Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Monday Softball Diary - 8B

Just to refresh your memory, here’s what happened on Sunday...

These were the first Sunday games in 35 days for this team, due to scheduling oddities and rainouts. We entered at 0 – 2, thus we were winless for the entire month of May.

We are now undefeated for the entire month of June.

BOMBERS – 18 Rockies – 13
BOMBERS – 16 Rockies – 13

When a team scores 34 runs in two games, there are plenty of people fattening up their averages. I was one of them. I had about the best day at the plate I’ve had in five years. I went 5 for 7, with two doubles, two walks and seven runs scored. Jack Atton said if I keep getting on base like this, he’s going to come drag me out of my house next year to play, whether I want to or not. The thing is, I was only the third or fourth best hitter on the team this day. That’ll give you an idea of how much the Bombers were croaking the ball.

Jason Atton was immense, with three home runs – two of them grand slams - and eleven runs batted in. Conrad Paquette had six hits - including his third home run of the year - and drove in seven runs. And Chris Moore had two home runs.

Chris is maybe, I don’t know, twelve or thirteen years old, and...

Well, OK, he’s probably twenty or twenty-two. At my age, everybody looks younger than they are. Anyway, he’s all full of fire and excited about every play and he’s so fast, he can hit the ball, drop his bat, run the bases, and get back to home plate in time to catch the bat before it hits the ground.

His speed makes for a lot of fun. A lot of fun for our bench when I’m on first base and he hits a home run, that is. I had that big head start on him, but as I’m rounding third, I glanced back and saw that he had picked up forty feet on me. I ran as fast as I could, with my old-man legs, but he was about two feet behind me as I hit home plate. It’s a good thing there aren’t FIVE bases in this game, because then I would have been giving him a piggyback ride.

I flopped out on the grass, sucking air. Guys were calling for oxygen and asking me if I wasn’t going to live, could they have my glove? Stuff like that. Meanwhile, Chris was high-fiving everybody and doing somersaults and backflips just for kicks.

Next time I’m on first when he’s hitting, I’m going to try to steal second just so I can have a bigger head start.

Chris also made probably the most important defensive play of the day. In the sixth inning, with runners on first and second, two outs, the Rockies number 3 hitter singled to left. Chris charged the ball, came up throwing, and nailed the fastest man on the Rockies at the plate. That preserved our one-run lead and energized our entire team. It also pretty much knocked the life out of the Rockies.

(When Casey Stengel was 80 years old and managing the Mets in 1962, he talked about how “there’s great opportunities for the Youth Of America on this team.” Well, there’s great opportunities on the Bombers now and Chris Moore is our very own Youth Of America. I think that makes Jack Atton, our manager, Casey Stengel. I bet that’s OK by Jack, as long as we keep winning.)

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The best thing about these two wins is that we came from behind in both games. We trailed 9 – 5 in the first game. We were even worse off in the second game, trailing 12 – 4 after four innings. The whole team kept cool, dug in, played solid ball, and came through in the clutch. Everybody on the team contributed to these wins – no lie.

Jack managed the games very nicely, moving people around and in and out of the line-up, getting the best advantages he could for us.

There were some real nice defensive plays aside from Chris's most excellent throw. I was in the middle of a 7 - 3 - 5 earlier in the second game. The throw from left overshot the second baseman, but I had the back up. Amazingly enough, with my bum arm, I made a perfect throw to Pat Atton at third and he applied the tag. There was a nice 9 - 6 to get a man who overran second. I think that was Dave's throw. And we came within a couple of inches of a play I've never seen before (a 4 - 9) as a line drive tipped off the top of Ronnie's glove at second and Ariel almost made the catch in right field, as he had been playing very shallow. That would have been one for the books.

Aside from the folks I’ve already mentioned, I want to mention our pitcher in game two, Sandy. He had some bad luck in the first four innings, with a few pop-ups falling in and a couple of errors. Once we got the lead, though, he toughed it up and didn’t give them much at all. And with two outs and the tying runs on base in the Rockies last at-bat, he stepped it up and struck out the last batter of the game. Real nice performance.

(Any of the Bombers who are reading this and who I haven’t mentioned? Don’t feel slighted. It was a serious team effort. I loved it as much as I’ve loved any Sunday on a ballfield in my life. Seriously.)

It was especially sweet beating the Rockies. It’s not that they’re bad guys. As a matter of fact, just about everybody on that team is a really nice guy. It’s just that we’ve been in the league together since I entered it – and the Bombers came into being – thirteen seasons ago. They beat us two out of three the only time we met in the playoffs, a very heartbreaking loss. I’ve always considered them our chief rivals.

It also had to be somewhat sweet for Ariel. Ariel Monges had been a member of the Rockies for the past 12 seasons. He came over to play for us this year. Ariel is still friends with most (if not all) of the Rockies, but he had some sort of difference of opinion concerning how playing time should be meted out and he decided to see if we wanted him this year.

(I want to make sure I don’t leave anyone with the wrong idea concerning Ariel. I don’t believe he was complaining about a lack of playing time for himself. He’s not that kind of a guy. But I think he was upset that some of the players who had been with the team for many years were being given short shrift compared to guys who didn’t really bleed for the Rockies like he did. So, his principles were at stake and he did the right thing.)

I’m sure glad to have Ariel on the Bombers. He’s a winner. And it completes my circle in this league. Ariel was actually a Bomber for the first couple of games I was in this league, before he went to the Rockies. Now, in my final year, he’s a Bomber again. There’s a nice symmetry to it all.

Another nice bit of symmetry is having my friend Ron Johnson back for another year. Ron is now the only guy on the team older than me, by a couple of years. I'm not sure if Ron was planning on playing again this year. He may have been. However, I especially asked him to be here because I wanted my last year to be one with him on the team. I respect him highly as a player and a gentleman.

When the Bombers were just starting in this league, Ron was THE MAN. We only won about seven games total our first two years. Without Ron, we probably win none at all. He was easily the best hitter on this team. He was brutally good.

Ron’s one shortcoming has always been that he’s too nice a guy. He was the manager before me. He’d sit himself down and put in guys who couldn’t carry his jock on their best days. When I became manager, there was no getting Ron out of the line-up with a crowbar for the first few years. He isn’t as fearsome as he was back in the day, but he’s still a damn good hitter and his heart is as big as it always was. I’m very glad he’s here.

Well, all I’m doing now is getting mushy with man-love. I better stop before you all start puking. The next time I see you, I’ll tell you how my audition for I Want To Be A Millionaire finally turned out.

(If I owe you money, I’ll probably still owe you money a year from now. That should give you a hint.)

See you then.

Bombers Statistics

3 comments:

Michael Leggett said...

Casey Stengel & the '62 Mets:

"Can anybody here, play this game";

My 700th is up

Auntie Scotch said...

There is nothing wrong with a hearty dose of man love, Sul. Can't wait until your "WWTBAM?" post...yeah I'm too lazy to type that out this morning.

Charlie White said...

I must say 2 years ago we were close, I hope you can get your title this year! My only regret is I am not there with you!! I still have my bomber shirt. Hope all is well, kick some ass!