Monday, July 23, 2007

The Monday Softball Diary - Special Pissed Off Interim Manager Edition

It was basically an off week for the Flames – rained out in one game and a forfeit in the other. Not enough guys to make a team on that day, due to injuries, etc.

It seems 25% of the Bombers thought it was an off week, too, since three out of the twelve guys I was expecting to show up never did.

MHC – 11 BOMBERS – 1
MHC – 21 BOMBERS – 7

Nice. Here we are, battling for a playoff spot, and 3 guys don’t show up.

So, I was the manager this week, for the first time since early last year. Jack Atton was out of town, and he took Jason Atton and Pat Atton with him. I knew that Mike Minchoff wouldn’t be coming – he let me know last Sunday. That left me with (I thought) 12 players to make a line-up.

Anybody with this club during my ten-year run as manager knows that I put a lot of thought into this stuff. I didn’t just scribble nine or ten names on a sheet. I truly attempted to think it out; give every guy a fair share of playing time, while still holding the maximum possible advantages in fielding and in the line-up.

Some guys hit better than they field. Some guys field better than they hit. Yes, that’s elementary shit, but the manager is the one who has to know it and act upon it. It’s his job – my job – to give the team the best possible shot at winning. It’s easy to just write down names on a line-up card; any asshole can do that. I try to put real thought into it. And that takes a bit of time.

I’m not saying that it’s a hideous chore. I enjoy thinking about this stuff. I like to fiddle around with different line-ups and defensive sets. If I didn’t take some pleasure in it, I wouldn’t do it. I look back at past scorebooks. I try to see if there might be a guy who hits hell out of the ball against the team we’re facing, even though maybe this year he hasn’t had the best time of it. Or vice-versa. Maybe there’s a certain pitcher who gives a guy fits. Maybe one of our pitchers handles one team really well. In other words, I invest a bit of real time into trying to pull together the best possibilities for my team.

This week, I made out line-ups on Thursday and sent them out to everybody via e-mail, giving everyone a chance to know what they were going to be doing - where they would be playing – giving everyone a chance to prepare. This was important since there would be two or three guys in each game playing positions with which they might not be completely comfortable.

(This was because of Jack and the other guys being out of town or otherwise tied up.)

I worked it out so that every one of the 12 of us would get at least one full game and then partial action in the other. I kept decent defensive sets together and I thought I had done it pretty well, all things considered. I worked it out to give us what I thought was the best chance to win.

I also worked to prepare myself to pitch, something I really wasn’t expecting to do this year at all. The best interests of the team come before my ego, which was sure to take a blow when I toed the rubber. I saw our best shot defensively, in game two, with myself pitching and the fellow I had penciled in for pitcher in game one taking third base.

And then three guys don’t show up and it just blows everything out of the water.

I was missing my pitcher, my center fielder and my left fielder from the line-up I had planned for game one. So, I scrambled, at five minutes past the scheduled start of game one, to cobble together something decent from the nine good teammates who showed up. I ended up with my designated hitter catching, the guy I wanted to play catcher in the first game out in left field, a fellow I had planned to play some second base out in right field, and me pitching both ends of the doubleheader.

It really pisses me off. I know I put too much time into this shit, but put it in I do. So, I expect others to have the decency to at least tell me if they’re not going to show up. I work too hard as a manager to be dissed like this. I don’t deserve it. More important, the rest of the team doesn’t deserve such a piss poor attitude from guys they should be able to count on.

(To be fair, I got into work today and found an e-mail from one of the guys. The time stamp on it was 10:25am Sunday, way too late to do me any good. At least he had the manners to make an effort at letting me know the situation, and I thank him for that. However, I made clear in my e-mails to the team - which apparently not all of the team bothers to read - that I'd only be able to be contacted via phone after 5pm Friday, and I gave my phone number, etc., etc., blah blah blah.)

(What is it with the guys who don't read the e-mails? Do they see my name on it and say to themselves, "Oh, there's Sully. The header says 'Important Softball Information.' Nah, it couldn't really be important. I'm just going to delete it without looking at it." There doesn't seem to be any other reasonable explanation.)

You can be 27 different kinds of asshole and I can get along with you. You can call ME an asshole behind my back, too. None of that shit matters, as long as you show up. I’ve managed guys who hit half their weight and didn’t have the arm to throw out a one-legged man hopping down the first base line. What makes me prefer them as teammates is that they showed up. Don’t show up, and no excuse? There’s no greater sin on a ball team, as far as I’m concerned.

Fuck it.

