Thursday, June 28, 2007

If I Am Elected...

I wrote this several months ago. I was, as a matter of fact, the only candidate to have declared at that time. However, since my campaign seems to have not gained the traction I thought it would, I'm publishing it again. And I'll keep on publishing the damned thing until you start paying attention, so you'd be doing yourself a favor if you'd at least pretend to care.


Good evening, folks. I'd call you ladies and gentlemen, but you know what you are.


In response to a request from Melissa (whose link no longer works) (I suspect she was spirited off by the CIA for having supported my campaign) I am now going to discuss my platform. I would rather discuss the plataforma, but we can make dinner plans later.

Oh, I suppose I should tell you that this is my presidential platform. This is what you can expect, should you be so high that you decide to cast a vote for me in 2008.

1) More Drugs!

Hey, if you being high got me elected, I better keep 'em coming. Every year, everybody gets a government-issued 300-day supply of the drug of their choice. If you use it up in 100 days, that's your problem. Come on, people! You have to learn some self-control, for goodness' sakes.

Some of you are no doubt wondering why it isn't a 365-day supply. Look, you've got to work sometime or the whole country will tank and then nobody gets any drugs. In order to qualify for the government buzz, you must show at least 65 days on a payroll during the previous year. Pharmacists and Doctors are ineligible because they can get as much as they want anytime anyway. If you're on the dole, you'll have to get your drugs by mugging people like you do now.

To show you my sincerity, I shall personally be handing out syringes and bongs at random polling places on election day. Nothing to put in them until I'm elected, though, so get voting!

Now, some of you may be asking how I will fund this plan. That's simple. I am going to sell off all of our military resources and equipment to the highest foreign bidders. You can get a lot of bones for the price of a stealth bomber, let me tell you! Factor in all the various bombs, aircraft carriers, miscellaneous tanks and hand weapons? That should be enough to keep everybody high for at least 20 years, and probably fund the school systems to boot.

"But what will we do when someone attacks us?", I hear some nancy-boy saying. I've got it covered.

2) No More War!

Yes, I have the solution to war. I propose building a gigantic see-through dome over the entire country. This will keep bombs out.

Of course, it will also keep out rain, so we'll have to build a gigantic network of aqueducts and water-treatment plants from coast-to-coast, in order to facilitate the growing of crops. Special consideration will be given to those crops which can be made into pharmaceuticals.

To do this, I will authorize a plan whereby every man, woman, and child will work 65 days a year for the federal government. This will also solve the employment problem from proposal number one.

I realize that the Bomb Dome will tend to cut down on air travel. Too bad. See America First. By Rail. Yeah, that's the ticket! That should put AMTRAK in the black, too.

Of course, a gigantic dome will not only keep bombs and rain out, it will also keep pollution in. Therefore, to alleviate that eventuality...

3) SUVs Will Be Illegal!

Actually, I don't give a damn about pollution. I just hate driving behind them. You can't see a damned thing! So, no more SUVs. And anyone caught with a Hummer will be executed by having it fed to them in bite-size pieces. With one exception...

4) The President Will Be The Only One Allowed To Have A Hummer!

Hey, get back behind those barricades! I didn't say that the President would be the only one allowed to GET a Hummer. You're thinking of that fellow from Arkansas. No, in the interests of national security, I can take up as much space as I want. Hey, you got a problem with that? I'm the guy giving out the free buzz, remember? So move your crummy Miata to the side of the road and let me by.

By the way...

5) There Will Not Be An Inaugural Parade!

Why in the name of Beelzebub's left tit do you need to see the President (that is to say, me) marching down Pennsylvania Avenue? That's always seemed like a tremendous waste of money to me (that is to say, Your President.) So, take what you would have spent on the parade and put it into the general drug fund. Anyway, I don't feel like walking that far, even if I'm riding in my Hummer.


6) There Will Be An Inaugural Party!

And one hellacious one, too, you bet! But you won't be invited, unless you make a significant contribution to my campaign. Significance starts at $10,000,000.

Better yet, contribute to one of my many RE-election campaigns. You say I'm limited to two terms? Hah! I will win over and over again, because...

7) I Shall Repeal All Term Limits!

You think once I get in, I'm going to give anyone a fighting chance at getting me out? What government-issued goodies have you been smoking? And, just to make sure I can carry out this plan...

8) Congress Shall Be Abolished!

They suck, anyway, so they're history. Except for Ron Paul. He's the only one with any common sense, so what the heck, I'm appointing him Congress For Life. Not CongressMAN - CONGRESS. He's it.

(Assuming he doesn't win the presidency himself. If he does, then I expect full reciprocity - if that's an actual word.)

As for the rest of those bums...

9) All Congressional Salaries & Pensions Will Be Abolished!

These monies will be put into the general drug fund, except those earmarked for Presidential Hummers. All of the frauds currently receiving Congressional salaries, and those past frauds receiving pensions, will be put to work constructing the Bomb Dome. They will NOT receive the usual 300-day drug benefit. Instead, in order to up their productivity, they will be force-fed crystal meth and f*** 'em if their hearts pop.

The only exception to the above is the aforementioned Ron Paul, who will have his pension upped 5% every time another of the Congressional Domeworkers keels over dead.

Insofar as who will be the vice-president when I'm elected...

10) My Running Mate Will Be Chosen At Random By Publishers Clearing House!

So, get those entries in today! Special priority will be given those who purchase subscriptions to High Times. If you get your entry in before the primaries, you'll be eligible for the special early-bird prize: A seat on the Supreme Court.

Remember this, though. If you win the nomination as my running mate, but you get some uppity idea about succeeding me as President after the election...

11) The Vice-President Will Be 247th In Line For Succession!

The 246 people before him in line will be a secret. That way, you'll think twice before offing me. I might be crazy, but I'm not stupid, and how do you know I don't have the Grand Dragon of the KKK at the top of the list? Better the buzz-giving devil you know.

As a special incentive...

12) Everybody Who Leaves A Comment On This Blog Gets To Be A General!

Or an admiral - your choice. There won't be an Army or Navy or anything, what with the Bomb Dome in place, but you'll still get to ride around in a jeep or on a yacht wearing a snazzy uniform. This is your last chance, so comment NOW!

13) Everybody Who Left An Unfavorable Comment Will Be Jailed!

You'd rather lick a pigeon? It had to be a good comment. It pays to read ahead. Too late now, pal. See you in the gulag!

14) All People Named Sullivan, Married To A Sullivan, Who Gave Birth To A Sullivan Or Who Are Ancestors Of A Sullivan Get A Network TV Show!

Those who are able to prove direct relation to me get one on CBS, NBC or ABC. After that, my cousins, it will be Fox, the WB, UPN, and on down the line until those with nebulous relationships get either The Home Shopping Network or Spike.

15) Fast-Pitch Softball Will Be The Mandatory National Sport!

The President (ME) will be given five strikes and will only need two balls to walk. And, believe me, this President has 'em already.

16) Anyone Who Kicks A Kid Out Of School For Carrying Aspirin Or A Nailfile Will Be Castrated, Live And In Color, On The President Suldog Show, Wednesday, 8pm (9pm Central) On CBS.

It's frickin' hard enough to get kids educated without suspending them because of some hare-brained politically-correct nonsense about zero tolerance. Those school officials in violation of this policy who were born without the necessary equipment for castration will be given sex-changes and then castrated.

And, finally...

17) Anybody Who Isn't A Three Stooges Fan Will Have Their Choice Of Being Burned At The Stake Or Having Their Head Cut Off!

If you're a fan, then you know what your reply should be to that statement. If you have no clue? DIE! DIE! DIE!

But, first, I'd appreciate your vote. Thanks for your time!

I will now entertain questions from the floor.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

More Evidence To Be Used Against Me In Future Competency Hearings

Who's Yo Mama? has tagged me for a meme. Since I figure there's nothing in this entire world that you'd rather do with your time than read all about ME, I'll play along.

Now, the original instructions included a directive to tag five others after I'm through. However, I'll adopt the Mushy doctrine. He generally leaves it up to his readers to take a meme and either run with it or ignore it completely. So, if you want to take a shot at it yourself, feel free. If not, that's OK, too. Your mind will probably be totally numb after reading this load of gibberish, anyway.

Without further ado (Just what is it, exactly, that you have against ado? What has ado ever done to you? I say let ado do what ado does!) here's the, uh... thing.

What were you doing 10 years ago (5 Things)

1. I don't have five things. I was doing pretty much all the same crap I'm doing now, except for blogging. Instead of blogging, I was taking a nap. That's why I'm a cranky blogger. I'm not getting enough sleep.

