I haven't written too many fast-pitch softball postings this year.
Yeah, I know; for some of you, even one post is too many. In any case, I've been too busy to write softball. My job these days is writing, so when I sit down to write I usually try to make it something that could bring in a buck or two. As much as I like softball, it doesn't fit that category (I know because I've submitted a couple of softball-themed pieces to the Boston Herald and they have thus far not seen print. I did get one printed, concerning my efforts to diet before the season began, but it was more about dieting and religion than it was about softball.) Also, I'm playing in three different leagues. If I did a write-up of every game of my teams, in all three leagues, it would take up way more time (and cost you way more patience) than is available.
Quick synopsis: All three teams are fun, full of good guys, and worth some writing. Here's a paragraph each for two of the teams, then I'll go on at length about the third.
Harp & Bard, in the M Street Softball League, will make the playoffs. That's because every team in the M Street Softball League makes the playoffs this year. Harp & Bard is currently 2 - 5 - 1. Click on the link and you'll see that my participation has been minimal (I've played one full game and parts of three others.) I don't mean to sell the team short with that crack about everybody making the playoffs. While that's true, we were originally slated to play in the "B" division where the less-talented teams reside. One game was enough to show the league commissioner we belonged in the "A" division and so he switched things around. It's taken us a little bit to get it together in the higher division, but it is happening. We'll be a very tough out in the playoffs, at least, and maybe more besides.
In the Fenway Mens Softball League, our team is battling for a spot in the playoffs. We're not appreciably worse than any other team, but we're not appreciably better, either. Odd little league. A combination of juiced balls, juiced bats, and short outfield fences, puts the league completely up for grabs. With conditions being what they are, every player in the league is a home run threat. Games end up with football scores more often than not. Some pitchers are (justifiably) afraid to pitch there because of the velocity with which balls come off the bats. My contributions to that team have been more solid than at M Street
Finally, there's the team I've been a part of for 20 years: The Bombers. And I couldn't be more proud to be a Bomber than I am right now. This past Sunday, we moved into sole possession of first place with a doubleheader sweep of last year's champions, the Titans. It was the first time the Bombers have ever swept a doubleheader from that team. In doing so, we broke a 30-something game winning streak they had stretching back to last year (they were undefeated last year and undefeated this year - until this weekend.)
The Titans are multiple-time champions of the league for some very good reasons. They are solid. They play good defense, have good pitching, hit smart, take advantage of every mistake you make, do not make dumb mistakes themselves, and they also do not quit. You have to earn victories over those guys. We did, this time.
Once again, Brian Pacheco ("Cheeks") was an animal on the mound. He ran his record to 9 - 1 - 1. His earned run average went up, however - all the way to 1.22, for God's sakes. I absolutely love catching that guy. The first game went 10 innings, and...
OK, here's where I have to explain an odd rule in our league. Due to time constraints (another league has the field after us) our doubleheaders are limited to three hours total. If the second game goes into extra innings, as one of ours did a couple of weeks ago, we just play extra innings. If, however, the first game is tied after seven innings, we start the second game and the start of that game also counts as the extra innings of game one until a decision on the first game is reached.
Our first game against the Titans was 5 - 5 after 7 innings. Therefore, we started the second game and it would also decide the first game. Nobody scored in the first two innings. Cheeks hung tough, but so did their pitcher. Then, in the third inning, with two men on, Pat Atton hit a triple to right center that plated two. He himself scored on a bad throw. Cheeks held them scoreless again in the bottom of the third. And so the first game ended with an official score of 8 - 5 Bombers, in 10 innings, and we also held a 3 - 0 lead after 3 innings of game two.
(If none of that makes sense to you, don't feel stupid. Like I said, it's an odd rule. If you truly want more explanation, write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I'll be sympathetic. I won't give you any more explanation, though, because I've pretty much explained as best I can already.)
Due to the odd rule, Pat Atton had the game-winning hit, for both games, on one trip to the plate. We went on to win the second game, 6 - 1, with Cheeks picking up victories for both.
We'll meet the Titans again, probably twice; once in a round-robin at regular season's end, and then in the playoffs. They will be ready for us, and we will be ready for them. It promises to be some very good ball.
BOMBERS stats for 2014
One more thing that needs saying: Jack Atton, our manager, did a great job today. I had some doubts about one of his changes for game two, but it was absolutely the correct move. The proof is in the pudding, as someone once said, and it worked magnificently. Good job, Jack.
Team wins. Everybody contributed in some important way, whether via great pitching, timely hitting, good defense, or just being where they were needed in order to help. I'll say it again - I'm proud to be a Bomber.
Soon, with more better stuff.