So, I ended up pitching both ends of the doubleheader. Ariel Monges relieved me in the third inning of game two. The guy I wanted to catch me was playing left field. A fellow I had penciled in for second base was in right field and another infielder was behind the plate. For a team playing with a line-up thrown together out of a hat at the last minute, with four guys now playing in positions I hadn’t planned on putting them, we actually played OK. I’m extremely proud of, and thankful to, the guys who did the right thing and showed up on time, ready to play. The scores don’t reflect the heart they gave me today.

I’m not going to rehash much of the games themselves, except to say that I feel like I pitched decently. I wasn’t overpowering. I don’t really have a fastball. But I was getting batters to hit grounders and loft high flies. I struck out one and walked five, in seven innings work. Considering that I wasn’t even planning to be in the first game until the fourth or fifth inning, and then at first base – not pitching – I did an adequate job.

In the second inning of game one, we were down 2-0 and the umpire blew a call badly. Two outs, runner on second (as I recall) and there’s a grounder to Joey Baszkiewicz at third. He fields it, throws, Fred Goodman’s foot comes off the bag to get the high throw, but he gets it down clearly in time to get the out and then pulls his foot off the bag to avoid the runner’s foot coming down on top of his.

“Safe,” says the umpire. Horrible call; one of the worst I’ve ever seen. It was an easy call, blown.

(I like this ump, too. He’s a nice guy. But the call was hideous.)

That out would have put us through two innings down only 2 – 0. It surely would have helped my confidence as a pitcher. I was just beginning to feel comfortable and like I might actually be able to pull this thing off. No breaks today, and when the other team gets handed gift outs, the story is always the same. They went on to score four runs, instead of none. 6 – 0 after two, instead of 2 – 0.

(Not just the ump’s fault, of course. I could have gotten the next guy or whatever, but I didn’t. A single scores one run, then a homer. Four runs. I got the next out after that. Whoop.)

(Joey Baszkiewicz, by the way, did a real nice job at third base. He’s a catcher, mostly, but a very valuable guy to have on your team, as he can fill in just about anywhere in a pinch. And I can’t go without saying a big thank you to Ruby [Eric Rubin] who got into a crouch behind the plate for the first time in five years or more, catching both complete games. He’ll feel it tomorrow.)

We obviously didn’t hit much today, what with 8 runs total. Youth Of America (Chris Moore, who played shortstop for the first time this year and did pretty nicely on short notice) had five hits in six trips. I had a couple of cheap singles. Ruby walked four times - the bastard - taking the team lead in that category away from ME. My personal opinion is that he was so damn worn out from catching both ends, he was too tired to swing the bat and he lucked out.

(Just kidding, Rubes. You done good.)

One hit of note for the team record books: Conrad Paquette hit his 9th home run of the year. That is a new Bombers single-season record. He is also one RBI short of 40, another team record.

(I should note something else here, which I just found out today. Conrad played hardball in the MABL [Boston Men's Baseball League] until a year or so ago. It’s a good hard-nosed league, a good solid brand of baseball, and a few guys have come out of it to play in professional organizations. And Conrad is up for their Hall Of Fame this year. No wonder our ball looks like a beach ball to him, even with the pitcher being 15 feet closer. I hope Conrad gets in. He’s one of the nicest guys I’ve ever played ball with, always trying to help out in whatever way he can. Great teammate.)

So, we're in deep trouble. We have to sweep next week, as well as get help from one or two teams. If not, I end my career – at least the half of it in this league – as far as possible from the kind of note I wanted it to end on.

You have no idea how bullshit I am about this. Three guys, not a single phone call. Barring the late e-mail from that one guy, they totally pissed on their teammates. No respect at all. The only reason I’m not going off on a full balls-out obscenity-laced rant is because of the off chance that all three had a good excuse.

Fuck it. Next week I’ll be there to play. So will everybody else who was here this week - barring Ron Johnson, who told us weeks ago that he’d be missing the next one. And I won’t be the manager next week, so it won’t be my call to say what should or shouldn’t happen regarding personnel on this team.

My suggestion is that next week we put onto the field the guys who have been here all year and who always let us know whether or not they'll be making it to the game. In other words, the guys who show respect for their teammates and their manager.

And now it’s time to calm down. It’s Sunday. The skies are blue, the birds are singing, lunch is ready, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to waste as much time on the back end of these games as I did on the front end of them.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"...a full balls-out obscenity-laced rant..."

C'MON! We need more of these!

I know I don't contribute. I focus more on the mewling whimpers.

Showing up. It is the first rule. I feel for ya.