2. I suppose I could make up all kinds of cool stuff and you'd never know the difference. Yeah, let's go with that.

3. I was touring with Fifty Cent. Back then, he called himself DJ Spare Change. And he was really into Klezmer. I set him straight. Word.

4. In my free time, I was working on my rebuttal to the theory of relativity. If I hadn't rebutted it as thoroughly as I did, then you'd be able to go back in time and disprove this claim. You can't, of course, so I therefore did one damned good job of it.

5. I eradicated the dread disease known as Frogballs (Testes Amphibiosum). I'm probably responsible for your children being alive today, as a matter of fact. Not that that had anything to do with Frogballs. Ask your wife.

What were you doing 1 year ago (5 Things)

1. See above, except I was blogging by that time.

2. I could make up even more outrageous lies. Yeah, let's go with that.

3. I went back in time, erasing all evidence of my previously having disproven the theory of relativity. I then went into the future and took over the world. I'm still there. When you get to 2026, look me up. I'm now known as Emperor Suldog.

4. I invented a totally new disease known as Porcupine Boobs (Breastesus Larryfine). The details are rather gruesome. All you really need to know is that the disease will affect every woman on Earth within the next five years and the only preventative is to have sex with me. I'm now accepting appointments for innoculations.

6. I decided, as Emperor in 2026, to abolish the number 5. Get used to it now and you'll be better off, believe me.

Five Snacks You Enjoy:

1. Well, see, that last joke would work one hell of a lot better if the rest of these categories weren't "Five... " whatever"

2. Oh, well.

3. I'm just dashing this off during my lunch hour, so I didn't have time to think it through completely.

4. Peanut Butter and Saltines with Chocolate Milk.

5. A bag full of toenail clippings. Or maybe a sticky bun. Yeah, let's go with the sticky bun.

Five Songs That You Know The Lyrics To:

1. Highway Star by Deep Purple.

2. Frogballs. Hah! I think it's funny, even if you don't.

3. I don't really know why, it just is.

4. Do frogs actually have balls?

5. If not, how do they play golf?

Five Things You Would Do If You Were A Millionaire:

1. Take a nap.

2. Take another nap.

3. Turn a frog over and have a look.

4. Neuter every person in the world who thinks that "loose" is spelled with one "O".

5. Let the people who think that "lose" is spelled with two "O's" tremble in anticipatory fear.

Five Bad Habits:

1. Smoking.

2. Eating bags full of toenail clippings. Or a sticky bun.

3. Threatening to neuter people because of spelling mistakes.

4. Putting your psychoses on public display.

5. Dropping acid before writing a blog entry.

Five Things You Like To Do:

1. Smoke.

2. Eat a bag full of toenail clippings. Or a sticky bun.

1. Smoke.

2. Eat a bag full of toenail clippings. Or a sticky bun.

5. Randomly Cut And Paste Stuff.

Five Things You Would Never Wear Again:

1. A Jello Thong.

(No, wait a minute, that was actually pretty nice. Let's start again.)

1. A Chest Toupee.

2. Wolf*

3. A baby's arm holding an apple.

(The first person to get that reference will prove an amazing knowledge of arcane 70's music, thus proving that you wasted your time then almost as much as I did. Congratulations, fellow proto-slacker!)

1,453,276. Out My Welcome (although it's probably too late for that.)


OK, that's enough. There were four or five other categories in the original meme, but I started ignoring that almost from the start, so if you want to get the whole thing, go see Kuanyin. I hope she'll forgive me for ripping her nice friendly meme to shreds. If not, she'll have hell to pay when 2026 rolls around. That's all I'm saying.

* Wolf. Wear? Wolf? See what I did there? Wear Wolf? Ah, skip it.

Monday, June 25, 2007

The Monday Softball Diary - 10

Pride goeth...

Hawks – 27 FLAMES – 4
Ghost Riders – 24 FLAMES – 9

          W  L   GB   Flames Vs.
Warriors 10 2 - 0-2
Hawks 8 3 1.5 0-3
R/P 6 6 4 1-1
Drive 5 6 4.5 2-0
Flames 5 7 5 -
GR 1 11 9 2-1

It’s obvious from the scores above that the Flames just plain stunk out the joint last week. We were horrible. I won’t go into great detail. I really don’t feel like rehashing those games. The Tuesday game, against the Hawks, ranks up there with the worst games I’ve ever played in. And then on Thursday, we lost to a team that hadn’t won a single game all year. Not only lost, but got blown out. Enough said.

As for my own play…

Last week, I went on and on about how I know how to play my position, which these days is usually first base. Well, this week I was given reason #647 why this should (and will) be my last season. What I now know about playing my position is that I have to be ten years younger to do it right. Three examples follow.

Tuesday, I’m playing back near the outfield grass for a left-handed hitter. I looked at his stance, judged the speed with which my pitcher was throwing, and saw an earlier swing on a pitch he fouled off. My positioning was absolutely perfect. He hits a ground ball directly at me. I field it cleanly and start towards the bag. That’s when I realized, with a sinking feeling, that I wasn’t going to be fast enough to beat him to it. I was still a step behind the bag as he hit it. Safe.

Thursday, different batter, same play. Again, I’m positioned perfectly. I field the grounder cleanly. I start towards the bag and see that the same damned thing is going to happen again. I put every fiber of my being into getting to that bag before the runner. As he runs, I run as hard as I can. I get sort of stuck in between going at the bag straight up or sliding at it and I throw myself at the bag, a half-assed feet-first slide. I hit the bag and he hit the bag. I roll over, hold up the ball for the umpire to see, and the umpire… calls him safe.

No complaint from me. It was bang-bang. I honestly can’t say for sure if I beat him or not.

Here’s the third and final example, from another play on Thursday. The batter hits a pop-up into foul territory down the rightfield line. I pick it up right off the bat, see the angle I have to take and I start after it, with my back to the plate. I know I’ve got it judged right. I’m going full tilt, take a peek over my shoulder, pick up the ball again and reach out my glove. I’ve got it! Except, the ball falls a foot in front of my outstretched glove.

All three of those plays are dead simple outs if I have one more step; a step I used to have. I don't have that step anymore. There's no way I can get it back. I'm too old. So, what I have to do is give up another portion of the field to the hitter. I have to reposition myself to be a step closer, one way or the other. Do I give up the ball over my shoulder or do I give up the bag? Obviously, there are more plays to the bag, so I have to play a step closer. Now I’m not only giving up the other play, I’m putting myself into a position where I may not make the play I’ve chosen to defense, anyway. This is because my damned reflexes are slower. It’s an absolute no-win situation. I’m no longer maximizing my usefulness. I’m minimizing my harm. And that is totally unacceptable. I’ve got nowhere to go but down from this point. And that’s why I have to get the f*** out after this year.

I’ve played with a lot of guys who didn’t get out when their game went from good to bad. God bless them for their guts and heart, but I will NOT be one of those guys. I will NOT put myself onto a team next year and give my manager a headache trying to find a spot for me where I won’t kill the team.

Now, this year I’m still pulling my weight as a batter. Balance my ability to get on base with my decline as a fielder and I’m still coming out on the plus side. I’m producing more runs than I’m letting in, by a decent margin. If I wasn’t doing that, I’d have already quit, and correctly so.

Here are my hitting stats for both teams combined:

G   AB   H   2B   3B   HR   AVG   BB   K   OB%  SLG%  OPS    R
20 48 23 2 0 0 .479 17 3 .615 .521 1.136 31
Those are good stats for our brand of ball. You can basically convert those numbers to baseball stats if you divide by 2/3. You do that and it works out to a .318 batting average. That’s good. There’s a distinct lack of power, though, and that’s not going to get better with age, either.

The bottom line is that I’m still valuable as a player. I’m passable as a fielder and above average as a hitter, but there’s no upside to be had. I’m maxing out what I’ve got left and next year, barring a miracle, I’ll be another step slower. I will play out this year with every bit of sweat in me, but next year is a done deal. It’s a no-go.

Flames Stats

Enough of beating myself up. Let’s see what happens with the Bombers on Sunday.


TEAM       W-L  GB To Play *=not including yesterday
Titans* 6-0 - 10
Dot Rats 6-2 1 8
GangGreen 5-3 2 8
Renegades* 5-3 2 8
Moe Howard 4-6 4 6
Bacon* 3-5 4 8
BOMBERS 3-5 4 8
Rockies* 2-6 5 8
Reds 2-6 5 8

BOMBERS – 20 GangGreen – 6
GangGreen – 18 BOMBERS – 4

The first game is the type of game the Bombers are capable of playing every time out of the box. We had strong hitting, good pitching, a decent bit of defense behind that pitching, and we made the other team work on every play, taking extra bases and challenging the outfielders to make a throw.

