Yeah! Stretch that double into a full-blown pulled hamstring. You can do it, but...why? Check the statistics. Summer softball accounts for nearly a hundred percent of all softball injuries incurred during the months of June, July and August. And as these months rapidly approach, we can take steps to avoid going on the DL. Listen up! Gotta stretch! Yeah, I know, it hurts...It's supposed to! Personally, I feel if God meant me to reach my toes, he would have put them on my knees, but I took the time to do just a small bit of stretching before last Sunday's game. I stretched for the waffles, reached for the syrup, bent over for the butter, made a difference: by the third or fourth helping, I wasn't feeling any pain at all.

You can also consider the following with a grain of salt, or a tongue in the cheek. Get plenty of rest! Either the night before, or in the left field anytime I'm up at bat. The mere act of drifting off relaxes the body muscles and prepares them for the cramping and discomfort you'll be feeling for the next several days. Four to six ounces of Nyquil will provide you with at least eight hours of restful coma-like tranquility. Drink lots of fluids, starting with copious amounts of beer the night before. Make sure to flush your body with the natural barley hops and nutritional byproducts usually found in a six-pack of your favorite brew. Do not combine beer with the aforementioned Nyquil, as the results, when not fatal, will certainly affect your timing at the plate.

In the morning, on the way to the game, try to consume at least four cups of freshly brewed coffee plus two sugar that your caffeine/energy level will offset your willingness to "wait for your pitch," thus helping us move the game along. Your eyes may cross due to the overwhelming urge to urinate on anything resembling plant life. Sunglasses should correct this situation. As a last resort, you can bring bottled water or one of those commercially prepared sports drink. These last two fluids, while somewhat inappropriate for Sunday morning softball, have some characteristics that have been found beneficial for cleaning CD-Rom discs and behind the ears. And can also be helpful in cleaning your cleats in the event you are going to a formal affair directly from the game.

Use your head during the game. Avoid potential situations that look like they might still hurt on Tuesday. Never stretch a double into a triple if you're leading off the inning, or down more than seven runs. Never run more than ten feet in any direction for a fly ball, unless runners are in scoring position. Never, ever, dive for a ball...unless this ball is attached to one of your testicles...I can't think of one good reason to position my body in a horizontal mode while wearing a softball glove. Collisions with the planet should be avoided at all costs. If a thrown softball or ground ball is headed in the direction of your crotch, try to deflect it with another body part if possible. If direct contact with the testicles cannot be avoided, try to shuffle the ball (game ball only, not yours) off to the nearest fielder, who might be able to complete the play while you're saying howdy to "Mr. Turf."

Upon completion of the game, carefully avoid all extraneous activities that might cause additional stress on already worn muscle groups. This includes laundry, shopping and certainly painting. If you follow these simple guidelines, I'm sure we'll all have a terrific injury free summer. See ya next Sunday!!

Published on April 17, 2002.
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