We May Have Lost the Game, but Won in Spirits

     

    There are a lot of terrible things about the day after Sun God — the headache, the hangover, cleaning vomit coming out of your kitchen sink. And yet, my least favorite thing is chipping in $20 for a keg of Miller High Life and dragging myself to a baseball diamond to honor a tradition whose origins and importance are no longer understood.

    Every year, the Guardian staff faces off against the now-mostly defunct Koala in a game of sloshball. Sloshball, for those who are unfamiliar, is a perversion of softball wherein in order to advance to home plate, one must down a beer at second base. But that’s not all. Unlike in softball, there’s no need for an umpire. All calls are open to challenge, the outcome decided upon with a drink-off at the keg.

    So what are the implications? Well, one need not have athletic ability or knowledge of the sport to win — good for a group in which the most commonly asked question of the day was “What is a force out?” Further, and more importantly, the team with the best drinkers always wins. Now, I won’t knock the Guardian’s ability to knock back a few beers, but when the lineup consists of five girls who weigh less than 120 pounds each and one Orthodox Jew who had to walk three miles to make the game (thanks, Shabbat), I think it’s reasonable to say that there were more than a few holes in the roster.

    Despite weaknesses going in, we remained close through the bottom of the first inning. The Koala won the drink-off and chose to bat first — a strategy born out of ignorance — challenging at the keg a handful of times to score six runs.

    In our turn at bat, we stacked the top of the order with the Guardian men — including the Guardian’s Most Valuable Player, fittingly, the columnist behind “Bro’s Eye View” (he went 6-0 in drink-offs) — and were able to load the bases. In what was arguably the most heroic act of the game, a Guardian Lifestyle editor beat the throw at first, batted in two runs and was immediately sent to the keg on the challenge. The Lifestyle editor (5’8”, 130 pounds) embarrassed the Koala’s six-foot ringer from San Diego State, emptying his cup at twice the Koala pitcher’s pace. By the end of the first inning, we had closed the gap, but we were unable to generate anything else in the way of offense.

    With the Guardian outfield largely distracted by a black labrador straying out of the reach of its elderly owners, the Koala knocked in nine runs. With only two outs, an unnamed managing editor called for a boat race. In a United Nations-style negotiation, the Guardian editor called for five runs to the winner, but was bartered down to three runs and one out.

    The Guardian tasked the lead leg to former photo editor Andrew Oh (4-0 in drink-offs), followed by Arts and Entertainment Editor and former Editor-in-Chief Arielle Sallai, Lifestyle Editor Vincent Pham, myself, current Editor-in-Chief Laira Martin, Managing Editor Zev Hurwitz and the Guardian MVP.

    Oh gave the Guardian an ample lead that had disappeared by the time it was my turn to drink. The Koala had a half-second lead at the last leg. We were unable to make up enough ground, and by this time, the keg had been emptied.

    The 18–6 loss marks the fourth straight year that the Guardian will be buying the keg for next season’s sloshball. And even though the bulk of the Guardian roster is still recovering from sunburns, and though the overwhelming female presence on the Guardian staff may hamper us for many seasons to come — as hard as it is for me to concede — sloshball is a tradition worth preserving. If spending 15 hours twice a week together doesn’t do it, the act of steeling ourselves at Vallarta’s before the match, commiserating at Vallarta’s after the match and jumping to the defense of a Guardian editor in the face of Koala heckling certainly knits us closer together.

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