The second game is the type of game the Bombers are capable of playing every time out of the box, too. We had generally weak hitting, tired pitching, poor defense and we ran into outs we didn’t need to give them.

The question coming into every game is which Bombers team is taking the field. Will it be Jekyll or Hyde? This team is capable of winning every game we play in this league. It could be a championship team. We’re absolutely capable of scoring 20 runs every time. By the same token, we could lose every game we play in this league. We could end up out of the playoffs. We’re absolutely capable of giving up 20 runs every time.

Conrad Paquette continues to tear the cover off of the ball. He went 5-for-6 including a double, a triple, and two home runs. Joey Baszkiewicz had a real nice doubleheader, going 4-for-5. Ariel Monges and Fred Goodman – platooning in right field - hit their first home runs of the season. Jason Atton had a double and a triple, but was thrown out at the plate trying to stretch the triple into a home run in game two. And Eric Benoit had a perfect game one, 2-for-2 with a walk, keeping a couple of rallies going with timely hits.

Once again, our outfield play was shaky. In some instances, I seriously think it may just be that these guys haven’t seen enough fly balls. They’re getting to them, but having them hit in the mitt and fall out. That sort of stuff is inexcusable, but they know it, so no need for me to make them feel worse by going on about it. You have to have faith that they’ll learn how to close their gloves the next time.

We also had a fair share of normally dependable fielders making bad throws. Bad defense can be contagious at times.

That’s enough for now. We won one and lost one. Next week, we truly get to see just how good or bad this team really is. We’re playing the Titans, currently undefeated and winners of the league championship 9 or 10 times in the previous 12 years I’ve been here. If we bring our “A” game...

Bombers Stats

Soon, with non-softball stuff.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

And Another Thing: Are Uncle Ben & The Cream Of Wheat Guy The Same Person?

Endangered Coffee, in a comment on yesterday's post, pointed out that Mr. Clean isn't the only advertising icon to have undergone changes since being introduced. His example was the Brawny guy, who shaved and dyed his hair, basically going from the love child of Freddie Mercury and Ron Howard...

... to the result of a menage a trois between Greg Brady, Mel Gibson and Jay Leno.

You can be the judge of whether or not that's an improvement.

Now, I believe that Mr. Clean has undergone a change in perception amongst the general public, concerning his sexuality, as opposed to an actual makeover. I think the character has remained fairly constant, although I would be curious to see an older image to find out if his earring changed ears at any time.

In any case, here are some other icons that have changed since I was a kid:

No longer a "mammy" from some plantation, Aunt Jemima sports a stylish coiffure instead of a do-rag. I believe she's also lost a few pounds and may have had a nose job.

Betty Crocker has undergone numerous changes since first being introduced, from schoolmarm spinster-type to June Cleaveresque to power suit-wearing yuppie to multi-ethnic amalgam, last I checked.

I can't find photographic proof of the following, but I believe that the Pillsbury Dough Boy has become darker as the years have passed. That is, his "skin" is a shade or two less white than it once was. If true, this is either an attempt at upping his "PC" value or they just decided that something slightly baked is more appealing than raw dough.

Meanwhile, the Morton Salt Girl has gone from somewhat chubby to slim blonde and then to slightly-pissed brunette. She's gotten a slightly smaller share of space on the label with each change and perhaps that's why she looks a tad grouchier. Or maybe she's actually a slug and all of that salt has shriveled her up.

Finally, Bazooka Joe has gone from one-eyed corporate huckster...

... to one-eyed corporate huckster with a rad 'tude, yo. Apparently, eyepatches never go out of style!

Any others come to mind for you?

See you Monday with the latest softball news.

Friday, June 15, 2007

The Monday Softball Diary - 9

Warriors - 16 FLAMES - 6
Warriors - 21 FLAMES - 10

Yuck. The less said about this week in Flames history, the better.

(That won't stop me from going on for about 1,500 words, though. If you're a sadist, you might enjoy it.)

Two games lost by 10 and 11 runs leaves a lot of blame to pass around, but it's my habit here to only name folks when they do something good. The only exception I make is myself. If I fuck up, I'll name names.

Time to name names.

On Tuesday, with the score 8 - 5, I came up in the fifth inning with the bases loaded, two outs. Big man that I am, with my gaudy on-base percentage, I should be expected to get one or two runs home. I grounded into a weak 4 - 6 fielder's choice. If I delivered in that situation, maybe we stay in the game. Instead, we just died, outscored 8 - 1 the rest of the way.

I finished up 1 of 2, with a walk, but the important at-bat of the three, I didn't get the job done. God, how I hate that.

I pulled a muscle before the game, while doing some running. That's not an excuse. I just mention it because it has a bearing on the story I tell for the next game. Anyway, something kind of popped in my lower abdomen. Not a groin pull, but close to that area. It hurt like hell when I had to run. By Wednesday morning, I was walking almost doubled over. Whenever I straightened up, it hurt.

Comes Thursday and I'm feeling much better. I can walk normally, at least, so I tell Peter that I can play if I absolutely have to do so; if we have less than nine guys by game time. As it turns out, that was the case. I started the game at catcher.

By the bottom of the second, a couple of other guys showed up, so I pulled myself from the game. That was bonehead move #1 for me that night. I had forgotten that we had some options available to us, concerning positioning, if I stayed in the game. When I went out, those options were lost. I'll explain.

Because of the lack of players, we had to start old friend 79-year-old Bob Ridley at pitcher. Nothing necessarily wrong with that. As I've related here before, Bobby is a good pitcher. However, he wasn't at the top of his game Thursday. It happens. No pitcher is on every time out. We had Jason Atton and Jack Atton available to relieve him, but because I put myself on the bench, we had to leave Bobby in the game. And that meant either he continued pitching or we move him to second base, not a position he's totally comfortable with at this late stage in his career. If I was still catching, we could have moved either Jay or Jack onto the mound and had someone else man second. Nope. I screwed that up.

(Pete was temporarily absent at the time. If he had been there, I have no doubt he would have had his head more into the game than I did. I was too preoccupied with saving my body. I wasn't hurting a whole hell of a lot just then, but I knew I had the potential to aggravate the muscle pull. I could have stayed in and taken it easy. Weighing all options, having me as an immobile catcher and basically an out in the line-up was preferable to what we ended up with.)

Bonehead move #2 occurred a couple of innings later.

By this time, another player had arrived, Bobby was out of the game, and Jason was pitching. We were down, but the game was still in the realm of possibility. A couple of men on (2nd & 3rd) with one out. The Warrior's batter steps to the plate. I pop up from the bench and call for time out.

See, one of the Warriors had hit two home runs in his first two at-bats. Just croaked both of them. I see no sense in pitching to this batter when we have first base open. It gets him out of the way, sets up the force play all around - sensible move. I tell the ump to put the batter on. He walks down to first.

I had the wrong batter.

The man I intended to walk - the guy with the two home runs - had just batted. Jay actually popped him up. And Jay was trying his damnedest to yell at me that I had the wrong guy, but I was an idiot and ignored him, insisting I was right.

Of course, Jay walked the next guy, forcing in a run. They scored another four before the inning was over.

How in hell could I have my head so far up my ass TWICE in one game?

Losing by as many runs as we did, both nights, I know I'm not the only one to blame. But maybe, just maybe, if I get the hit on Tuesday and on Thursday I just SHUT THE FUCK UP AND LET SOMEONE ELSE BE THE MANAGER, we keep close enough to have a different outcome. Maybe; maybe not. But I sure didn't help the team any, that's for sure.

Flames Statistics


Sunday is a day of redemption in many religions. I needed redemption from my softball sins of Thursday. I pretty much got it with my personal performance, but I would have traded my softball soul for a win.

Renegades – 17 BOMBERS – 6
Renegades – 20 BOMBERS – 19

The three things that tell the story of the Bombers as a team are the 17 and the 20 next to the Renegades name and the 19 next to ours in the second game. This team can hit, but sometimes it seems like they’re wearing batting gloves at their fielding positions, too.

The good stuff: Youth Of America (Chris Moore) hit another home run. As a matter of fact, he went 4 for 4 in game two. Jason Atton slammed his fourth homer of the season, taking the team lead in that category. Jason’s uncle (and our manager) Jack Atton also had a home run. Ron Johnson had a perfect first game, 2 for 2, with a double and a walk. Insofar as my own performance is concerned, I went 3 for 6, plus a walk. I got my head back into a decent place.

