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Play Like a Kid Again

Trampoline Basketball

When I was a kid, if you couldn’t find me on a field playing a sport, you could probably find me in my room, driveway or backyard pretending to play one. I can’t even begin to count the number of games/ sports I created on the rough streets of Quail Ave, (*Note: Quail Ave was definitely middle class suburbia, about four blocks from both my elementary and middle schools and in no way can it be construed as the streets.) in fact, I’ve likely forgotten more games I played as a youngster than I know how to play now.

But the days of trampoline slam dunk contests, Ben strikes out random major leaguer  X with a racquetball against the garage (That one didn’t really have a name, but it’s pretty self explanatory) and roller-blade football are long gone. Aren’t they?

If you beat me to the answer to my question, with a sad slump-of-the-shoulders nod, yes, well you just don’t know me very well. I’m actually offended. How dare you!

If you honestly believe just because I’m 25 years old, out of college, in the career world, married and living in places I actually pay for, that I no longer have a sense of imagination or the creative ability to take the time to be a player, coach or GM of some franchise, real or not, you’re just flat-out wrong.

I was that guy in your middle school science class doodling team logos and practicing my signature for future endorsement deals and fan mail.

My best friend down the block and I used to have sleep overs (Just stop it. You guys pervert everything.) where we’d call out our picks for the best MLB players at each position like we were drill sergeants leading a platoon. I still remember when Roberto Alomar used to win the AL second base job by default.

But my favorite game was the timeless classic of pitch and catch. My friends — and every now and then my little brother as well — and I would plop an extra mitt down on the grass to act as home plate and play nine inning marathons with only balls and strikes, to see who could net the most strikeouts while giving up the least amount of runs from walks. Well, we at least intended to play nine innings. They usually lasted only four or five. Hey, we were just kids, give me a break.

Since entering adulthood, exiting college and reaching the realization that a job means way less free time, my make believe games became a little more scarce, but nonetheless as infinitely entertaining as ever.

For your enjoyment here’s a short list of games and sport-like contests and conquests that I revel in indulging myself with. Hopefully they will prompt you to springboard back into your own youth, propelling you to create new rounds of your own games.

In reverse order:

5.) At Work Trash Can Three-Point Contests

Try it, you'll like it.

Try it, you'll like it.

I actually held one of these contests today at work. Allen Iverson – He was only entered into the contest based on the speculation that he may sign with the Clippers. – hit his last four to beat Steve Nash by one in the finals. The field consisted of Blake Griffin, (Dude, you already know I’m a Clips fan, get over it.) Ray Allen, Kobe, LeBron and D-Wade.

The great thing about this game is you can literally use anything to compete.

Wadded up paper? Totally.

A bare toilet paper roll? Absolutely.

Bottle or pen caps? Definitely. Without a doubt.

4.) Fake Fantasy Press Conferences

This one may not be a sport, but I get kicks from them that I can’t begin to express. Trades, free agent pick-ups, rookie call-ups… you name it, a press conference can be warranted.

Without a doubt my favorite of all time was when Clayton Kershaw got the call to the bigs mid-season last year. If my memory serves me correct – and league members please feel free to correct me – I got into character as the Loose Cannons, from KLAC AM 570 in Los Angeles.

FEELIN’ YOU CLAYTON KERSHAW!!!

(You have to love Vic the Brick Jacobs. You just have to.)

3.) Nerf One-on-One Historic Tournaments

I have referred to this one in previous posts. I still love creating a bracket, ranks and all, of current and former NBA stars, then letting the tournament play itself out. And by play itself out, I of course mean try much harder with all of my Michael Jordan shots than with anyone else.

When I was younger, lighter and more limber these tourneys would take place with me playing from my knees. Now that I’m pushing two-hundo though, I’m usually either squatting or outright standing up.

Too bad my Nerf hoop was a casualty in my last move.

My wife was a bit too happy to see it put to rest.

