While the debate will always rage on over which summer activity has the potential for more enjoyment, I am here not to influence, only to explain. Wiffle ball and softball have been fun activities for the youth and young at heart for over 60 years. The official ball was invented by David Mullany in Connecticut for his son and his friends. This is not a history lesson however so let’s get to the differences and similarities between this great game and it’s slightly overrated cousin.
Softball players need a pair of spikes, socks, hat, pants, nut cup, jock, and sliding pants. Seems like a lot of work to play a game that’s supposed to be relaxing and enjoyable.
Wifflers need shorts. That’s really all they NEED. While most would prefer to play with a shirt and shoes, you can certainly enjoy a game without them. In fact, I’d bet most of the opposition would prefer it if you were more covered up but it’s not a necessity to get the game started.
Each softball team I have ever competed on has had at least one group of outsiders. Guys that seem like they’d rather be almost anywhere else than at the ball park. Either they don’t care for where they’re playing in the field, they don’t like where they are in the batting order and in both cases, they are thinking that they are superior players to the teammates who are in “their spot”.
Wifflers may have some feelings similar to this except they don’t. I’ve never heard of a wiffler going to the manager of the team complaining about playing time (either in the field or on the mound) or arguing about where they are in the batting order. If a wiffler gets upset with anyone, it’s themselves because of their own performance.
There are teams that wifflers would prefer not to play against. There I said it. Everyone has that one sometimes two teams on the schedule that they just don’t care for. They either show up late, they tease too hard, they run up the score or just have personalities that clash.
Softball players seem to hate at least half of their opponents (and those are the ones they know). If there’s a new team, everyone assumes they’re going to be jerks. If they’re talented, forget about it, no one gives the benefit of the doubt in softball. If someone even hits a ball near the pitcher, it’s on! Now it becomes, who can hit the opposing pitcher when all it was, was a guy who is on a talented team who accidentally hit a ball up the middle, near a pitcher who is being a bitch about it.
In softball, you have a five minute grace period. Your team isn’t there, guess what? You forfeit the game. Never mind traffic, work, or life issues. It’s rigidly timed and it will start and end at the designated time no matter what!
Wiffleball has a problem on the other end of the spectrum. Everyone knows that no one will ever enforce the start time and people will always be late forever and ever because there is no consequence for being late. It doesn’t seem like this issue will be solved for either sport anytime soon, but I suppose as long as I’m hanging with buddies, having a few beers, I don’t mind waiting around to ensure that we’ll actually play.
Umpires evil, like jobs, condoms, push up bras, and insurance. In softball, if they’re good, you barely notice them. If they’re bad, they’re all you think about. The only good thing about umpires is that they (for the most part) make teams follow the rules
Policing yourself in wiffle at times can be rough. Fair? Foul? Did the ball hit the bottom of the board or was it the post? Is this pitcher throwing too hard? (Of course he is, he just struck you out). Most of these petty disagreements are solved cordially and then after the game at the bar you complain if the call didn’t go your way.
Softball has seen a plethora of injuries, pulled muscles, bruises, broken bones, nut shots, torn ACL’s, ruptured achillies, sprains, strains, and black eyes. That’s all I could think of in less than a minute.
Wiffle ball has injuries as well. Mostly from overuse. A pitcher throws ten innings along with BP and can’t lift his arm for a few days. Madman gets hit in the balls. A pitcher hits a batter and leaves a little bruise. A lot of people are sore but not usually anything more. As the season goes on, your body gets into mid season form and this general stiffness goes away fairly quickly.
There is a softball tournament every weekend that people could participate in. It’s no longer special. The same teams play the same teams with similar results each weekend.
Wiffle ball tournaments seem to have much more of a following. You’ll see the same guys there but they’ll be playing with an entirely different group because a lot of us get along with a lot of the others. There are hugs and laughs all around and it doesn’t generally take up your entire weekend even if you do well.
Softball book basically writes down if you scored, got on or got out. No track of anything of real importance. Anyone that has looked at the website’s stat categories can’t help but be impressed. It really is a testament to the excitement wiffleball creates among it’s players.
Wiffleballs and bats cost a couple bucks a piece, if that. The strike zones don’t cost much either, a little bit of time and effort to set up a field and you’ve got a game. Softball bags cost at a minimum $40 and can be as high as $100. I’ve seen gloves that go for over $200, and bats, geez, you’re talking over $300 each. Yes, they come with a one year warranty, but how many break during that year? Generally you’re careful the first year. You don’t use it in cold weather, you don’t let anyone else use and it stresses you out. You strikeout twice on pitches you don’t think you should have, and your wiffle ball bat goes flying over a fence that a ball should’ve flown over.
I have no ending for this so I take a small bow...
Long live the HRL.