There were plenty of accolades to be handed out concerning our hitting, no doubt about it. We made one hell of a nice comeback, again. After trailing by scores of 14 – 3 and 17 – 8 in game two, we came all the way back and took a lead at 19 – 17, before dropping the game 20 -19. An offense that scores 19 runs in a game is sweet. A defense that gives up 20 in the same game (and is averaging giving up 18 a game for the season) is about as far from sweet as you can get.

We’re hitting well enough to win this league. I know for a fact we have the best pitching staff in the league. Usually, you combine those two things and you smell a championship. Instead, we’re sitting in 6th place at 2 and 4.

You look at those scores and you have to be saying to yourself, “How can Sully say that this pitching staff is the best in the league?” Let me assure you that it is. With our hitting, we should be coasting. We should be laughing out loud every Sunday. I’ve watched Jack Atton and Jason Atton for 8 or 9 years. These guys both have a track record of giving up 10 runs less a game than they’re giving up this year. It’s not their pitching that’s doing them in. And I’ve only seen Sandy pitch this year, really, but he’s solid, too. Nope. No problem with the pitching or the hitting. But the defense is...

There isn’t any one thing I can point at and say, “If we do such-and-such differently, we might have won.” It’s been a death of a hundred little cuts, as opposed to one savage blow. A dinker here, a bad break on a ball by an outfielder there, then a grounder a couple of inches under an infielder’s glove, then a walk, then a pop fly out of reach of two outfielders and turned into two runs by a bad throw.

There’s something fundamentally flawed with our defense, something that goes beyond a lack of skill. What I mean is that we have some guys without great range, and some guys who are just plain shaky, but beyond that we have a whole bunch of guys who don’t quite know where to play. And what I mean by that is that we have guys playing six steps too deep in the outfield and guys playing the infield for lefthanders the same as they do for the righties and stuff like that. Add to that a few guys with a fear of trying for the big play. They pull up on flies that they might catch on the shoe tops with a dead run and they hold the ball at second base rather than pivoting to risk a throw to first for a close double play.

(I’m not saying I’m a perfect glove man. However, I think I’m fundamentally sound. I very rarely say to myself, after a batter has hit, “Geez, Jim, you should have been three steps over that way.” Not never, mind you, but very rarely.

I’m constantly adjusting my positioning. During an at-bat I’ll move around according to the count, to where the batter’s feet are in the box, to the arc of his previous swings, on whether or not he’s snuck a peak down my way [if a right-handed batter] and depending upon my pitcher’s velocity. I’ll also adjust according to where my teammates are. That is, if my rightfielder is playing deep and I think there might be a chance of the batter trying to serve one over my head, I’ll cheat a couple of steps back to the outfield grass. If my second baseman is shading towards me on the same play, I’ll take another step or two back, since he’ll possibly reach one to my right that I’d have a shot at if he weren’t shading.

If I’m not looking to cut a hitter’s angle to the outfield, I’ll always grab as much range to my right as possible, at least on a right-handed batter. What I mean is that I’ll go as far away from the bag as I judge I possibly can while still being able to get to the bag for a throw on a grounder. It’s a rare right-handed batter who can hit a wormburner down the line and beat me that way. So, I’ll start as far out to my right as I can. And unless it’s a liner that I might snag by diving right, that leaves me with only one option, which is to go to my left. That way, I’m covering every possible inch of my range right from the get go.

Now, if I’m playing first base, then obviously those tricks aren’t going to work for anybody else. The point, though, is that there are positioning tricks like that available for every man on the field. You just have to think about it a bit to find them. And some of our guys are either not thinking or they’re so inexperienced at their positions that they’re still working to master the basics and they’re playing a bit scared because of that.)

That was one damn long parenthetical thought, huh? Well, that’s what it is out on the field, too. I’m constantly inputting data. Not always consciously, of course, but it’s always filtering in.

Some of our guys, though, are like frozen computers and no matter how much someone else hits the keys nothing is getting through. I saw at least two instances where Jason (pitching in game two) had the ball in his hand following a throw from the outfield and when he looked to an infielder for a possible play, he got absolutely no response; not even a flicker of recognition that the man with the ball was looking his way, ready to wing it if he thought he had a chance to surprise the runner. There were two other instances where Jason got the ball back from his catcher, after a called ball or strike, and he wanted to take a shot at a runner slowly returning to the bag at second with his head down. Nobody else saw that the runner was ripe for the picking but Jay.

As well as having a thought of your own, you’ve got to make the other team think, too. Even if Jason doesn’t pick off that runner, now you’ve got a man who won’t stray so far from the bag and that might save you a run when he’s a step behind a good throw to the plate, instead of his being a step ahead of it because nobody bothered him while he was on second. I’ll occasionally duck in behind a runner at first, as though I’m looking for a snap throw from my catcher, even when I know damn well the catcher hasn’t looked my way all game. You can bet your ass that runner will take a half step less on his next lead.

Well, I don’t want to get down on this team too hard. Even with whatever flaws there are, this is a fun team to play ball with. With the hitting prowess we’ve displayed, we’re never going to be out of too many games. We have the capability of coming back from double-digit deficits. The shame of it is we have the capability of putting our opposition INTO double-digit deficits and we haven’t done it yet. We have ten more chances to mature into the team we can be, before the playoffs. Here’s hoping we do.

Bombers Statistics

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Why Your Christmas Gift This Year Will Cost Under $20

If you’re a regular reader – you know, one who doesn’t need laxatives – you’re aware that I went to New York a few weeks ago to try out for the TV game show, Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? Would you care to guess what happened?

Hint: I’m still running “Ads From Google” on this site, and I’d appreciate it if you’d patronize my sponsors.

The tryout consisted of a written test and then, if that was passed, a “personality interview.” I passed the written test. Would you care to guess what happened on the personality interview?


In other words, I apparently have no personality. I flunked. I received this postcard in the mail a couple of days ago.

I don’t know for sure what happened. Here's some conjecture.

I dressed nicely. The instructions I received from ABC, concerning the testing, called for casual dress. So, I wore a nice pink taffeta – nothing too fancy. No, I wore a navy polo, off-white chinos, black belt – casual, but not I'm-a-meth-freak-in-my-spare-time casual. I got a haircut about a week before the test, so I’d be neat but not look like I just came from the barbershop. I shaved that morning and trimmed my beard and sideburns. I cleaned my fingernails. I brushed my teeth and used mouthwash and checked my nose for hanging boogers just before going to the test site. In other words, I know I was presentable. That wasn’t the problem.

As I said, I passed the written exam. It was thirty questions, multiple choice, with a ten-minute time limit. Nothing too hard. The general tenor of the questions was as follows:

What do you use to drain your spaghetti after cooking?

A – A Colander

B – A Calendar

C – A Tennis Racket

D – Your Hands

Well, OK, it wasn’t quite that stupid, but it wasn’t MENSA stuff, either. A particularly bright ten-year-old would have had a decent shot at it. And – getting back to the personality thing - I didn’t stand up in the middle of the test and shout, “I came all the way to New York to take this fucking idiotic test? Why didn’t you just grab all the people off of the first short bus you saw passing by and save me the trouble?” I filled out the test paper as instructed and, in the approximately six minutes I had remaining after doing so, I re-checked my answers, making sure I hadn’t drooled on the form or anything else which might have been off-putting to the judges.

After being informed that I'd passed – I’d estimate that 1 in 8 of those tested did so – I had my picture taken. I smiled nicely. I was very pleased with the photo, too. I don’t think I photograph particularly well, but this one came out nicely. I looked reasonably intelligent, somewhat friendly, and I still had no hanging boogers. So, the picture wasn’t the problem.

Then it was on to the personality interview. From the results, you might think I had answered the interviewer’s questions in the following manner:

Interviewer: Hi, Jim! I’m Debbie.

Me: Debbie? Hah! Are you the one who did Dallas? Hah-hah!

Interviewer: What do you do for a living, Jim?

Me: I disembowel rabid weasels.

Interviewer: That must be interesting.

Me: Not if you’re the rabid weasel.

Interviewer: What’s the first thing you’ll do if you win a million dollars?

Me: Give it to Al-Qeada. Either that or I’ll rent out a roomful of whores and snort massive amounts of cocaine off of their asses until I die.

Interviewer: What sorts of hobbies do you enjoy, Jim?

Me: I thought I made that clear with my previous answer. Wow, you’re really thick!

Interviewer: Well, it’s been nice talking to you, Jim. We’ll let you know in a few weeks whether or not you’ll be placed in the contestant pool.

Me: Like I give a shit, sister. Hey, what are you doing later tonight? Would you mind if I snorted some cocaine off of your ass?

