Monday, May 20, 2013

A Beautiful Morning In Bomberland

My job these days is writing. I've been published in both the Boston Globe and the Boston Herald. I have been contracted by Discover Magazine to write a piece for an upcoming issue, and I have also been doing fact-checking work for them (which, aside from doing what the job title suggests - checking facts - also involves a bit of writing and reporting.) I have 14 or 15 different pieces currently under consideration by various publications, and I have received word from a couple of editors concerning tentative good news. The point is, I can write. I tell you this because I'm somewhat at a loss for words concerning Sunday and I don't want you to think I'm that way because of a general inability to express myself.

We won two games. I can describe every bit of the action involved. I can easily give you detail about who made the important plays in the field, who got the clutch hits, who reached back for the big pitches when they were needed, and other physical parts of what happened on the field. What I'm having trouble putting into words are the feelings I had before, during, and after the games.

Let's get the technical stuff out of the way. Here are the scores.

BOMBERS - 8    Renegades - 7

BOMBERS - 15  Renegades - 5

We start the season 2 and 0, tied for first place after the first week; can't ask for better than that. Everybody on the team contributed something valuable. A few guys had spectacular days. In particular, I'll single out Robbie Costello and Ron Johnson.

Costello went 5 for 5, including a double and a triple. He also drew a walk. He scored 4 runs and had 2 RBI. He pitched the first game and picked up the win. In addition, he kept the bench loose with some of the funniest stories I've ever heard. None of those stories will be printed here because they were filthy, racist, vile and obscene (none of which I have a problem being, on occasion, but you had to have been there to get the full impact of him relating how his gold-toe socks were stolen by his in-laws. Nor will it do you any good for me to tell you how he talked about how much his son poops, everybody on the bench making disgusted faces and going "Ewwwww... Oh, geez, Robbie...", and then him saying, in a matter of fact way, "Yeah, we feed the kid nothing but raisins." )

Ron Johnson wasn't as gut-bustingly hilarious, but it's just a pleasure to still be sharing a field with him after all these years. We're the only two original members of the team remaining (this is our 19th season together) and yesterday he had a perfect day at the plate, going 3 for 3 in game two, with a double and 4 RBI, and made a couple of swell plays defensively. Ron turned 60 this year, and I suppose as long as he keeps playing, I'll have to do so, too. At 56, I'm a youngster by comparison. If I quit and he keeps playing, I'll feel like a pussy.

As I said, though, everybody did something to make the two wins happen. If you want the details, you can probably infer them from the team statistics. Find them HERE.

So, what is it that I'm having trouble putting into words? It's just the overall feeling I get stepping onto a ballfield for the first time each season, and most especially for a season so late in my career. I know I'm on the downside. I have been for a while now. I think I still bring value to my teams, otherwise I'd stay home. Still, I'm coming to terms with the fact that I'm no longer a guaranteed starter. This year, I'm realistically the third-string at my positions. And I'm mostly cool with that. Sure, I'd still like to be the guy who knows he's going to get the start. Every athlete wants to be that guy. But it would be silly for me to think I bring more to the table than Joey Baz, Nutter, Eric or Big Jay, who are the guys likely to start at my positions. They're all younger than me, they all possess strengths in areas in which I've recently declined, and - most important - they're all good teammates who deserve me rooting as hard for them, playing in front of me, as they would root for me if the positions were reversed. I'll be ready anytime Jack calls on me, and if I show I'm good enough to start, great, but I'm OK with being a bench player on a winner. When the team wins, we're all winners.

Even more difficult to describe is how great it feels before the game, especially when I'm the first one to arrive at the field (which I often am.) Sunday morning is a time for religious observance for many people, and some of them would probably give me the stink eye for playing ball instead of being in worship, but I truly find myself as close as possible to God when I'm on a ballfield in the early morning, clear blue skies above, the smell of the dirt and grass in my nostrils, seeing the animals who live on the field (I'm not talking about Joe The Wino - I mean rabbits, geese, hawks, possum, maybe an occasional fox) still going about their business and not worrying about this old geezer doing his stretching. I hold a vast thankfulness in my heart for living, at times like those, and I honestly think it's more valuable, as prayer, than most of the times I've spent Sunday morning dressed in a suit inside of some building listening to a preacher. A ballfield in the sun speaks truth to my soul.

OK, I guess I'm probably being overblown about this, but it's honest feelings. Your mileage may vary. I hope not, though, because if you're a ballplayer and it does, you're not getting as much happiness out of it as I am.

Next week, we're off for Memorial Day. Until then, we're undefeated and in first place (and maybe after then, too, because the team looks good and I think we have an excellent shot at taking it all this season.) Back in two weeks with more fast-pitch softball ruminations.

As for other things, soon, with more better stuff.


Jackie said...

