Hawks – 27 FLAMES – 4
Ghost Riders – 24 FLAMES – 9
W L GB Flames Vs.
Warriors 10 2 - 0-2
Hawks 8 3 1.5 0-3
R/P 6 6 4 1-1
Drive 5 6 4.5 2-0
Flames 5 7 5 -
GR 1 11 9 2-1
It’s obvious from the scores above that the Flames just plain stunk out the joint last week. We were horrible. I won’t go into great detail. I really don’t feel like rehashing those games. The Tuesday game, against the Hawks, ranks up there with the worst games I’ve ever played in. And then on Thursday, we lost to a team that hadn’t won a single game all year. Not only lost, but got blown out. Enough said.
As for my own play…
Last week, I went on and on about how I know how to play my position, which these days is usually first base. Well, this week I was given reason #647 why this should (and will) be my last season. What I now know about playing my position is that I have to be ten years younger to do it right. Three examples follow.
Tuesday, I’m playing back near the outfield grass for a left-handed hitter. I looked at his stance, judged the speed with which my pitcher was throwing, and saw an earlier swing on a pitch he fouled off. My positioning was absolutely perfect. He hits a ground ball directly at me. I field it cleanly and start towards the bag. That’s when I realized, with a sinking feeling, that I wasn’t going to be fast enough to beat him to it. I was still a step behind the bag as he hit it. Safe.
Thursday, different batter, same play. Again, I’m positioned perfectly. I field the grounder cleanly. I start towards the bag and see that the same damned thing is going to happen again. I put every fiber of my being into getting to that bag before the runner. As he runs, I run as hard as I can. I get sort of stuck in between going at the bag straight up or sliding at it and I throw myself at the bag, a half-assed feet-first slide. I hit the bag and he hit the bag. I roll over, hold up the ball for the umpire to see, and the umpire… calls him safe.
No complaint from me. It was bang-bang. I honestly can’t say for sure if I beat him or not.
Here’s the third and final example, from another play on Thursday. The batter hits a pop-up into foul territory down the rightfield line. I pick it up right off the bat, see the angle I have to take and I start after it, with my back to the plate. I know I’ve got it judged right. I’m going full tilt, take a peek over my shoulder, pick up the ball again and reach out my glove. I’ve got it! Except, the ball falls a foot in front of my outstretched glove.
All three of those plays are dead simple outs if I have one more step; a step I used to have. I don't have that step anymore. There's no way I can get it back. I'm too old. So, what I have to do is give up another portion of the field to the hitter. I have to reposition myself to be a step closer, one way or the other. Do I give up the ball over my shoulder or do I give up the bag? Obviously, there are more plays to the bag, so I have to play a step closer. Now I’m not only giving up the other play, I’m putting myself into a position where I may not make the play I’ve chosen to defense, anyway. This is because my damned reflexes are slower. It’s an absolute no-win situation. I’m no longer maximizing my usefulness. I’m minimizing my harm. And that is totally unacceptable. I’ve got nowhere to go but down from this point. And that’s why I have to get the f*** out after this year.
I’ve played with a lot of guys who didn’t get out when their game went from good to bad. God bless them for their guts and heart, but I will NOT be one of those guys. I will NOT put myself onto a team next year and give my manager a headache trying to find a spot for me where I won’t kill the team.
Now, this year I’m still pulling my weight as a batter. Balance my ability to get on base with my decline as a fielder and I’m still coming out on the plus side. I’m producing more runs than I’m letting in, by a decent margin. If I wasn’t doing that, I’d have already quit, and correctly so.
Here are my hitting stats for both teams combined:
G AB H 2B 3B HR AVG BB K OB% SLG% OPS RThose are good stats for our brand of ball. You can basically convert those numbers to baseball stats if you divide by 2/3. You do that and it works out to a .318 batting average. That’s good. There’s a distinct lack of power, though, and that’s not going to get better with age, either.
20 48 23 2 0 0 .479 17 3 .615 .521 1.136 31
The bottom line is that I’m still valuable as a player. I’m passable as a fielder and above average as a hitter, but there’s no upside to be had. I’m maxing out what I’ve got left and next year, barring a miracle, I’ll be another step slower. I will play out this year with every bit of sweat in me, but next year is a done deal. It’s a no-go.
Enough of beating myself up. Let’s see what happens with the Bombers on Sunday.
TEAM W-L GB To Play *=not including yesterday
Titans* 6-0 - 10
Dot Rats 6-2 1 8
GangGreen 5-3 2 8
Renegades* 5-3 2 8
Moe Howard 4-6 4 6
Bacon* 3-5 4 8
BOMBERS 3-5 4 8
Rockies* 2-6 5 8
Reds 2-6 5 8
BOMBERS – 20 GangGreen – 6
GangGreen – 18 BOMBERS – 4
The first game is the type of game the Bombers are capable of playing every time out of the box. We had strong hitting, good pitching, a decent bit of defense behind that pitching, and we made the other team work on every play, taking extra bases and challenging the outfielders to make a throw.
The second game is the type of game the Bombers are capable of playing every time out of the box, too. We had generally weak hitting, tired pitching, poor defense and we ran into outs we didn’t need to give them.
The question coming into every game is which Bombers team is taking the field. Will it be Jekyll or Hyde? This team is capable of winning every game we play in this league. It could be a championship team. We’re absolutely capable of scoring 20 runs every time. By the same token, we could lose every game we play in this league. We could end up out of the playoffs. We’re absolutely capable of giving up 20 runs every time.
Conrad Paquette continues to tear the cover off of the ball. He went 5-for-6 including a double, a triple, and two home runs. Joey Baszkiewicz had a real nice doubleheader, going 4-for-5. Ariel Monges and Fred Goodman – platooning in right field - hit their first home runs of the season. Jason Atton had a double and a triple, but was thrown out at the plate trying to stretch the triple into a home run in game two. And Eric Benoit had a perfect game one, 2-for-2 with a walk, keeping a couple of rallies going with timely hits.
Once again, our outfield play was shaky. In some instances, I seriously think it may just be that these guys haven’t seen enough fly balls. They’re getting to them, but having them hit in the mitt and fall out. That sort of stuff is inexcusable, but they know it, so no need for me to make them feel worse by going on about it. You have to have faith that they’ll learn how to close their gloves the next time.
We also had a fair share of normally dependable fielders making bad throws. Bad defense can be contagious at times.
That’s enough for now. We won one and lost one. Next week, we truly get to see just how good or bad this team really is. We’re playing the Titans, currently undefeated and winners of the league championship 9 or 10 times in the previous 12 years I’ve been here. If we bring our “A” game...
Soon, with non-softball stuff.