The interviewer’s questions really were like those above, but I didn’t give hideously inappropriate answers. I was nice. I was unthreatening. I thought I was at least fairly interesting.

Apparently, the producers thought otherwise. I don’t know. Maybe the swastika I painted on my forehead was a bit too much. I thought it was a nice homey touch, but you never can tell what’s going to turn some people off these days.

I’ve talked to a few other people who passed the written exam and who also were not invited to appear on the show. They are all nice people and they are all possessed of a higher-than-average intelligence. And I hope this isn’t too self-serving, but I think that’s the problem. I think the producers aren’t looking for the highly intelligent. I have a feeling that what they’re looking for are the reasonably intelligent – those who know how much two plus two is, but not necessarily what someone might do with that information - combined with the type of perky which I, unfortunately, am not.

Hey, it’s a TV show. I know that what they’re trying to do is appeal to the widest possible audience and just because they decided not to use me, I don’t need to feel like it’s some sort of personal insult. Luckily for me, as a voice-over talent, I work in a subjective business, so I know what it’s like to be rejected for no reason having to do with intelligence or talent or personality. Sometimes what you’ve got just isn’t what someone else is looking for. I’ve had ample opportunity to get used to being passed over and I know how to deal with it like an adult.

Stupid Poopy-Heads.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Father Vinny & Tara

I was going to tell you the outcome of my "Millionaire" audition. However, if you don't mind, I've got a couple of different things to talk about today. Even if you do mind.

(Hint concerning my audition: I'm not planning on buying solid gold cleats or a silver bat.)


Friday will be both sad and joyous for me. It is the day that Tara leaves and that Father Vinny returns.

Father Vinny (Fr. Vincent McKiernan, CSP) was the celebrant at our wedding. That's him directly behind MY WIFE in the above photo. He's a wonderful man, soft-spoken and a master of puns. He has been in residence at Ohio State University for many years, but was stationed at The Paulist Center, Park Street, Boston, before that. That's where MY WIFE met him, long before she and I got together.

Father Vinny was a strong influence and help to MY (future) WIFE as she struggled with some personal problems. It could be conjectured that, without Vinny's help, we wouldn't have eventually gotten together at all.

Anyway, once we had decided to get married, there was no doubt in either of our minds concerning who we wanted to officiate. It was definitely Vinny. We secured the neccessary permissions from the Archdiocese and the state, for an out-of-state clergyman, and Vinny flew in and did the job.

This Friday evening, Vinny will be presiding at a mass celebrating his 50th anniversary as a priest. The mass will be at The Paulist Center. We'll both be in attendance, with MY WIFE actually limbering up her vocal chords once again, joining the choir for this occasion. It should be a night of much happiness, a few joyful tears, old friends seeing each other after long absences, and more good stuff. I'm tremendously looking forward to it.


On the other hand, the parts of Friday that precede the mass will be melancholy at best. Tara is leaving our office, having found a new job closer to home and with a bit more pay. In the photo below, that's her on the left.

I've been with Marketing Messages for 16 years now. Of the five office managers we've had during that time period, Tara is easily my favorite.

(Anyone who knows the history of our office managers is laughing at that statement. It would be damned hard for her NOT to have been my favorite. Three of the previous four ripped us off in one way or another, while the fourth was only on the job for about six weeks. Well, anyway, even if those things were different, she'd still be my favorite.)

Tara makes each day a pleasure. She is quick, witty, sharp and sarcastic - all traits I love in a woman. And she's the best person in the office to talk sports with. Damn nice legs, too - even though I'm not supposed to notice such things, being married and all. Tough not to notice those pins, though. Yowza!

(You can't see them in the photo. Take my word for it.)

It's hard to say good-bye to someone you've spent 8 hours a day with for such a long time. I want to hit just the right note between tearfully-mushy and the stereotypical I'm-a-guy-and-guys-aren't-supposed-to-get-sentimental.

Ahhhhhh, to hell with it. I'm going for the tearful mush.

Tara - I'm going to miss you terribly. You've been the best "office wife" I could have possibly had. For the next few weeks, I'll be expecting to hear your laugh and feeling sad when I don't.
I'll walk by your desk and, even though someone capable will be filling your chair, I'll feel a void.

I'll miss...

The way every peddler in the world could walk in our front door and sell you something, so long as it had a Red Sox logo on it.

The way you address every female as "Miss Heather" or "Miss Lynda" or "Miss... whomever."

How you always laid out goodies on the break-room table and then denied you put them there.

The way you made every voice-talent feel at home, offering them a drink, meanwhile making copies of their scripts for me.

How you always seemed to send me an e-mail joke at just the time when I needed a laugh.

How it seems like every three months your house has a new pet - and the tremendous triple-jointed names your family comes up with for them.

And a hundred other things that either I'm forgetting right now or which you wouldn't want mentioned in public. Every day you're gone, I'll be thinking of another one.

(She's been a regular reader of this blog since day one, too. That, alone, is worth combat pay.)

You're taking a piece of my heart with you, Blondie. God bless and take care.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Monday Softball Diary - 8B

Just to refresh your memory, here’s what happened on Sunday...

These were the first Sunday games in 35 days for this team, due to scheduling oddities and rainouts. We entered at 0 – 2, thus we were winless for the entire month of May.

We are now undefeated for the entire month of June.

BOMBERS – 18 Rockies – 13
BOMBERS – 16 Rockies – 13

When a team scores 34 runs in two games, there are plenty of people fattening up their averages. I was one of them. I had about the best day at the plate I’ve had in five years. I went 5 for 7, with two doubles, two walks and seven runs scored. Jack Atton said if I keep getting on base like this, he’s going to come drag me out of my house next year to play, whether I want to or not. The thing is, I was only the third or fourth best hitter on the team this day. That’ll give you an idea of how much the Bombers were croaking the ball.

Jason Atton was immense, with three home runs – two of them grand slams - and eleven runs batted in. Conrad Paquette had six hits - including his third home run of the year - and drove in seven runs. And Chris Moore had two home runs.

Chris is maybe, I don’t know, twelve or thirteen years old, and...

Well, OK, he’s probably twenty or twenty-two. At my age, everybody looks younger than they are. Anyway, he’s all full of fire and excited about every play and he’s so fast, he can hit the ball, drop his bat, run the bases, and get back to home plate in time to catch the bat before it hits the ground.

His speed makes for a lot of fun. A lot of fun for our bench when I’m on first base and he hits a home run, that is. I had that big head start on him, but as I’m rounding third, I glanced back and saw that he had picked up forty feet on me. I ran as fast as I could, with my old-man legs, but he was about two feet behind me as I hit home plate. It’s a good thing there aren’t FIVE bases in this game, because then I would have been giving him a piggyback ride.

I flopped out on the grass, sucking air. Guys were calling for oxygen and asking me if I wasn’t going to live, could they have my glove? Stuff like that. Meanwhile, Chris was high-fiving everybody and doing somersaults and backflips just for kicks.

Next time I’m on first when he’s hitting, I’m going to try to steal second just so I can have a bigger head start.

Chris also made probably the most important defensive play of the day. In the sixth inning, with runners on first and second, two outs, the Rockies number 3 hitter singled to left. Chris charged the ball, came up throwing, and nailed the fastest man on the Rockies at the plate. That preserved our one-run lead and energized our entire team. It also pretty much knocked the life out of the Rockies.

(When Casey Stengel was 80 years old and managing the Mets in 1962, he talked about how “there’s great opportunities for the Youth Of America on this team.” Well, there’s great opportunities on the Bombers now and Chris Moore is our very own Youth Of America. I think that makes Jack Atton, our manager, Casey Stengel. I bet that’s OK by Jack, as long as we keep winning.)


The best thing about these two wins is that we came from behind in both games. We trailed 9 – 5 in the first game. We were even worse off in the second game, trailing 12 – 4 after four innings. The whole team kept cool, dug in, played solid ball, and came through in the clutch. Everybody on the team contributed to these wins – no lie.

Jack managed the games very nicely, moving people around and in and out of the line-up, getting the best advantages he could for us.

There were some real nice defensive plays aside from Chris's most excellent throw. I was in the middle of a 7 - 3 - 5 earlier in the second game. The throw from left overshot the second baseman, but I had the back up. Amazingly enough, with my bum arm, I made a perfect throw to Pat Atton at third and he applied the tag. There was a nice 9 - 6 to get a man who overran second. I think that was Dave's throw. And we came within a couple of inches of a play I've never seen before (a 4 - 9) as a line drive tipped off the top of Ronnie's glove at second and Ariel almost made the catch in right field, as he had been playing very shallow. That would have been one for the books.

