Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Hell's Parking Lot

[Photo borrowed from Allston Dave's New England Patriots Page. For purposes of this story, picture everyone in AC/DC t-shirts, extremely stoned, one fist raised in the air, index and pinkie fingers extended skyward.]


"I would rather have someone step on my balls than see another concert here."

Those were my exact words to Fast Freddy Goodman as we sat in his SUV on Route One in Foxborough. And I wasn't exaggerating, either. The pain in my testicles, from having them trod upon, would have been long gone by the time it took us to get home.

Fast Freddy and I had just seen AC/DC at Gillette Stadium.

(I think that "just seen" is far too nebulous a way of putting it, considering the concert had ended two-and-a-half hours before uttering the remark concerning my gonads. However, let it stand. I wasted three-and-a-half hours of my life getting home last night, and I don't feel like wasting more time searching for better terminology.)

Shall I start at the beginning?

No, I don't think that would be very useful. This is going to be a long damn story even if I leave out scads of detail. Then again, if I leave out the part where we stopped at McDonald's, on the way to the venue, it will make a later incident less meaningful. So, OK, we stopped at McDonald's on the way to Gillette Stadium. I had two cheeseburgers and some fries. Freddie had a chicken sandwich, a double quarter-pounder with cheese, a chocolate shake, and two apple pies. That's all you need to know for now.

Before the beginning, Fast Freddy had given me a phone call. Here, as best I can recall it in my current not-having-gotten-enough-sleep-because-Gillette-Stadium-stepped-on-my-cojones-even-though-I-had-attended-a-concert-there-and-the-contract-called-for-my-nuts-to-be-crushed-only-as-an-alternative-to-that-state-of-mind, was the conversation.

"Sully, you old saber-toothed warhound! We're going to AC/DC!"

"Do I have any choice in the matter, Fred?"


And I didn't, really. On average, I'd say Fred and I go to one concert a year. If any of the following acts comes to town, he gets the tickets and we go: Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, or AC/DC; basically, any heavy metal band that started playing when half of you weren't born. Since this was one of those bands, we were going.

(Note to Fred, for future reference: If any of those acts is coming to Gillette Stadium in the future, I'm not. For that matter, if Jimi Hendrix were to rise from the grave and his only appearance before going back under the dirt was at Gillette Stadium? Count me out. Even if he's sharing a bill with Janis Joplin, John Lennon, Jim Morrison, and Kurt Cobain. As a matter of fact, I'll gladly trade places with any one of them, right now, in exchange for not having to endure another night at Gillette.)

Fred bought the tickets - approximately a c-note each - and we circled July 28th on our respective calendars.

Yesterday was July 28th, of course, so after work I met Fast Freddy at his house. I parked Roddy The Wondercar in Fred's driveway. We would be taking his Mirano. That was at 5:15. The show, according to the tickets, began at 6:00. Any veteran of concert-going knows that means the main act wouldn't be on until perhaps 8:00 or 8:30, so we didn't have to hurry, since Fred lives a leisurely 20 or 25 minutes from Foxborough. We shot the breeze a bit, then left.

Oh, I need to mention that, when I first arrived at Fred's, he answered the door in his bathrobe and informed me that he needed to go take a shit. I guess I have that effect on people. Anyway, the important point to remember is that he seemed to have forgotten about it at some point, as he never did go to the bathroom before we left.

(Those of you with excellent reading comprehension skills, as well as a bent for detective work, will have started piecing together some salient clues as to what is in store, no doubt.)

So, after a while, we hit the road. We then both decided that we were hungry, so we hit the closest fast food joint, which was the previously-mentioned McDonald's. Then, back on the road again. We got to within two miles of Gillette Stadium and slowed to a crawl in pre-concert traffic. That was OK. We knew that AC/DC wouldn't be on for at least an hour. Anvil was slated to open for them, and I did want to see a bit of their act, but we were only two miles from the venue, so how long could it take to be in our seats and rocking out righteously?

(The answer is contained in that previous paragraph. Let's see if you can find it! Yes, the correct answer is "at least an hour". Very good. Go to the head of the class.)

We not only had to work through the two miles of snail's pace traffic, we also had to park. Fred pulls into what appears to be the best available stadium parking lot, which is to say the only one near where we were at the time. And, after crawling for about 500 yards, we get directed to the right, to the left, down a dirt road about a half-mile, to the left again, and then we come to the cashier. And a sign that says parking is $40.


After giving the cashier a year's wages in Somalia, we drove another 500 yards, got sent to the right, down another dirt road, then to the left, and finally we got directed into a parking spot in a valley somewhere near Providence, Rhode Island, from which we could make out the top tier of the stadium if we squinted and there weren't too many clouds. We then got out of Fred's car and began the Bataan Death March. Along with hordes of other unhappy campers - and, considering the time we ended up spending in that parking lot later, camping would have been a decent option - we trudged resolutely in the direction of the stadium. We knew we were headed the right way not because we could see where we needed to go, but because there were signs saying "Pedestrian Pathway To Stadium". We basically walked back the way we had come while driving into Hell's Parking Lot, with some added mileage thrown in for shits and giggles by designers who knew that the path would, on some evenings, be taken by stoned middle-aged rockers, so why not give them some aerobic exercise before the show? Just the thing when you're nursing a buzz.

So, we finally get inside the stadium and up to our seats, just in time to hear Anvil say "Thank you! Good night!" OK, things could have been worse. We could have gotten there in time to hear them say "Hello! Are you ready to rock?" and then had to actually listen to them.

(That's just a cheap joke. I hear they're pretty good. I would have preferred being able to make that judgment via actual experience of having listened to them, but you can't expect everything for just a $100 ticket and a $40 parking fee.)

And then we waited, and waited, and waited some more. The stage appeared to be set after about ten minutes, but apparently they hadn't sold enough merchandise or something, so we sat for about 45 minutes. Finally, around 9pm, the lights go down, the yahoos - myself included - cheer mightily, and AC/DC hits the stage.

I like AC/DC. If I didn't, why would I have been there? But, I've got to tell you, as much as they sweat buckets and work hard, it was just OK. Angus runs around and loses ten pounds in water weight, Brian Johnson puts a strain on his vocal chords that no 61-year-old should ever do, and the rest of the guys rock steady. I really do appreciate the effort. But, I've seen it all before. Aside from the addition of four songs from the new "Black Ice" album, it was the same basic set they played when I last saw them. Angus does his little strip-tease, they play pretty much everything you expect with not much variance in the arrangements, and... eh. I suppose if you've never seen them live, it's all very exciting, but by the fourth or fifth time, not so much. Of course, my enjoyment of the show is probably being colored, in the breech, by the events from after the show, so...

Show over, Freddy and I do the Bataan Death March for a second time, in reverse, except this time everybody is falling-down drunk and deaf, except for me. First off, I always wear hearing protection at these concerts because without my ears I can't do my job. Second, I decided that I didn't want to be tired and hung over at work, so I limited myself to two beers for the evening. Had I known what was about to transpire, I would have been sucking down brew all night. At least then I would have had the entertainment of yakking up the burgers from earlier in the evening.

Fred is exhausted. He's stumbling along the pathway, leaning against traffic cones and almost falling into a ditch on the side of the path. We're joking a bit, and it is fun being with Fred, so this is not the worst thing in the world (I know, because that came later.) Fred asks me if I'd mind if he took a short nap once we get back to his car.

I say, "Geez, Fred, I'd really like to get home. I've got work in the morning."

He says, "Sully, we won't be out of here for a good half-hour, anyway. It's going to be a parking lot."

Since it actually was a parking lot, that was pretty funny.

When we got back to the car, I saw that the traffic was, indeed, not moving at all. I told Fred to take his nap and I'd wake him when the cars in line in our lot started to make some headway.

