Monday, July 12, 2010

Just Your Basic Softball Post

[Big Jay Atton pitching at M Street. Not the best photo of him, but it will have to do for now.]

I didn’t have the four greatest games of my life this week, but my teams won three of them and got into good position for the stretch run. I’ll take it.

First, let’s recap the action from the M Street League in South Boston.

Below Average Joes – 6 SWINGERS – 5
SWINGERS – 12 Dorset Club – 5

The loss to Below Average Joes pretty much finished any chance the Swingers had to take the top spot in our division. That would have been nice because the top finisher gets a bye in the first round. The win over Dorset Club put us into third, though, and leaves us in control of our own playoff destiny. Our record is now 7 – 7 – 1 (and that’s following an 0 – 4 – 1 start to the season, so it’s been a good run lately.) There are three games remaining in the regular season. If we win, we’re in.

Big Jay Atton is pitching magnificently well this year, in both leagues (and more about his performance on the mound when I get around to the Bombers.) He deserved better in the loss, giving up only one earned run. The Swingers defense is improving, but it’s still not very good. Pitching, from both Big Jay and Josh LeBron, has made the difference.

The team can hit, though, that’s for sure. Some of the guys could use a bit more patience at the plate – lots of swinging at first pitches, even when the opposing pitcher hasn’t shown decent control – but overall they get a good piece and they hustle.

Me? With my patience, I draw a lot of walks (12 of them in the 14 games I’ve played) and I think I’m third on the team in on-base percentage. But the hitting has been weak lately. In the two games, I went 1-for-6, and my patience cost me as I watched a third strike go by (it was high and outside, but close enough to the strike zone where I should have been swinging at it.) I’m catching OK, so no problems there.

Next game is Tuesday.

M Street Website

And now, let’s talk about the team that’s carrying my hopes and dreams for the year. As much as I enjoy playing for the Swingers, and as well as they’ve played lately, they’re still a major longshot to win it all. The Bombers, though…

BOMBERS – 10 MHC – 0
BOMBERS – 11 MHC – 8

We now stand at 9 – 1, tied for first.

(MHC is The Moe Howard Club, in case you were wondering, and as a Stooges fan it pained me to beat them twice. Better than losing to them, though.)

The obvious thing to talk about is that zero up there in the scores. Shutouts are pretty rare in our brand of softball (which is modified fast pitch, for those of you late to the party.) Big Jay Atton threw a three-hitter in the opener, striking out five along the way. Great performance. He then followed that up with another five strikeouts in game two. His record for the Bombers is a perfect 7 - 0 this year. He’s been solid all year. In addition, he’s hitting .667, and he’s a freakin’ joy to play ball with, as he’s always up, smiling, cracking good jokes – he often gets batters he just put out to laugh, which is a great testament to his personality – and he truly cares about his teammates, too. Here’s a small story about that…

In the second Swingers game this week, I didn’t have a hit yet. I was in an 0-for-6 slump going back to the previous game. We were leading handily and coming up against the time limit. With the Dorset Club batting, Jay could have taken his time and set them down leisurely. The umpire would have declared the game over and nobody would have complained, least of all me. However, Jay worked fast, set them down, and got me another at-bat. I stroked a solid line drive up the middle to break my slump. When he went back out to finish up, Dorset scored a couple. So, he took a hit to his ERA for my sake.

You have no idea how much I appreciate that, Jay. Thank you.

Another Bomber I really appreciate is Fast Freddy Goodman. I’ve played ball with Fred, off and on, for 22 years now. He always hustles (even if he never slides, which someday, FFG, is going to cost you and you’ll regret it.) He has a fine sense of humor and isn’t afraid to make himself the part of the joke you laugh at. You have to be secure in your own skin to do that, and I probably don’t know anyone more secure in his skin than Fast Freddy. Anyway, he had a swell second game. With the score tied at 5, he stroked a solid triple to left field that plated two runs. We never trailed after that. FFG ended up with 5 RBI for the day, tied for the team high with...

Robbie Rogers, who is always a threat to hit a moon shot, and that’s what he did this week. Having never developed a power stroke myself - if you want to know why, see THIS - I marvel at his ability to send the ball to distant parts of the field. He has a beautiful swing. Mine is utilitarian, workmanlike, meant to stop the ball from going across the plate, while his is a work of art. His swing flows, with marvelous wrist action at impact, and the ball goes on a wonderful journey. My hits are like a trip across town on an old broken down bus. When he connects, it’s the Orient Express.

As has been the case all year, everybody contributed something worthwhile. Everybody either drove in a run, or scored, or made a fine defensive play. Charlie Conners had a fantastic catch in center field, a full out sprint with his back to the plate.

(The next batter for MHC stepped into the box and we discussed that play. Talking about Charlie’s speed, he said, “Yeah, he’s a freak of nature.”)

