Monday, August 02, 2010
It is now post time. Post-SEASON time, that is. And that means it’s time to win one. One what? A championship.
I’ve played softball and/or baseball, at many different levels, for 46 years. I’ve played in organized leagues and very disorganized leagues. I’ve played Little League and CYO, during junior high and high school, on neighborhood teams, as part of company softball teams in industrial leagues, church leagues on Sundays, and then rounded out the rest of the week traveling and playing. My best estimate is that, aside from pick-up games and other non-championship ball, I’ve been a part of teams that have competed for actual titles, of one sort or another, on 48 different occasions.
I have never been part of a championship team.
Some guys, reaching this stage of their careers and having never won one, might start to think that perhaps they were the problem. I’ve had those thoughts. But, when I look back over the record books I’m able to consult, I find no reason to believe that any of those teams would have been better off without me. Hell, a few of those teams wouldn’t have existed had I not personally kept them afloat.
I hope I’m not blowing my own horn to any obnoxious degree, but I can honestly state that I’ve come through, in clutch situations – either in the playoffs or within games that would get my team into the playoffs – far more often than I’ve failed. And I know this not from my own biased memories, but because I’ve got the score sheets to verify my recollections.
OK, enough of that. This year, I’ve got two chances to be part of that winning team. One chance is significantly better than the other chance, but I’m going to play out both as though they were of equal importance.
The Swingers, in the M Street Softball League, are – by any rational accounting – the lesser chance. A very nice bunch of guys, who were gracious enough to accept someone onto their team who is old enough to be their father, they have a startling lack of defensive prowess.
(A couple of the guys can really pick it, but I won’t name names. That way, everybody can think I’m talking about him being one of the good ones and not be offended by the rant that follows.)
I like these guys, but I don’t know if I’ve ever played on a worse defensive team. It’s not just that some of them don’t catch the ball; it’s also that many of them don’t know HOW to catch the ball. Some of them either were never taught fundamentals or were taught them incorrectly.
(You may well ask yourself two questions:
1 – Are you perfect defensively, Sully?
2 – If you know so much, why don’t you impart some of that wisdom to your teammates?
Good questions. I’ll answer honestly.
1 – No, I’m not perfect. I make mistakes. The difference is that, any time I make a mistake, I know WHY I made that mistake, and that decreases the chances of my making that mistake in future.
2 – The few times I’ve tried to coach somebody, I’ve either not gotten through to the person I was coaching or someone else decided to contradict what I was teaching. I’d give you examples, and, as a matter of fact, I wrote out about five hundred words as an example, but I decided it was too self-serving, and also singled out a couple of guys too much, so I decided to edit it out. If you really feel a need to see it, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll send it to you.)
Bottom line: If the Swingers win, it will be on the strength of their hitting and the artistry of Big Jay Atton’s pitching. First, we have to win one to get into the playoffs. We play tonight (Monday), one of two remaining games on the regular season schedule. We must win one of those games to get into the playoffs.
My other team, the Bombers, are good defensively, have a knowledge of fundamentals, are superb hitters, and enjoy a deep pitching staff. This is the best Bomber team in the sixteen years I’ve been a Bomber. We’ve already made the playoffs, and we have as good a chance to win that elusive championship as any team of which I’ve been a part.
(Here's how good we are. Over the last 8 games, I've gone 11 for 18 with 5 bases on balls. That's a batting average well over .600 and an OB% approaching .700, and I've also played well defensively, but I'll likely be spending more of the playoffs on the bench than on the field. And I really can't complain about it because the guys who will be getting the starts are younger, faster, stronger, and probably as intelligent. Besides, Jack Atton (our manager) has kept himself out of many games this year, so how can I argue for playing time when he's that unselfish himself?)
BOMBERS - A-Town –
BOMBERS - A-Town –
You no doubt noticed the lack of scores. That’s because we didn’t play. A-Town, for some damn reason, decided to just forfeit the two games. We finish at 14 and 2, and we also finish IN FIRST PLACE, as the Titans split their doubleheader with the Reds.
I knew about the forfeits on Saturday night. Jack Atton called and told me that A-Town already had told the commissioner that they wouldn’t be playing. Jack and I decided to go down to the ballpark at Cleveland Circle on Sunday morning, anyway, to watch the Reds play the Titans. If the Reds could win one of the two games, we would be the top seed from the regular season.
In the top of the first inning of game one, the Titans put up eleven runs. I did not get the feeling that the Reds would be doing the job for us. They kept battling in that game, however, finally dropping it by a score of 19 – 15.
In the second game, the Reds played fine defense, got smart pitching, and led the Titans, 2 – 0, through five. Entering the seventh, it remained a two-run game, at 3 – 1. In the top of the seventh, the Reds added three insurance runs, and the Titans went down in order in their half. The Reds won, 6 – 1, and then Jack and I had the smallest first-place-clinching celebration in the history of the sport, bumping fists quietly on the bench we were sharing in foul territory.
It’s the first time in their history that the Bombers have finished first, and we did so on a day when we didn’t even play. Very bizarre. Jack and I walked down to the field, talked nicely to some of the Titans, then went over to the Reds bench and thanked them for doing the good job for us. Then we headed over to Smith Field to find out the results of other games in the league. We wanted to find out what team we would be facing in the first round of the playoffs.
The Renegades swept their doubleheader, securing the last playoff spot, so that’s who we’ll be taking on, 9 am, on Smith 3, next Sunday.
(Softball is sometimes quite incestuous. Dan Chan, manager of the Swingers, recently joined the Renegades. We’ll be teammates on Monday – and maybe other times this week – and then we'll be trying to finish off each other’s seasons come next weekend.)
Stats haven’t changed since last week, but final standings and such may be found at the BOMBERS website.
Please say an athlete’s prayer for me for tonight (that I be allowed to perform to the best of my abilities, that nobody be hurt during the competition, and that the best team wins.) I’d appreciate it greatly.
Results, for the Swingers, later this week. Bombers again next Monday. As always, thanks for indulging my odd passion.
Soon, with more better stuff.