All softball, all the time. That's what it must seem like to some of you. Don't worry. September will be here soon enough, and then no more softball until April.
I usually post about softball on Monday, but I have multiple reasons for posting about softball today. They are...
1 - The Swingers
2 - Fast Freddie Goodman
3 - Jack Atton
First, the bad news. The Swingers lost on Tuesday. This means we still haven't clinched our playoff spot.
Dorset Club - 17 SWINGERS - 7
Could this news have waited until Monday? Sure, but I want to get the bad news out of the way quickly, put it behind me, and write about joyous softball happenings come the beginning of next week.
(There are more photos following this, too, which has nothing to do with why I'm putting this news here today instead of Monday, but maybe that tidbit will entice you to keep reading.)
As I lamented near the beginning of the season, The Swingers defense is not very good. There were four balls to the outfield that should have been caught, but weren't. If Big Jay Atton keeps pitching with this defense behind him, he'll have a nervous breakdown before long.
(It's not for lack of effort. The guys try hard, and they truly are remorseful when they blow one, but damn. Can I recycle a line I used earlier this year? I haven't seen this many stone-fingered hands outside of a sculpture museum.)
We had some cushion for failure. That is, we only had to win one of our remaining three games to clinch that playoff spot. Now we have to win one of our remaining two. We get another shot on Monday. If we don't get it done then, we have one final shot on Tuesday. Here's hoping we finish it off on Monday and keep Big Jay out of a rubber room.
You may be wondering who these people are. "Are these photos of The Swingers? The Bombers?" No, this photo, as well as the one at the top of the post and the one following, are of two teams I don't play for: Clarke's (blue uniforms) and Tom English's Stingers (yellow).
I'm going to explain, so take cover.
You see, not only do we love to play softball, many of us also like to come down to the park, on our off nights, and watch other people play. We love the game. We pick up a roast beef sandwich or some pizza - and maybe a beer or two, but don't tell the authorities - grab a seat in the stands, and enjoy a warm summer night at the ballpark.
The park at M Street is in the middle of an old-fashioned Boston neighborhood, so it's not unusual for the games to occasionally draw a sizable crowd of onlookers. The top tier of teams play a brand of ball that's crisp, exciting, tense, and skillful. For a game this past Monday, between Sidewalk Cafe and Shenanigans - possibly the best two teams in the league - I'd estimate there were 75 or 80 folks on hand to enjoy the spectacle. Even for our Swingers game on Tuesday, there were 25 or 30 in the stands. And these people know ball, too. When someone makes a good defensive play, they applaud. If they don't agree with the ump, they tell him so.
Last night, I went to the ballpark because it was a lovely evening. Also, two of my teammates from the Bombers were facing off against each other in a game: Fast Freddie Goodman and Jack Atton. Jack pitches for the Southie Sox, while Fast Freddie plays outfield for a team known as Blood, Sweat & Beers. This would be the first time, in the 12 years since they've known each other, that they would be on opposing squads. I wanted to see that. They're both competitors, and good friends.
As it turned out, Fast Freddie's team won a nailbiter, 6 - 5. This was about as I would have hoped. I love Jack, but his team was out of the playoff hunt. Fast Freddie's team needed the win in order to make the playoffs. I wanted to see them both play well, individually, but if I had to choose a team to root for, it was Fred's. And they won, while both guys had pretty good games.
Jack pitched the full seven innings, giving up - I believe - 4 earned runs. He threw well, and might have come out with a win if not for a couple of errors behind him. The Southie Sox led, 5 - 3, entering the seventh. Fast Freddie had one clean single in three at-bats, but it was a clutch hit in the seventh inning, eventually resulting in him scoring the tying run. Both guys can still make a case for which one had the upper hand last night. It was fun.
What can I tell you? It was a pleasant night to see a game, and I took a few photos, and that's about it.
More softball on Monday. Return at your own risk.
Soon, with more better stuff.