by | May 12, 1993 | Detroit Free Press | 0 comments

As any sports fan can tell you, there is more to softball than wearing a uniform. There is also drinking beer. And the burping contest. But, shucks, all that comes after the game, and we haven’t even picked our team yet.


Our team.

Is it time to pick our team?

It is. Five years ago, I wrote a primer on how to select a company softball team. The response was incredible. Millions, or at least dozens, of grateful readers wrote to say they clipped that column and hung it on the bulletin board at work, where, no doubt, it was quickly covered by an ad for kittens.

Nonetheless, many forward-thinking companies did follow my suggestions — including “Never pick your boss” and “Always take Vinnie from the stock room”
— and they quickly discovered that, thanks to my advice, their teams did not perform any better.

In fact, some of them wrote and said, “Yo, we did what you told us — and we still stink! What gives?”

To which I respond: “Hey. How much did you pay for the newspaper? A quarter? Whadya expect? The ’27 Yankees?”

Besides, I did not write that column to help the few. I wrote it because millions of American workers endure softball leagues every summer, and because the Tigers were out of town and I needed a subject.

Guess what?

The Tigers are out of town again.


Now, last time, perhaps, I failed to raise an important question: Are we really interested in winning? Are we that shallow? Do we yearn for the trophy at the end of the season, or do we seek a higher, more spiritual purpose, such as learning how to slide while holding a sandwich?

People who want the trophy, well, they’re not reading this. It’s 7 a.m. and they’re already down at the field, taking laps. Their uniforms are crisp, their chatter is lively, and the best we can hope for is that, in search of excellence, they drive off a cliff.

Meanwhile, those of you still here, gulping a third cup of coffee, must decide whether your team is going for the glory, or, as we like to say around the water cooler, going for the long lunch.

Let’s assume you want to win.

Here’s how you pick a squad:

1. Go to the shipping department.

2. Find anyone with a tattoo.

3. Ask him what he’d do to his boss, if he got the chance, and as you do this, hand him a bat.

4. Observe his swing.

5. You just found your cleanup hitter.

6. Check the rest of the building. Avoid those who say, “I’ll play! Can I design the uniforms?”

7. Anyone named Rocco is in.

8. Same goes for Vito.

9. Always take at least one person from the legal department. They’re hungry, aggressive, and, we assume, they know how to cheat.

10. You got spikes? You’re in.

11. A backstop in your garage? You’re in.

12. Anyone who says, “Does it have to be a glove, or can I use mittens?” is out.

13. Brenda, the red-headed receptionist, is in.

14. (If you are female, the above sentence reads, “Wayne, the hunk from the mail room, is in.”)

15. I don’t think we need to explain that.

16. Who has a van?

17. There’s our first baseman.

18. Avoid players driving Jaguars and Mercedes 450SLs. They are either too rich to break up a double play, or too nicely dressed.

19. Wait a minute. They’re driving a Jaguar and working at your office? What gives? Let’s get ’em!

20. Mmph percent$ #(at)$ percent$!

21. NEVER PICK YOUR BOSS! Never pick your boss’ boss, or your boss’ boss’ boss. Those people are all in it together. Trust me.

22. If someone shows up for tryouts in a leisure suit, be kind, and send him to the hospital.

23. Any woman who swings with a cigarette in her mouth is trouble.

24. Sign her up.

25. Check dogs. Anyone with a golden retriever, a bloodhound or a beagle is OK. A Chihuahua? Let ’em play polo.

26. No Walkmen. Even in rightfield.

27. NEVER PICK YOUR BOSS! Did I say this?

28. All candidates must at least be able to cover their stomachs with an extra-large T-shirt. Otherwise, they play catcher.

29. Take anyone named “Spike.”

30. Whoever brings the cooler, pitches.

31. In case of two coolers, pick whoever’s cooler.

32. Ask for team-song ideas. Anyone who suggests Barry Manilow, let ’em play polo.

33. See if Vinnie from the stock room, who is now president of the company, has any nephews.

34. Take someone with a boom box.

35. Take someone with a barbecue.

36. Take someone with ice.

37. If they can slide while holding a sandwich, they get to be captain.

There you have it. Follow these rules, and I personally guarantee that your softball team will take the field. After that, you’re on your own. Be sure to look for my next column, five years from now, in which we go over the most important thing: how to win the burping contest.


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