch my wiffleball opponents. I don't know if my colleagues had made a trip to the local library and studied archival footage of my old cricket games but they all appeared to be pretty well-equipped to deal with my crafty balls. I got dispatched mercilessly. Two runs were scored in the first inning before I got them all out.

Irritating Guy batted first for our team. He appeared to have lost control over his limbs which appeared to be swinging erratically and without purpose. He got out after a mere two pitches, both of which resulted in direct hits on air. I walked in, quietly confident. Bagel Guy was the pitcher. After studying Bagel Guy's pitching, I was positively sure that I could do a lot of damage. And my confidence turned out to be well-justified. I made contact on the very first ball. I hit it hard and it went out of the stadium. I moved to second base with a double. Now, as you know, baseball is a funny game in that once you have a hit and you move on to the next base, you lose the bat and it is now up to the next batter to make something of your previous hit. In my case, since the next batter was Irritating Guy, that had virtually no chance of happening. Irritating Guy made good on his promise to do nothing by doing nothing. He hit air again a couple of times and the inning ended with no runs being scored.

Russian Guy started in the second inning. During his previous stint, Russian Guy had assumed a conventional batting stance with two hands on the bat, but had found it severely lacking. This time around, Russian Guy decided to throw convention to the wind and modified his stance. He held the bat in one hand like a club, more in the manner of someone who would not be averse to hitting the pitcher, were the ball to be out of range. Irritating Guy, who was pitching, seemed somewhat terror-struck. He pitched wildly, hitting tree branches, shrubbery and ants. When he pitched more accurately, Irritating Guy didn't fare any better. He got dispatched worse than me and suddenly I didn't feel so bad. Five runs were scored, making it 7-0 before the inning ended. We needed eight runs to win.

Irritating Guy batted first. Surprisingly, he did a good job of scoring a hit and putting me in batting position. This was my chance to make India proud.

Unfortunately, Russian Guy, who was pitching, had a craftier ball than mine. His technique was to make the ball appear slow and lethargic and it would waft up to you and you would be having a casual conversation with it and then suddenly, it was in your face and whizzing by, leaving you saying "where... what?"

To make a long story short, I hit air. It was embarassing. So much so that I did it twice. I was out. And then, I did it again during my next at-bat. Russian Guy owned me completely. We lost the game. Russia 1, India 0. I was ashamed for bringing wiffleball disgrace to my motherland.

Well, both teams get friday off in order to allow us to recuperate and enjoy what the rest of this city has to offer. The season continues on monday. I hope to practice hard through the weekend. Unless of course Irritating Guy turns out to be my opponent on monday. I am fairly confident of beating his ass blindfolded and drunk.


A Motley Tunic said...

The moment you mentioned four guys from work, I immediately knew one of them was the guy in the gum story. I checked, the gum story was almost two years ago.

Remembering some detail about the gum guy from two years ago, is such a waste of my brain power. I think I should go get a life.

gawker said...

Maybe you filed away that story in your mind to serve as a cautionary reminder for dealing with any future office gum-predators.

Anonymous said...

Should office spoon and fork predators be dealt with in the same manner?

gawker said...

For such people, leaving threatening notes in their drawer of ill-gotten loot would be the correct response.