I think it would be good to point out something before we begin. I don’t like losing.
You might be saying to yourself, “Well, Sully, NOBODY likes losing.” That’s basically true, but some people find it easier to take than others. Me? I hate it. When my team loses, it gnaws at me. It festers inside of me until I take the field for the next game. I keep replaying whatever mistakes I made and, despite it being a team game, I often find some way to blame myself for the loss.
Now, this is probably not a healthy thing, and I’m sure psychoanalysis would reveal some sort of repressed emotional need that leads to such self-flagellation, but it is what it is. When my team wins, I’m happy. When we lose, I’m not.
Having said that, the game I played in on Friday, a loss, was almost as enjoyable as some wins I’ve played in. That’s because the people involved, on both sides, made it a fun experience.
SWINGERS – 17 Dorset Club – 13
Stats/BSB – 18 SWINGERS – 6
Last time we talked softball, I was disappointed in my weekday team, The Swingers. Our most recent game was not only a loss, but it was also played with barely half the roster having shown up. Although I hated losing, what depressed me more was the lack of effort shown. I don’t mean by the guys who were there, because they certainly tried hard, but by the guys who WEREN’T there. You can’t show less of an effort than to not even show up for a game. Anyway, I ended the piece by saying that I hoped the team would make me proud the next time we played.
And so they did. The guys played a solid game and we got a win that put us (at least, temporarily) into third place, the final playoff position in our division. That made me happy.
Then came Friday. We lost. And, while we still remained in third following the loss, it became more likely we’ll finish out of playoff contention in the end. The team immediately behind us has three games in hand and they only need to win one of those games to move ahead of us in the standings. But, damn it, the loss was fun, and that’s not something I usually say.
The Stats/BSB team includes a few teammates from The Bombers, my Sunday league team. They have Big Jay Atton, Fast Freddie Goodman, and Joel *****. And, on Friday, Jack Atton filled in for them at third base because they were short of players. The Swingers also have some Bombers aside from myself – Joey Baszkiewicz, Pat Atton, and Drew Atton. We also have two players who used to be with The Bombers at one time, Gary Berman and Josh Lebron. So, with two Attons apiece, and 10 Bombers or ex-Bombers altogether, there was good-natured ribbing and trash talk from both sides throughout the game. Every time Pat or Drew had the ball, for instance, Jack (their father) yelled out to the runner, “Take an extra base! His arm stinks!” When Fast Freddie made a particularly decent catch, I shouted, “You suck, Fred!” Stuff like that.
(One bit that made me laugh: Drew wore Big Jay’s Stats/BSB uniform shirt to start the game, while Big Jay had his old Swingers jersey in his equipment bag and he brought it out and waved it around. Big Jay is about three sizes larger than Drew, so they couldn’t just trade uniforms straight up without Drew’s uniform getting stress tested, but it was still funny.)
Big Jay Atton pitches for Stats/BSB. I’ve been his teammate on various squads for the past 13 years. I had never before faced him as a hitter except in scrimmages and batting practice. Big Jay is one hell of a pitcher, and I would much rather have tried to hit his fastball at age 24 or 34 than at my current 54 years of age, but here we were, so… I'm happy to report that he walked me in our first encounter. And in my second at-bat, he threw me a change-up on the first pitch. I saw it coming and my eyes lit up. I stroked it on a line into right center for a single.
(The truly funny thing about that hit is that I almost never swing at the first pitch. Jay has seen me stand there and take a strike for the better part of the past 13 years. So, he laid one in, nice and fat, straight over the plate and in my kitchen. As I ran to first base, I looked over at Big Jay. He was laughing, and not only because I swung at his first pitch and had gotten a hit. He pointed over at Jack playing third. Jack had been so confident that I wouldn’t swing at the first pitch he had TURNED HIS BACK TO ME ENTIRELY. Funnier still, I didn’t even notice that he had done so. I was expecting Jay’s fastball and I knew damn well I couldn’t pull it, so I didn’t even look to see how the third baseman was positioned. Had I seen Jack standing there like that, one of two things would have happened. Either I would have started laughing so hard that Jay’s pitch would have sailed past me for a strike, or… No, that’s the only thing that would have happened, so I’m glad I didn’t look over there.)
We trailed early on and never got close enough to make the game exciting, so there wasn’t a lot of nail biting in the loss. By the time I had my third at-bat, it was strictly a matter of whether I would end with a perfect day versus Big Jay or if he’d exact some revenge for my previous walk and hit.
No change-up for me this time, so I didn’t swing at the first pitch. It was a fastball for strike one. A high one followed to even the count, then one low and inside for strike two. Big Jay fired again. I swung, and foul tipped it. The catcher held onto it, though, and that was that. I had a hit and a walk; Big Jay had a strikeout. We both had earned something off of the other and, all in all, it was probably a satisfying enough way for the two of us to part as opponents. As K’s go, it’s my favorite ever (which is to say it still sucks, but it’s less painful than any other one in my lifetime.)
And now it’s Saturday, nearing midnight, and I've got a doubleheader tomorrow morning with The Bombers. Winning both games would almost guarantee us a playoff spot. We’re playing the team were tied with for the final playoff spot. If we win, we’ll have a two game lead with four to play, and two of those games likely versus teams we’ve already beaten. Here’s hoping we do what we need to do.
Brighton All-Stars – 19 BOMBERS – 5
Brighton All-Stars – 19 BOMBERS – 10
And last time we talked I was feeling good about The Bombers. This week we sucked. We blew chunks. We were pathetic. We threw away the two most important games of the year thus far.
If you brought somebody to yesterday’s games and told them we were the team that finished first in the league during the regular season last year, they would have thought you were insane.
Last year, after 12 games, we were 10 and 2. This year, we’re 3 and 9. The difference is almost entirely on the defensive end.
2010 149 – 98
2011 137 – 146
That’s runs scored and runs allowed. We’re down one run a game offensively. On a game-by-game basis, that would have put us at 7 – 2 – 3 last year (that is, three one-run wins would have been translated into ties, and the likelihood would have been wins in extra innings in those games given that our overall run differential was significantly in our favor.) On the other hand, we’re giving up 4 runs a game more defensively. And that alone would have cost us about… well, it HAS cost us what you’d expect, more-or-less. We could have handled the slight downturn in offensive production, but the crappy defense would have (and has) killed us.
We still have the two best pitchers in the league. The difference is mostly in how much our outfielders are torturing them. Whereas last year a fly ball to the outfield with two outs would see them walking confidently off the field, they now remain standing out there on the pitchers mound cringing because every fly ball is an adventure. Of yesterday’s 38 runs allowed, only 18 were earned. Ick.
Since this is my blog, and one or two of you give a rat’s ass about how I did, I’ll tell you that I went 1 for 2, drew two walks, and scored twice. In the grand scheme of things, it didn’t make much difference. My current stats, compared to last year at this time, show some eerie similarities.
.....G AB H 2B 3B HR RBI AVG BB K OB% SLG% OPS Runs 2010 12 27 13 0 1 0 5 .481 6 1 .576 .556 1.132 14 2011 11 22 10 0 1 0 3 .455 6 1 .571 .545 1.116 11
Pretty much the only difference is that I was in the line-up for one more good game last year.
Enough. We need to win two next week, and even then our fate could be out of our hands. My softball season could be over before August. That is depressing as hell.
Soon. I hope it’s with better stuff.