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Monday, August 27, 2007

Becoming More "Real"

My virtual world and my real world collided this past weekend.

I spend a lot of time over at Lookout Landing... a Seattle Mariners baseball blog. Recently, a poster over there started organizing a softball game for regular readers. Naturally, I jumped all over that. My softball season ended a couple of weeks ago (with more of a whimper this year than a bang) and I miss playing.

When the day came, I stuffed my backpack with essentials: batting gloves, mouthguard, mitt, cup, and as many Henry Weinhards as I could carry. I walked over to Garfield at 23rd and Cherry and found a rugged, athletic bunch of computer geeks all getting warmed up. I had never met any of these folks before (actually I had met Phil down in Portland several years ago, but that hardly counts) and I wasn't sure how things were going to go down. I figured out who a few people were by their screen names, but I was basically lost in a sea of virtual community suddenly materialized.

I gazed around the field, instantly spotting the guy who claimed to be "as tall as two men" on the blog. He was actually only about 6'8" but I could see his point. Overall, they were a younger lot than I expected, with many minors in the crowd. And they seemed to be a mixed bag of those who actually played baseball, and others who just liked watching baseball.

Then a weird thing happened. Chas, the guy who started the idea over at Lookout Landing, called everyone in and said we should pick teams. Immediately, a sense of dread overwhelmed me as I replayed all those cliches about establishing schoolyard pecking-orders in my mind. This group was pretty clearly mixed in terms of jocks and geeks and I worried about who was going to get picked last. Someone else said, "Let the two biggest guys be captains," referring to me and the "tall as two men" guy. This gave me an opportunity to do something different. I immediately suggested that since we didn't really know each other (and I didn't want to wind up taking the scrawniest-looking guy last,) that I would just take all the guys to my right, and the other half would "go with Paul Bunyan over there."

From that point on, everything was very cool. When it was obvious that they had a bit more talent on their team, they suggested a trade of one of their big hitters for one of our average guys to even things out. We also agreed on no walks and no strikeouts to prevent anyone from feeling bad. Of course, this backfired when one guy swung and missed about 30 times in an excruciating at bat. Again, friendliness prevailed as no one gave him a hard time. Experienced players gave him some encouraging words... and when he finally hit the ball (and beat out a basehit) everyone cheered. It was awesome to see jocks being cool to geeks. I guess that happens once you're out of the school environment.

I was pretty jazzed about the game this whole weekend. I posted a bunch of photos over on the Lookout Landing blog, and I'm hoping we play again soon. I don't participate in many virtual communities, other than Walaka's informal blog ring... so this was a surprising turn of events. I don't know if other people have had the experience of actually meeting their virtual communities, but I recommend it highly.

Doing what I love the most.

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At 8/27/2007 04:15:00 PM, Blogger Walaka said...

Nice post.

Great photo.

At 8/28/2007 11:13:00 PM, Blogger soapysteve said...

Wait a minute... I'm stealing music and you're embracing online social networking? Are we transforming into each other?

(throws sweat pants into hamper, puts on other pair of sweat pants)

At 9/01/2007 09:31:00 AM, Blogger Ned said...

Can't wait 'til am back in Seattle and can have baseball be berry berry good to me, too!


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