And so I waited, and smoked a cigarette, while Fred snored in the seat next to me. He had thrown in an Allman Brothers CD and it was playing the most hideously overlong version of "Bo Diddley" I have ever had the displeasure of hearing. 26 freakin' minutes that song went on with nothing of value to show for the effort afterward. It was the very definition of pointless noodling. And all the while FFG is snoring and the cars aren't moving an inch. I sit there alternately smoking, listening to more Allman Brothers, watching the couple in front of me groping each other on the flatbed of their pick-up, and silently consigning the designer of the parking lot to the same corner of hell occupied by the guy who came up with CD packaging

To make this tedious story move along a bit faster - it is, in it's own way, much like the Allman Brothers version of "Bo Diddley" - at 12:45 (that is 45 MINUTES AFTER MIDNIGHT, AND AT LEAST AN HOUR-AND-A-HALF AFTER THE CONCERT ENDED) I see some cars finally begin to move. I poke Freddy in the side and he wakes up. He starts the car, we edge into line, we get out onto Route One, southbound.

We need northbound.

But the lot empties in a southbound direction only. In order to reverse direction, we have to go up to Route 140, two miles or so up the road and then turn around. After ten minutes, we get there and Fred can't get into the lane we need, so we go sailing past it (if 10mph counts as 'sailing'.)

Fred keeps driving - what else could he do? - and then gets a chance to slip across the northbound lane and pull a u-turn. He does. We are now about three miles south of the stadium, heading north, behind a line of traffic about FIVE miles long moving at 5mph.

At this point, Fred remembers that he has to take a shit.

"Ooh, Sully, I've got a stomachache."

"Sorry to hear that, Fred."

"No, I mean I have a really bad stomachache. What am I going to do?"

"I don't know, Fred. It doesn't appear there's really much you can do at this point."

Fred replied, "Oooooooohhhhhhhh..."

I felt for him, but there was no place anywhere near where we were at for him to take care of his business. There wasn't even anywhere to pull over. We had now edged about a mile closer to the stadium after ten minutes.

Fred said, "Sully, I've got to get someplace to... Oooooooohhhhhhh... What am I going to do? I've got to pull a u-turn again and get us onto Route 140. I've got to find someplace."

And so Fred looked for an opening to pull another u-turn, to head us southbound again, away from where we needed to go to get home. He did so, and then he maneuvered through traffic to Route 140, all the while with his gut twisting. When we got onto Route 140, we were at least moving at a reasonable pace, but there was still nothing much to be seen in the way of facilities for Fred.

"Sully, look in my glove compartment. Are there any napkins in there?"

I popped the glovie and found some.

"Yeah, Fred, I've got some."

"I might have to pull over and take a shit in the woods. Ooooooohhhhhhh..."

"Whatever you have to do, Fred."

He drove on, though, and we passed a small strip mall. I spotted some light on in one of the establishments.

"Fred, I don't know what that is, but maybe it's someplace you can go."

He saw where I was directing him and pulled in. There was an "Irish" pub. It was about 1:15am, now. Fred jerked the car into a parking space, flung open the door, and rushed, halfway bent over, into the pub. I waited outside.

After ten minutes, the place began to empty out rapidly, people staggering out to their cars. No sign of Fred, though. Perhaps he was the reason they were leaving? Maybe he had literally, rather than the usual figuratively, died in the mens room. However, just as I was ready to go in and see if I could find what was left of him, he came bouncing out. He was in a much lighter mood.

"Sully, that was... Could you imagine if I wasn't able to find someplace? What on earth is more embarrassing than shitting yourself? And you! You'd have to be sitting next to me! The foul stench..."

He went on in a similar vein for a minute or so, laughing. Me, too, of course. Nothing quite so funny as the idea of pooping yourself and someone else being captive to dealing with the odor. Well, nothing funnier to two very tired, half-awake, AC/DC fans, anyway.

We now reversed our direction and once again hit Route One. It was still a nightmare. This was at 1:35am, a full two-and-a-half hours after the concert let out. It was at this point that I made my statement concerning my preference for testicular torture over attending Gillette Stadium. We spent another 20 minutes in traffic getting to the Route 95 split, and then, mercifully, we could move at a reasonable speed again, back to Fred's house.

Reached Fred's place at 2:10 - drove to my place by 2:30 - said "Hi, I'm home, Gillette Stadium sucks!" to MY WIFE - enjoyed a bit of leftover fried rice by 2:45 - finally hit the sack at 3:15 - got up for work at 7am - and here I am, bleary and rusty, typing up this shit about shitty concert venues and a friend who was literally full of shit.

Fred, I love you. I truly do. And I hope I haven't embarrassed you too much here. All in all, you were a trooper. And any evening with you is more fun than not. But, if you ever again suggest going to a concert at Gillette Stadium, I will rip out your heart and sell it on E-Bay.

Soon, with more better stuff.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Final Curtain

Now is the winter of my discontent (and it’s just barely summer.)

Renegades – 10 BOMBERS – 5
BOMBERS – 11 Renegades – 10
Renegades – 7 BOMBERS – 6 (8 innings)

We lose the first round playoff series, 2 games to 1.

Honestly, I’m heartbroken by this. Our team was better than this. Good enough to eventually win the championship? Probably not, truth be told. I think we were still just a bit short of that. But, it sure would have been nice to play next week, and maybe the week after, and find out for sure, rather than going home early.

I had a pretty bad day, so that doesn’t help my psyche any. I popped out about a hundred times, but I made up for that by grounding out weakly another hundred. Felt that way, anyway. When I look at the book, I see that I went 2-for-10. Close enough.

I truly don’t have the heart to write about this at length. There were some heroics that deserve not to get the short shrift, however, so I’ll give the quick details.

Game one was just... blah. To me, it felt like we were kind of dead the whole way. We scored one in the first, held them scoreless, got another one in the top of the second, and then the roof fell in. They plated six in their half of the second inning, and we just never could get the big rally that we needed. We scored singletons in the fourth, fifth, and sixth, trailed 10 – 5 going into the seventh, and went quietly. I flied to center for the final out.

(That’s one thing about this game that has always bugged me. Since I hit a fly, and it’s in the past tense, I have always felt it should be ‘I flew out’, but custom has always had it as ‘flied’. Custom is an ass.)

Game two contained the heroics. Again, we got out to 1 – 0 and 2 – 1 leads, but the Renegades went on to lead 10 – 3 after the top of the sixth. We needed eight runs before we got six outs. And, damn – we got them!

With one out, Pat Atton drew a walk. Cam Zirpolo followed with a single. Jack Atton singled Pat home, and Big Jay Atton singled to score Cam. Dave Vargas followed with a single that drove in two more. 10 –7, Renegades, going into the seventh inning.

Dave had come on in relief of Big Jay in the sixth. After giving up a leadoff walk in the top of the seventh, he got the next three Renegades batters. Last chance for the Bombers.

Joe Baszkiewicz and Fast Freddy Goodman reached, with Joey scoring as a result of Fred’s at-bat. Mike Minchoff – who probably had his best set of the season at clutch time – got a base on balls. That brought me to the plate, with a shitty day behind me, 1-for-6 to that point. As they say in the broadcast booth, I represented the winning run.

And here is the only reason I haven’t taken cyanide. I singled through the right side, scoring Fast Freddy. We now trailed by one run, with runners on first and second, and still nobody out.

Buddy Carchide pushed the runners along, loading the bases. Pat Atton hit a game-tying sacrifice fly. Now with one out, the Renegades decided to intentionally walk Cam Zirpolo, loading the bases and putting the force on all around. This brought Jack Atton to the plate.

And Jack singled me home for the game winner.

(In reality, I think it was Billy Botting who scored, since he was the guy who ran for me, but it goes in the book as my run. That's the way we've always kept the stats on this team.)