Aside from the folks I’ve already mentioned, I want to mention our pitcher in game two, Sandy. He had some bad luck in the first four innings, with a few pop-ups falling in and a couple of errors. Once we got the lead, though, he toughed it up and didn’t give them much at all. And with two outs and the tying runs on base in the Rockies last at-bat, he stepped it up and struck out the last batter of the game. Real nice performance.

(Any of the Bombers who are reading this and who I haven’t mentioned? Don’t feel slighted. It was a serious team effort. I loved it as much as I’ve loved any Sunday on a ballfield in my life. Seriously.)

It was especially sweet beating the Rockies. It’s not that they’re bad guys. As a matter of fact, just about everybody on that team is a really nice guy. It’s just that we’ve been in the league together since I entered it – and the Bombers came into being – thirteen seasons ago. They beat us two out of three the only time we met in the playoffs, a very heartbreaking loss. I’ve always considered them our chief rivals.

It also had to be somewhat sweet for Ariel. Ariel Monges had been a member of the Rockies for the past 12 seasons. He came over to play for us this year. Ariel is still friends with most (if not all) of the Rockies, but he had some sort of difference of opinion concerning how playing time should be meted out and he decided to see if we wanted him this year.

(I want to make sure I don’t leave anyone with the wrong idea concerning Ariel. I don’t believe he was complaining about a lack of playing time for himself. He’s not that kind of a guy. But I think he was upset that some of the players who had been with the team for many years were being given short shrift compared to guys who didn’t really bleed for the Rockies like he did. So, his principles were at stake and he did the right thing.)

I’m sure glad to have Ariel on the Bombers. He’s a winner. And it completes my circle in this league. Ariel was actually a Bomber for the first couple of games I was in this league, before he went to the Rockies. Now, in my final year, he’s a Bomber again. There’s a nice symmetry to it all.

Another nice bit of symmetry is having my friend Ron Johnson back for another year. Ron is now the only guy on the team older than me, by a couple of years. I'm not sure if Ron was planning on playing again this year. He may have been. However, I especially asked him to be here because I wanted my last year to be one with him on the team. I respect him highly as a player and a gentleman.

When the Bombers were just starting in this league, Ron was THE MAN. We only won about seven games total our first two years. Without Ron, we probably win none at all. He was easily the best hitter on this team. He was brutally good.

Ron’s one shortcoming has always been that he’s too nice a guy. He was the manager before me. He’d sit himself down and put in guys who couldn’t carry his jock on their best days. When I became manager, there was no getting Ron out of the line-up with a crowbar for the first few years. He isn’t as fearsome as he was back in the day, but he’s still a damn good hitter and his heart is as big as it always was. I’m very glad he’s here.

Well, all I’m doing now is getting mushy with man-love. I better stop before you all start puking. The next time I see you, I’ll tell you how my audition for I Want To Be A Millionaire finally turned out.

(If I owe you money, I’ll probably still owe you money a year from now. That should give you a hint.)

See you then.

Bombers Statistics

Monday, June 11, 2007

The Monday Softball Diary - 8A

FLAMES – 9 Rob/Paige – 6
FLAMES – 15 Drive - 10
BOMBERS – 18 Rockies – 13
BOMBERS – 16 Rockies – 13

One of the great things about playing a game like softball is that the possibility exists, in every game, of you seeing something you’ve never seen before. This week, I actually did two things I’ve never done before. Both of them were bad things that turned out good in the end because I’m one lucky son of a bitch.

On Tuesday, the Flames beat Rob/Paige, 9 – 6. Jason Atton got his first win of the season, giving up only six hits, but three of the six hits he gave up were home runs and he also walked six men. That’s why Rob/Paige scored six runs on only six hits.

You may be saying to yourself, “That’s not so weird, Sully. I’ve seen stuff like that before.” If so, two things:

1 – That wasn’t the weird thing that never happened before.

2 – You should stop talking to yourself.

No, the weird thing was something I did in the sixth inning.

There were runners on second and third, one out, and we were leading, 8 – 6. On a 1 – 1 pitch, I hit a very weak grounder back to the pitcher. Normally, you’d think the pitcher would look the runner on third back, then go to first to get me. What happened instead was that the pitcher looked over to third, but our runner (Eric Elam) had taken a few steps toward home already. The pitcher, thinking to catch Eric going back to third, threw to the third baseman.

Eric didn’t hesitate. As soon as he thought about what the pitcher had in mind, he took off for home. The pitcher had already committed to throwing to third, so he followed through and did. The third baseman, now seeing that he had just about no chance to catch Eric on a throw home, turned and fired to first. And that’s how I was out, 1 - 5 - 3 on a ground ball, but got an RBI in the process.

Weird enough for you?

I’ll tell you - and so will everybody else on the field, except the umpire – I was safe. I’m an old fart and I’ve slowed down a lot, but not that much. When I saw the weak grounder, I didn’t exactly run like the wind. That was wrong. I figured I was out, anyway, but that’s not how the game should be played and I should have been digging. Then, when the throw went to third, I slowed down even more. I figured I was safe then. Again, that’s not how the game should be played. I still should have been digging. When I looked up and saw the first baseman expecting a throw, I finally ran all out. And I was safe. The umpire called me out, though, so that’s the way it goes into the book. I can’t have any complaint about it. I wasn’t playing the game the way it should be played. I should have been out on general principles, and I probably was.

Eric’s hustle gave us that extra insurance run – and gave me an undeserved RBI, so thank you, Eric! We held them scoreless in their next at-bat and won.


Never-before-seen weirdness #2 came on Thursday when we played The Drive.

We had beaten them earlier this year, 9 – 7, behind Jack Atton’s seven-strikeouts-in-six-innings pitching. This time around, neither Jack nor Jason Atton was available, so we turned to Bob Ridley to pitch.

I’ve mentioned Bobby here before. He’s 79, no typo. And while there are a handful of guys my age (50) or close to it, most of the guys in this league are in their 20’s and 30’s. Think of it. He’s playing against a majority of guys who are one-third his age. He’s played more years than twice the age of just about everybody else.

Here’s how old Bobby is: When he was 18, the color line was still a part of major league baseball. When he was 20, the only black player in the show was Jackie Robinson.

I mention this stuff not to make fun of Bobby, but because I have great respect and admiration for him. He’s old, but he’s a valuable member of our team. We don’t keep him around out of sentiment. He contributes. And he’s one of the nicest guys I’ve ever played with, too.

Anyway, Bobby pitched and we won, 15 – 10. Our record moved to 5 and 3, while Bobby’s went to 2 and 0.

79-year-olds winning games is rare, but once again you’d be wrong to think that the weird thing is the first thing I mention. Here’s the weird part.

Since there are three games played on Clemente Field each night our league plays, the games are under a time limit. The games are scheduled for 6:15, 7:45, and 9:15. So, as you can see, the time limit is an hour and a half. This night, we had the 9:15 game.

After 3-1/2 innings, we trailed 10 – 8. With that much scoring, there was no way we were going to make a regulation seven innings. At this point, Bobby was getting pretty tired, too. He had pitched four for us. He had done his job well enough. There were a couple of errors and a couple of bad calls. He deserved to have given up less than 10.

Here’s where I get to extol the virtues of my manager, Pete Mittell.

I say this with all kindness, but sometimes it appears that Pete might not have his head in the game. He’ll be making up the line-up as we bat in the first, and he usually has to ask someone else if we’re home or away that night. However, when it comes to in-game strategy, he’s pretty damned good. As an ex-manager myself, I have to admire how he worked this game to every possible advantage for us.

Pete knew that we were approaching the time limit somewhat rapidly. It was about 10:15. We might only get one more chance at this. He also knew that the lights, which are supposed to go off at 10:45, had been going off at about 10:35 all season. So, here’s what he did.

First, he pinch-hit for Bobby to lead off the bottom of the fourth. He knew that Bobby was tired and that we needed runs more than we needed another inning out of Bobby. Pete’s son, Chris, was sent up. He’s a smart batter and was a good choice to lead an inning. He was patient and drew a walk.

Now it went back to the top of the order. I drew another walk behind Chris. A fielder’s choice wiped me out at second. Carl Hyman’s sac fly scored Chris. We’re down 10 – 9, two outs, runner on first, Dave Vargas up.

Dave hit an absolute moon shot to left. We went up 11 – 10. That started a parade, all with the two outs. By the time we had batted around, plus a second at-bat for pinch-hitter Chris, we had a 15 – 10 lead.

However, we had no pitcher.

Stroke of genius number two for Pete: He sent ME in to pitch.