Lucky for me Target is but a hop-skip-and-a-jump away.

2.) Fantasy Trades

I’m always going out on a limb when I discuss things that make me tick in fantasy sports, as I co-manage all of my teams with Britton and all three remaining Not in HD writers are competitors of ours in various leagues. Not to mention most of the rest of our league members read our posts. Heck, I’d read theirs too if they had a blog, if for no other reason than to gain a competitive edge.

I don’t think I’m spilling many beans though when I admit executing trades just thrills me. I love few things more than creating lineup and/or keeper ranking lists and trades help keep those fresh.

Trading is almost a game in it of itself to me. I love finishing a season in which Britton and I have blown out the competition in terms of the volume of deals struck by us.

As I mentioned, I don’t think this information will put us at a competitive disadvantage, because if you have played in a league of ours and didn’t already catch the drift that we enjoy the occasional blockbuster  move, well you obviously haven’t been paying attention.

1.) Hallway Nerf Baseball/ Home Run Derby

Quite possibly the most fun and stupidest game (in terms of potential damage) I have ever helped create.

Last year one of my then roommates, a good friend of mine, Will Stuchell, who is known to frequent the comment sections of Not in HD from time to time, and I decided we wanted to play a one-on-one game of baseball in our San Diego house. I’m not really sure what gave us the motivation, but I can only assume it was so we wouldn’t have to watch anymore Padres games on TV.

I’m just sayin’.

We hung a spare bed sheet from the ceiling of another roommate’s room – A roommate who wasn’t the least bit interested in the game. Actually he was quite annoyed by it, especially when the Stuch nearly busted three of his framed photos with a screaming foul ball. – and used masking tape to mark off a strike zone.

Nerf basketballs serves as our baseballs and Nerf bats as, well… bats.

The pitcher would stand roughly 40 feet down the hall in between the doorway to Will’s room which straddled the bathroom and living room doorways.

Without boring you too much, the rules for hits were as followed: past the halfway point down the hall on the ground – single; off the ceiling overhang in the center of the hall on the fly or in either or the two side room doorways – double; into either the bathroom or living room (right next to the pitcher) – triple; and last but not least, into Will’s room on the fly or on the ground – home run.

Should you field the ball cleanly in the air or on the ground, the batter is out. Should you attempt to field the ball and biff it, he’s safe at first with the fielder charged with an error.

Oh and the catch? You could only use players from your actual fantasy roster and you’d not only have to imitate them to the best of your ability, but you’d have to hit and pitch using the same strong hand they do.

Home run derby was basically the same only instead of throwing splits and sliders, the pitcher would just lob it in and home runs would have to smash into Will’s door on the fly.

This undoubtedly makes me sound like an enormous dork, but just know… this dork had loads of fun playing baseball inside his house.

So I implore you to recapture your youth. Play like a kid again. You just may find life a little more bearable and sports a little more fun.

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  1. wstuchell
    July 16, 2009 at 9:28 PM

    As a fellow contributor to this most awesome mode of house baseball, I must confess I do miss it. There were epic curveballs, sliders, knuckleballs that Ben still can’t hit. I remember snapping a 12 to 6 curve so awesome that it broke from Ben’s Shoulders to his Ankles in about two feet. In this baseball game you could be a pitching God. In fact I’m pretty sure that Barry Zito started playing this game to recover some form of respectability and confidence.

    Home Run derby on the other hand was quite terrifying. Imagine being stuck in a three feet wide hallway with noting between you and the batter but open air. Then you soft toss a nerf basketball to the batter and just pray that you can move in time. Somehow there were no broken noses or glasses during this game. I consider that to be the most amazing part of it all. We were not hitting these balls softly, and we’re not talking about your light foam nerf basketball. We’re talking the hard packed ball that can get some serious speed on it.

    I think the greatest fault we had was that nobody else partook in our grandeur. Ohh well, it will go down in History, in fact I’m still trying to find a way to play it here in Korea. I might have found a way.

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