Every man for himself.
You folks who don’t care for it when I write about modified fast-pitch softball don’t have much longer to suffer. Since we last spoke, both my weekday team and my Sunday team were eliminated from playoff contention.
Master Batters – 23 SWINGERS – 7
Moe Howard Club – 15 BOMBERS – 4
Moe Howard Club – 15 BOMBERS – 6
The deaths were relatively painless and the patients didn’t linger. In both instances, we had one foot in the grave before we even got a chance to bat.
On Tuesday night, The Swingers gave up 9 runs in the top of the first inning. On Sunday morning, The Bombers gave up 7 runs in the top of the first inning. Both those amounts were more than my teams scored for the entirety of each game. As has been the case all year long, defensive lapses did us in.
I won’t go into the gory details. Suffice to say that a combined record of 8 wins and 21 losses was not how I imagined this season playing out. The Swingers came within one run of making the playoffs last year, and The Bombers, for goodness’ sakes, went 18 and 2 before losing in the championship round (and valiantly held the lead for 8 of the 14 innings in both of those losses, as well, despite being without four of our starters.)
I came into this season feeling rejuvenated. I had good years for both teams in 2010, the best overall playing I’d done since coming back from my “retirement” in 2007. I was so optimistic about things that I even took on the job of managing The Swingers, a role I hadn’t played since my last year managing The Bombers in 2005. Now I’m feeling old and beaten up again. Losing wears me down. And knowing that I have only four games remaining, all of them meaningless, and that my season in its entirety will be done before August… It’s just depressing. I’ll have to wait nine complete months before playing again, unless I join a fall league of some sort. I’ve never done that before, but I’m seriously considering it this year.
(That’s if anyone will have me on their team, of course. One thing I don’t need as a topper to this miserable season is to shop myself around and find no takers. I’m not exactly the sort of player that’s in high demand. I’m a 54-year-old catcher/first baseman with little power and a balky arm. I will be there for every game, though, and I never complain about whatever my manager asks of me, whether it’s starting for him or just sitting on the bench and being available if needed. That can be a strong selling point considering how many guys don’t show up sometimes. I’ll give it some thought, at least.)
The title of this piece refers to what’s left for my teammates and me this year. With all playoff hopes now dashed, doing something for your own ego starts to be the predominant thought. You still want to win the games, of course, but you also want a good taste in your mouth before you’re done. And different guys have different thrills. Some will go up to bat trying to hit a home run each time. I have a smaller goal.
I’m the all-time leader on The Bombers in a few batting statistics. Some of them are records I hold just because I’ve stuck around a long time. For instance, I have the most lifetime doubles (40) and that’s not because I’m a better doubles hitter than everyone else. Give some of the guys now on the team as many years playing as I’ve had and they’ll make my amount of doubles look trivial. As a matter of fact, I expect Big Jay Atton to croak that mark within the next year or two (he has 33, so far, in just a bit more than half my number of at-bats.) On the other hand, I have 160 bases-on-balls over my 17 years with the team. Nobody else is within 55 of that mark and I’m proud of it. It has taken patience, discipline, a damn good batting eye, and the courage to risk taking a pitch that some guys will swing at because they fear being embarrassed by striking out. There are a lot of guys who gladly take a useless fly out rather than risk that strike, even if risking the strike might be more profitable for the team in the long run.
Anyway, the goal I want to reach is 300 hits as a Bomber. For our number of games played each year, I think it’s the softball equivalent of getting 3,000 hits in baseball. And I need two more hits to reach that mark.
I needed those two hits going into the games this weekend, too, but I went hitless. I certainly would have rather had them in games that meant something. And I didn’t feel it was right to mention it last week because individual goals shouldn’t be a focus before games that mean something to the team as a whole. Now, with two games left that don’t mean anything, I mention it. I want those two hits next week. It would mean a lot to me to salvage at least that small bit of glory from this disappointing season.
Well, two games left with The Swingers (Monday and Friday) then two more with The Bombers on Sunday. For all of my complaining about this season, I just want to make clear that it’s still one hell of a nice thing to be my age and be able to get out and run around in the sun for a few hours. The guys I play with are uniformly good company, and a few of them hold very dear spaces in my heart. Winning is nice, but being able to enjoy some laughs and good memories is worth more overall. To every person I’ve shared a field with this year, thank you for that.
Soon, with more better stuff.