We were happy, and I was probably the happiest guy on the field at that point. It was as nice a comeback as we’ve ever produced. And, damn it, I was right in the middle of it. I felt really, really good that I finally came through with a clutch hit. I truly would have been on the verge of tears if I had choked in that spot. I’ve played so many years, with so little team success to show for it, that somebody would have had to scrape me off the field if I hadn’t come through there and we ended up losing.

Then we got off to the early lead in game three. We put up a wiggly number in the first inning, scoring three runs. Renegades got one in the third. We put up another three in the top of the fourth, for a 6 – 1 lead. We were feeling pretty good about our chances.

And those were the last runs we scored this season.

I give the Renegades all the credit in the world. They could have dried up and blown away at that point. Some lesser teams might have. They didn’t. They came right back at us with a 5-spot in their half of the inning.

Tie game, 6 – 6, after four.

And that’s the way it stayed through the fifth. And through the sixth. And through the seventh. We made some nice fielding plays along the way. Emilio Zirpolo had a hand in 7 of the 9 outs, playing some really nice shortstop. Of course, Buddy Carchide, who pitched some truly nice ball all year, was on the mound. Clutch pitching was happening for BOTH sides. Tense? Not even close to the word for it. As this brand of fast-pitch softball goes, it was as good as it gets. We put a runner on in every inning, but couldn’t push him across. Same for the Renegades.

OK, top of the eighth (which is extra-innings, which means both teams pushed it to the limit, which means we should have nothing to be ashamed of, but it still stings.)

Pat Atton got his third hit of the final game. He’s standing on first, when Cam Zirpolo smashes a vicious line drive.

Right into the shortstop’s glove.

And he fires over to first to double up Pat.

After the third out, we take the field. And it was relatively quick, if not painless. Single, single, single. With bases loaded and nobody out, we pull the outfield and the infield in. No room for error. And there was no error, but there was a clean single over Cam Zirpolo’s head in left field. They win. We lose.

It was time for the tradition in our league, lining up to shake hands between the two teams. It’s more fun when you’re on the winning side, of course. All of the Renegades told us we played a great series. I’m sure all of our guys did the same, or at least they should have if they didn’t. We got beat, fair and square, by a team with which we’re very evenly matched.

And I left the field feeling every minute, every second, of 52 years old.

I have to make some decisions. If I can’t come up with a way to become better by next season, I don’t see why I should play. Jack has some excellent players who have made commitments to play for us, but who were ineligible for the playoffs this year. With those guys coming in, I’ve got no right to expect playing time - unless I can give Jack a reason for using me. The biggest problem is that I don't have a defensive position now. My knees won't allow me to catch much, and the additional guys make me superfluous at first base. If I can't hit better, then I'm not worth having on the roster.

Maybe I quit smoking, start exercising regularly in ways that are more strenuous, work the batting cages... something. Or not, and I just relax about the whole thing. The reason I decided to play this year was because of the bad taste LAST year left in my mouth. The final game this year was not pleasant, but I pretty much accomplished the personal goals I set for myself at the start of the year. I batted a hundred point higher, kept my on-base percentage over .500, lead the team in walks one more time, actually got a couple of extra-base hits... I could consider giving it a rest and not feel too itchy.

I think.

This really isn’t the time to consider it. I’m sad we didn’t win. I’ll see how I feel when it’s spring again and Smith Field asks me if I want to come out and play.

Before I wrap up this season (Way too early, man. Ball should go into September, at least.) I need to give credit for the team records set.

Cam Zirpolo was a magnificent addition to the team. Speedy glove in left and a dandy hitter, he tied the team mark for triples – 6.

Dave Vargas went 3 – 1, taking a .750 winning percentage into the record books. We got damn nice pitching from the entire staff this year.

And now, we come to Big Jay Atton. He had as good an individual year as anyone has ever had for us. I’m really proud of the big man. He gave us… hell, take a look at the records he broke.

Batting Average - .717 (previous record, Ron Johnson’s .654)
On-Base % - .750 (previous, Ron Johnson with .719)
OPS – 1.958 (breaking his own record of 1.823)

In addition, he led the team in Slugging Percentage, Hits, Home Runs, and RBI. He tied for the team led in Runs with Cam Zirpolo, and the team lead in Wins (pitching) with Dave Vargas and Buddy Carchide. And, my own personal favorite esoteric record? He ran his streak of at-bats without a strikeout to 147, breaking my mark – shattering the bejeezus out of my mark – of 107. And it’s still alive going into next season.


(I’ll have some lifetime stats and such later on, as I have the time.)

I just want to tell all of you guys I played with this year that I appreciate the effort you made. And I want to give a special "Thanks!" to Jack Atton, my favorite manager, ever – including me. He makes everyone feel like an important part of the team, which is way cool. Win or lose, Jack makes you glad you played. You can’t ask for better than that as an athlete.

I’ll be taking the rest of this week off from blogging. Thanks for reading.

Soon - relatively speaking - with more better stuff.

Thursday, July 23, 2009


(Alternate title: "The Band Is AC/DC, But I'm NOT, Thanks Very Much")

It's an awkward thing being groped when you don't want to be groped. I've been groped - that is, had my crotch grabbed when I wasn't expecting it - exactly twice in my life. Once, it was unexpected but pleasurable. The other time it was entirely unwelcome.

The pleasurable one occurred at an AC/DC concert I was attending with Fast Freddy Goodman.

(We're actually going to another AC/DC concert this coming Tuesday, which is what brought this stuff to mind. Fast Freddy and I have been friends for a bit over 20 years now, since we both worked together in an office supply company in South Boston. We bonded during a Christmas party when we both discovered our mutual love for heavy metal and we sang an a cappella version of Deep Purple's "Highway Star" at the top of our lungs, much to the dismay of the other party attendees. However, I digress.)

The concert was at The Providence Civic Center. I think it was about 8 years ago - maybe a bit more, a bit less. Anyway, FFG had scored excellent tickets for us. We sat second row on the floor, just to the left of center stage.

As we waited for the lights to go down and the band to come on, six spectacularly beautiful women made their way to seats just 6 or 7 seats to our right. And, when I say spectacularly beautiful, I mean that they had stunning curves barely concealed in extremely short dresses. Model-types, except not as thin as most models. Real female bodies, and all perhaps 22 to 25 years old.

As soon as the lights went down, and the band came on, all six of them started flashing the stage. And I don't mean just a casual quick flip up of a top to give a two-second shot of their boobs. I mean they lifted their tops and kept them up until they were sure one band member or another saw them.

We hadn't expected a sideshow with the concert, but we weren't disappointed. This was swell! Then, to our amazement, they started doing each other. I mean to say, they were lifting up their dresses and fingering each other, right in the middle of the crowd. One of them even went down on another one.

(There was a boy, perhaps 14-years-old, sitting directly to my left. He didn't see the band once all evening. His eyes never left the women. Can't say that I blamed him. Mine were there for about 50% of the night.)

Anyway, about an hour into the concert, one of the women, a tall brunette, made her way out of the row. We assumed she was going to take a pee or something, whatever. As she made her way past Freddy and me, she looked me square in the eyes and, while our eyes maintained contact, she grabbed my junk.

I was, to say the least, stunned. I was married and hadn't had another woman touching my stuff, even through jeans, for many years. She gave me a rub, then let go, and winked at me as she continued making her way out of our row.

(For the 14-year-old's sake, I hope she gave him some.)

Well, as I say, I'm married, and as much as I might have liked to have followed her and found out if she had something less-casual in mind, I didn't. My marriage vows stopped me, and rightly so. Common sense, too. I mean, anyone willing to do her friends in the middle of a crowd of 17,000 or so might possibly, just maybe, have had opportunity to contract any number of hideous things that I wouldn't want to have taken home to MY WIFE.

The other groping occurred during the mid-1980's. I was working as a security guard at the time.

