Monday, August 30, 2010

How Good Is Life?


I’m one week past the disappointing end to my softball season (to which I over-reacted, as usual, and my apologies to anyone I dissed unfairly. We’ll be back in the finals next year, and we’ll win it all. I truly believe that.)

After two weeks worth of the worst cold/fever combination I have ever suffered through (which made the last two weeks of the playoffs a lot less fun than they should have been, win or lose) I am finally able to breathe normally again, and not blowing my nose every two minutes while hucking up variegated slimy yellowish-green and brown phlegm wads.

(I know that was gross, and I’m sorry. However, coming up with that sentence was the only bit of fun I’m getting out of having been so sick. I think I deserve a pass.)

While I was sick, I missed four days of work. Normally, as anyone normal knows, missing work is a good thing. However, in this case I spent the greater amount of the time sleeping fitfully, alternating between sweating and chills, and also coughing up the afore-mentioned phlegm wads.

(Just wondering: Does anyone know how the body produces so much yuck during an illness? At one point, I gave serious thought to collecting all of the snot and stuff in a bucket, just to see if my suspicions were correct, that I was manufacturing more stuff than realistically could have come from me, thus proving… something. I didn’t do it, of course, because I’m not completely insane. Lucky you. If I had gone through with it, there’d be photos.)

Anyway, missing all of that work depleted my store of sick days and made it necessary to also use up two days I had allocated towards a mini-vacation during Thanksgiving week. Now – unless I want to ask my boss for some unpaid leave – I’ll have to work during those days. That sucks.

Did I say that life was very good?

Yes, I did. And I meant it. Despite the above, here I am, sitting in my very leisurely lounging pants and t-shirt, having just enjoyed a couple of episodes of Phineas & Ferb (which, by the way, is a work of genius, and the best cartoon show I’ve come across since... well, I won't make comparisons, since that will just cause some of you to say "Sully, are you kiddin' me? That thing isn't anywhere near as good as my favorite cartoon!", but it is. I strongly advise you to check out a few episodes. And it should definitely be SEVERAL episodes, not just one. One episode may be amusing, but the full flavor of the running gags, which are the strength of the show, will not be realized without sitting through at least three or four episodes in a row. If I hadn’t been tipped off to that aspect by the person who turned me on to it – Dan, my buddy at work – then I would have dismissed it without having enjoyed the full insane flavor.)

So, wherever we were, let’s get back to it. I am as happy as a relative clam (NOT a knock on my in-laws) and I think sometimes we need to be as horrendously sick and unfulfilled in our desires, as I have been the past two weeks, in order to realize just how good life actually can be.

Or, if you have more brains than I do, and can see the goodness of life without being hit over the head by God’s existential frying pan, so much the better. I need a whack on the noggin every so often to understand how blessed I am. Maybe you don't. More power to you.

I’m 53-years-old, and I just spent the better part of the past sixteen weeks running around in fields of green, in the sunshine, playing a kid’s game with people I like very much. I have a refrigerator stocked with marvelous things to eat and drink. Colorful and hilarious entertainments present themselves on a magical electronic box in my living room. My bedroom has an air conditioner, and the house is heated. I need never be uncomfortable in the least unless I, for some bizarre reason, choose to be. I am married to a wonderful woman with a superb sense of humor (which she would have to be, by default, to have married me, of course) and we are in the midst of making plans for a great vacation in October (the days for which I have NOT had to eat into, thank you.) My work situation is far better than that of the majority of mankind – no heavy lifting, a decent buck, and everyone with whom I work has a sense of humor that makes even the most trying days full of intermittent joys – and my boss has never failed to be fair with me, at the least, and has been overly-generous on more than one occasion. Last, but certainly not least, I enjoy a faith that carries me through the rough patches via a certainty of there being better times ahead (and I’ll expand upon that, here, sometime in the near future, and I hope it turns out to be a blessing for those of you who need one. Those of you already blessed can just ignore me.)

(So there's something that should keep you breathlessly on the lookout for my next post - a promise of a religious screed. Yes, your life just keeps getting better and better.)

(Which will be the overall theme of the screed, actually, as well as the upcoming paragraph, so pay attention and get a preview.)

