Monday, June 01, 2009

Happy (Softball) Days Are Here Again!




That’s a blurry picture of me, post-game, taking a big bite of a Fuck-The-Man Tuna Salad submarine sandwich, with tomatoes. It was my reward for having a perfect day. And it was damn good. Thanks, Donatello!

What constitutes a perfect day? Four singles and three walks in seven plate appearances. It was as good a day as I’ve had swinging the bat (and, three times, not swinging it) in… well, since I passed age 50, anyway. To complete my circle of joy, my team, The Bombers, took both games handily.

BOMBERS – 19 Courtesy Flush – 5
BOMBERS – 25 Courtesy Flush – 11


(Yes, Courtesy Flush was the name of the opposing team. In a softball world filled with Hawks, Titans, Renegades, Flames, Giants, Tigers, and other assorted "normal" team nicknames, they are not afraid to buck the trend. I like their style. I think next year we should call ourselves The Pus-Filled Boils.)

(In case you have no idea what a "courtesy flush" is – I found out, after the game, that MY WIFE hadn’t the slightest – here’s a good explanation.)

Well, when your team scores 44 runs in two games, it’s a pretty good bet that one guy having a perfect day might not be the only one. Jason Atton shared my good fortune, and he did it with much more authority, two doubles and a mammoth home run included in his six hits and a walk. Jason is having an amazing year so far. He’s batting .789 through six games. I’m second on the team after yesterday, at .615. You don’t often see stats where the leading batter on a team is outhitting the next-closest guy by 174 points. Yikes! If I were a pitcher and saw him coming to the plate this year, I’d suddenly develop a hamstring pull and watch from the safety of the dugout while the poor sucker who replaced me got to have his earned run average shot to hell.

Speaking of earned run averages shot to hell, both of our pitchers – Buddy Carchide and the aforementioned Jason Atton – didn’t get great defensive support behind them. The games were hardly ever in doubt, so we weren’t sweating it, but there were some ugly non-plays made by a few of our guys. Jason and Buddy gave up only TWO earned runs each per game, but Courtesy Flush scored 16 total. As good a day as we had, and it WAS swell, we’ve got to stop giving the opposition so many gifts. It will come back to bite us, sooner or later, if we don’t tighten things up defensively.

I had my perfect day at the plate, but my last at-bat was an especially amazing thing of beauty. I knew I had a perfect day going, so I wanted to go out with a real bang. I took a mighty cut, and… well, estimates among my teammates varied as to how far the ball traveled. I would say about four feet, but some of the guys were adamant that it went at least five. Drew said it positively went seven feet, but he’s young and prone to exaggeration.

Here’s what happened. As I say, I knew I had a really good day behind me and this would most likely be my final at-bat. I wanted a good one to end on. The other team was giving me a huge gap in right field. I have no problem hitting opposite field, and – because of my batting style, more about which later – I go opposite field more often than not. On a 1 – 1 count, I tried to poke it there, but popped up, out of play. It’s now 1 – 2, and I decided I’d swing at anything close. Pitch comes in, maybe it’s a strike, maybe not, but I take a hack at it, and it dribbles off the bat down the third base line about four feet. I go, "Oh, shit!" and take off for first. And I reached safely without a throw being made. Since the play was behind me, I have no idea what happened. All I know is it went into the book looking like a vicious line drive that took off some guy’s arm, and that’s how I’ll tell the story twenty years from now.

I should mention more guys by name, since so many guys fattened up their averages yesterday. My good friend and teammate of longest standing, Fast Freddy Goodman, had a three-run homer. Cam Zirpolo had two triples. Joey Baszkiewicz continues to swing a hot bat. He went 5-for-6 with a couple of doubles.

(During the second game, Joey was standing on first base after a run-scoring single. Jason Atton, offering me a challenge in front of the rest of the bench, asked me to spell Joey’s last name. I said “B-A-S-Z-K-I-E-W-I-C-Z,” after which, having heard the performance, Joey gave me a thumbs-up from first. Jason should know better. When I was manager, I had to write Joey’s name, sometimes twice a day, for several years. In addition, during a couple of those years, we had a player named Pete Maszkiewicz, and you’ll notice the only difference between their names is the first letter. So, by this time, spelling Joey’s name is almost as easy as C-A-T.)

With my three walks, I took over the team lead in that category. That’s not something a lot of guys would brag about, but at age 52 and with two rapidly deteriorating knees, I’ll take my glory where I can get it. Actually, yesterday I got to re-emphasize, to the younger guys, some of the points I made in my doctoral thesis on the art of drawing bases-on-balls. In particular, the other team had a number of three-oh counts wherein they stretched themselves out to full height, bat on the shoulder, and then got what they deserved - a big fat strike on the next pitch. I’m happy to report that everybody on our team gets it. If you want to maintain your edge as a hitter, you take your normal stance at all times.

Funny thing is that one of the guys on the other team also got it. See, I take a very exaggerated stance at the plate - knees deeply bent, leaning forward, elbows down, bat head facing slightly groundward – almost entirely wrong for everything EXCEPT working a base-on-balls. I can get away with it because I know damn well I’ve got no power left, but I can still get the bat on the ball somewhat quickly, so I’m not giving up much in actual hitting and I’m gaining about 17 inches in strike zone reduction, or about 40% versus if I took a normal stance. Anyway, first at-bat of the second game, their leadoff hitter – nice guy named Tom - comes up to the plate and pretty much takes MY stance. He looks like he’s planning on taking a poop in the batter’s box, which I guess is what I look like, too. Everyone on his own team was laughing, and he yelled out, “I learned this from Sully!”