And it was a guy who groped me.

I was working the midnight to 8 at an office building in downtown Boston, stationed in the lobby. It was easy duty. I mostly read at my desk, maybe played some chess with a little chess computer I had at the time. My only real job was to make sure nobody broke in, and nobody was going to be stupid enough to do so with someone sitting right there in a uniform in the lobby, with the only entrance to the building locked.

Anyway, one night I'm sitting there reading the newspaper, just waiting for the time to pass, and I hear a knock on the front glass door. A young black guy is leaning against it, smiling. I get up, go to the door, unlock it - after checking to see that there were no other folks lurking around to overpower me - and he stumbles away from the door as I open it a crack. He was obviously drunk. I ask him what he wants.



"I like guys in uniform."

I could smell the booze as he said it. He was tall, thin, light-skinned, and, now that I got a closer look at him, I could see he was a bit fey.

"I don't play for that team. Why don't you go down to The Zone and see what you can dig up?"

(The Combat Zone was Boston's 'red light' district in those days. It is now, unfortunately, long gone.)

"I want YOU," he said. And then he reached forward and grabbed a handful of my uniformed crotch.

I jerked back quickly and said, "Hey! Get the fuck away from me!"

"I only want to make you feel good..." He started toward me again.

"I told you - I'm not into that. Now get the fuck out of here!"

He smiled, sort of sadly, and stumbled away down the street. Dangerous game for him to be playing. I mean, I'm not the type to bash someone just because he's gay - not by any means - but there sure were some neanderthals working in security, and half of them were frustrated cops to begin with. They'd use most any excuse to assert their manliness and beat the crap out of someone. If this guy just cruised random security guards all night, grabbing crotches, he was bound to come out of it hurting at some point.

Well, in both instances, it was an ego boost for me. It always nice to know that someone finds you attractive, no matter how much you're NOT willing to get physical with them as much as they might like to with you.

Soon, with more better stuff.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Awards Of Smiley Brown Sugar Cinnamon Boobage

Yet again, I have been singled out for undeserved and unwelcome praise - three times. And, yet again, I will be an ungrateful dolt, making fun of the wonderful people who gave me awards.

Lola (L-O-L-A, LOLA!) over at Aglio, Olio & Peperoncino has given me the following doodad.

I rather like this one, actually. However, since I intend to accept the third award with absolutely no viciousness whatsoever (and I bet that piques your curiosity) I have to make hay while the sun shines. Sorry, Charlie! Oops, I mean Lola!

(All of my readers from the U.K., under the age of 6, will get that reference. HERE'S the explanation for the rest of you.)

Lola (make up your own 'Lola' jokes from here on out, I don't think you could do any worse) writes a blog full of all kinds of recipes and stories about food.

(As a matter of fact, all three of these awards have at least something to do with things you put in your mouth. You'll see.)

Lola resides in Rome, Italy. As everyone knows, Mussolini came from Italy and he was fat, so we can assume he liked Italian food. Therefore, via my usual impeccable logic, I have decided that Lola's blog is a fascist plot to overthrow the United States government by means of making us so grossly obese that our president won't be able to release the nuclear weapons because his button-pushing-finger will be too pudgy! I suggest everybody boycott Italian restaurants for at least the next twenty years, just to be safe.

(By the way, what's up with pasta? I love me a good plate of spaghetti and meatballs, but let's face facts, people. All pasta is the same stuff. The only difference is the shape. What's up with that? It's like if you called a plum a plum, but if it got all dried up and wrinkly, you called it something else entirely. Silly Italians! You've got your macaroni, linguine, fusilli, spaghetti, bucatini, fettuccine, tagliatelle, penne, manicotti, righetti, andretti, lasorda, conigliaro, esposito, petrocelli, canzoneri, and ferragamo. The list is endless, but this joke only seems so. Cerone! Let's try something else.)

I make you smile, Lola? Have you been smoking oregano? It is not my intention to make you smile. Everything I write is deadly serious.

For example, look at THIS.

(Holy Mary On A Merry-Go-Round! Did I actually put that stuff out in public? I guess so. If I wasn't the one who did it, then I should be busy hunting down and slaying whoever it was that did do it! What a desecration to my ultimate legacy!)

That kind of thing makes you smile, Lola? You are one SICK woman. Do you always make fun of the handicapped, or is it just a special exception in my case? It's not easy being the way I am, you know. Folks like you should have a bit more sympathy. Someday, maybe you'll end up like this...

And it's not easy living with a parasitic twin up your nose, let me tell you.

Enough about Lolasaurus. It's time for some dessert cleverly disguised as breakfast food!

Pouty Baby has given me The Pop Tart Award. Here's what it said over at her place.

"... the Pop Tart Award [is] to be given to bloggers who have an addictive story line."

Me? An addictive story line? Around here, there isn't consistency from hour to hour, let alone day to day. I go from blasphemous rants to nostalgic childhood memories to ridiculously overblown softball epics to cheap jokes involving the destruction of a dildo.

(Oops! Didn't mean to give that away. The dildo story is next week. Well, at least now I've guaranteed that the perverts among you - and, judging from the reactions, that would be most of you - will be coming back.)

The point is, I may be addictive, but only if you lick me, because I'm still sweating out pain meds I took back in the 80's. The only story line here is my megalomania (and perhaps the possibility of seeing someone get so insulted that he'll pop me one in the nose, but I think Fast Freddy Goodman has a good enough sense of humor to take a joke, and... Oops! Didn't mean to give that away, either. The joke about Fast Freddy is next paragraph. Well, at least I know that the Fast Freddies among you - and, judging from the reactions, that would be nobody, so let's move on.) If you dig that sort of thing, I suppose it qualifies, but you surely have to realize that identifying yourself with me won't raise your esteem with the rest of the world.

I do like Pop Tarts, though, especially the frosted brown sugar cinnamon ones. I slather 'em in ketchup, wrap them up in big slices of baloney, and leave them scattered around the outfield in an attempt to find out if there's anything Fast Freddy Goodman won't eat. So far, they've all disappeared, but I haven't actually seen Fast Freddy eating them, so it may have been Big Jay Atton.

Eh. Now I'm just being weird.

(NOW he's just being weird?)

Thing is, I have little invective to dole out. It's too soon since the last time I released the beast. I'm still in my refractory period.

Mooing right along - and, no, that's not misspelled, which you'll understand in a moment - I received another award. It came from Michelle, over at The Surly Writer. So far as I know, I am - thus far - the sole recipient of this award. I'm the test pilot, I guess. And, well, WOO-HOO!

Hot damn! Somebody finally came up with an award I'm happy to accept!

(And no, I'm not giving it to anyone else. At least, not for another fifteen minutes or so. After that, you can have it, but it might be a bit worse for wear.)

Soon, with more (what would just about have to be) better stuff.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Of Teeth And Tripleheaders

[Me, before the story that follows. When you get to the part about my teeth breaking, picture me without the six teeth you can see on the bottom, OK?]

Say you were me, with your fast-pitch softball team facing possible elimination from the playoffs come Sunday. What would you consider a good sign concerning the weekend? If God sent you a message, and you were to interpret it as a portent of good things to come, what might that message be? Is it possible that having your dental prosthesis snap into three pieces while eating an egg roll might be seen as a prophecy for success?

No, I didn’t think so, either.

That’s what happened to me on Friday night, though. I had just gotten home from work and was feeling extremely good. I had the entire weekend in front of me and three softball games to play on Sunday. There was leftover Chinese food in the refrigerator. Life doesn’t get much better than that (at least for me, which may seem a shame to some of you, but I like it.)