How good is life? As I said at the beginning, Very. Once again, I am in possession of the great truth I sometimes lose through sloppy thought. It is the story of my life (and of yours, should you choose to embrace it.)

Soon, with more better stuff.

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Final Softball Post For 2010

Fast Freddie Goodman, pre-game

Slow Suldog Sullivan, pre-game

Saturday Evening, 8:45pm

We play for the championship tomorrow. I’ve been waiting 16 years for this. I joined the Bombers during their initial season in this league, 1995, and this is the first time we’ve ever gone to the championship series.

It appears we’ll be taking the field without seven of our players.

I’m an optimist by nature, but I’m enough of a realist to know that this probably blows us out of the water.

One guy hasn’t played all year because of an injury. Even though we got him an exemption from the league rule of having had to play in half the games to qualify, it doesn’t look like he’s going to show up.

Another guy has been totally unreliable. We never know if we’d see him on any given week. The last time we saw him was two weeks before the playoffs began.

Two of our guys – Cam Zirpolo, and his dad, Emilio – couldn’t change long-standing family vacation plans for this week.

That’s four down. The other three? They chose to play in a tournament on Sunday rather than play for our championship.

I don’t know what to say. The games tomorrow are important to the guys who will be showing up.

I will never understand what goes through the heads of some people. How can you make a commitment to a team, playing with guys to reach a championship series, and then not be there when the most important games of the year are being played?

To be clear, I hold no hard feelings towards the Zirpolos. I know for a fact that Emilio is dying by missing these games. He’s been with the team seven years and he was very sad last week, following the wins that got us here, knowing he’d miss the opportunity. And Cam knows how much this means to his dad, and to the rest of us. I guarantee whatever else they’re doing on Sunday, those two would rather be on the field.

Buddy Carchide is a good fellow. He’s been through some playoffs with us, and I don’t know why he’s missing this. The injury he had was severe enough to keep him out of the regular season completely. Maybe he just can’t go physically. I won’t make a value judgment without knowing all the details.

Josh Lebron sure seems like a nice guy in general, but he’s sort of unreliable. We never knew if he’d show up, or when. When he shows, he’s a good player. I consider that he owes me a favor, personally, and I’ll consider it payment in full if he comes down tomorrow. I hope it happens.

The three playing in the tournament are Charlie Conners, Robbie Rogers, and Pat Pickup. I know that those guys had this tournament on their schedule for quite a while, and we knew the possibility existed that they might not be able to make it on Sunday. Still, this is a championship and that’s a tournament. You ask me, the championship has to take precedence. But, nobody’s asking me.

I’m trying not to get down, but this could be my last chance to win a championship as an active player. I was psyched because I knew our full squad was good enough to win it all. The team that will take the field tomorrow will be missing our most consistent hitter and what I’d consider half of our best outfield combination. Since we’ll likely have just ten players – the minimum for play in our league, because we play with four outfielders – there won’t be much possibility for strategic substitutions or to give some guys a rest. I think I know Jack’s managerial style well enough to know that four guys he probably would not have started will now be in the starting lineup, and at least one of them will be at a position he hasn’t played all year. It’s sad to have come this far and be faced with such a lessening of what we should have been for these games.

I know that the guys I’ll play with tomorrow will play with heart, courage, and determination. I’ll be proud to share the field with them. And who knows? We’re not bums. Maybe we’ll pull it off and it will be even sweeter than I ever thought it would be. We’ve won games this season without all of the guys mentioned above.

But not against the Titans.

The Titans

Sunday Afternoon, 4:10pm

It’s been done since noontime, but I took a shower and a nap. I won’t keep you in suspense.

Titans – 5 BOMBERS – 1
Titans – 16 BOMBERS – 10

We gave them hell for a while.

The story in game one was the story all year – Big Jay Atton. He pitched a magnificent game, allowing only two hits through the first six innings. Not only that, he hit the home run that had us leading, 1 – 0, going into the seventh.

If there were justice in the world of softball, he’d have held them for one more inning. He deserved a win for that effort. Either that, or we could have given him more support offensively. Instead, we came up empty behind him.

