Playoffs will begin tomorrow for the Bombers in the Sunday league. We had a first-round bye, due to our having finished first in our division, but now we have to get by the Moe Howard Club to reach the finals. We beat them four out of four times during the regular season, but their manager, Mark Dion, didn't necessarily play his best nine in those games. Tomorrow we will face the best they have to offer. I think we still beat them in two straight, but it won't be as easy as the regular season games were.
This past week at M Street saw my Southside Tavern team drop two.
Lincoln Tavern - 13 SOUTHSIDE TAVERN - 8
Warehouse - 10 SOUTHSIDE TAVERN - 8
We played both games with only a few of our regular roster players available. Playoffs have been ongoing in other leagues, involving many of my starters, and as a result I have been scrambling to field a good representative nine for each game.
I've been blessed to have a goodly number of my fellow Sunday players step up and play for me in these emergency situations. I very much appreciate that they went out of their way to help. Pat Atton, Drew Atton, and M. J. McCabe, of the Bombers, and Jason Richard and Junior Rodriguez, of Team Mayhem, played at M Street this week, making it possible for us to give Lincoln Tavern and Warehouse a couple of good games. We were damn close to stealing wins in both of them, but we came up just short.
I won't go into a lot of detail about either loss, except to say that my ace pitcher, John Gregorio, was awesome in the second game. Of the 10 runs scored against him, ONE was earned. I felt like crying to have him lose that game.
Our record now stands at 3 and 5. Four games remain in this very short season. The best we can hope for is probably a 4th place finish. Looking at our remaining schedule, and the players available for each contest, I would predict a 6 and 6 finish; if things go bad, maybe 5 and 7. I expect we'll finish either 5th or 6th, giving us an uphill climb through the playoffs.
I also face a thorny problem as manager, that of seeing that I qualify enough players to play in the playoffs. With so many guys missing so many games, it's going to take some juggling of line-ups to maximize the eligibility of some players. I'm hoping I can secure some leeway from the commissioner on a couple of guys who have been injured, maybe get some relief on AB qualifications on another few. Working in my favor is the fact that I'm not the only manager who may be having trouble qualifying enough players. I expect a decision may be made to lessen the requirements. We'll see. Meanwhile, I'll try to get my best players as much playing time as possible during the remaining games.
If you want to see what I'm talking about, look at our stats page HERE. You'll find 28 different roster players for our first 8 games. It's actually been more players because those stats aren't complete; probably 31 players, all told. This has not been my managerial dream season.
Enough of that. First on my mind is tomorrow. If we win, and get through to the championship round next week, that will make me (at least temporarily) a very happy camper.
I am a temporary very happy camper.
BOMBERS - 9 Moe Howard Club - 0
BOMBERS - 8 Moe Howard Club - 3
If it were up to me, I would take Big Jay Atton and Mark Preziosi, bundle them up in bubble wrap, and not release them until next Sunday morning.
Big Jay was immense. He pitched both games (he finally got a shutout, after having three others this year lost by errors) and he also went 5 for 6 with the stick (and drew two walks besides.) And Preziosi? I've never seen a better game played by one of our shortstops. His usually mighty bat wasn't a huge factor (2 singles in 8 trips to the plate) but his fielding was awesome. He made plays that most other shortstops don't even have dreams about. I truly can't describe those plays well enough to do them justice. Suffice to say that everybody who was there won't forget them. That I guarantee.
Other interesting statistical games were had by Billy Botting (5 walks) and Ron Johnson. Ron notched his 300th hit in a Bombers uniform, becoming only the second player in the history of the team to reach that milestone. I was following him in the batting order and it just plain didn't register with me even though I knew going in he only needed one more to get there. I would have saved the ball for him, had I thought about it, but I was too intent on my own at-bat at the time. My bad. Pat Atton upped his record-breaking bases-on-balls total to 21, and he also moved to within one run of the team record for runs scored, a record that has stood since 1997. One next week ties it, two breaks it. Finally, Big Jay Atton, aside from his pitching performance and good day at the plate, took over the all-time RBI record (passing Ron Johnson, by the way, so it's possible Ron could take it back from him. Who knows?)
My day was pedestrian; 1 for 3, a single, in game two.
So we move on to face the Titans, next Sunday, for the championship. We will be without Fast Freddie Goodman (longstanding previous personal engagement in New York, nothing he can do about it) and we may be without Robbie Costello, also. Robbie, in a game played earlier this week, took a line drive off of his elbow while pitching. He may be good to go next week, but he may not. Right now, he can't throw. Otherwise, we'll have a full complement, including one of our big sticks who missed today's games, Tom Resor. We will give them holy hell, one way or another.
I don't suppose I need to go into my lack of championship success, but just in case you came in late, here's the story. I have played baseball and softball for almost 50 years now. I have never been on a championship team. I've been in championship games and series a few times, but have never been on the winning side. I want this, in whatever way possible. Whatever it takes next week.
(I'll gladly accept whatever prayers you might want to say on my behalf. I'm not so proud that I'll decline divine intervention.)
Soon, I hope with a ring.