I took some lobster sauce with shrimp, and some fried rice, and put it into the microwave to heat. While it was getting warmed up, I figured I’d eat an egg roll. I opened up a container of duck sauce, dipped the egg roll into it, and then took a big bite out of it. Or, at least, that’s what I tried to do. Instead of my choppers going through the egg roll, leaving me with a mouthful of savory goodness, my choppers snapped in two places at once, leaving me with a mouthful of obscenities.

"Oh, whudda fug! Muvvafugga! Chit! Boo Chit!"

(There is little in this world more humorous than a man trying to swear when he suddenly finds himself with six fewer teeth than he had a moment ago. In abeyance, of course. While it was happening, I wasn’t laughing.)

You don’t hear a loud *CRACK* inside of your mouth all that often, so I knew immediately what had happened. It had happened to me once before, about eight years ago, when I had had a similar experience eating pizza.

(Perhaps, rather than a sign from God concerning the coming weekend, it is just His way of telling me I should be eating a healthier diet? Nah, couldn’t be that.)

The incident with the pizza was with my uppers. At that time, had it involved my lowers, it would have been much more surprising since I still had my lower teeth. Anyway, it went down like this.

MY WIFE and I were sitting in The Pleasant Cafe in Roslindale eating some pasta and pizza. I had just recently been fitted with a set of temporary uppers. I was happy as a clam. All the work seemed to be going well. I had no discomfort. I was eating good food in one of my favorite dives. I picked up a slice of pizza and bit into it.


Since my mouth was mostly closed around the pizza, the sound resonated in my head. It apparently made no noise outside of my head; MY WIFE told me later that she didn't hear a thing. Well, I knew it had to be something bad because you don't hear a big old *CRACK* inside your noggin unless something serious has happened.

I felt around inside my mouth with my tongue and immediately found the damage. The new prosthesis had snapped almost in half. It was no longer firmly anchored to my incisors, either. The two halves were still attached, but barely, and if I opened my mouth, the whole works might have plopped out into my dish of spaghetti.

MY WIFE looked up from eating and saw what must have been a look of some terror on my face. She immediately said, "What's wrong? Are you OK?"

By clenching my teeth together, the prosthesis stayed more-or-less in place where it should have been. I had to be careful speaking because I could have cut my tongue on the sharp edge where it had broken. I said, through the clenched teeth, "My... plate... broke."

She looked down at my spaghetti.

"No... the... plate... in... my... mouf."

It took a moment for that to register. Once it did, she knew I couldn't eat anything else. She said she'd get the waitress to come and pack up our food so we could go home.

While she looked for the waitress, I sat there with my jaw clenched, embarrassed. I was sure that everybody else in the restaurant knew I was a guy sitting there with a broken plate in his mouf.

On the ride home, MY WIFE told me about her conversation with the waitress.

"My husband just broke his plate, so could you please pack up our spaghetti and pizza to take home?"

"Broke his plate? We can get him a new one. You don't have to leave."

"No, he broke his plate."

"Really, it's no problem! I'll be glad to get him a new plate of spaghetti."

My mouth had become an Abbott & Costello routine.

Since that debacle, I’ve had my lowers done. You can more-or-less read about it HERE, if you’re of a particularly sadistic frame of mind and have an hour to kill and don't mind a story about drugs and bugs. The bottom line is that this prosthesis was one I hoped would be in place, without repair, until at least October, possibly a few months beyond then. Now I was faced with the possibility of having to have a new one fashioned, at considerable unaffordable-at-the-present-moment expense.

Boo Chit!

I was sad, but I was furious even more so. I was NOT going to spend my weekend in a dentist’s chair. I immediately decided, even as I held my teeth in my hands, that I would either repair the damn thing myself or just plain go without until Monday. I had a weekend to enjoy and I was going to enjoy it, teeth or no teeth.

But first, I had lobster sauce and fried rice.

Yes, I was so frickin’ mad – as in insane - that I decided I was going to eat the Chinese food first. I was hungry, I wanted it, and if God had some sort of telegram for me, I wasn’t taking delivery until after I had eaten.

I took the plate of food out of the microwave, brought it into the living room – leaving the remnants of my teeth on the sink – and chowed down as best I could. Here’s something to remember, though, should you find yourself in a similar situation: bottom teeth help to hold food in your mouth. You can scrape stuff off of the fork with your uppers, but much of it will dribble out onto the floor unless you shut your mouth really tight. I learned this lesson by the third forkful.


While I sat there gumming my shrimp, I formulated a plan. Immediately upon spitting my teeth out into my hand, I had gone to the bathroom to look in the mirror and assess the damage. The break had occurred at the two anchors of the prosthesis. That is, the ends of the denture were still glued solidly onto the three filed-down real teeth (two on one side of my mouth, one on the other) onto which it had originally been fitted. The middle portion I held in my hand was intact and, when I put it into my mouth – gingerly - I found that it fit perfectly against the jagged breaks. It was probably fixable. I swallowed the last of the not-chewed-very-thoroughly shrimp and went into the kitchen to look for (Are you ready? The adjectival portion of the name fits perfectly) a tube of Krazy Glue.

Oh, yes. I know. You needn’t tell me, and you know me well enough by now to know I wouldn’t listen, anyway. Any number of hideous things could have happened. I could have ended up with my tongue permanently adhered to the roof of my mouth, or perhaps had my lips glued shut, which some folks would have DEFINITELY taken as a sign from God, but I did it. And, you know what? It worked. Thus far, my teeth are still glued in place and there’s only the tiniest bit of misalignment from how they were before. When you take every bad thing that could have happened into consideration, I’m an idiot, yes, but I’m a relatively happy one, at least for the moment, and I have the smile to prove it. I’m not taking any chances, however, and I am eating nothing but soft foods and liquids until I’m absolutely sure that chomping down on, say, a piece of steak, won’t bring about a repeat performance.

And now, to bed, to dream of softball supremacy. Tomorrow we play a tripleheader, a round robin, to determine who gets into the playoffs. We have to win two of the three games we play. If we don’t, the world will come to an end. Well, no, it’s nothing that dire, but it will make me a very unhappy camper and I’d like to think my quota of unhappiness was filled to the brim with the teeth thing. We’ll see.

(By the way, I’ve always said that everything God does, He does for a purpose. And I’ve found that even the things I thought sucked while they were happening always have led me to a better place eventually. I believe that’s the case in this situation, too, but I’ll be damned if I can figure out how or why. It will happen, though. It always does.)

Pollyanna, over and out.


It’s 7:45pm, Sunday night. I just now got a joke Big Jay Atton made at 8:30am this morning.

I didn’t realize he was making a joke at the time. See, I was warming up for our games, first one to the field, as usual. He and Buddy were the next ones to arrive. While Buddy went off to buy a drink someplace, Big Jay told me that toasters were on sale at Walgreen’s. I said something non-committal like, "Gee, Jay, that would be swell if I needed a toaster."

D’Oh! He was making a joke about a joke that I had made and I didn’t realize it. I had forgotten that I wrote, in the last entry to this blog, that I’d be taking a toaster into the shower with me if we lost and didn’t make the playoffs. Here’s a guy who actually reads the crap I write, and I dissed him.

Oh, well. Sorry, Jay!

It’s all good, anyway. Turns out I didn’t need the toaster.

BOMBERS – 30 Courtesy Flush – 0
BOMBERS – 12 Moe Howard Club – 9
BOMBERS – 20 Brighton All-Stars – 10

The Bombers took care of business in a spectacular way. We are in the playoffs. Of the other participants in the lower-tier round-robin, The Moe Howard Club also got in. They won two of three, their only loss to us.

Poor Courtesy Flush. We just shredded them in game one, the All-Stars shut them out 11 – 0 in their next game, and then they had a real chance to win their first game of the season, taking Moe Howard into the final inning before losing. They trailed, 9 – 6, but they had bases loaded with two out. We like the guys on Moe Howard a lot, but I think all of us were rooting for Courtesy Flush to pull it off. Alas, their last batter struck out and they were 0 and 17 for the year.

