Thursday, August 19, 2010
Hello! I’m back from the dead. Did you miss me?
One of the problems with being dead is that you can’t go to work – unless you work for certain branches of the government – and, since I don’t have an internet connection at home, I’ve been unable to post this very important softball news until now.
Yes, here comes softball up your yin-yang. If you hate softball, thanks for stopping by and I hope the rest of your day gets better. See you in a week or two, after the season is over. For the rest of you, here’s a brief re-cap of where things stood 12 days ago.
The first round of the playoffs hadn’t been decided. Because of that, the contest I gave you to enter had no winner.
That was the brief re-cap. Here comes a buttload of detail. Feel free to skip down to the scores if you already know the story to this point.
Going into this past Sunday, the Bombers best 2-of-3 first round playoff series, versus the Renegades, stood at 1 game to none, Bombers. We won the first game, 19 – 8, and we held a 16 – 15 lead through 4 innings of game two. Winning that second game would advance us to the semi-finals. If we lost that second game, we would play a third and deciding game against the Renegades. If we won either the second game or the third game, we would then play a best 2-of-3 versus The Moe Howard Club for the right to play in the championship series. If we lost, we went home.
With me so far?
What this meant was that the Bombers would play at least two games on Sunday, with the possibility existing of having to play 5 games in one day. The hope going in was that we would take care of business in an expeditious manner, wrapping up that second game against the Renegades, and then winning the next series in two to advance to the championship.
As for the contest, some of you were already like I was earlier this week - dead. I had asked you to name a winner of the Bombers/Renegades series, and I also asked you to tell me how many runs the Bombers would score in the series. Tiebreakers were how many runs the Renegades scored, and (if still needed) how many combined walks/hits I had in the series. Since the Bombers had already scored 35 runs through the fourth inning of game two, and since that number could only go up when play resumed, many of you were already eliminated. Here are those who were still alive:
Ericka – Bombers 50
Jenn Flynn-Shon – Bombers 48
Carolina – Bombers 43
Slommler – Bombers 42
Jazz – Bombers 42
Brian Miller – Bombers 41
Stu – Bombers 36
So, Stu (some old-time Bombers may be wondering - No, it's not Stu Stone) was the co-leader, but on thin ice. The Bombers had at least three more innings in which to score, and had averaged more than three runs an inning in the series.
Also, still alive…
Elaine – Renegades 25
Since she chose the Renegades to win the series, she wins if they win. Although a morally reprehensible choice, it was a smart one. She had to figure she might be the only one to choose the team for which I’m not a player. As it turned out, TechnoBabe also chose the Renegades, but her guess of 11 total runs for the Bombers left her outside looking in.
And, now that I’ve put most of you to sleep, here’s what happened…
BOMBERS – 19 Renegades – 17
Bombers win the first round series, 2 games to none. And Stu pulls off the upset, holding on to win the $25 gift certificate to Amazon. His guess of 36 runs for the Bombers was the closest to the actual two-game total of 38.
Not a lot to note here. After we went scoreless in the fifth, the Renegades tied the game, 16 – 16, with one run in the bottom of the inning. We went back out by one in the top of the sixth, but then they tied it again. We plated two runs in the seventh on a clutch double by Fast Freddie Goodman and some ballsy baserunning by Robbie Rogers. The Renegades failed to score in their final at-bats. They gave us a good fight, but we took care of business and moved on.
Jack Atton had started the game, last week, but Big Jay Atton took over this week. When the Renegades tied it in the fifth, that took the decision out of Jack’s hands and gave it to Jay, win or lose. Jay got the win, and it was his 10th of the year, a new Bomber record, topping Jimmy Jackson’s 9 victories from the 1997 season.
When a team scores 19 runs, that means a lot of guys are fattening up their batting averages. Pat Atton, Charlie Conners, Fast Freddie Goodman, Manny Dominguez, and Joey Baszkiewicz had three-hit games. All three of Pat’s hits were doubles, while Charlie’s three hits consisted of two doubles and a home run, good for six RBI. Joey Baszkiewicz had two triples.
Since we didn’t have to contest a tiebreaker, the win left us with a 90-minute wait before the start of the semi-finals versus The Moe Howard Club. Most of the team went and had breakfast at a diner across the street from Smith Field. Those of us who prefer to play ball without a belly full of grease stayed behind.
(I usually have nothing personal against a belly full of grease, but, if I had eaten, I would have ralphed all over everybody. I didn’t tell Jack until later that evening, but I was sick as a dog all day, and had been feeling fairly miserable since Friday night. It was some sort of flu, or a very bad cold, or maybe a combo of both, and that’s why I missed work this week, too, and why you aren’t reading this recap until Thursday. But, you could have torn out my lungs, stomped on them with metal cleats, then pasted them back in with Elmer’s Glue, and I wouldn’t have missed these games. Once Jack actually put me in, in game two of the semis, adrenalin took over and I felt OK, but when I got home from the games, I pretty much collapsed into bed until today.)
Anyway, after breakfast, it was game time again…
BOMBERS – 6 Moe Howard Club – 4
BOMBERS – 6 Moe Howard Club – 0
Looks like a tennis score (6 - 4, 6 – 0).
MHC always makes you earn it. That’s because they have a couple of good pitchers and a fairly solid defense. They rarely give runs away.
In the opener, Big Jay Atton spread 8 hits over 7 innings, raising his record to 11 – 1 on the season. Charlie Conners and Tom Resor carried the offensive load. Conners had three hits, while Resor blasted a three-run homer.
