Weather this week for the PONY National Fastpitch Softball Tournament hasn't exactly cooperated In fact, it's given more headaches than anything.
In three years of covering the tournament, this is the most rain I can remember, giving officials, field crews and site managers plenty of things to do during the six-day tournament.
I have to give a round of applause to the field crews at Candlelite Knolls, Fields of Dreams and Liberty Township Park for recovering the fields in a quick and timely manner. They are definitely earning their paychecks this week.
But during one of the many rain delays, I started wondering: What are the players doing when their schedules are suddenly halted by Mother Nature? While the girls might go out and do other activities after softball is over for the day, when it's playing time, most of them are focused on softball, until a nasty storm comes and delays those plans.
So I started wandering around Candlelite Knolls, just taking in what these pre-teen girls are doing to fill their time. I found one team under a tree, listening to various IPods. Many girls were using the time, and their parents' money, to try the many goodies at the concession stand. One team was singing, trying to put together a new dugout cheer.
But what drew my attention was a group of girls huddled around a picnic table. They were the Maryland Stars Red, and they seemed to be having the most fun out of any of the teams. So I went over to check out the commotion.
What I found, and eventually taught, was the most complicated, rule-oriented card game ever invented by 12-year old girls. The game is called "Mow."
The goal of this game, pronounced to rhyme with "cow," is to become the Mow Master. To do that, you have to be the first to discard all four cards in your hand in basic "Uno" style. Sounds simple enough. It's not. In fact, it's down right confusing.
There are these rules when you discard and things you have to do when it's your turn. For example, when you lay down a king, you have to salute your king. When you lay down a two, you have to say the phrase, "Rubber ducky you're the one."
There are about 10 rules like this for random cards in the deck. When you don't do any of those things, you have to pick up an additional card. I couldn't remember any of them. At one point, I think I had about 10 cards in my hand. Quantum physics might be easier to learn than all the rules in this game.
And then there is the Mow Master, which means you're the dictator of the game. You can make people do whatever you want, whenever you want. One of the girls, Megan, who is the founder of this game, might be the meanest Mow Master. I was a little scared. Yes, I was afraid of a 12-year-old girl.
The girls told me this is a tradition for them and has gotten them through many rain delays this season. After a few hands, and including one in which I became the Mow Master, I stepped away with a smile on my face.
Sometimes when you watch these girls play, you forget they are soon-to-be eighth graders. Some look, and play, like they are already in high school.
But spending time with a team, over a good game of Mow, reminded me that these are still "little" girls who come up with card games using phrases from Sesame Street.
I might not be able to hit their pitches, or outrun them to first base, but I can beat them in a good game of Mow.