Friday, July 30, 2010

All Softball, All The Time

[M Street Softball League, on the Feeney/Moran diamond.]

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.

[My good friend, and manager of the Bombers on Sundays, Jack Atton, pitching for the Southie Sox last night.]

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.

[Fast Freddie warms up while Earl, a good umpire and a good man, cleans the plate.]

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.

[Jack, always an intelligent player, heads to first base after drawing one of his two walks in the game.]

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.

[Fast Freddie on first base, following his single.]

More softball on Monday. Return at your own risk.

Soon, with more better stuff.


slommler said...

I too love baseball and glad you are enjoying it. I, sad as it is, am a Cleveland Indians fan. I know...pathetic! In fact, the players I knew and loved they have pretty much traded away. Saying they want some good pitchers. Sigh! They are always rebuilding!! Sucks!
Anyway...yeah for Freddie!!

Craig said...

Man, I used to love those lovely summer afternoons/evenings when I had nothing else to do, so I could just take in a ballgame (I'd love 'em still, but I haven't had 'nothing else to do' for quite a while. . .)

Reminds me of when I was in college, and I lived a stone's throw from the ballfield, so I was as likely as not to be wandering back home after class, and see Steve Howe pitching to Kirk Gibson. . .

And nice to have friends (and teammates elsewhere) on both teams; seems like that would just make it fun. . .

Michelle H. said...

Sorry your team lost. Keep the hope alive you will still clinch a playoff spot. Nice photos!

Buck said...

September will be here soon enough, and then no more softball until April.

Well, I say the same thing about hockey now... with suitable date changes... don't I? You put up with my hockey posts, the very LEAST I can do is read your softball posts. They're VERY enjoyable, actually.

Cricket said...

Good luck on your playoff spot.

Nice photos. i do get nostalgic for Boston sometimes. Providence is nice, but Boston is home, y'know? I think, barring whatever I wrote about winning the lottery, that it would be nice to buy an old 3-family, keep one for my personal use, one for the kids, one for guests, somewhere right on the T... Southie, Dorchester, even Davis or Waltham might do.

Well, Powerball is tomorrow, heh, heh.

Saz said...

yad, yada, yada!!!

saz xxx

Anonymous said...

I am so rooting for your team Jim, and if you keep on plugging, not only will I understand what the heck you are talking about, I might even grow to love it.

Is Softball the same as Baseball only played with a softer ball, or is it our game of Rounders [usually played by girls] hehe?

Anali said...

Nice photos. And I really like the way that you captured the sunlight in the second shot.

Uncle Skip, said...

"September will be here soon enough..."

That's when the Fall League starts around here.

That didn't make my 100.

Chris@Knucklehead! said...

Okay, why two first bases? I'm guessing so someone doesn't get their foot stepped on?

Siren said...

Wishing you much luck on a playoff spot

Suldog said...

Moannie - Softball is baseball played with a slightly larger (but not really much softer) ball. The running distances are about 2/3 of what they are in baseball. The results are higher scores and a bit of an easier game - though just as much exercise, in most instances.

Didactic Jim

Suldog said...

Chris - Yes, it's called a "safety base". The runner must hit the orange, while the fielder must hit the white. Since we all work regular jobs, it's good to avoid injuries that are easily avoidable. Nobody gets a sprained ankle or whatever, if the bases are used correctly.

Anonymous said...


Suldog said...

Yes, I've often said so myself.