I had another one of those great pub conversations last night, the kind I knew immediately would become a Live Ball essay. This time my friends Heather and Saayeh and I were discussing the process of a guy getting a girl’s phone number. I can’t explain how we arrived on the subject, but it’s a valuable thing to discuss with two pretty girls who have been on the other side of the process many times.
They were saying it shouldn’t be that difficult. I argued that a guy has to accept a certain level of awkwardness and if he can do that, then no, it’s not that difficult. But it’s not as easy as they were making it out to be. Then they made the suggestion that all a guy has to do is create or wait for the optimal moment. And that’s when a 3-1 count in baseball popped into my head. Because the 3-balls, 1-strike count is the optimal count for a batter to get a hit. The pitcher has to throw a strike or risk a walk.
At that moment, the entire scenario took shape in my imagination. (Warning: this is one of those extended sports metaphors that is probably simultaneously brilliant, perfect and woefully flawed. For example, I intellectually understand that a relationship between a guy and a girl is nothing like the contentious relationship between a pitcher and batter. But it still feels like the same kind of challenge. Also it’s amazing, given my level of obsession with sports, that girls like Heather and Saayeh will talk to me.)
First let me define the terms.
Hit — guy gets phone number.
Out — guy doesn’t get phone number.
Walk — the guy walks away from the conversation without a number but with a distinct chance to get it at a later date.
Now, let us proceed:
First pitch — If the batter goes up to the plate and swings at the first pitch, he’ll often get a hit because the pitcher is sometimes going to throw a fastball on the first pitch to try to get ahead in the count. Similarly, if a guy unabashedly asks for a girl’s number immediately, perhaps he’ll often take her completely off guard and have the number in the bag quick and easy. On the other hand, the first-pitch swinging philosophy could put the batter in the 0-balls, 1-strike hole or, worse, result in a quick ground out or pop out.
1-ball, 0-strikes — The batter is ahead in the count. This equals traction, which means the pitcher is more likely to have to throw a strike.
0-balls, 1 strike — No traction, but there’s still plenty of at-bat left.
1-ball, 1 stroke — Push.
2-balls, 0 strikes — More traction.
0-balls, 2 strikes — The guy better do something heroic because he’s about to strike out. Or it’s time to start protecting the plate and hope to extend the at-bat. Translation: offer to buy her a drink.
2-balls, 1 strike — Still anybody’s at-bat.
2-balls, 2 strikes — Deuces wild, but the pitcher is still kind of winning.
3-balls, 0 strikes — Maximum traction. Most batters will make the pitcher throw a strike here because he might draw an easy walk and that’s good for the team.
3-balls, 1 strike — GREEN LIGHT! If you can’t get a hit on a 3-1 count you’re either facing a nasty pitcher or it’s time to start considering another career. Come on, dude, this is it. There’s not going to be a better chance.
3-balls, 2 strikes — Full count. I’m not sure what this means in our comparison, but my best answer is the pub is closing or people are leaving the party and it’s now or never.
Of course there are a couple of other possibilities:
Intentional walk — In our scenario, this seems bad, but could actually be good. The world is a paradox.
Hit by pitch — Much like the intentional walk, only the stakes are raised. It’s either very good or very bad.
Beanball — Definitely bad. Could result in a bench-clearing brawl. Whatever that means.
I’ve officially lost myself. Hope you enjoyed this and I hope it helps. Unless you’re some dude who’s trying to get the number of a girl I dig. Then I hope you strike out swinging, or looking, whichever is worse.
Photo via mopupduty.com.
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