Thing is, he got two called balls immediately, and, while I’m smiling down at first base, I’m dying inside. I’m thinking this guy might actually keep it up and cause our pitcher some problems. However, he got a called strike on the next pitch, stepped out of the box, adjusted himself, and took his normal stance when he stepped back in. Later on, on our bench, Jason said to me, "His teammates were laughing, but he’s the only guy over there who gets it!" True. It’s not a good thing for a middle-of-the-order power hitter to adopt, but it’s an optimal strategy for a banjo-hitter with a good eye and fair bat speed, like me - and maybe Tom.

What else can I tell you to fill space? I got a sunburn, my first of the season. From the shoulders down and the neck up, I’m red like a cooked lobster. I forgot to buy sunscreen. Next week, I’ll know better.

Also, next week, Joey Cat – excuse me, Baszkiewicz – will be out of town, so it’s likely I’ll end up catching a game or two (as opposed to spending my day loitering at first base.) The prospect of spending a couple of hours squatting is not something I’m looking forward to, what with my crappy knees. I used to love catching, but now I know I’m likely to do some lasting damage if I go too long behind the plate. I’ll maximize my effectiveness and minimize the damage, somehow. That’s what I strive for every game, so…

And that’s about it, sports fans. A very enjoyable day for the ancient and honorable Suldog. Now I’m off to have another huge tuna sandwich. I’ve got to build up my strength for next week, after all.

BOMBERS STATS

Soon, with more better stuff.


21 comments:

Gaston Studio said...

Just dropped by to say hi and wow; just couldn't take in all the baseball stuff so will just say that looks like a darn good tuna sandwich!

Buck said...

It's good to know your team takes your experience and lessons (re: batting stance) to heart, Jim. And I love a guy who makes his sammidges with hot dog buns! :D

Sounds like a GREAT weekend. Congrats on the wins!

Michelle H. said...

Wow! That IS one big sandwich!

What a great set of games you had. Congrats!

Sniffles and Smiles said...

I think that after all these years I am finally beginning to understand baseball a little...thanks to you!!! Thanks for the explanation ...And that sandwich does look good!!!! Congrats on a great day yesterday!!! ~Janine

Chuck said...

Glad you had a good day. Unfortunately, I have to admit that softball/baseball is my absolute worst sport. I never learned any of the basics, and while I am not good at any sport, at baseball and softball I am truly horrid. I do enjoy watching a game once in a while, and I've caught a couple games in the current women's college world series softball tournament. Those gals are GOOD. 70 MPH on an underhanded throw? Yikes.

MVD said...

Not to swing the discussion back to the courtesy flush, but I come out strongly against them. I much prefer to stew in my own scent, like some ornery animal, than appease the weaker members of the family.

Ananda girl said...

"Courtesy Flush" lol-- sounds like a team name by boys would choose. "The Pus-Filled Boils", now there's a name! ha

Thanks for the belly laughs... and the baseball. Your Fuck-the-Man sub has made me ravenous...

Sniffles and Smiles said...

I'm so glad I met you! All the best to you and your family! You made my day! Again. ~Janine

Hilary said...

That sandwich would give me the shakes too. :)

Chris @ Maugeritaville said...

Okay, Jim, now I KNOW I've been reading your blog too long. When you first mentioned Baszkiewicz (don't know if that's right, didn't bother to go check) and said it's like spelling "CAT" to you now, I just KNEW that would come back later in the piece. And you didn't disappoint me.

I think your softball stories are my favorite, probably because it seems like they're YOUR favorite. And if you're changing people's names to protect the guilty and have just MADE up names like Fast Freddy Goodman, Cam Zirpolo, and Buddy Carchide, don't tell me. I choose to believe those names are real.

The Things We Carried said...

You can even convince me to read about baseball! And laugh while I do.

Love days that are perfectly good ones. I also liked the line you will tell the story the same 20 years from now. Somehow, I think it may get better with time, though!

Lola said...

Wow thanks for including me in your blogroll, and with a category all to myself! Ha, big boost for my ego...

Congratulations on your astounding performence at bat, on the great weekend and on, well, the Stance. For as much as I abhor soccer, baseball does something to me. I love it. I love watching it and playing it. (I am totally ignorant but I can hit a mighty strong pop-up). Always thought my jutting ass stance was of impairment, when it actually was key. Double Ha.

Ciao

Chris Stone said...

The photo leaves me speechless.

lol.

congrats on the win!

Crazed Mom said...

Only kinda related..............

GO HUSKY WOMEN'S SOFTBALL TEAM! ONe more win and they will be the 2009 NCAA Champions!!!!

Great pic. He

Theresa said...

When I read the original recipe for Fuck the Man tuna, I had no idea you put it a bun. Don't know what I was thinking. Kudos on your games. Go Bombers!

Moannie said...

Darling Suldog...sport again. All I can say is that I am grateful for it 'cos it means that you have the means to run off all that FOOD>

Shrinky said...

Baseball? Pah, you don't fool me - it's just a bunch of hairy (well, maybe not so much in your case) grown men playing a game cissie rounders! Teehee.

That tuna sandwich could feed my family of six for a day! Hope the sunburn is settling down, slather on that sun screen, me lad..

GreenJello said...

Dude...that link to the definition of a courtesy flush got me the Dreaded Red Screen of Naughtiness at work.

They'll be watching me now.

;)

Joey C-A-T said...

Sorry Sully. If Im not too hung over maybe Ill catch an earlier flight on sunday and get the Mirabelli treatment to the field.
Hopefully Minchofff will show up.
Good luck next week.

Janet said...

That sandwich looks divine. I think it's fabulous that you're so popular that a member of the other team is copying your moves. You may start a trend. Of course, then you'll have to do something completely different.

A Woman Of No Importance said...

A stunning story, and sandwich, ~Sir Suldog!