Monday, June 25, 2012
In sports, and most specifically boxing, to have a “puncher’s chance” means that the person or team may not be the favorite to win a championship, but it could happen if the favorite isn’t careful. The puncher has the ability to land a knockout blow. What is needed is an opening, no fear, and then the tenaciousness to keep pressing the advantage. As a puncher, once you gain the advantage, you can’t afford to let up. If you do, you might not get another chance.
Not every team has a puncher’s chance. A team has to have enough talent to get into position to have that chance. A bum is still a bum, and a bad team is still a bad team. They don’t have the puncher’s chance. You have to be good to have a puncher’s chance.
Both of my teams this year have at least a puncher’s chance, maybe more.
Let’s start with my weekday team from the M Street Softball League, Quencher Tavern.
QUENCHER – 23 Cornerstone – 0
QUENCHER – 24 Playwright – 8
QUENCHER - 9 The Warehouse – 8
Our overall record now stands at 10 and 3, good (at least temporarily) for second place in the 16-team league. We have three games remaining before the playoffs, and our realistic eventual seeding is probably third to fifth.
The current first place team, Shenanigans, is a three-time repeat champion and undefeated thus far. We have yet to play them. We’ll do so in the final game of the season. Our two games prior to that are games we should win, barring us being shorthanded or there being some outstanding performances from those other teams. They have a combined record of, I believe, 3 and 21. So, we SHOULD enter that final game at 12 and 3, no lower than fourth place and possibly still as high as second.
No offense to any of the other playoff-bound teams, but I see M Street coming down to one of four squads – Shenanigans, Sonny’s Pirates, The George Pratt Club, and us. Purely on a talent basis, man-for-man, with full squads available, these four teams should be in the semi-finals. For our part, we need to take care of business over the final three games, taking the two we figure to win and then seeing if we can pass a big test in the final regular season game. In our other two games against the top competition, we’ve come up a bit short. We lost to Sonny’s, 7 – 2, and we dropped an 8 – 6 decision to George Pratt. Both of those games were winnable, though, and I’d say we at least have that puncher’s chance in any series against those other three teams. We have one hellacious offense and two solid pitchers. On top of our game, we could land that knockout blow. Whether we play at the top of our game during the playoffs, or not, may be what decides it. It’s up to us to play to the level at which we’re capable.
I could now give the love to everybody on the team, because everybody has contributed something good to our wins, but I’d like to give special kudos to a few guys for outstanding performances this week.
Leo Evriviades is our center fielder and leadoff hitter. He hit for the cycle in the Playwright game.
Bob Carlson is the guy who keeps it all together. He’s the coach and the guy who recruited most of the talent, while I’m sort of his bench manager this season. He had a two-triple two-home-run game, good for player of the week honors in the league.
Steve Mills started all three games at pitcher, and threw his second shutout. He took a ball to the face in the fourth inning of one game, leading to…
… Josh Lebron coming in to relieve him and throwing a scoreless three innings to save it. The following night, Josh once again came in with the game on the line and gave up no earned runs while recording his second save.
For Quencher this past week, in four plate appearances, I had a single and three walks. Between both teams, I’m on a ten-consecutive-times-on-base streak. And that’s my cue to say, “See you after tomorrow’s Bomber doubleheader, when we find out if both my teams and I can have a perfect week!”
No, NOT a perfect week. Not too bad, though.
Mayhem – 5 BOMBERS – 2
BOMBERS – 10 Mayhem – 8
As is the case with Quencher, the Bombers (6 – 2) are in second place in their league. As is the case with Quencher, the Bombers face their undefeated first-place opponents (who are multiple repeat champions) next weekend. As is the case with Quencher, the Bombers are good. Good enough to take it all? As is the case with Quencher, the answer to that question will become clearer in the near future.
The loss in game one was tough to take. It was a 2 – 2 tie through six innings. In the top of the seventh, Mayhem loaded the bases with none out. A great double play (force at third, followed by a tag out at home) gave us a lift, but it didn’t happen for us after that. They plated three, we failed to score, end of game. A couple of bad defensive plays here, a load of pop outs there (15 of our 21 outs were in the air), and we dropped a game we could have won.
Game two was ours, leading start to finish, although Mayhem was game and put the winning run to bat in the seventh. Big Jay Atton (who pitched both ends of the doubleheader) held tough, though, and induced a fly to left to end it in our favor.
My contribution to the win was a 2 for 3 performance at the plate, the first at-bat (a 6 to 3 ground out) breaking my ten-at-bat on-base streak. I beat out a similar grounder in my next plate appearance, and then stroked a solid single to right center in my final shot. That was swell enough, but I’m ashamed of one defensive play. There was a grounder to Joel Kershner at shortstop. I was playing first, and I went to the bag to take his throw. The throw was OK, but I dropped it. It was just a lazy-ass play on my part. I was counting it as an out before the out was actually made, and I gave them a runner as a result. Luckily, that runner didn’t score, but that play, more than the two hits I got, is what I’m taking away from this game. I will NOT be that lazy again this year, on defense or on offense or in whatever duties I have as a coach. I will NOT count anything as over until it is actually over. I owe that to my teammates and to myself.
I can’t afford to make mistakes like that. I’m no superstar. I have to be solid, totally utilizing the modest gifts I now bring to the table, to have real worth to my teams. We’ll find out this week how the teams, as a whole, measure up in that regard.
And whether we have a puncher’s chance, or maybe even a little more.
Soon, with... ???