I don’t say “stroke of genius” because I’m some kind of great pitcher. As a matter of fact, I suck. I suck harder than a vacuum cleaner factory. I suck harder than a porn star convention. I... well, I just plain suck. That’s all there is to it. So, why is it a stroke of genius to put in the worst pitcher on your staff?

Simple. The time when the lights would go out was fast approaching. There were only two possible outcomes. If, by some miracle, I pitch decently and get the other guys out, good. We still lead and we have our at-bats again and we either add to our lead or the lights go out and we win. If I do what you'd expect me to do, which is to suck mightily, then the other guys can keep batting all night, except the lights will go out and then the rules say we revert to the last complete inning, so no harm done. We still win. The only thing that could screw up this scenario was if I was mediocre, giving them just enough to take the lead, and then we don’t score enough to take it back, with the lights staying on long enough for all of this to happen.

Luckily for us, I sucked.

I gave up back-to-back singles, then a walk, then another single, and then two more walks, then a grand slam. The score was 17 – 15, them. I still hadn’t gotten anyone out, either.

The manager of The Drive, no strategic slouch himself, realized what was going on and invoked a little-known ASA rule. He told the plate umpire that he now wanted to take three outs, which he was entitled to do. Under ASA rules, a team can give themselves up like that. It’s a rare situation when you’d want to take three outs, but here was a situation for which that rule had been written. Smart move by him.

Now, trailing 17 – 15, we had to bat. If we score three runs, we win. If we score two, we tie - and that’s how it ends, since there won’t be time for another complete inning. If we make three outs without scoring at least twice, The Drive win and their manager is the genius.

Or yours truly can be batting leadoff in the inning, take four pitches for a walk, and have the lights go out just as he’s beginning his trot down to first base. Game over. Score reverts back to the last complete inning. We win, 15 – 10. My ERA goes from 49.00 back down to 0.00, and instead of my being the losing pitcher, 79-year-old Bobby Ridley gets his second win of the season. Instead of us falling to fourth or fifth place, we take possession of second. And Pete Mittell is a managerial genius.

And another thing that you probably never even considered before has happened in the game of softball.

FLAMES Statistics


Sunday’s games, playing for the Bombers, couldn’t possibly top those, could they?

Tune in tomorrow.

(Sorry! It’s been a long day. Hang in there. It will be worth the wait.)

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Red, Red, Pee The Bed

I received an e-mail from my brother-in-law John today. He had seen an article on the BBC website concerning "Gingerism" and he thought I'd be interested in reading it. I was. If you want to get the most out of what follows, you should read it, too.

BBC News

OK, now that you have some background, let's travel back to the days of my youth - my bright orange-haired youth - for some interesting memories.

Memory # 1

I'm perhaps 6 years old. I'm sitting on the low cement wall outside of my house in Dorchester. I'm surrounded by my "friends," all of whom are about a year older than I am. It is the height of cold-war anti-Russian sentiment, about 1963 or so.

Because "Red" is another name for a communist, and because I have flaming red hair, all of the other kids have made a connection in their minds and are calling me "Little Baby Communist."

I'm a good American. I say The Pledge Of Allegiance every day at school, same as they do. I know all the words to The Star Spangled Banner, and sing it proudly whenever it's played. Despite their (in retrospect) immaturity, I'm not as mature physically or mentally as they are, so I don't know how to fight back. And I don't understand why they're singling me out for this treatment. I always thought I was a nice kid.

Tears start slowly rolling down my cheeks. This just eggs them on, of course. The chants become louder, right up in my face. I don't know what else to do, so I get up and run into the house. I can still hear the laughter outside while I'm up in my bedroom, crying.

Memory #2

I'm 8 or 9. I'm with my parents at The Brockton Fair, the biggest summertime fair in Eastern Massachusetts. It's a yearly ritual to go there and enjoy the rides, eat corn on the cob and cotton candy, and try to win stuffed animals at the games along the midway. There is thoroughbred horse racing at the fair and my Dad bets a couple of dollars on each race. And Kelly The Candy Man has his booth, where he sells chances to win huge boxes of chocolates - a guaranteed winner in every game. We always end up going home with a couple of pounds of chocolates, sometimes a few extra bucks in my Dad's pocket (he's a good handicapper), and a new teddy bear or two.

We're walking along the midway and see one of those games where a person is perched on a seat above a swimming pool full of water, like this:

This was a really huge tank, though, bigger than the one pictured above, and there's a clown in full make-up sitting on the seat. He's insulting the hell out of everybody walking down the midway. That's his job, of course, to make you so pissed off you buy three baseballs for a quarter and try to knock him off his perch into the water.

This guy is so downright rude and crude, some people were buying the baseballs and winging them right at the cage itself, trying to hit him square in the head instead of giving him a bath. Of course, the bars on the cage were close enough together so this didn't work.

Anyway, we're watching this spectacle unfold and then the clown yells out, in my direction while staring straight at me:

"Come on, Red, put me in the water! I bet you can't throw the ball hard enough to dunk me! Hah! Red, Red, pee the bed! Red, Red, pee the bed!"

I felt a hot surge in my stomach that travelled up into my head. I blushed. I tried to smile, but couldn't. I fought back the beginning of tears. I wondered if everybody was staring at me.

I had just recently gone through a period of bedwetting.

We walked on, my father muttering under his breath about what he'd do to that %#$@#! clown if he weren't protected behind bars. It is the only bad memory I have of the Brockton Fair.

Memory #3

I'm about 15. I'd started feeling pretty good about my looks more recently. Some girls had shown an interest in me. I was singing in a heavy metal band, so I had grown my bright orange hair over my shoulders and had been trying to cultivate some sideburns.

I had just started attending a church in downtown Boston and I enjoyed the community feeling. I was doing some sweeping up in the church basement, where there were coffee and donuts served after mass. As I'm engrossed in my sweeping, a male voice, coming from perhaps thirty feet behind me, says, "Excuse me, miss?"

I turned around, looking for the female he was addressing. There wasn't one, of course. He got this horrible look on his face, started sputtering an apology, but the damage to my fragile teenaged male psyche was done. I decided to start trying to grow a beard, as well as the sideburns.

Memory #4

I'm 18 and I'm finally, truly, comfortable with my hair. I've been in bands for a couple of years now and long bright orange hair has tremendous freak value on stage. I've taken to putting a hot comb to it to make it as straight as possible and I condition it every day to make it even brighter and shinier.

I'm sitting on a bench at Ashmont Station, waiting for the trolley, and two little old ladies come along and sit down next to me. They sort of stare at me for a minute, then talk amongst themselves, then one of them asks me, with a genuine smile, if my hair is really that color or if I dye it.

"It's the real thing."

"It's the most beautiful hair I've ever seen on a man."

"Thank you, ma'am."

"Don't ever cut it. It's absolutely gorgeous!"

"Thank you."

The trolley came, we all got on, and they stared at me the entire time until I got off at Central Avenue.

That almost made up for every time I overheard women of my own age making comments about Howdy Doody and Opie Taylor.


Of course, almost as soon as I finally became proud of my hair, I started losing it. I had a two or three year period where I wasn't ashamed to be a redhead and when I hadn't gone bald. That's all I got - that short time span.

Now, I don't think it's all as big a deal as the BBC makes of it. I rather like the terrorist joke, actually. I think it basically says that redheads will not be fucked with easily. It's sort of the same thing as being named Sullivan and hearing that old saying about never picking a fight in a bar with anyone named "Sully." It isn't an insult unless you think it's one.

The one thing I'll say for sure is that being a redhead is much more of a problem for men than it is for women. Women with red hair are usually considered sexy and hot. Men with red hair are more often than not compared to Bozo The Clown. Many women dye their head red. I've never known a man who did.

All things considered, I've got no big complaints about being a redhead. It's less annoying than hearing blonde jokes, I suppose, and if you start comparing it to, say, being black in a bigoted society, then you've gone off the deep end; there's no real comparison in any way, shape or form. But if the government wants to make my kind a protected minority, I suppose I'll take it. I'd have to be some sort of clown not to.

Soon, with more better stuff.

P.S. For another interesting story concerning my hair, please go to the "comments" section. Thanks to James Cooper of Visbly Worn for jogging my memory!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Grand Uncle Jim

Yesterday, I got a package in the mail that surprised the hell out of me.

(That would be a good thing, right? Nobody wants hell in them. So, yeah, it surprised the hell out of me.)

My Uncle Jim...

(OK, before we go any further – or farther, for that matter – let’s get some genealogy out of the way. My name is Jim. I have an Uncle Jim. I also had a Grand Uncle Jim. You just can’t top an Irish family when it comes to originality in names.)