MHC opened the scoring in the top of the first. With one out, they strung together two singles and a walk, loading the bases. The next batter grounded out, 4 to 3, with a run scoring. Big Jay induced another 4 to 3 groundout to end the inning. 1 – 0, MHC.
Neither team scored until the top of the fourth, when MHC plated two more for a 3 – 0 lead. We really hadn’t threatened the Moe Howard pitcher, Mark Dion (6 IP, 9 hits), but that would change in the bottom of the inning. Charlie Conners got us out of our funk by leading off with his seventh home run of the year. Danny Espinosa then singled, and Robbie Rogers followed with a base on balls. After Dion got the next two batters to fly to left, Patrick Michael Pickup singled home Espinosa, cutting the MHC lead to one. Tom Resor then stepped to the plate and connected on a big three-run blast to put us up 5 – 3.
We added a run in the fifth on consecutive singles by Pat Atton, Conners, and Espinosa. That made the score 6 – 3, Bombers, and that’s how it stayed until the top of the seventh.
In the seventh, the first man reached on a single. Big Jay Atton got an out on a nice catch of a foul pop by third baseman Manny Dominguez, and then struck out the following batter looking. Pitcher Mark Dion was the last hope for MHC, and he came through with a triple, making the score 6 – 4 and bringing the tying run to the plate. However, Big Jay reached back for something extra and struck out the final batter, preserving the victory.
The story in game two was Jack Atton. In only his third start of the year, he came through big, throwing no-hit ball for 5 1/3 and finishing with a one-hit shutout.
This time, we got on the board first. The game began with three consecutive walks, followed by a Robbie Rogers single good for two runs. After Fast Freddie Goodman singled, moving Rogers to third, Big Jay Atton hit a sac fly to make it 3 – 0.
In the bottom of the first, Jack Atton loaded the bases on walks with two out, but got a 6 – 4 force to end the threat. He walked another in the second, and one more in the third, but MHC still hadn’t managed a hit.
In our half of the fourth, Fast Freddie Goodman and Patrick Michael Pickup reached base on singles, giving Jack Atton the opportunity to help his own cause, which he did with an RBI single, making it 4 - 0.
In the fifth, we added two more on Charlie Conners eighth home run. Meanwhile, Jack kept sending the MHC batters back to the bench until, with one out in the sixth, Steve Stalcup stroked a clean single to center to break up the no-hit bid.
The funny part of this was that everybody on the team, except Jack, knew that Jack had a no-hitter going. We weren’t going to tell him, of course, but when he gave up that single, his nephew, Big Jay, walked over to the mound from his position at first base and gave Jack the news concerning what he had thus far accomplished. To Jack’s credit, finding out that he had lost a no-no didn’t shake him up. He retired the next two hitters, stranding Stalcup on first and sending us into the seventh with a 6 – 0 lead, three outs away from going to the championship.
Our half of the seventh didn’t produce anything, and then Jack toed the rubber again. He walked the leadoff man, but got the next batter to ground into a force at second. The final play of the game was made by Jack’s son, Pat Atton (we’ve cornered the market on Attons) who got an unassisted double play when a ball to him resulted in his tagging the lead runner and then going to the bag at first to get the final out of the game.
The Bombers are going to the championship. Can you believe it?
(My day was fairly uneventful, 0 for 1 with two walks, but I had the great pleasure of catching the one-hitter.)
Complete Bombers stats for the season may be found at the Bombers homepage.
Several individual team records have either already been toppled or are in danger of falling.
Big Jay Atton’s 11 wins, and his overall mark of 11 – 1, are both team records. The winning percentage mark cannot be affected by his own performance in the championship, but could be impacted by Jack Atton, who enters the series at 2 - 0 on the year. If Jack picks up another win, without a loss, he would own that record (three decisions is the minimum qualifier.)
Charlie Conners has already tied the season record for doubles with 9. His co-record holders, for the time being, are Matt Widiger  and Big Jay Atton . Barring a hitless championship series with a huge number of at-bats, Charlie will break the records for Slugging Percentage [Conrad Pacquette, 2007] and OPS [Big Jay Atton, 2009]. Charlie also has a good shot at setting the standards for Home Runs and RBI, currently held by Conrad Pacquette  at 10 and 42 respectively.
Pat Atton has a fair shot at busting the mark for runs scored. He currently has 28, with the record being 35 by Scott Sarro in 1997. Since Pat bats leadoff, he’ll at least have an opportunity to give it a go. Fast Freddie Goodman has an outside shot at setting a team record for bases on balls, with his 12 trailing Mike Martin’s 17 from 2004.
Finally, Charlie Conners has already bested Charlie White’s 2005 mark (tied by Conrad Pacquette in 2007) of 17 extra-base hits. He has 18 thus far.
Team records for batting average, slugging percentage, and OPS will be broken unless we come up completely empty in the championship series. The second win against the Renegades broke the team mark for victories in a season (even if you want to discount our two wins by forfeit, the victories against Moe Howard would have broken that mark) and the team’s winning percentage will be a record no matter what transpires in the championship.
And now, it’s on to the finals. We will face the Titans, last year’s defending champs, and winners of the league championship more times than any other team since I first entered the league 16 years ago. It will be my first trip to the championship in this league. You could take out my liver with a chainsaw, use it in a game of Frisbee with your dog, then re-attach it with roofing nails and chicken wire, and I’ll still be at Smith Field ready to rock. I’ve waited a long time for this, and I’m psyched.
Soon, with more better stuff.