I feel the pride the love for the sport and for your teammates.
Write on, my friend. I am so proud of you.

Hilary said...

This, I get. The way you described how you feel sharing that field with nature before your game is exactly how I feel wandering around in nature with a camera in my hand. You expressed it and yet, it's indescribable.

I hope you do great this year.. in baseball and in everything you do.

toko baju muslim murah said...

What a great idea! I love it. Simple and lovely article.

Juli said...

Tony and I spent our Sunday morning walking... right past the church. You don't need to visit a man made building or with a bunch of people pretending to be holier than thou every Sunday to be close to God. I believe that God wants you to appreciate all that he has given... the sun, sky, and yes.. the dirt on the ball field.

Peace Be With You, Suldog... where ever that may be.

messymimi said...

Your love shines through every word. Go pray on your ball field.

Michelle H. said...

There's nothing wrong with seeing something spiritual in what you do, even if it is a ball field. I think the Big Man upstairs wouldn't have you love the game so much if it meant HE wanted everyone sitting in a church. Hope that makes sense.

The Broad said...

When you love baseball and love playing it -- there's a kind of holiness and spiritual about it. You are a lucky man to have experienced this.

(not necessarily your) Uncle Skip, said...

So.... I saw this last night... on my smart phone, that's sometimes too smart and won't let me log in to Blogger.
I thought, how cool starting off the season sweeping a double header and then knowing you'll be in first place for the rest of the month.
Tell the fellas GS and I say, "Hi!"

OldAFSarge said...

If poignant, beautiful and evocative describe the term "at a loss for words", then yeah I feel ya brother.

Great writing as always Sully. You described the feeling of being on the field perfectly.

Buck said...

A ballfield in the sun speaks truth to my soul.

If that ain't spiritual I don't know what is.

I used to feel the same way about riding a mo'sickle well. I miss that.

Momma Bigler said...

There is definitely something spiritual about being outdoors with nature. Especially when it's calm and peaceful.

You, my friend, always describe it so well!

I could smell the dirt too.

I'm happy to read that you are busy with your writing efforts. That's where you belong!

Anonymous said...

First, congrats on all of the writing gigs!! How did you get that fact checker job? Second, I know it's tough but I hope you realize there are very, very, very few men your age who do more than sit in the stands. Third, I think God just wants us to talk to him and spend time with him, and if it's easiest for you in a ballpark, then I'm sure that's why he made you a ballplayer. Amen.

Jeni said...

Your views expressed here (IMHO) stem from being of an age now where you really see and appreciate all that is around you -events, nature, family, friends, talents, etc -probably because we realize our days are really numbered now as to how much longer we will be around to point out the beauty that exists in and around us. Good to read that your team is off to a good start this year and even better to read about your writing being accepted!!! That, my friend, is awesome and well-deserved! Hope the writing continues to go forward and grow for you.

Anonymous said...

Congrats to fellow teammate and legendary Bomber, Ronnie Johnson, on his stellar Opening Day performance! Old school!


Mich said...

Undefeated is amazing, congrats!! Also I'm very impressed with your writing resume. I have attempted to get some shorter pieces published, but no one seems to like my brand of journalism....


Jenn Flynn-Shon said...

This reminds me of a scene from "The Cutting Edge". In case you've never seen it the movie revolves around an ice hockey player who gets injured but to stay on skates he starts doing pairs figure skating with a pretty crabby gal. There's a picture of him smelling the ice & she doesn't understand what that means. His blood ran with the rink's ice inside it and it fueled his passion to be on skates even if not in the way he originally thought.

When you get out on that field and take in the sights, sounds and smells of the nature around you its you living inside and outside your passion. I may not understand the ins and outs of your game but I love to read that you keep showing up because you love everything that comes with the game. True beauty at its finest.

Kudos on starting to get your work out there too! You'll be writing full time in no time charging ahead like that!

Chris said...

Jim. Softball details aside (and I'd love to hear the gold-toe socks story), the single most artfully-crafted sentence I've ever read from you is in this very piece, and I only hope it was intentional (if it wasn't, just tell me it was, and I'll believe you). The sentence about being close to God on a ballfield. You lay out the prosaic details of nature and then, without shame or warning, blast it out of the park with the term "Joe the Wino."


Chris said...

On another note, have you ever closed a softball piece with, "Soon, with more batter stuff?"

You should.

Shammickite said...

The comments on this blog post so far have put into words exactly what I want to say.... that you have described the anticipation of the game and the presence of something, someone, spiritual in the place you enjoy most.... great stuff. And hooray for getting all those articles accepted, and even more out there waiting to be accepted. Go Sully Go.

i beati said...

Dear undefeated I am so happy for you ..on both counts meanwhile lost my job of 5 yrs Monday funds cut in Washington sigh I loved it so working with kids.