OK, enough about other teams. Here’s the wonderful day the Bombers had.

Well, first off, when you win a game 30 – 0, most everybody gets to fatten up their batting averages. Everybody except Big Jay Atton. He went 2-for-3 and had his average go down. That’s what happens when you’re batting something like .750 coming into a game.

(For the record, Big Jay went 9 of 11, with 3 home runs, so he actually raised his average when all was said and done. On top of that, he pitched the shutout in game one. He’s the only ballplayer on the planet having a better year than Albert Pujols.)

Cam Zirpolo and Pat Atton each had 5 RBI in game one. Pat hit a grand slam in the first inning, putting a cap on the 9 runs we scored before recording an out. In all we scored 13 in the first. We put up another 13 in the fourth. By the time the dust had cleared, we had the most lopsided win in team history.

Then it was time to make the playoffs. We had Moe Howard next. They had beaten the All-Stars in their first game, and whoever won the game between the two of us would be in, leaving the other guys to scramble in the third game.

It looked to be a great match-up. Their pitcher, Mark, had held us to one run previously. And our guy, Dave Vargas, had held them hitless through 5 1/3, winning his game, 4 – 2.

Emilio Zirpolo led off with a double. Two doubles, two singles, and two walks later, we were up 4 – 0. That was as many runs as we had scored in either game against those guys earlier in the year. MHC showed some balls, though, and came back with three of their own in the bottom of the first. The expected pitchers duel was already off the boards.

After a scoreless second inning, MHC dropped 3 on us in their half of the third. We came back with three in the top of the fourth, the big blow being a two-run triple by Cam Zirpolo. Then MHC took it back in the bottom of the inning: two runs, for an 8 –7 lead.

After two quick outs in our half of the fifth, there came what I consider one of the most important plays of the entire season. Pat Atton rapped a sharp one to left center, and he tore around first base looking to get into scoring position with two outs. He slid into second just as the ball arrived, and the ball went bounding off the second baseman’s glove into a no-man’s land that allowed Pat to hop up and continue on to third. The throw came to third, skipped of off the fielder’s glove, and went out of play. The umpire awarded Pat home. We were tied, 8 – 8. It was a great hustle play, the very definition of manufacturing a run. Pat could have loafed it and just stayed at first with a single. Instead, he tried to make something happen, and he sure did. It was great ball on his part.

Moe Howard didn’t dry up and blow away, though. It was still a tie game. They pushed one across to take a 9 – 8 lead.

Last inning. We score now or have to play for our lives in game three. Our first two batters made outs, a pop to the first baseman and a grounder to short. Not looking good. However, Big Jay – surprise! – hits a single. Dave Vargas follows with another. Jack Atton works a base on balls, loading the bases with two out.

Joey Baszkiewicz works the count to 2 and 1, and then lifts a fly to right center. Looks like an easy catch, we’re going down, time to start thinking of the third game.

Except their guys have a miscommunication, it drops off the glove of one of them, and we score three runs because nobody on our team takes anything for granted, so they were all running full out. Joey ends up on second. Fast Freddy Goodman follows with a single, scoring Joey. Our lead, 12 – 9. Moe Howard threatened in their final at-bats, but didn’t score. And we were in the playoffs.

The final game was anti-climactic, but fun. We continued the pattern of the day by scoring 8 runs in the first inning. It was never in serious doubt after that. Buddy Carchide had probably his roughest outing of the season, but he didn’t blow up at any point. We kept him in the lead and finally put it away, bringing our regular season record to 8 – 8 – 1, good for a 5th place finish and a date against the Renegades next week, best 2 of 3 to move on.

My day? 3-for-6, a double and a triple, 3 walks, 4 runs scored, and 4 RBI. Not bad for an old fart with busted choppers.


Soon, with more better stuff.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Random Story Leads To Random Photos (With Even More Random Commentary)

I had a calendar hanging on the wall of my office. Since I work in a recording studio, there is soundproofing on the wall. I used pushpins to stick the calendar onto the soundproofing. Pushpins tend to loosen from such material, but every few days I'd make sure the pushpins were still doing their job by pushing them in tighter as needed. However, I came in one morning last week and, when I turned in my chair to look at my calendar, the calendar was nowhere to be seen.

Here's what I think happened: The calendar was positioned directly over my wastebasket. The pushpins must have come loose, the calendar must have fallen straight down into the wastebasket, and then the cleaners must have thrown it out. Live and learn, I guess. The next calendar I get will NOT go over the wastebasket, and I'll use three-penny nails instead of pushpins.

I told my co-worker, Dan, about my predicament and he installed Google Desktop on my computer. It's pretty cool. You can configure it as a sidebar and have all sorts of different gadgets, widgets, whatnots, and knick-knacks, one of which can be a calendar. So far, I have also added a local weather report and a rotating display of my personal photos.

(If you're keeping score at home, that's the end of the random story, and now come the random photos.)

I've been highly-entertained by the photos popping up in random order, and I got to thinking that some of them have never been used here before, so why not write a blog post about those orphans?

Well, how about that! Here's the post now!

This is the aluminum Christmas tree that was a fixture of my childhood holidays at my maternal grandparents. It has since gone the way of the dodo. When I first saw it - and for a couple of years afterward - I thought it was the most hideous desecration of Christmas I had ever encountered. Trees were supposed to be green, real, and smell of a lovely pine scent, not silver, phony, and smelling of nothing whatsoever. However, as the years passed, I grew to love that tree. It had more to do with the people who gathered around it than it did with the tree itself, but however it came about, I sure do miss it now.

This one is especially for my good friend, Lime. Earlier this week, the following question and answer appeared at her place:

"The TV gods have appeared before you in the form of a burning remote. They instruct you to select any canceled television show to be returned to the airwaves. You do, however, have to make your case to them. What show, what’s your argument in favor?"

"The test pattern and the playing of the national anthem before station sign-off broadcast in technicolor analog transmission on a floor model television the size of a kitchen stove which requires a half hour to warm up and someone standing on one foot wearing a tinfoil hat while holding rabbit ears trying to get good reception. The value here is self evident and needs no argument."

This is the big-ass old Admiral TV of my childhood. Alas, it does not meet the technicolor requirement, but in all other aspects it fits the bill.

It's amazing the things you carry in your head from childhood. I can still 'hear', with crystal clarity, the 'ker-chunk' sound made when changing channels on that beast. The construction project going on in front of the set consists of things called 'Bill Ding Blocks', which were wooden men about 4 inches high, sculpted in such a way as to allow them to interlock. I loved those things. There's a really good close-up (and an interesting use for them) HERE.

Me, in my First Communion suit, with My Mom. The setting is Caddy Road in Dorchester, our street. For those unfamiliar with Catholicism, First Communion is the ceremony wherein young boys and girls initially share in The Lord's Supper of bread and wine during a mass. Not much to say about the photo, other than that I was a good Catholic boy and Saint Gregory's was the church where it took place. I do wonder, though, about the suit. I don't recall ever wearing it again, and it must have been relatively expensive to buy a boy a suit that he would wear only once.

My Grandmother giving me a bath in her kitchen sink. The older I get, the more I go back to resembling myself in this picture (except I have less hair on top of my head and a bit more on my chest.) The facial expression, though, is the same one I still make whenever I disagree with an umpire's call.

Here we see my Uncle Jimmy from the mid-1940s. Unless I miss my guess, he's standing on Hyde Park Avenue in Roslindale. That was where my paternal grandparents lived when I was very young.

I love this photo. The vintage cars, the triple-decker houses in the background, the dirty street - doesn't it all look like he could be starring in an Our Gang movie with Buckwheat, Spanky and Alfalfa?

This is a view of the Memorial Bridge in Portsmouth as seen from Prescott Park. Portsmouth is a lovely New Hampshire seacoast town and MY WIFE and I try to get up there once or twice a year for a few days.

