That's what I have to keep telling myself, because the team I've joined at M Street is undefeated while I've been fairly worthless as a hitter.
QUENCHER - 12 Below Average Joes - 8
QUENCHER - 17 Clarkes - 2
QUENCHER - 12 Paramount Blues - 0
QUENCHER - 25 Stats Bar & Grille - 5
QUENCHER - 24 Stadium Stingers - 10
That's 5 and 0. We're in first place. And we deserve to be. Everybody is hitting a ton (except me) and the team defense has been good. We've gotten solid pitching performances. Everybody hustles, and I can't remember anyone making any bonehead plays. This team is definitely at least in the hunt for the league title.
Having said all of that, we haven't hit the tougher part of our schedule yet. The combined record of the five teams we've beaten is 9 and 12 (although the last win, against Stadium, came in a battle of undefeateds. They were 5 and 0 before we beat them.)
It's a good bunch of guys, personally, and they all know how the game should be played. I've only been with them for these five games, but I haven't seen any evidence of anyone being a major head case. Everybody gets along. And all of them have welcomed me aboard, despite my being a 55-year-old travesty of what I used to be.
Yes, I am now officially The Ghost Of Softball Past. I have been anemic with the bat. I've put one ball out of the infield in five games. I don't claim to have anywhere near the speed I once did, but now my baserunning just plain stinks. In the most recent game, for example, I was thrown out going first to third on what might have been a clean double from the guy behind me (Leo Evivriades, our CF, who was working on a streak of nine consecutive hits, by the way.) I felt like I was running in quicksand as I hit second base.
Enough whining. The team is undefeated. It sure feels good to be able to say that after the past two seasons of my managing The Swingers. They were a good bunch of guys, too, but absolutely the worst defensive team I have ever managed. If we didn't score 20 runs in a game last year, we had little hope. My poor pitchers had to count on inducing four or five outs almost every inning (one of them, Josh Lebron, who deserved much better, has joined me in moving to Quencher, going 3 and 0 so far.) This current squad can actually catch the ball, which is a good thing, and the lone bit of solace I can take from my performance on the field is that my work behind the plate hasn't been as hideous as my hitting. I've caught three of the five wins, including the shutout victory over Paramount (thrown by our other starter, Stevie Mills [2 and 0], who has six solid pitches in his arsenal - sinking fastball, riser, curve, screwball, change, knuckler.)
So, would I rather be batting 1.000 or be on an undefeated team? I'd have to be a total asshole to take the individual stats. I might be an asshole, but I'm not a total one, so there's your answer. I'll take the undefeated team, thanks. And if I go 0 for 50 the rest of the way, but we win the championship, I'll have a smile on my face while I'm slitting my throat.
Meanwhile, the Bombers season finally gets underway tomorrow (I'm writing this on Saturday.) I think this is the latest the Sunday season has ever begun in my 18 years in the league. I'd prefer starting in the first week of April and playing through October, but most of the rest of the league is sane so that won't happen.
Here's hoping we can get off to as good a start as Quencher. I'll be managing the Bombers for the first few weeks (Jack Atton has commitments, so back in the saddle for me, at least temporarily. I've been a sort of co-pilot for Quencher with Bob Carlson, so it's been a very busy season in that regard.) I've got little confidence as a player right now (can you tell?) so I'll likely just sit myself on the bench for the first game and (I hope) enjoy watching my guys win.
See you after the doubleheader!
BOMBERS – 14 Reds – 1
Reds – 14 BOMBERS – 11
It was an OK start, but we should have won both games. We completely blew up defensively in the third inning of the second game and paid for it.
Game one was never in serious doubt. We put two on the board in the first, two more in the second, and then a five spot in the third. Meanwhile, Robbie (a new pick up for us, and I don’t even know his last name) was pitching some lovely ball. He gave up one unearned run over five innings and we closed it out by slaughter rule.
Big Jay Atton took the mound in game two. He threw well enough to win, but he was totally abused by his defense.
It was a 3 – 3 game going into the top of the third. An error on a ground ball, a soft liner off a glove, a dropped fly ball, another error on a throw, a ball skipping under an outfielder’s glove, another ground ball misplayed… eight unearned runs later we’re down 11 – 3. We made a fair effort at catching them, but you can’t play ball like that and expect to win. Take away the unearned runs and we win going away. Oh, well. Unlike some other years when I knew our defensive lapses came about because the guys just plain couldn’t catch the damn ball, I know this team is basically sound. It was just one of those innings that comes out of the blue and causes a pitcher a nervous breakdown. I have no doubt this is actually a solid team and I’ll be extremely surprised if I see anything like this again.
For my part, I did nothing to make myself feel better as a player. I made the decision to not play a defensive position, letting Joey Baszkiewicz catch both ends of the doubleheader (I wanted to just manage game one, and then when it came to game two, with us having had such a nice first game, I decided to keep Joey behind the plate because Big Jay is a bit more comfortable with him than with me.) I inserted myself at the end of the lineup as a hitter only in game two. I’m still not making any good contact. I took three trips to the plate, popped up twice and grounded out once. I got a pity RBI on the ground out (that is, my fielder’s choice resulted in a run scoring, but I can’t kid myself into thinking that it was actually anything for which I truly deserve any credit.)
So, let me finish this up with a few props for good performances.
Billy Botting hit the lone dinger for us, a huge blast to right field in game one. He’s returning to us after a two year absence and it sure is nice to have his bat back in the games. This year, he brought his brother Jimmy with him, and I’m not sure which one is the better ballplayer. Jimmy had four doubles, displaying speed that will drive our opponents round the bend. They both have the good glove, strong arms, and great attitudes.
PK (Pat Kelly) had a couple of real clutch hits, including a laced triple. Fast Freddy Goodman had a four hit day. Joel Kershner reached five times – three hits and two walks. As I mentioned, both pitchers threw well. Hell, I’d like to go on and give everybody some love, but this is getting a bit long and I’ve got work to do. Suffice to say if I didn’t mention you by name, I still know the good things you did and I appreciate the effort. I’m going to have fun managing this group during the three weeks that Jack won’t be here. He’d better watch out – I might not want to relinquish the reins after a few more wins. It’s kind of enjoyable feeling I’m making some sort of contribution by making out the line-up card, and if I don’t start hitting, I might need the ego boost
Soon, with more better stuff.