Bats, Balls, Buddies and Big Beers.

An ice-cold, 40-ounce of fine malt liquor tastes best when guzzled at 10 a.m. on a blissfully sunny day in the environs of one’s front yard, where one has placed a pair of fuzzy couches for just this purpose.

One can often purchase said 40s at quite a discount too, if one is inclined to shop at such an early and ludicrous hour. It is a tried-and-true strategy that has functioned for years — one must simply wander into the local merchant’s trading post wild-eyed, haggard and reeking of cheap whiskey. The grimy, rumpled dollar bills clutched in one’s hand will no doubt spur the shopkeeper into action, as will one’s repeated shrieking of, “”I demand to be sated in my quest for sustenance.”” Confused and scared, he will produce gleaming bottles of malted liquor from his well-kept refrigeration units and hand them over, refusing the wretched currency and acting fearful of comeuppance from the vengeful heathen that has darkened his hearth.

Once again safely ensconced in the relative safety of the front yard, it is time to resume the imbibing in preparation for the evening’s contest. Slackers or those with neither will nor resolve may be able to sneak through with a scant six or seven hours of preparation, but one should be diligent and fastidious in his pursuits, leaving no stone unturned in ensuring that he will be able to compete at the utmost of his ability.

Recreational softball, you see, is an activity where those who do not adequately bolster themselves will end up at the bottom of the heap. Sober guys finish last, as the saying goes, and among our troops, we pride ourselves in the consistent 11-hour pre-game “”warm-up.”” Our team, the Pacific Beach Drive Drafters, takes all things softball related seriously. Whether it be running out weak pop-flies or finishing the “”homies”” portion of the Ides, all perfunctory actions must be performed with extreme hustle.

The Drafters are a group of finely tuned athletes, composed mainly of Cage inhabitants and rounded out by assorted other recalcitrants. What binds the team together is our shared, all-encompassing willingness to go to any lengths of athletic endeavor or to any level of complete dehabilitating inebriation in order to get the job done.

Those looking to get involved in this great game, and with spring approaching a good number of people are, should take heed of a few simple rules, guidelines, strategies, if you will, for assistance. They will allow for maximum enjoyment when out on the diamond.

First off, when composing your squad, make sure that all of your players are committed to the cause. Flaky types make bad teammates, so you want someone who will always head out to the all important playoff game, regardless of the fact that the new episode of “”Felicity”” is on. To ensure this, it is important to make your players sign, in blood, a contract that gives you the power to beat them senseless with a bat if they ever miss a game, or are late, or drop a fly ball with the bases loaded.

It is also crucial to keep score during the game, as it is helpful in composing statistics, making key lineup changes and handing out the aforementioned beatings.

Practice is also of great importance to any fledgling team. No matter the lengths you go to assemble your dream team, there will always inevitably be a few slouges on your roster who will have to be whipped into shape. Taking them out to a field or dirt lot and smashing ground balls at them will help their fielding, and pelting them with fastballs will build their batting prowess.

Once the team is put together, the scorebooks are bought and the players are well-trained, it is important to begin the final, most integral portion of the pregame softball experience. As mentioned above, hours and hours of drinking are crucial to a team’s success. An oversight of any magnitude on this count will lead to disastrous results, a lifetime of misery and a broken spirit for you and your on field mates.

So prepare thyself well, and take to the field with this newfound wisdom to lead you to your glorious destiny. Oh yeah, and also remember to freeze on a line drive and never make the first or third out at third base. Play ball!