Thursday, August 14, 2008
I don’t have much for you today. Just a couple of things I feel need saying.
First, I want to thank everybody who commented on the latest Dorothy story. While I appreciate all of the commentary – and I think, combined, you set a record for most total words of commentary I’ve received on any one piece - I am especially grateful to the folks from Franklin (Dorothy’s town) for their contributions to the discussion. In a touchy situation like this, it’s always good to hear from those directly involved. Whether we agree or disagree, are able to find common ground or not, it never hurts to remember that "the enemy" isn’t just some faceless entity, but is, in fact, comprised of folks who are probably trying to do what they believe to be right under the circumstances.
The wonderful thing I’ve learned, in reading from other sources, is that the majority of the folks who would like to see the cats removed seem to have no animosity towards Dorothy herself, despite being on opposite sides of the issue. Most of the quotes begin with something akin to, “Dorothy is a good person, whose heart is in the right place, but…” While those words might be seen as PR to soften a harsh position, I prefer to believe that they are heartfelt. Until I see evidence to the contrary, I’ll continue to operate with that belief.
My fervent wish is that the nice people in this remain nice, and a constructive dialogue may be opened between all parties involved. Perhaps some of the folks who would like to see the cats removed might be willing to change their position if they see evidence, from the Animal Control officers and Purr-Fect Cat Shelter, that the spay/neuter and release program is ongoing and effective? I offer this as a proof of sorts: In the story from The Boston Globe, it was estimated (within the context, it seemed to have come from a resident) that the feral cats at one time numbered in the hundreds, but now consist of approximately 15. If the cats aren’t being trapped, then spayed and neutered, what is the reason for the population decrease? Of course, the entities mentioned above should be able to provide definitive records.
Enough about cats. Let’s talk about me.
A few days have passed since my disappointing Sunday. I’m still pissed at the same people I was pissed at then, but not as much. Well, at least in one of the cases.
Jason Atton is someone I’ve played with for about 10 years now. He was one of the guys who didn’t show up on Sunday. The other guys who didn’t show – or who left - were not as important to me, personally, or to the team’s chances. Jason, though, is someone I like a lot and who I absolutely expected to be there. In the week before the games, I told Jack, our manager, that I wanted Jason pitching in any do-or-die situation. My exact words were that I would put my balls on the line with Jason pitching. When he didn’t show up, I was severely disappointed, on both a personal level and as concerned our chances.
Understand that I consider every one of my teammates, on any team, to be important. I can count on the fingers of one hand the teammates whose company I haven’t enjoyed in some way or another. But, when you share any endeavor with someone for many years, you tend to become closer to those people.
For example, my friend, Fred Goodman, is someone I’ve played ball with for about 20 years. I love him dearly for many things, but having him as a teammate is a special joy. He brings us his good humor, as well as deceptive skills. Fred doesn’t look like an athlete, but anyone who has studied the books, like I have, would know that he is one of the best clutch hitters on the team. And he brings a cooler full of ice cold drinks for us, every week, out of his own pocket. Just a tremendously nice guy.
Ron Johnson has been my Bomber teammate for as long as I’ve been on the team, the only person left on the team from my first year (Fred didn’t join this team until my third year on it.) Ron is a great guy, and one of the most unselfish ballplayers with whom I’ve ever had the pleasure of sharing a field. As manager during the team’s first two years, he was so ridiculously unselfish that he benched himself in favor of many inferior players. It cost the team, unfortunately. He was obviously the best hitter on the team. When Ron handed the manager’s reigns to me, in the team’s third year, my first act was to see that Ron was cemented into the line-up. He holds just about every team career mark in hitting, and this past year, at age 54 or so, he set marks in batting average and on-base percentage. The latter was a record I held for the past six years or so, and of which I was quite proud. If someone else had broken it, I might have felt differently, but Ron breaking it made me happy.
Jack Atton (Jason’s uncle) is someone I’d go to hell with. How much do I like Jack, and admire his competitiveness? When I decided to step down as manager myself, Jack was the person I chose as my successor. He was the first one I thought of for the job, and I honestly didn’t consider anyone else. When he said he’d do it, I knew the team was in the hands of the only guy who truly cared as much as I did.
Joey Baszkiewicz knows how much I like him. I learned how to spell his name, for one thing, and if that doesn’t let him know, I don’t know what would. His style of play reminds me of my own game, except 20 years younger. He doesn’t stand out as a big-time hero in any one aspect of the game, but he is good at just about every part of it. Joey epitomizes the term “team player.” You can put him at just about any position and expect a solid performance. And I don’t think I’ve ever heard him complain.
I certainly don’t mean to dismiss any of my other current teammates, because they are all nice guys. But the guys mentioned above have been my teammates for 10 years or more. And so has Jason. I’ve played in three different leagues with him, and I truly love playing with the guy. He’s a tremendous ballplayer and he’ll protect your back when it’s needed, too. Great playful sense of humor, just a big kid. I like Jason so much that, when I “retired” last year, I gave him my glove.
Losing is what happens sometimes, so that doesn’t eat at me, but Jason not showing up truly hurt. Until I found out that he definitely wasn’t coming, I never would have believed that he’d purposely miss a playoff series, for any reason. The story relayed to me is that he played a number of games the day before and was too sore to play Sunday. I’d have to have a leg blown off to miss a playoff game, so I couldn’t fathom that.
Jason lives in New Hampshire, so he comes the furthest way of anyone to play. That’s one reason I’m willing to cut him a bit more slack than someone else. He has, in the past, protected me on the field. When I was catching him one game, and was involved in a collision – a player from the other team bowled me over, from the blindside, during a play at the plate – Jay gave him the brushback the next time up. I appreciated that. He wrote me a very nice little e-mail this year while I was going through some self-doubt, bucking up my spirits, and I love him for that. And he makes me laugh.
So, I hope we get to play together again next year. But, Jay? PLEASE give me your solemn word that, if we make the playoffs again, you’ll be there for every game. My heart would just curl up and die if the same thing happened next year.
(Man, I am one disgustingly mushy ballplayer. No wonder people don’t show up. They’re probably afraid I’ll slobber all over them.)
Soon, with more better stuff.