Thus ends the summer of my discontent.
My softball season is over and it ended as oddly as I would have expected, considering how weird a year it was overall. The B2-Bombers actually won a game, our second win of the season, and in so doing knocked the opposing team out of the playoffs. The whimsically-named Bacon (called that because the league plays on Sunday mornings and they said, "Hmmmm, what goes with Sunday morning?") had to beat us twice to advance. Nope. Sorry, smoked-belly-pork.
I scrambled last week to line up enough players to assure that these games would be played. I pulled in a couple of guys from my weekday team. I put out a call to another league I used to play in, asking for a player or two, and that's what I got.
Now, before you start questioning whether what I did was proper, let me explain a couple of things. First, our team had forfeited once this year already - you could read about it here, but why you'd want to, I don't know - and the league rules call for any team forfeiting twice in the same season to be expelled from the league. Well, I've been in this league for 12 years and I'm going to play again next year. If we had forfeited this week, it wouldn't have been an indication of whether or not we could field a team that would show up next year. I guarantee we will field one and it will be a competitive one, too - unlike this year - so I wasn't getting thrown out of the league on what would have amounted to a technicality.
Second, these games had, as mentioned earlier, playoff implications. It would have been completely unfair to the other team in competition with Bacon for us to just hand them two games. And, there being no strict roster rules in this league prior to the playoffs, it was incumbent upon us to field an actual team. Once a team reaches the playoffs, any player that hadn't played at least half of his team's games would have been ineligible. This wasn't the playoffs, though, and no rules existed barring bringing in players for one doubleheader.
(Bacon actually imported a pitcher for the set, so they wouldn't have had a moral leg to stand on, anyway. The pitcher they brought in had played for them in earlier years, but not a single game thus far this season. They wouldn't have complained, in any case. The unwritten rule in this league has always been "play the games, no matter what it takes" because guys come down to the field to play, not to win forfeits. The gentlemanly thing to do is to loan a team a player if they are short. We did just that earlier in the year - and dropped two as a result.)
So, we started game one with 10 players, only 6 of whom were actual season-long Bombers. We fell behind by a 10 - 3 count after 5 innings. At this point the Bacon manager pulled his starting pitcher. I suppose he thought that the game was well in hand and he wanted to save the pitcher's arm for a go in game two, since they had to win both, but we just lit up the reliever. We went up 12 - 10 and then held on to win it 12 - 11. His was one of those managing moves that is inexplicable in hindsight, but seemed to make perfect sense to him as he did it.
Well, after the first game, two of our (usual Bombers) players had to leave. They had places to go and things to do that they had scheduled months back, before we were rained out so often that the season extended five weekends beyond what it was originally supposed to have been. One of the players I recruited called a buddy to come down, so we now had 9, only 4 of whom were from the actual team. And none of whom were actually pitchers. As might be expected when a team has no actual pitchers, we got our asses handed to us - and isn't that a lovely mental picture...
We lost game two by a football score: 31 - 10. In my one inning of pitching, I allowed 10 of those runs. We were already trailing 21 - 0 when I went in, so it was the 4th inning and already garbage time.
Man, I am one sucky pitcher. My health and well-being is always in danger when I step onto the rubber, as witnessed here, but this was especially bad. The game meant nothing to either team, so the good sports on Bacon were sending right-handed guys up to bat left-handed, swinging at balls already in the catcher's mitt, dragging winos and crackheads off of the street to take some cuts - anything to stop my misery. It ended, but not until any notions I might have had that I was a real pitcher had been utterly vaporized.
I said, at some point earlier this year, that I wouldn't come back for another year unless my combined stats for both teams ended with me batting at least .400 and with an on-base percentage of at least .500, and I reached those goals.
(As I also said earlier, so you won't get too high an opinion of those figures, you can pretty much translate stats from fast-pitch softball to baseball by discounting 33%. In other words, a .450 hitter in our leagues would be about equal to a .300 hitter in baseball.)
Here's my final combined stat line for the year:
G AB H 2B 3B HR RBI AVG. BB K OB% SLG% OPS R Team w-l
36 85 39 2 0 0 17 .459 21 6 .567 .483 1.050 24 8 - 31
In other words, I hit about .306 in baseball terms. Notice that 37 of my 39 hits were singles. You've heard of "Big Papi"? I'm "Almost No Poppy Whatsoever".
This season included a doubleheader wherein my pitchers struck out a combined 19 hitters over 14 innings, yet we lost both games; a double forfeit; a ball smacked into my face at perhaps 90 - 95 mph, from 46 feet away, that amazingly caused no permanent damage; and two friends I've played with for 12 years each quitting the Sunday team. None of the foregoing is happy stuff.
It also included some new friends made on the field; lots of running around in the sunshine, when it was available to be run around in; and the general realization that my softball days are numbered. That last wouldn't seem like a good thing, but it is. It reminds me of how lucky I've been to be able to keep playing this boy's game for as long as I have. Anything from here on out is gravy.
Well, as I've mentioned far too many times this season, I'll be 50 next year. One more season, which I feel that I've earned - albeit with a startling lack of power. 49 years down, 1 more softball season to go. And I promise - no more softball posts until at least March.
See you tomorrow.