Monday, May 07, 2007
BOMBERS – 4 Dot Rats – 24
BOMBERS – 9 Dot Rats – 22
The regular season is underway. I’ve got 2 down and 34 to go. After that? God willing, another 10 or 12 playoff games. The way we played today, though, doesn’t bode well for too many playoff games from the Bombers.
It was cold and viciously windy. I stretched beforehand and did some running and all of the other stuff you do to warm up, but I wasn’t able to break a sweat all day. I still feel cold and it’s five hours after the games. I feel every single one of my fifty years today.
On Saturday, I re-read The Science Of Hitting by Ted Williams. Great book. If you’re just starting out, there isn’t a better one. Even a geezer like me learns something new in the re-reading. For instance, there’s a section wherein Ted talks about Eddie Brinkman, a light-hitting shortstop from the old Washington Senators. I sort of skimmed that stuff in years past, but I now find good advice that pertains to my game.
I’ve had to change with age. My reflexes just plain aren’t fast enough to even THINK about pulling the ball anymore. I mean, I’ve always been one to look opposite field, since my natural swing is inside-out, but over the past year or so I’ve been popping up way more than I should. So, what does Ted say about that?
“I tried to impress on Brinkman… to be quicker with the bat and to get the ball on the ground when hitting to the opposite field. The tendency to the opposite field is to be late, and when you’re late you’re swinging under the ball and more likely to pop it up.”
There you go. Loss of reflexes = late. Late = popping it up. Solution? Be quicker. Use a lighter bat and, when going opposite field, put the ball on the ground.
Did I make good use of that advice? Only partly. I went 2 for 6, with a walk. The two hits were just what Ted ordered. One was a liner over the second baseman and the other was a hard grounder that went through the five-hole on the pitcher. The four outs were all pop-ups. I'm still swinging too late. I'm also noticing that, at least on a couple of the outs, I just sort of flicked the bat at the ball as opposed to taking a swing with actual power. I've got to concentrate more and correct this stuff. If I don't, it's going to be a fairly miserable year at the plate.
One of the pops might have fallen for a hit on another day. The wind was blowing everything fifteen or twenty feet from where you think it would go when it left the bat. I can honestly say I’ve never before played in a doubleheader where I saw more balls drift as much as they did today. The one pop-up I’m talking about should have fallen between the right fielder and the second baseman, but it blew back ten feet towards the infield and the second baseman grabbed it.
I had a couple of weird plays at first base because of that wind. One was a foul pop that I broke back on, but that the wind held up. By the time I put on the brakes and reversed direction, it had fallen five feet in front of me. Another one was popped about ten feet to the right of second base. I told Ariel it was his, but it blew all the way back to the first base line where I was standing, so I called him off and caught it.
Overall, my defense was OK today. I snagged a sinking liner going to my left and I made a couple of good stops on errant throws. Other than the windblown foul pop, I didn’t miss anything.
Jack Atton actually pitched pretty well, which is not what you’d usually say when the other team scores 46 runs. He honestly did. If we made the plays behind him...
The Bombers defense is truly horrendous - or at least it was today. We gave them – no lie – ten outs in the first inning of game one. Lots of booted grounders, bad throws, that pop-up I didn't grab in foul territory, poor decisions on throws from the outfield. You name the error, we committed it - and not just once.
We were missing Jack’s nephew, Jason Atton, today. He had to work this morning. He’s a big kid (6’7”, I think) with a good bat, and also our other starting pitcher. When he and Jack are both available, one pitches and the other plays third base. With Jason missing, we not only had to pitch Jack in both ends of the doubleheader, but also lost the third base play of them both. This team just isn’t good enough to lose that flexibility and still win.
We did pick up a player who looks like he’ll be a great addition. Conrad Paquette was a good half of our offense today. He hit two home runs in the second game and drove in 7 of our 13 runs overall. He looks like he’ll catch whatever comes his way in the outfield. The only flaw I see in his game is that he seems to want to gun everyone down. He has a good arm, but in our brand of softball, it’s almost always the smart play to hit the cutoff, rather than try to gun someone out at the plate.
As you read this, I’m probably sore. I took some skin off of my knee and shin sliding into second and I’ll be sore in general because, well, I’m 50. The weekday league, where I play for the Flames, starts Tuesday, so it’s back on the horse and work it out. Then another one on Thursday. Back to tell you about those next week.
(For stats, go to Bombers website.)