Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Swingers, Bombers, And Rock & Roll

Now THAT is one magnificent rock ‘n roll photo. Attitude, beer and whiskey bottles, cigarette butts strewn on the floor, egg cartons on the rehearsal room walls, and a bass player who looks like he just crawled out of a dime bag.

(I thought about saying, "... and they have Jesus Christ on bass!", but then decided the less I compare myself to God, the better off I'll be in the long run.)

The band is Live Wire (a.k.a. Powerline) and the time period is circa 1981. I’m the bass player. I’ve shared a few stories about my time in that congregation (Here, Here, and Here, the last with a link to one of our original tunes, performed live, including my bass solo.) And, this past Saturday, three of us got together to jam as a power trio – Ron Frattasio on guitar, Steve Giusti on Drums, and me (a.k.a. Jimi LaRue, back in the day) on Bass.

Want to hear a bit of the jam session? Maybe you do, but, sorry, no. I was hoping to put something out here, but we still sound way too rough. Instead of the tight hard rock outfit we once were, we’re still feeling our way around and the sounds are no better than a second-tier garage band. Thirty years worth of rust takes a while to shake off. But the jams are fun, and I just got that photo from our one-time singer (Thanks, Marty!) and had to show it to you.

Meanwhile, surrounding that musical excursion back in time, I played ball on Thursday night, Friday night, and Sunday morning. In other words, for four straight days, via music and sports, my 53-year-old ass pretended it was 20-something again.

I am blessed beyond measure to be able to do this stuff.

How many people can recapture, for even a few minutes, the days of their youth? And I keep getting to do so in a manner that transports me utterly and completely into those moments, rarely having to acknowledge the ravages of time. The only thing that brings me back to reality is when I have to run the bases. That’s when I suck wind and concede that the rock ‘n roll lifestyle I once indulged in makes it necessary for me to have a pinch runner once in a while.

Philosophical whining aside, the ball has been very satisfying this season. My weeknight team, the Swingers…

(I can’t say that I’m thrilled with that name. Yeah, it’s semi-clever, but when you wear uniform pants as tight as mine, and that sort of team name is emblazoned across your chest, you can’t help but wonder how many people you run into, on the way to and from games, just think you’re some sort of aging sexual deviant.)

(Which I am, of course, so that makes it all the worse.)

Anyway, the Swingers have been playing some decent ball of late, raising our overall record to 4 – 5 – 1, following an 0 – 4 – 1 start to the season. We’re back in contention for the final playoff spot in our division, something I would have truthfully considered an improbability not too long ago. I didn’t think the defense on this team could possibly make enough plays to keep us in the race. It’s still a problem, to be sure – I haven’t seen this many stone-fingered hands outside of a sculpture museum - but the team is a beast on offense, and the recent addition of a couple of good pitchers (Big Jay Atton and Josh Lebron, both also playing with my Sunday team, the Bombers) has helped the defensive effort via inducing more easily-fielded types of plays; pop-ups, weak grounders, and strikeouts. When our pitchers are on, and our batters are hitting to their averages, we’ll have enough to overcome our defensive deficiencies. Either of those things goes sub-par, though, and our bad defense will croak us quick, fast, and in a hurry. Still more than half the season to go, so we’ll see how many nights we can outslug our error-prone fielders.

M Street Softball website

Swingers team statistics

Meanwhile, the Bombers are strong, strong, strong. If this isn’t finally our year, I don’t know when it ever will be.

BOMBERS – 13 Reds – 5
BOMBERS – 16 Reds – 13

These wins bring our record to 3 – 1, and we’ve completed 2/3 of what, going into the season, I figured would be the roughest stretch of games we’ll face. Our first four have been against the defending champs and the runners-up from two of the previous three seasons. Our set next week will be against the runners-up from last year. If we come out of this start with a winning record – and all we need is a split next week – then it should become relatively easy for us until the playoffs.

Look at the type of doubleheaders some of our guys had for this week:

Danny Espinosa – 6 for 6, 2 doubles, a walk, 5 runs scored

Big Jay Atton – 6 for 6, 2 Home Runs, 6 RBI

Cam Zirpolo – 4 for 8, 2 Home Runs

Robbie Rogers – 3 for 7, 2 Home Runs, 5 runs scored

And, damn! The first dinger by Rogers was one of the most vicious hits ever seen in this league.