(To be clear, we had nothing to hang our heads about. Nobody choked. There were a few nice defensive plays behind Jay. And we had some opportunities, putting two on twice and loading the bases once. But the Titans are the defending champs because they play solid defense, and they took us out of each rally.)

We needed three outs to take game one. No go.

In the top of the seventh, the Titans leadoff hitter stroked a solid single through the middle. The next man up could have gone down on strikes, but the umpire didn’t see it that way. It wasn’t an egregiously bad call or anything, but he could have. Instead, he walked, putting men on first and second with nobody out. Kenny Bean, one of the best hitters in this league for as many years as I’ve been here, followed with a single that was misplayed into four bases, getting by our outfield while all three runners scored. There was a sort-of collective slumping of Bombers shoulders. The tying run would have scored, no doubt, but having three at once, in such a tight game, sucked the wind right out of us.

Two more batters reached. Jay got the next three Titans to ground out, but both runners were able to advance home during the outs. 5 – 1, Titans.

And our seventh produced no rally.

It was a great game for six innings… Hell, for the whole game, and just because we came out on the wrong end, that shouldn’t diminish the greatness. The Titans played with guts to take it from us.

It made me proud as hell to be a Bomber.

Game two started out well enough. We finally scored some runs in the top of the first, on a three-run homer by Danny Espinosa. Jack Atton started game two by holding the Titans scoreless in the first. Going back to his shutout of The Moe Howard Club in the semi-finals, it ran his scoreless streak in the playoffs to eight innings.

We put three men on base in the second, but again failed to score. Then the roof fell in.

Jack gave up a single, a base on balls, and then a tying three-run homer. He pulled himself from the game in favor of Big Jay, who got two quick outs on a 6-3 grounder and a fly out to right, but then the next six batters reached, five of them scoring, and it was 8 – 3 Titans after two.

The next two innings saw us fail to do anything of significance. Meanwhile, the Titans pushed across another 4 in the third, which finished the day, and the season, for Big Jay as a pitcher. Josh LeBron (who did show up) took over, and the Titans scored another 3 in the fourth. It was 15 – 3. We weren’t surrendering, but we knew.

We rallied a bit in the sixth. Titan’s pitcher Jimmy Mac lost his control. Five straight walks scored two for us, a sac fly scored a third, and then a couple of singles brought home another. I scored the fifth run of the inning on a fielder’s choice, but the inning ended with us trailing, 15 – 8.

In the seventh, the Titans added one more for insurance. In our final chance, we scored two (one on a home run by Tom Resor) and it made it look a bit more respectable, but that was all she wrote. The Bombers fell, 16 – 10, and the Titans were champions.

I’m not particularly thrilled with my own performance in the finals. I went hitless (I drew two walks) and only got good wood on the ball once. I played OK in the field, making a couple of nice plays to save outs at first base (albeit after we trailed heavily in the second game, so sort of hollow.) I feel worse for Jay than I do myself. He played like a champion, and he spent half of his time apologizing to ME because he knew how much it meant to me if we could have won. I told him then and I’ll tell him again: You have nothing to apologize for, Big Man. You almost single-handedly got us a win in game one.

Here are the batting stats, overall, for the finals.

(Ben was on loan to us from the Renegades. It was nice of him to fill in for the guys who played for us all season but who didn’t show for the championship. Drew Atton played for us this year, but not enough to qualify. He played briefly here, anyway. In both cases, a debt of gratitude is owed Scott of the Titans, who also acts as commissioner for the league. He allowed us great leeway with players for these finals, possibly to his own team’s detriment going in. A lesser sportsman might have told us to go screw. He didn’t, and we owe him one.)

Pat Atton 2 – 4, 2 walks, run
Ben 1 – 7, RBI, run
Danny Espinosa 4 – 7, double, home run, 3 RBI, 2 runs
Big Jay Atton 1 – 6, home run, walk, RBI, run
F. F. Goodman 1 – 6, walk, RBI, run
Tom Resor 1 – 6, home run, walk, RBI, 2 runs
Ron Johnson 2 – 5, 2 walks, run
Joe Baszkiewicz 3 – 4, 2 walks, RBI, run
Jim Sullivan 0 – 4, 2 walks, RBI, run
Manny Dominguez 0 – 4, RBI
Jack Atton 1 – 2
Josh LeBron 1 – 2
Drew Atton 1 – 1, RBI

Stats for the entire glorious season – which it was, all things considered – are available at the Bombers website, as usual.