As you may be aware, I'm not overly fond of bridges. As a matter of fact, I try to avoid them when driving. However, this bridge is sort of a 'friend' of mine, as I've actually walked across it. MY WIFE suggested it as a way to cure me of my fears. It took some resolve on my part, believe me, as I really, really, really don't like bridges, but MY WIFE - not a big fan of heights herself - held my hand and went with me. I 'conquered' it, and now it is probably the biggest bridge around that I don't mind - too much - driving over.

I'm a hideous photographer. I take hideous photos. Everybody who knows me knows that. So, it's rare that I like a photo of mine just for the art of it. Most of those I publish have something to add to a story, but this one I like just for the tactile value. I especially like how the Shredded Wheat box has so much texture on the bit facing you, and is so reflective on the other bit. Since there would never be a story to go with it - unless you feel like making one up - I figure this is as good a place as any for it.

The above is basically this one...

... without a flash having been used. They were both shot, by MY WIFE, after my (ha-ha) final softball game ever. I have since played two more seasons and nobody will ever believe me again if I say I'm going to retire. I am the Bret Favre of modified fast-pitch softball.

Speaking of which, this weekend will decide our fate. Either we make the playoffs and I'm a happy guy, or we get eliminated and I take a toaster into the shower with me afterward. See you with the results on Monday! If you think God wouldn't mind too much, I'd appreciate your prayers (for no injuries, at least, if you'd feel uncomfortable praying for us to win.)

Finally, here is proof that I was rude and crude even as a toddler. Look at my right hand. It appears that I'm telling the photographer what a waste of time this is, by giving him the international sign for jerking off.

Come to think of it, it fits in pretty well here, too.

Soon, with more better stuff.

[Addendum: I just noticed something in the "old TV" photo. Look on top of the TV. That's my pet cat, Blackie, asleep. Cats just loved to climb on top of those old tube TVs and nap. The warmth, I guess.]

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Monday, July 13, 2009

War And Softball

I figure that's as good a title as any for a post this long.

[Me, Big Jay Atton - for comparison purposes, I'm 5'10", 185. You'll notice Jay is actually leaning, so add another inch or two to his height. That's why he's BIG Jay Atton.]

A few weeks back, I promised you some photographs of my softball teammates. I figured that, if you were kind enough to put up with these softball recaps on Mondays, I owed you something slightly more interesting than just statistics and the descriptions of what transpired. A few faces to go along with the names might make these things more personal, and perhaps let those of you who don’t really know us get a bit more emotionally involved. So, finally, as promised, here are the photos. When you read the game stories that follow, I hope they have some added life for you.

[All of the Attons - Pat, Big Jay, Jack. Pat is Jack's son, Big Jay is his nephew. Jack is the manager, and one of the nicest guys to ever step onto a ballfield.]

[Fast Freddy Goodman, Joey Baszkiewicz, Billy Botting - nice guys, all.]

[The extremely young-looking Cam Zirpolo, Billy Botting, Big Jay Atton, Pat Atton.]

[Cam Zirpolo - who looks younger even than the previous photo - Buddy Carchide, Pat Atton. Fast Freddy lurking in the background, and Big Jay's arm.]

[Emilio Zirpolo - Cam's dad - along with the only guy, aside from myself, to have been on the Bombers since their entry into the league, my teammate of 15 years, Ron Johnson.]

[Mike Minchoff, ace catcher, about to apply first aid to Billy Botting. Billy slid head-first into second base on our rock-hard infield and ripped up both elbows.]

My softball week began early. My former weekday team, The Flames, were in need of a fill-in player, so I received an e-mail from Pete Mittell, the manager, asking me if I was available to play on Thursday. I said that I’d be delighted to help out.

(I wrote extensively – and, considering my activities since then, embarrassingly – about my intention to retire from softball after age 50. I meant it at the time, but subsequent events reenergized me enough to give it hell for one more season of Sundays. I don’t think I could physically play an additional two or three games a week, in other leagues, without putting so much stress on my knees that I’d end up crippled. Pete is a true gentleman, though, and I enjoyed my years with his team tremendously, so I’m happy to help him out when he truly has an emergency. He called me once last year. I caught for three innings and drew a base-on-balls in my only plate appearance, so it was satisfying to be able to walk away with a 1.000 on-base percentage for the season. And that was the full extent of my weekday appearances on a ballfield until now.)

The game was scheduled for 6pm. I left work in Newton at 5, and arrived at the field in Boston by about 5:30. Three of my former teammates – Rob, Timmy, and Kevin – were already there. They were all wearing uniforms that had been given out since my leaving the team had occurred, so I got some ribbing for dressing in a "retro" uniform. Otherwise, it was glad hands all around and they seemed as glad to see me as I was to see them.

Rob was going to manage the team, as Pete had some sort of business to take care of that night down The Cape. A smart man, with a sly sense of humor, Rob is sort of a hero of mine. He had hip replacement surgery two years ago, but he’s still playing – and catching, at that – so I’ve got nothing but the greatest of respect for him as a teammate. You can’t find much more of a gamer than Rob. In my final full-time year, which was just prior to his having the surgery, Rob was in some pain, but he played - and made no excuses - when we needed him. Huge heart in that man.

He told me I’d be at first base and batting sixth. The first base part I appreciated, since it’s the only position I can still play about as effectively as I could prior to my knees wearing out, but I was a little surprised to see myself so high in the line-up. I’ve never been a power hitter – not even in my youth – and my specialty has always been a high on-base percentage. I work lots of walks and try to drop my soft liners in front of the outfielders. I knew Mark Bates was going to show up, and he’s a fantastic leadoff man, so I didn’t expect to have that spot, which is one I like to think I’m good at. I figured I’d be at the end, sort of a second leadoff. But, sixth it was. Since I’d have to actually run the bases – no courtesy runners in this league – I expressed my hope that I wouldn’t clog up the bases for the guys behind me. Rob, with all good humor, assured me I wouldn’t. He was batting behind me with his surgically replaced hip, so he joked that if anyone would be clogging up the bases, he’d be the one.

Other guys I knew from past years showed up, one by one, and acquaintances were cheerfully renewed. Then it was game time.

The Flames entered the game at 11 and 4, in first place. Their opposition for the evening were The Warriors, a good team not too far behind in the standings. With the team missing three or four starters – otherwise, why call me in? – a tough test was ahead.

I’ll not belabor you with the goriest of the details. We lost, 11 – 3, scoring those 3 runs in our final inning. Until that inning, we had been held to two hits, and just four men on base overall (I had drawn a walk in my first at-bat, and another guy reached on an error.) In that final inning, we got two hits and two walks (I drew my second of the evening), and that was that. I finished 0-for-1 (my two walks were sandwiched around a soft liner to the second baseman) with a run scored. In the field, I was OK. There was a grounder to my left, in the first inning, that I probably should have had, but it wasn’t a no-doubt error, so I was satisfied that I hadn’t disgraced myself out there.

I started walking to my car, and goodbyes and "thanks for helping out!" were said to me. I wish it had been a win, but it was still great fun seeing all those guys. I’ll drop by again to watch them in the playoffs next month. I’d sure love to see them win it.

And now, Sunday.

Dot Rats – 7 BOMBERS – 6
Dot Rats – 7 BOMBERS – 3
Reds – 15 BOMBERS – 15

(final score, although the score today was 2 – 1, Reds. More explanation follows.)

Three scores this week because the third game was a one-inning resumption of a suspended game from earlier in the year. That game was thought, by us, to be over, with a win at 14 – 13. However, the other team protested – it was a time-limit dispute – and the commissioner upheld the protest. Therefore, we were to complete the final inning, Bombers leading by one run going into it. I’ll recap that one last.