The left field fence on Smith is a long way away for softball. There are actually two fences – a ten-foot fence maybe 340 feet straight down the line, then a taller fence about 20 feet beyond the first one. They both enclose a track and field complex belonging to Harvard University. In the 16 years I’ve played in this league, I had never seen anyone clear the fence.

Until now.

I was coaching third base at the time. Robbie came up to lead off the third and...


He hit a towering LINE DRIVE that cleared the first fence and was still in the air when it clanged off of the taller inside fence. Unreal. I high-fived him as he rounded third, and it was such a mighty stroke that the players from another team, on another diamond altogether, turned toward our bench in unison and applauded. I’ve never seen anything like that before.

This is the first time I’ve ever had the pleasure of being a teammate of Robbie’s, but I’ve known him for a few years. He’s been a fixture in the previously mentioned M Street Softball League for a long time, winning some home run titles and also the annual home run hitting contest. I’ve played against him. It’s more fun having him on my side, that’s for sure.

(By the way, he’s convinced he can clear the tall inner fence. If he does, I’ll buy him the best steak dinner in Boston. It’ll be worth it to see it. Same offer holds for any of my teammates who do it, but I think Robbie is the only one I have to worry about. That’s no slam on the other guys, some of whom have a good power stroke, but most of them – Big Jay or Danny, for instance – aren’t the type to pull the ball with that much air under it. We’ll see what happens. Maybe it’s like when Roger Bannister broke the four-minute mile. Once he showed it could actually be done, lots of other runners started doing it and now a four-minute mile is considered slow in elite competition. Maybe by the time we hit the playoffs, everybody will be doing it, including me.)

(Yeah, right. I’m lucky if I can clear a tall second baseman these days, never mind a left field wall.)

Everybody on the Bombers contributed to the two wins, not just the folks I’ve named so far. Great team effort. I’ll give another quick shout out to Big Jay Atton. Aside from his perfect day at the plate, he tossed game one and only gave up three earned. On top of that, he managed the team in the absence of our skipper, Jack Atton, who had personal business to attend to. Good pitching, perfect day at the plate, perfect record as manager; can’t get much better than that.

Personally, I went 3 for 6. That sounds good, but it was as weak a 3 for 6 as you could imagine. I had one solid hit. The other two were a weak little grounder I barely beat out and a pop up that found a home between three fielders. But, hey, the team won two. I don’t give a damn if I never get another hit as long as we keep winning. Barring injuries, this team needs me about as much as your nose needs a third nostril. I’m fine with that. I put in my dues the previous fifteen years. I’ll cash in now and enjoy the ride.

Bombers stats

Soon, with more better stuff.

P.S. Go Celtics!


Cricket said...

Sounds like quite the hit, my friend. Wish I had seen that myself. I can imagine the sound of horsehide-on-aluminum turning the heads of that other team - THUNK!.

My lovely wife played softball for some years. I remember her coach always calling in the outfielders, who tended to play way too deep for women's B-league... ain't nobody hitting any balls that far.

A funny story that may be a post someday: i was bringing my son to soccer when, to my dismay, I heard perilously close that distinctive thunk of ball-on-bat. Yikes! I whipped around and noticed, for the first time at this complex, the tiniest diamonds I've ever seen, with two teams straight out of Peanuts playing in a developmental league.

It was Charles Scrap Metal vs. Sundayz Ice Cream... the score was Q to 12...

Seriously worth watching, as I did, in preference to my sons soccer drills.

Michelle H. said...

You're being hard on yourself. Every hit counts, no matter how "weak" you might believe it was. Your teams are doing great. Major congratulations!

Awesome photo! That's one you should use for posters for your reunion tour.

Jazz said...

Lord amighty the last thing I want is to recapture my 20s....

As to the band pic, you all look like children! Oh yeah, you were.

Craig said...

It is nice to be able to hold onto bits and pieces of our youth. Or at least, to still have energy and health enough to still be physically active in our 50s. 'Cuz honestly, other than when I look in the mirror, the view from behind these eyeballs ain't so terribly different than when I was in my 20s/30s. . .

Brian Miller said...

sounds like your team has taken a turn for the better...these stories are better than the local paper so keep them coming. i may even sport your colors if you make the playoffs. smiles.

Hilary said...

That photos.. the hair screams 80s. What a keeper. Then you said something about sports.. ;)

Chris said...

They look like line drives in the score book, Sully.