And that’s that for another year. I would have rather won, of course, but I’ll say again I was proud and happy to share the field with the good guys I saw on Sunday, from both teams.

Bottom, L to R - Big Jay Atton, Joey Baszkiewicz, Fast Freddie Goodman, Tom Resor.
Middle, L to R - Manager Jack Atton, Jim "Suldog" Sullivan, Pat Atton, Ben (Renegades)
Top, L to R - Ron Johnson, Drew Atton, Danny Espinosa, Josh Lebron, Manny Dominguez

I’ll be taking some time off from blogging to clear my head. I’ll be back sometime next week, probably. Thanks again for listening, and empathizing.

Soon, with more better stuff.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Two More Wins

Fast Freddie & Me - 2007

Two more wins. That’s all I want. I won’t ask for anything for my birthday, and Santa Claus can skip my house at Christmas. All I want for the rest of my life is two more wins.

I’ve played in lots of different leagues, and I’ve played on some good teams. There have been a couple that might have won it all with a break here or there. I’ve also played on some truly crappy squads that couldn’t have won a championship with a handicap of five runs to start every game. Most of the time, I guess it’s been somewhere in the middle, maybe good enough to get a playoff game or two, but no realistic chance to take it all.

At Smith Field, 1996, 2nd year of Bombers

I’ve been a Bomber for 16 seasons (Ron Johnson and I are the only guys left from the original team that entered the league in 1995) and this group is my best hope for a celebration at season's end since the 2004 Sidewalk CafĂ© squad that got knocked out in the semi-finals at M Street.

(That was a magnificent series, despite the sad finish. The final game was a 9 – 4 loss, but the first four games were all decided by one run and in the final at-bat, with the teams alternating victories. The tension was brutal, and it was an example of two teams absolutely pushing each other to play their best ball. I’ll always be thankful to Mark Senna for asking me to be a part of that team. Great bunch of guys.)

Me in Sidewalk Cafe uniform, 2004, M Street

I said that Ron and I are the only original Bombers still playing, but there are others who have been here for quite a while. Fast Freddie Goodman joined the team in 1997, and this is his 14th year of being a solid team guy. He’s having a career year at the plate, and has deservedly played every game, but whether he has been asked to play or sit in the past, I’ve never heard a single complaint from him. Big Jay Atton and Jack Atton are playing in their 10th seasons this year. Emilio Zirpolo has been with us 7 seasons, and Joey Baszkiewicz has put in 6 years. Pat Atton is either in his 6th or 7th season, going from an underage desperation fill-in, his first couple of appearances, to being a fine leadoff hitter.

The Bombers history has not been filled with successes. In 16 seasons, this is our 6th trip to the playoffs. There were three years when we needed to win (or, in one case, tie) a final game to get in, but we came up short. Two of the years when we made the playoffs, the absence of very important starters during the opening series pretty much doomed us.

Some 2004 Bombers - Top, L to R: Jack Atton, Charlie White, Ron Johnson, Matt Stone, Pete Maczkiewicz, Mike Martin, Andy Angelone. Bottom, L to R: Stu Stone, Me, Matt Widiger.

In order for you to understand how much this upcoming championship series means to me, Ron Johnson, Fast Freddie Goodman, Big Jay Atton, Jack Atton, and all the rest who have been here a while, here is our year-by-year record, with brief explanations as needed.

(In the “Finish” column, the number in parentheses is the total number of teams in the league that season. In the “Manager” column, it’s the person who was manager for the majority of games that year, although there may have been instances where someone else took over for a game or two.)

Year  Manager   W  L T Finish Playoffs

1995 Johnson 6 21 0 7th (7)
1996 " 5 23 0 6th (6)
1997 Sullivan 15 10 1 3rd (6) 0 - 2
1998 " 4 11 1 3rd (4) 0 - 2

League played on Saturdays from 1995 through 1997.
In 1998, league goes to Sundays, so half of good team
from previous year was lost. League split into two
divisions, only year this happened. Overall, we finished
with 7th best record of 8 teams and made playoffs via back door.

