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The Sights of Summer 

Taking a look at two season perennials: Softball Guy and Pickup Basketball Guy

Softball Guy

Summer's finally here. And one thing you can expect every year, besides girls in bikinis, is softball. If you play softball or ever watched someone play softball, you've seen Softball Guy. There's one on every team. He's usually an above-average player, and he always makes sure you notice him. But who is he?

Softball Guy has sunk more money into his collection of bats than he has his savings account.

Softball Guy always wears pants that usually don't match the jersey he's wearing — because the pants are for his "other team."

Softball Guy grunts every time he swings his $425 bat. 

Softball Guy knows every rule — until he breaks one. Then he gets confused because he's "in so many other leagues."

Softball Guy is in a great mood: very cheerful, outgoing and smiling. Until he's losing.

Softball Guy always knows the umpire by name and is his best friend. Until he's losing or a call doesn't go his way.

Softball Guy knows where everyone else hits the ball. He knows the distance the ball will travel, the rate of speed and batters' on-base percentage and whether or not they were any good in Little League.

Softball Guy always has two of everything. Two gloves. Two softballs. Two bats (minimum). Two scorebooks. Two pairs of cleats. Two hats. Two wristbands. You need it? He has it. You make a great play; it was because he let you use his gear. And he won't let you forget it.

Softball Guy almost always leaves the sleeves to his jersey at home. You can't restrain those guns.

Softball Guy uses phrases like "pick me up," "middle's open," "backside" and "on my other team ... "

Softball Guy loves going to the bar after the game. Only if his team won, and he had at least two home runs. 

Softball Guy will tell you what bat to use, what you're doing wrong in the batters box, where to play in the field and what tie you should wear to work on Monday. He knows all. 

Softball Guy doesn't want your advice. He will give you a dirty look if you even try to give him some.

Softball Guy has bad games too. But that's only because he's tired from playing 11 double-headers earlier in the week.

Softball Guy will play for your team anytime you need him. He will call off work to get on the diamond. 

Softball Guy gives 110 percent, all the time. Until he screws up. Then he "didn't want to risk injury. I have a tournament on Sunday."

Softball Guy lives to play and plays to live. You've seen him. Maybe you've been him. Reality is: Summer isn't the same without him. —Strailey

Pickup Basketball Guy

Pickup Basketball Guy is the corollary to Softball Guy. For the majority of us amateur weekend athletes, the game is a game — a chance to get out of the house and away from chores, a lame attempt at grasping the last straw of youthful dreams, a halfhearted attempt to stay in some semblance of a shape that doesn't resemble a pear. It's not a game to Pickup Basketball Guy, and he most assuredly possesses any number of the following characteristics.

Pickup Guy never met a shot he didn't like. Running half-court fade-away in the middle of three defenders while wearing only one shoe? He's got it. Acrobatic reverse lay-up 360 with his eyes closed and a seven-footer standing in the way? That's all him.

You? You can't shoot. Pickup Guy will let you know that. You could be standing under the basket with the closest defender 20 feet away, and Pickup Guy will be triple-teamed in the corner and he'll want the ball.

When Pickup Guy does decide to include his teammates, you will screw something up. You'll pop when he wants you to roll. You'll roll when he wants you to pop. You'll cut to the wrong spot, set the screen on the wrong side or be unable to grab his 100 mph pass that is at least five feet above your head.

Pickup Guy never wears a shirt. Ever. Making matters worse, he sweats more than any human should. This is further complicated by his copious amount of body hair, which traps the sweat like a ShamWow. When you guard him, it feels like someone has thrown 100 pounds of soaked seaweed at your body. You will smell like his sweat for two days.

Pickup Guy likes to talk even more than he likes to shoot. He will talk to himself when he misses a shot — "Come on, Brian! You can make that!" or "Stupid shot, Brian. Stupid shot." He will talk to his defender — "You can't guard me. Come on! Whatcha got!" And he will randomly scream directions with no qualifiers — as if shouting "left!" means anything. When the other team shoots, he'll instantly give feedback: "long," "short," "deep" — which invariably means that shot will go in.

Pickup Guy always guards the opposing team's best player. He's the only one on the court capable of tackling this assignment, and his lock-down defense is the only reason your team has any chance of winning. When his guy scores, it's because you didn't rotate with help, not because he bit on a weak crossover.

Pickup Guy likes for you to rebound for him. Yes, he missed the shot, but you should have had the rebound. "Gotta block out." "Gotta go get that."

Pickup Guy will drink three full gallon jugs of water. Water fountains, Gatorade and regular-size bottles of water are not sufficient to keep this juggernaut hydrated.

Pickup Guy will ask you in between games if you played in school, which is his way of telling you that he did. You are four feet tall, can't make an open jumper and are wearing the same shoes you wear when you mow the lawn, so there's no reason to think you played anything beyond CYO. But he wants to let you know that he played varsity once.

Pickup Guy fouls everyone but never believes it when it's called. He'll give a guy a prostate exam, and smirk like Dwight Howard and shake his head when you call a foul. "That was clean. That was all ball."

Pickup Guy believes that you foul him on every play. That's why he missed his shot. That's why he dribbled off his foot and out of bounds. That's why he fell down when he tried to jump into your chest. That's why he tripped walking to his car. —Grzegorek

scene@clevescene.com

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