Dang, Big Jay had quite the day. And you KNOW I've gotta mention Slammin' Cam Zirpolo (just made that up!) and his two taters. The market value of my Bombers ball just went up a tick.

Anonymous said...

"How many people can recapture, for even a few minutes, the days of their youth?"

I still recapture that one fat dimple. I know I saw it back in my youth and it's been with me ever since.

heh heh

Buck said...

Now THAT is one magnificent rock ‘n roll photo.

Complete with requisite "What the fuck are YOU lookin' at, Sparky?" sneers. Well, except for inverted guitar guy who's wearing more of a smirk. Which is also appropriate. You're right Jim, a GREAT rock 'n' roll pic. That belongs somewhere in Cleveland.

Softball. Well, yeah, OK. You put up with hockey; I can do softball. On my head, even.

CiCi said...

Hubby and I like the photo of the band back in 1981. It is unreal how much alike you and hubby look. Same long hair. Wow, high five to that power hitter Rogers. Sounds like a great game.

(not necessarily your) Uncle Skip, said...

"How many people can recapture, for even a few minutes, the days of their youth?"


"The only thing that brings me back to reality is when I have to run the bases."

Ya had to spoil that first illusion.

The Swingers sound like they could give Dick Stuart a run on defense?

(not necessarily your) Uncle Skip, said...

P.S. Beat L.A.

IT (aka Ivan Toblog) said...

The picture is just begging for a comment. I just don't know what it is.

v word= elsivi

Unspoken said...

my 53-year-old ass pretended it was 20-something again.

You go! I wish you years of such ability and pretension ;).

Jackie said...

I'm still looking at the photograph...thinking that the band member on the microphone looks a lot like...I can't think of his name....but...it will come to me...and I'll post it when it does. That is a VERY sharp photo...and I'm glad you posted it.
I wish you and your team the BEST...and am very glad that you are enjoying playing.
Smiles to you from Jackie

Jackie said...

Donny Osmond...

Sniffles and Smiles said...

Hey, my friend!!! Today's post is giving me BIG, BIG SMILES... You are always so self-effacing!! You do not give yourself enough credit (Did I REALLY just say that??? LOL)...Love the photo of the band! Love that you are playing ball...Love that you are feeling YOUNG...and continuing to live your youth!! You rock!! ;-) And I love it!! Fun, fun, fun post! Hugs, Janine XO

Anonymous said...

When I saw your title I thought Yay!!!! Jim is in my territory now.
World Cup Football. Then Wimbledon, Some important golf next and in between stuff with engines and tight leathers. I give up. Men rule the world.

Anonymous said...

Okay, now I know what the title means. :)

Angela Christensen said...

Great photo, great memories, and great ball stories. We'll watch for the more better, but we doubt it. :)

i beati said...

quite a correlation- dismal evening with beantown.sk

Carolina said...

Very 80's, that photo. And very rock&roll too. I like!

Ananda girl said...

The photo makes me laugh. No offense. Such a album sleeve shot!

I think its wonderful that you can tap into youth and enjoy. I wish I could have seen that hit.

Daryl said...

So my trip to P-town .. sea sick ... GAH ... but recovered .... told my friends about you and they were amazed and impressed you were going to be in Burlington ... too bad our schedules didnt mesh but next time I promise I will let you know well ahead of time so we can 'hook' up ...

Land of shimp said...

Oh dear, The Bombers and The Swingers sounds like a truly ill-advised Lost Weekend kind of deal. Have Advil, will hallucinate and bathe in regret for the coming week. So take heart and think how bad it could have been! Much, much worse, and possibly requiring penicillin, which is much worse.

I do like the photo, and am glad you almost ditched the Jesus reference because...not really seeing much of a resemblance there. Maybe if you were holding a hammer, or a fish. Or a loaf. Or a loaf of fishes and getting hammered.

I'm on cold medicine. Can you tell? Yeah, so can everyone else :-)

But you really don't look like Jesus in that photo. The lot of you look like studs though. What a fun photograph.

George said...

I don't know what you guys sounded like, but you look like a verifiable band.

Unknown said...

So much fun stuff going on! Congrats on the successes of your teams, I'll be pulling for you getting the playoff spot for sure. Can't wait to hear the jams whenever you guys feel good about recording them. But in the meantime at least we have that picture.

Tall second baseman...that line made me actually lol :-)

Anonymous said...

Good article. Thank you.