Joey Baszkiewicz, pressed into duty at second base for game two, made a swell running stop-and-relay on a sharp grounder. He mostly plays my position, catcher, but he’s a very valuable guy to have around because he can play just about anywhere and do a creditable job. Robbie Rogers (playing my other position) had a nice catch at first base on a soft liner, timing his leap just right.

There are three weeks left in the regular season and there’s no reason for this team not to win all of the remaining games we have. Two of the sets are against weaker opposition (the Renegades, who beat us last year in the playoffs, but who have fallen on hard times, losing half of their roster because of a company many of them work for transferring to another city; and the Brighton All-Stars, who haven’t quite lived up to their name.) The final week we play a team new to the league, A-Town, and I haven’t seen them play yet, so I can’t say for sure how tough they might be. I’ve seen their scores, of course, and it seems they aren’t pushovers, but extrapolating what they’ve done, against the teams we’ve both beaten, leads me to believe we’re better. Since the Titans hold the tiebreaker against us (we split, but they have the run differential), we need them to lose one in order for us to finish first. They play the Reds later and that may be the best shot (the Reds are 7 – 3 thus far, but we beat them twice and it would be an upset for them to take one from the Titans. Could happen, though. They aren’t bums.)

To wrap this up, I went 3-for-6 on the day, one run scored. One of the hits was pretty cheap, but that made up for the good wood I got on the ball in the second inning of game one which ended up as a can of corn. Robbie inspected the ball after the inning and found out it was a restricted flight ball, illegal in our games. I’m sure it was an honest mistake that it found its way into the game, and both teams hit against it, I think. Still, I might have had extra bases if it had been a .47 COR, and I don’t get too many extra-base hits these days. Oh, well. As I say, another one fell in that didn’t have any right to be a hit, so it all evens out. Most things do in this sport, sooner or later.


One last thing - I know a few players from other teams sometimes read this blog. If Scotty from the Titans is one of them this week, thanks again for helping to clear the field of the water from that downpour on Saturday. Much appreciated.

Soon, with more better stuff.


Saz said...

l drop by and whilst waiting for it to load....l think please not a softball post (l like softball/rounders too...but not living there it is off the radar)...

'another softball post'..

l laugh, scroll down...forgive me Jim l dont read it....stats catch my eye...then you in your leggings...fine pair of legs...worth the visit!!!

luv saz x

thank you for your kind words last week...x

Michelle H. said...

An enjoyable read, as always! You look good in black leggings too.

Jeni said...

How can I possibly criticize you for writing about yet another softball game (or series of games) when I write frequently about really boring things like walking down the road to see if anything has changed in the ghost town there or I discuss my grandkids and their latest escapades or I just plan find something equally boring (to many) and do a rant of some kind from time to time. But your softball posts usually bring the game to life for me and since I do actually understand baseball/softball stuff, your words become visuals for me. I loved your description of your hitting being like a bumpy ride cross town! Good luck with the rest of the season's games!

TechnoBabe said...

The nicknames are fun. Fast Freddy. Big Jay.

Buck said...

Just Your Basic Comment.

Buck said...

Heh. Had to do that.

"Restricted flight ball?" Who knew? And grats on the Bombers good season... so far.

Craig said...

Schweet. . . Makes me sigh, and remember the games, and the camaraderie. And you describe it so well. . .

Black leggings? Seriously? Those are just sweatpants, right? I mean, a man's got his self-respect. . .

Daryl said...

Saz said it for me .. xo

Ananda girl said...

Blogger is being a bitch! Sheesh... three tries to get into this post mode.

I am a true ball addict... and this was a lovely fix. Thanks Suldog. Great kid memories too. Takes me back. sigh

Uncle Skip, said...

I remember those d@rn restricted flight balls... hated 'em, too.

~jill said...

your softball posts remind me of all the years my hubby played....we spent sooo much time at the fields. good times!

Kathleen said...

Hey, batter batter batter SWING!!!
Go, Bombers!!!
You are the bomb, Suldog, utilitarian swing and all!
I find your passion for this sport positively contagious and charming. Besides, you read about my dogs! :))

Shammickite said...

Nice pair of legs!

Chris@Knucklehead! said...

Another sweep for the Bombers, great job.

Boy, that league has some controversy though. First the questionable bats, now the restricted flight ball? Who's the commissioner of that two-bit league anyway?

Just kidding, but that's plain weird.

Carolina said...

Your 'Just your basic softball post' popped up in my 'to read-list'. I've ignored it as long as possible, but now I've read all the other ones in the list so... what else was there to do? Must say, that first photo, with the ball in just exactly the right place, is priceless. Good shot! And your leggings take away all the attention from your hair, so you didn't need to wear a cap. Very exciting photos. Never mind the post. Skipped that. Will dream about men, balls and tights ;-)

Sandra said...

I'm sorry. I feel verrrry guilty saying this but I don't know much about baseball. So this all went right over my head. Let it suffice to say that if you won, I'm happy for you and if you lost, I'm sorry.

I'll look forward to more stories about romantic interludes with THE WIFE. More my speed. :)

David said...

Ah the boys of summer.