Monday, July 25, 2011

One For All, All For One...



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.


[Me, somewhere around my 40th hit as a Bomber (1996? I'm not sure.)]


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.

SWINGERS Stats

BOMBERS Stats



20 comments:

Jeni said...

Keep trying, work on the softball talents and maybe you will have discovered that Spanish discoverer's secret fountain of youth. Exercise though is a good way to stay young, or so they tell me. (It's not exactly something on my agenda though so I can't speak to its effectiveness fully -although walking does help for a bit of weight loss so perhaps the base running does help in that respect. I can't verify for that though either because some days, my legs are pretty stiff and walking the dog is difficult so I never try the running stuff.)

Uncle Skip, said...

Well, here's hoping you get your two hits and that they have more meaning than to just pad your stats.

Daryl said...

You played ball in that heat? OY

Michelle H. said...

You're still the best-looking guy in black tights... er... pants on the entire team. Who else can say they look that good in a uniform, show up everyday and give it has all for every game? Not many, I bet.

Craig said...

". . . 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."

Amen. . .

Suldog said...

Jeni - Catching is a true workout. When guys who don't normally catch try to do so, they quickly discover how tiring it is and how much sweat you drop on the field. If a guy doesn't catch regularly, the next day or two after doing so will give him a whole new appreciation for not doing so. Even after all the years I've done so, my legs are sore as hell after the first couple of games each year.

Suldog said...

Skip - I hope we win the games I get them in.

Daryl - Yeah. It was a good workout, that's for sure. Dropped six pounds in water weight during the course of the doubleheader, and that was with me still hydrating a lot.

Yes, I'm insane.

Suldog said...

Michelle - You flatter me, my love. You haven't seen all of the other guys, but maybe I'll rectify that next week. I'll try to remember to bring a camera to the games and maybe get a few shots.

Craig - I say something to that effect, to God, after every game.

Buck said...

My condolences. It's hard to follow a great year with a non-qualifying year. That's truly dispiriting.

notactuallygod said...

8-21? Youch! Have you guys considered switching to bowling? Strikes are good things there.

Sandi McBride said...

darn that notactuallygod! I was going to suggest bowling, and look what happened! I won't even think about suggesting golf, though walking is good for you...and you'd still be chasing balls...just smaller ones...how bout badminton? A birdie without a club...
A great piece once again!!!
Sandi

Chris@Knucklehead! said...

Rough year for sure, Sully, but hang in there.

A thought.

Have you ever considered coaching a local Little League team? Your focus on being a good teammate, playing the game the right way, and above all having fun would make you an outstanding coach for kids to look up to.

Look into it.

IT (aka Ivan Toblog) said...

Suldog coaching Little League... hmmmmm!
The only time I'd be worried is if they gave him an award.

Suldog said...

It (by way of Knucklehead, I suppose) - Hah! I'd end up doing hard time for the acceptance speech!

messymimi said...

While i'm not the biggest fan every of this sport, i'm a big fan of you. So i read every word.

You've given the season your personal best, and it's all you could do. Good luck getting those last two hits, and please try out for fall. You are worth it.

Freight Audit said...

The article was very nice. I enjoy reading it.. Keep it up.

Barbara Shallue said...

I'm sorry about the disappointing season, but I love the way you ended the post - you recognize the true value of it all. And this line... "individual goals shouldn’t be a focus before games that mean something to the team as a whole." - just proves you have a lot to offer a team! Do it!

Anonymous said...

has anyone quit yet and if not how come that Jay guy keeps on pitching i bet he will lose 44 games in a row he stinks.

lime said...

i'm just glad softball still gives you joy and i hope you make your mark.

silly rabbit said...

Well crap! But at least it was fun.