The regularly scheduled doubleheader, versus the Dot Rats, was played without a couple of our regulars. Cam Zirpolo and Emilio Zirpolo (his dad) were in Maine. We wrangled a couple of replacements from The Flames to fill in for them. Conrad Pacquette played a couple of seasons for us before this year, as did Hector Acosta. It was nice to see them again, and I thought we were probably as good with them as fill-ins as with our regulars.

I don’t want to go over these games in serious detail. We’ve just plain stopped hitting, as a team. Over the last six games, we’ve scored 25 runs. That’s nothing great for baseball, let alone modified fast-pitch softball. We’re averaging a bit over 4 runs a game and we’re just not that bad. It’s very disheartening.

Coming into today, if we could have won two (one in the legitimate doubleheader, and one in the resumption of the suspended game) we would have been into the playoffs in no lower than the fourth seed, and we would have had a shot at finishing second and getting a bye in the playoffs. Now were sitting in a tie for fifth, and we’ll have to win 2 of 3 next week to guarantee a spot.

(Next week is a round robin, top four teams playing each other and bottom four teams playing each other. We’re now relegated to that second group, with a record of 5-8-1. The other teams are 5-8-1, 5-9, and 0-14. Obviously, the 0-14 team is not in contention. Of the remaining three, two of us will get in. We were 4-2 at one point, and playing like we deserved even better than that. Very discouraging to have to fight for a spot now.)

We’re getting great pitching and, for the most part, wasting it. Buddy Carchide and Big Jay Atton both threw very nice games, being done in by our lack of hitting and by some lackadaisical fielding. They both deserved better.

The day got off to a shitty start. I was back in the leadoff position and feeling good because of it, too. I love batting leadoff. It’s a position with which my skill set is perfectly matched. So, what happens today? I get rung up on a 2-2 pitch that was, literally, across my ankles.

I stood there and couldn’t believe it. I turned to the umpire and said, "You’re kidding me, right?" He said, "The ball was right over the plate!" I said, "Yeah, I’ve got no argument with that. It was over the plate. But it was way low. It wasn’t even close." He turned away, and I didn’t pursue it because the only thing I could have accomplished at that point was getting tossed from the game. But, damn! The ball literally hit the dirt at the back edge of the plate. I was just... words fail me. I mean, I don’t generally give the umpires any crap. They’ve got a tough job and I’m not so monomaniacal that I believe I’ve never struck out in my life when an ump rings me up. If it had been a borderline pitch, I would have walked back to the bench without a word. But that was just wrong.

For the rest of my day, I drew three walks. That was about it. When I actually swung at the ball, I hit a couple of them well enough to be hits, but the other team positioned well for me defensively and I got nothing. As the opposing captain said to me, with a smile, after one of them, "Hey, Sully, when you play ball for 47 years, folks are likely to have a pretty good book on you." I laughed. What else is there to do?

The final bit of sadness I’ll write about is the resumption of the suspended game. As I say, we went into that one leading 14-13 after six innings. There would be one inning only, and a tie would go in the books as such.

We batted first. Billy Botting, third in the batting order in the original game, was first to the plate. He doubled sharply to right center, a nice start. Big Jay Atton followed with a walk. Hector Acosta was inserted into the next spot, due to Cam Zirpolo’s absence. He had a nice day overall for us, and this time he drove one to deep left. It held up, though, and was caught. Billy tagged and took third with one out. Joey Baszkiewicz hit a short fly to center, and Billy gambled. He tagged up at third, raced home – he’s fast – and slid as the ball arrived. Safe. Pat Atton, meanwhile, running for Big Jay, was able to tag from first and get all the way to third on the play.

We’re now up two runs, runner on third, two out. My turn at bat.

You’ve got to understand something here. When we first played these guys, aside from the suspended game, we played one to completion, losing 11 – 9. We had been trailing 11 – 6, but rallied furiously in the final inning. With one out, we had bases loaded and that score of 11 – 9. Jack Atton and I were coming up. It was a good situation. However, Jack got fooled and popped out, and I lofted a big can of corn to center. And I’ve been thinking about that at-bat ever since. If I could only have dropped something in front of the right fielder, as is my wont, we get at least a tie. Seriously, I’ve thought about and thought about it.

So, I am now at-bat against the Reds again, finally having a shot to do what I’ve been thinking about for a month. I’m going to right and getting that runner on third home. So, with a 3 – 1 count, I see an outside pitch and I try to push it into right.

I hit a foul pop to the first baseman. End of inning.

OK, though, we’re up two and only need three outs to salvage something from this hideous day.

Jay is pitching. The Reds put the first man on via a little liner that just got over Ron Johnson’s head at second base. On a 2-2 count (I think) Jay decides to throw the next guy a change-up. It was a good idea, and a good change, except somehow the guy gets enough on it to loft it out to right, over Fast Freddy Goodman. Ugh. We’re in serious trouble.

Jay bears down and strikes out the next batter. Then he gets a fly to Fast Freddy for the second out. We’re looking as though we’ll at least keep the damn tie. Then there’s a single, a walk, and a slow roller to Jack at third, but he can’t beat the runner back to the bag. Bases loaded.

We finally got the third out. And a rousing cheer was heard from Bomber Nation. Huzzah.

Well, the tie does keep us in a playoff spot, for now. But we still have to take care of business next week. If we don’t, there probably won’t be a softball report next Monday because I’ll have hanged myself.

Soon, with more something.


(Oh, I’ve got to mention one other thing. Big Jay Atton reads this blog, and not just the softball posts. I think he’s the only guy on the team who reads me when it’s not about softball. Anyway, he gave MY WIFE and me another teddy bear. This one was green. When I gave Jay a quizzical look, he said, "He got into the applesauce."

Funny. When I brought the green bear home, and announced to MY WIFE that his name was Applesauce [and explained the story to her] she said, "Be sure to tell Jay the bear tasted great with our pork chops."

And so he did.)

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Look Up Above...

... and you will see that I have changed the title of this blog.

[Addendum 7/16/2009 - No, you won't. This post was a joke. I did change the name, to 1-A SULDOG, for the length of time this post was on the front page. Now? It makes no sense whatsoever, unless you use your imagination. Feel free to do so.]

Why? Because I'm sick of being listed so far down on the sidebars of those of you who choose to list folks alphabetically, that's why. I figure I'm missing out on whole scads of readers because of that.

(Now, if I was as egotistical a jerk as I make myself out to be in what follows, I would have said, "I figure whole scads of readers are missing out on me because of that." Bear that in mind and comment accordingly, OK?)

All my life, I've been among the downtrodden masses of those cursed with names that begin with one of the latter 13 letters of the alphabet. And "S" is 19th, so even when the rare "reverse alphabetical order" listing (or lining-up, or whatever else) occurs, I've still been relegated to 8 spots down in the order.

Boo-frickin-Hoo, huh?

I'll no doubt change it back soon enough - the "1-A" makes no sense at all - but, for now, I'm going to wait a bit and see if I pop up at the top of any listings in the next few days.

(Or see if you have any brains at all and drop me completely for having such a sucky "Me First!" attitude.)

Speaking of being dropped completely, I've removed two people from their usual sidebar listings here and put them into their very own special category lower down on the page.

[Another frickin' addendum: Nope. Same story as the first addendum.]

I did this because they... well, hell, it's all explained in the header to that category. If you really care, you could scroll down and read it.

[Yet Another Addendum: Don't bother. You probably knew that by now.]

I am the mighty and omnipotent 1-A Suldog! Fear my wrath! And my odor, as well.

(Or pity my delusions of grandeur. Your choice, and I'm fine with whatever you choose.)

I will be doing some other reorganizing around here while I'm (tee-hee) taking a break from posting, so be on your best behavior or I'll make up stupid and lonely categories for all of you weezers.

Soon, with more monomaniacal ravings.