Wednesday, August 04, 2010
I just did something I'm fairly certain no other 53-year-old catcher has done recently. I caught three games in 24 hours. The good news (aside from my legs still being attached to my body) is that those of you who don’t give a hairy rat’s ass about softball are halfway toward having me back as a blogger who writes about other things. The Swingers are dead. We had three chances to secure a playoff berth, by winning one game, but we lost all three.
Last night, in our final game, we lost, 5 – 4.
I assume it was a good game to watch from the stands. It was a good game, period. We trailed, 4 – 0, after three innings; came back to tie it after five; and then Stadium put one across in the bottom of the seventh. And that was the season.
We finished fourth in our seven-team division, with a 7 – 10 – 1 record. Only the top three spots made the playoffs.
In many ways, it was a successful season for the team. Last year – prior to my knowing them – the Swingers won two games. They began this season by going 0 – 4 – 1, then went on a nice run to get to 7 – 7 – 1. They controlled their own destiny.
We only had to win one more.
We didn’t get the job done.
Big Jay Atton pitched a whale of a game. He gave up one in the first, two in the second, then another in the third. If I remember correctly, only three of the four were earned. Then he shut Stadium down over the next three innings. He was on it last night. Most of the time, giving up three earned runs in six innings is enough to secure a win in our brand of ball.
In the fourth and the fifth, we had some life. Brendon Duca started the scoring, driving one in with a triple. I followed with a two-out single to drive in Duca. In the fifth, Big Jay drove in a run. I want to say it was Dan Chan who scored on his hit, but I'm not positive of that. I know Brian Finnerty had a couple of hits, and I recall Julian Hickman scoring somewhere in there.
(It just occurs to me that I didn't get a team photo. I wish I had one to show you, so you could put some faces with the names. I very much expected there to be another opportunity for me to get one, so I didn't bring a camera to any of the last three games. Damn.)
I’ve sometimes denigrated the Swingers’ defensive skills in this space, but last night they were pretty damned good. They came up with a decent game when their backs were against the wall. I don’t think anyone has anything to be ashamed of, in any case; at least, not from last night. Big Jay did not have to check into the state hospital and take a rest in a rubber room. There were no easy flies dropped; no egregious errors that could be pointed to as the straw that might have broken the big man’s back.
For my part, I did my job over the three games. I went 3 for 5, with two walks. Barring one tag play at home, in the second-to-last game (which I probably should have made, but didn’t), I played good defense. I’m OK with what I contributed, both offensively and defensively. I’m neither elated nor depressed. I’m empty, more than anything else. I think I pretty much played to the best of my abilities, limited as they sometimes are in this twilight of my softball days.
I would rather we had won, of course. It would have been nice to celebrate a playoff spot with these guys. They’re really a nice bunch, and I appreciate that they accepted my grandpa-like ass with a minimum of age-related jokes.
(Of course, I made my share of those jokes first, before they could, and I hope I let them know that I wouldn’t be offended by some ribbing. I think they just accepted me as a teammate, of whatever age, and that was nice.)
After the loss, a few of us (Big Jay, myself, Pat Atton, Joey McCarthy, Joe Baszkiewicz) went and drowned our sorrows in roast beef. Aside from the play of the games themselves, the thing I'll miss most with the season being over is The Liberty Bell. A great roast beef sandwich from there was my reward for playing well, and it was also my solace following a loss. I don't get over to Southie for any other reason than softball, these days, so no more delicious sandwiches for me. I wish we could have extended the season another King Beef or two.
For those who did as I requested, and offered up a prayer on my behalf, I thank you. I asked you to pray that I play to the best of my abilities, that no one be hurt, and that the best team would win. I think your prayers were answered, most especially concerning the no one being hurt part. One of the Stadium players lost the grip on his bat last night, sending it flying at his own bench full of players. It hit the wall behind the bench - *CLANG* - and nobody was struck by it, either incoming or on the rebound. I consider that at least a minor miracle.
Before I finish up, I want to thank Dan Chan, the manager. He’s a very good type to manage a team like this. He’s easy-going enough to have not blown up over mistakes born of inexperience, but intense enough to not just let them pass by, trying to correct them as best as was possible considering the pieces he had with which to play the games. I enjoyed playing for him.
Last night, as I was leaving the park, I tried to make a small joke, to Dan, about stats. I've nagged him, for about half the season, about not seeing a double of mine credited. In the sadness following the defeat, he opined how he probably wouldn't bother entering the game stats from last night on the website. I told him he should. However, I didn't give him a good reason. Now I will. Dan, if you're reading this, the reason to enter the stats is so that, in future, guys like me can go to the website, see them, and remember the good times. For those of us who are more mathematically inclined - and I'm fairly certain there are a number of literal accountants on the Swingers - each number can bring to mind a fond memory. That's why I'm meticulous in my stat keeping for the Bombers.
Speaking of the Bombers, I need it to be Sunday - NOW. I need to have a win in our first playoff game, getting back to that feeling of confidence I’ve had most of the season, the feeling that I’m part of a really good team that deserves to win. The Swingers were fun, and God bless them all, but now it’s time to kick ass and take names.
Soon – Sunday, I hope - with more better stuff.
P.S. I just checked the M Street Softball League website, and Dan did enter the stats from last night. Good man, Dan. Thank you.