Monday, July 11, 2011
Up and down. Back and forth. Highs and lows. That’s the way it is with all sports, including modified fast-pitch softball.
Master Batters – 26 SWINGERS – 7
BOMBERS – 19 Dot Rats – 11
Dot Rats – 17 BOMBERS – 10
First, let’s talk about death.
Last time we were together (and speaking of softball), I told you about the great night for the Atton family. It was also a great night for the Swingers, my weekday team in the M Street Softball League of South Boston. We kept our playoff hopes alive with an extremely satisfying win. It was the sort of victory that reminded me of all the good points of being a manager: camaraderie, pulling together in pursuit of a common goal, some guys giving up their own good stats to give the team a boost. In other words, it was fun.
This past Friday? No fun. We had a must-win game. Or, more precisely, ANOTHER must-win game. I’ll explain.
With the previous victory, we had pushed our record to 4 wins and 7 losses. Nothing great, but it was enough to keep us alive for a playoff spot. With six more games remaining total – and only three playoff spots open from our division – I figured we would probably have to win the three games we had left against opposition from our own “C” (or lower) division, and then pull off a couple of upsets in the three games scheduled against teams from the higher-ranked “B” division. The game of this Friday past was against the Master Batters.
(Yup, the Master Batters. Yikes! The Swingers versus the Master Batters. Sounds like two teams full of perverts from the Larry Flynt League.)
Anyway, the Master Batters are from our division, the lesser one. And they came into the game with a 2 and 7 record. If we couldn’t win, we didn’t deserve a playoff spot. And if we didn’t win, we were pretty much dead.
We are now pretty much dead. And we don’t deserve a playoff spot.
In one of the more profoundly disappointing displays of lack of team spirit in this season full of such stuff, only eight Swingers (and that includes me) showed up to play. That’s from a roster of fifteen.
OK, guys have things to do that sometimes cause them to miss games. There are family commitments and crises, surprise work assignments, injuries, or any number of good reasons to miss relatively non-meaningful softball games. But all I ask is that you tell me that you won’t be there. If you tell me, and it looks as though I won’t have at least a starting nine, I can try to arrange for someone else to fill in.
I heard from two guys who told me they wouldn’t be able to make it. And eight guys showed up. That leaves five guys – a full 1/3 of the roster – who didn’t care enough about their team or their teammates to even give us the courtesy of an e-mail or a phone call saying they wouldn’t be there. That’s pitiful.
(It’s possible all five of them had very good reasons for their absences, so I’m trying not to be a total a-hole here. I’m willing to hear them out. I like all of those guys and I hope they like me. And I hope their reasons for missing the game were not anything truly tragic. But I really want to hear something from them before they’ll play again.)
Anyway, we got our asses handed to us. As good as Drew Atton was in pitching for us during the previous win (and he was really, really good), he just didn’t have it in this loss. His control problems returned. His fielders weren’t doing him a lot of favors, either. And, as hitters, we left multiple men on base in every inning (11 total in the slaughter-rule shortened five-inning game.) Let’s face it - it takes a team effort to lose by 19 runs. And that includes this manager. I wasn’t brilliant, by any means.
The bottom line is that we now will probably need to win all of our remaining five games, with three of those games coming against much stiffer opposition than we’ve faced thus far. I’m not the type who gives up easily, but I don’t see it happening.
(If the rest of the team reads this and gets pissed off enough to prove me wrong, there’s nothing I’d like more.)
SWINGERS STATS HERE
Now we can talk about life.
Following this Sunday’s doubleheader, the Bombers are sitting with a record of 3 and 7. That’s worse, on a percentage basis, than the Swingers. The Bombers, however, are alive and kicking. The reasons? First, the playoff set-up in that league is more forgiving. There are six spots open for us. Second, the Bombers are getting better, not worse. We’ve won three of our last four, and more guys showed up this week, not fewer. Third, the remaining regular season schedule is against teams we should beat. Finally, we’ve got guys on that team who don’t miss games even when they rightly could be in the hospital.
Jack Atton has been battling kidney stones for the past week or so. He was in the hospital on Friday getting a morphine shot for the pain. He still hasn’t passed the damn things, and he’s hurting, bad. So, what does he do? He comes down and pitches both ends of the doubleheader for us, picking up a win in the first game (and deserving a better fate in the second game, for that matter.)
That’s the kind of teammate I’ll travel to hell with.
(I caught Jack in one of the games. Unfortunately, I made him work way too much, and it ripped my heart out. One of the simplest things in the game, getting the ball back to the pitcher, was a chore for me on Sunday. I’ve developed a psychological problem with it, like Chuck Knoblauch, the major leaguer, had for a while (if you remember him playing second base and not being able to make simple throws to the first baseman.) I had Jack reaching this way and that, bending for throws, and otherwise did a shitty job of it, and I hate that I did that to him in his condition. He replaced me with Joey Baszkiewicz in the fifth inning, and I don’t blame him one bit. I wasn’t traveling to hell with him; I was sending him there.)
There are some good performances to talk about, so let’s do that instead of me continuing with the mea culpa.
Drew Atton bounced back from his bad Friday with the Swingers and went 4 for 7, with a double, a triple, and a couple of RBI. A fine player from M Street, fellow by the name of Cooch (Steve Couturier), played for us for the first time this season and was magnificent at shortstop. He was also a monster at the plate, with five hits that included two doubles and a home run. He had seven RBI in all. He also had the hustle play of the day, tagging up from second on a long fly and not just going to third, but scoring. Speed kills. Robbie Rogers, a tremendously intelligent player and one of my favorite teammates, made his season debut in style, also collecting five hits. Fast Freddy Goodman gave us a 3 for 4 in the first game. Pat Atton reached base six times, three via hit and three via walk. And P.K. (Patrick Kelly) had a killer home run in game one.
For my part, I finished the day 1 of 2, also had a base-on-balls, and I scored once. Aside from torturing Jack, it was a decent enough day, I suppose.
BOMBERS STATS HERE
The Swingers try to come back from the dead this Tuesday and Friday. I hope they make me proud. The Bombers will be alive and kicking ass next Sunday. I have no doubt about that.
Soon, with more better stuff.