Anyway, my Uncle Jim sent me a package in the mail. It contained a whole bunch of interesting family artifacts – a couple of old catechisms, a passenger list from a cruise to Bermuda that my grandfather took when he had a job there one year, my father’s credentials as a delegate to the state Democratic convention in 1962. How these all came to be in my Uncle Jim’s possession, I don’t know. Probably a good thing they did, though, as he has a sense of history and doesn’t just throw things in the trash. Instead, he mails them to me.

(That’s just a joke, of course. I love getting stuff like this in the mail. I guess I’ve become the unofficial caretaker of family ephemera, and it’s a title I’m glad to accept.)

The most interesting things in the package were those concerning my Grand Uncle Jim.

My Grand Uncle, James E. Sullivan, was a member of the Massachusetts General Court. That is, he was elected as State Representative from the 19th Suffolk District in Boston, which was comprised of parts of Roslindale and Jamaica Plain. This was for the 1945 – 1946 legislative session. He had previously run for City Council and he would later run for Sheriff of Suffolk County. Between those times, and after his stint in the legislature, he served as Commissioner Of Public Buildings under James Michael Curley, who was either renowned or reviled depending upon which side of the tracks you grew up on.

Grand Uncle Jim was one of the sharpest people I’ve ever known. The man could cut to the core of an argument quickly and his logic was impeccable. He was an accountant by trade and he had the accountant’s eye for detail. However, he did not have the stereotypical timidity of an accountant. If opportunity knocked, Uncle Jim wasn’t one to say, “Who’s there?” or “Wait a minute while I throw some pants on.” More likely, Uncle Jim would be waiting on the front porch when opportunity was coming up the walk.

He was a neighborhood guy, from the old school of Democratic politicians - guys who didn’t apologize for making a decent living for themselves, but who always looked out for the little guy while doing so. It was their belief that government should work to benefit the fellow who needed a helping hand. And if they got a piece of the pie along the way, too, so what? That’s how the system worked. The only ones getting screwed were the Republicans and they already had theirs.

The best piece of history I received yesterday from my Uncle Jim – in many ways a carbon copy of Grand Uncle Jim, and I’m sure he knows I mean that as a high compliment – was the following. It’s an ad, of course, and was probably used as a campaign handout, too, but the conception is mighty clever. If not perused too carefully - especially in that more innocent age - it might have been taken for a complimentary editorial, especially with the addition of the cartoon.

(I'm willing to accept the possibility that it really was an editorial. Who knows how flowery the Parkway Transcript was in those days?)

[Please click on the image to enlarge for easier reading. It's still not easy on the eyes, but it's worth it.]

Isn’t that wonderful? Could you imagine someone being that ballsy today? No, of course not. Nowadays, he’d be ripped ten new ones before lunch. Back then? That’s how the game was played. He was elected, by a healthy margin.

Grand Uncle Jim died in 1969. Here’s the obit, from the now-also-gone Boston Traveler:

I only knew him after he was retired, but I personally owe him a debt of gratitude for his having introduced me to the Red Sox and instilling in me a love for the game of baseball (and its cousin, softball) that endures to this day, both as a fan and as a player.

Thanks, Grand Uncle Jim. And thanks to you, too, Uncle Jim. You're pretty grand yourself.

Soon, with more better stuff.

Monday, June 04, 2007

The Monday Softball Diary - 7

Hawks – 14 FLAMES – 4
FLAMES – 16 Ghost Riders – 7

320 years.

That was the total age of the six guys the Flames had arraying the infield on Tuesday evening. 320 years. Between the pitcher, catcher, and four infielders, the AVERAGE age was over 53.

Every softball season, there’s at least one game where you take the field and say to yourself, “Self, this is probably not a winning combination.” It usually has nothing to do with the heart and desire of the players involved. It’s just a matter of talent not matching positions. Such was the case on Tuesday.

Well, that and the fact that the infield was 320 years old.

The Flames carry a roster of 19 players, but that number is a bit misleading. Two of those guys were not expecting to play at all this year – one because he’s the manager and he knows that there are 17 guys available who are younger than he is, and the other because his shoulder is so bad he can’t throw the ball at all. Another two were expecting limited duty, one due to advanced age and the other because he’s going to have a hip replacement performed after the season.

All four of these players started – and played every inning - on Tuesday.

It happens. We aren’t professional ballplayers. Everybody has a job – some guys have more than one – and family obligations (weddings, funerals, graduations) sometimes have to take precedence because, well, we aren't professional ballplayers. Dedication is expected, but desertion of your loved ones is not. So occasionally the best laid plans concerning your available talent get blown to bits and you end up with a 320-year-old infield that includes four guys not playing their usual positions - a first baseman who literally cannot throw, a second baseman whose big heart is in ten times better shape than his hips, a 6’ 7” 300 pound shortstop, and a third baseman who hasn’t played the hot corner in at least five years (and hasn’t played it well in at least ten) – as well as a pitcher pushing 80 and a catcher over 60.

When that happens, you give it your best shot. However, you know in your heart of hearts that, while miracles do sometimes occur, they’re called miracles because of their rarity. And you hope for one, but you don’t have the audacity to pray for one because a joke like a 320-year-old infield is just too good for God to pass up.

We lost, 14 – 4.

We were in the game through the first three innings. We actually led at one point, 1 – 0. Batting leadoff, I singled, went to second on a fielder’s choice, and scored two batters later on Dave Vargas’s single. That was it, though. We trailed 2 – 1 after the first, 5 – 1 after the second, and 8 – 4 after the third. We didn't really threaten after that. There are, however, a couple of things worth mentioning concerning determination and heart.

Last week, I told you I was part of what may have been the oldest battery in league history. This week, that record was obliterated. And that’s even with my finding out that I misrepresented my pitcher’s age last week. I said last week that Bob Ridley is 84. He isn’t. He’s “only” 79. Combined with Pete Mittell catching on Tuesday, the battery was a combined 140 plus. Unless I end up catching a 92-year-old later this year, my name is erased from the record books.

Rob Podoloff and Kevin Meagher – 49 and 48, with a bum hip and bum shoulder, respectively - played full games at second base and first base. God bless them for the effort and God protect them from having to do it again this year, please. Sacrifice of the body is respected but shouldn’t be expected. They both deserve medals for combat.

Jay Atton has the reflexes of a cat, but the bulk of a bear. As a first baseman, he has few peers. He’s also a swell third baseman and a pitcher who can overpower at times. Putting him at shortstop is not deadly, but it’s also far from normal. And rounding out the M*A*S*H* unit was a 50-year-old third baseman with bad knees. I think his name was “Skulldog,” “Bullfrog,” or something like that.

(Maybe “Devil Dog.” He looks like he eats a lot of those.)

Again, I had it driven home to me that my reflexes are not what they used to be. I spent the evening diving for grounders and liners, having them go under my glove by an inch or two each time because I couldn’t will my old ass down to the ground fast enough. Maybe, before this season is over, I’ll have a chance to play every position on the field and prove to myself that I can’t play any of them anymore.

(Wow. That’s pretty harsh. I should cut myself some slack, huh?)

Better news was had on Thursday when a larger complement of players was available. Everybody who played was at a position they were capable of playing and much more comfortable at. I caught the game, Jay Atton split his time between first base and pitching, the not-84-but-still-79 Bob Ridley had some at-bats as a hitter, and the rest of the M*A*S*H* unit sat this one out.

The result? A 16 – 7 win over the Ghost Riders. That win evened our record at 3 – 3.

It was a good workmanlike win, nothing spectacular. We did our jobs against a team we should beat 9 out of 10 times. Lots of people fattened their batting averages, as you might imagine from the score. Go HERE for the team statistics.

I think the one stat that stands out is the base-on-ball to strikeout ratios. We have 36 walks and just 6 strikeouts. Meanwhile, our pitchers have only walked 13 opposing batters and struck out 17. That’s a HUGE difference. We’ve got a bunch of really smart batters, willing to make the other team work to get us out, instead of us doing their work for them by swinging at bad pitches. That's the kind of mindset that wins championships. I’m psyched.

And that will do it for now. I've finally got a full schedule of games coming up again – one Tuesday, one Thursday and a doubleheader with the Bombers on Sunday. This will be the weekly schedule for the remainder of June, amounting to 14 games in 23 days. Good. No excuses for not sweating and, barring rainouts, I should be in really good shape by the end of this string. I expect the Flames to remain solidly in the playoff hunt and I hope the Bombers can get something going, too. It should be a fun month.

See you tomorrow with some non-softball ephemera.