Monday, June 28, 2010

Advance to Go

When I was eight, my favourite computer game was a 2D shooter called 'Gauntlet'. In this game, you advance up the levels by finding the exit, denoted by a square marked with the letter 'E', and killing anything that moved. It was a pleasingly simple concept that I feel prepared me well for life; fight like a hero when you have to, but ultimately your goal should be to run away.

Due to the sheer number of levels, it was possible to skip through the early numbers by finding an exit marked by "E8". This was a short-cut to level 8 and saved you fighting the bad monsters individually and allowing you to advance to them attacking you all at one. Who wouldn't opt for that?

Until last Friday, I always thought real games did not have such short cuts. I was wrong. Softball totally has an E8 option.

It was my turn to bat, an event with marginally more potential than my attempts at fielding due to the fact we self-pitch. My team mate threw the ball, metal connected with .... whatever material non-soft softballs are made from, and I ran to first base. The referee called 'safe' (which was easy for him to say) and I braced myself to make an siege on second base, as soon as my next team mate batted.

Then oddly, inexplicably, the referee called out that I was to advance to base 3, do not pass go, do not connect $200. Did I drop a $20 bribe on the diamond when I batted? Did my attempt at a home run look so completely pitiful that the referee thought putting me on base 3 would actually make no difference? Maybe he thought it would be better for everyone if I were tucked out the way. Perplexed, I trotted across the diamond and completed the circuit a moment later.

Wow, the score sheet looks like I'm a useful player! How misleading.

Evidently reading my baffled look correctly, the referee came over after the inning to explain that it had been an 'overthrow', which entitled the runner to two extra bases. Since I had surprisingly successfully reached first base on my own, that put me at base 3. I actually still had no idea what this meant but attempted to look informed for the face of my team. Later interrogation of google suggested that one of the other team's out fielders had overly zealously thrown the ball, causing it to overshoot anywhere helpful for their team.

Sadly, after this momentous event, it became the other team's turn to bat, which proved to be entirely consistent with being attacked by all monsters on the level 8 of Gauntlet.

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