1999 " 4 10 0 7th (8)
2000 " 5 8 1 7th (8)
2001 " 8 7 0 3rd (6) 1 - 2
2002 " 6 11 0 6th (8)

The 2002 squad lost 5 one-run games. The record could easily
have been reversed.

2003 " 6 9 0 5th (8)
2004 " 3 18 0 8th (8)

This team was an absolute mystery to me. Good squad with great numbers that would have you thinking they should have won 11 or 12 games, not just a paltry 3.

2005 " 9 12 0 6th (8)

The 2005 team lost the final 4 games of the season to miss the playoffs.

2006 Jack Atton 2 16 0 7th (7)
2007 " 3 13 0 9th (9)
2008 " 7 10 1 6th (10) 0 - 2
2009 " 8 8 1 5th (8) 1 - 2
2010 " 14 2 0 1st (9) 4 - 0 (So Far...)

16 yr 105 189 5 6 - 10

After so many mediocre years (and at least one year where I literally kept the team from going under by paying about half of the team dues out of my own pocket) I’m sure you can imagine how much fun it’s been to be on a team that truly expects to win every game they play. Since the time I handed him a squad falling apart at the seams in 2006, Jack Atton has busted his ass building this team into the winner it is now. I truly cannot say enough about the great job he’s done.

Jack, with a seriously grody bruise from a batted ball hitting him

So, two more wins. That’s all I want. I won’t ask for anything for my birthday, and Santa Claus can skip my house at Christmas. All I want for the rest of my life is two more wins.

After my "retirement" game in 2007. I came back because I hoped for a year like this one has been so far.

Soon, with... ?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Welcome Back, My Friends, To The Softball Post That Never Ends

Hello! I’m back from the dead. Did you miss me?

One of the problems with being dead is that you can’t go to work – unless you work for certain branches of the government – and, since I don’t have an internet connection at home, I’ve been unable to post this very important softball news until now.

Yes, here comes softball up your yin-yang. If you hate softball, thanks for stopping by and I hope the rest of your day gets better. See you in a week or two, after the season is over. For the rest of you, here’s a brief re-cap of where things stood 12 days ago.

The first round of the playoffs hadn’t been decided. Because of that, the contest I gave you to enter had no winner.

That was the brief re-cap. Here comes a buttload of detail. Feel free to skip down to the scores if you already know the story to this point.

Going into this past Sunday, the Bombers best 2-of-3 first round playoff series, versus the Renegades, stood at 1 game to none, Bombers. We won the first game, 19 – 8, and we held a 16 – 15 lead through 4 innings of game two. Winning that second game would advance us to the semi-finals. If we lost that second game, we would play a third and deciding game against the Renegades. If we won either the second game or the third game, we would then play a best 2-of-3 versus The Moe Howard Club for the right to play in the championship series. If we lost, we went home.

With me so far?

What this meant was that the Bombers would play at least two games on Sunday, with the possibility existing of having to play 5 games in one day. The hope going in was that we would take care of business in an expeditious manner, wrapping up that second game against the Renegades, and then winning the next series in two to advance to the championship.

As for the contest, some of you were already like I was earlier this week - dead. I had asked you to name a winner of the Bombers/Renegades series, and I also asked you to tell me how many runs the Bombers would score in the series. Tiebreakers were how many runs the Renegades scored, and (if still needed) how many combined walks/hits I had in the series. Since the Bombers had already scored 35 runs through the fourth inning of game two, and since that number could only go up when play resumed, many of you were already eliminated. Here are those who were still alive:

Ericka – Bombers 50
Jenn Flynn-Shon – Bombers 48
Carolina – Bombers 43
Slommler – Bombers 42
Jazz – Bombers 42
Brian Miller – Bombers 41
Stu – Bombers 36

So, Stu (some old-time Bombers may be wondering - No, it's not Stu Stone) was the co-leader, but on thin ice. The Bombers had at least three more innings in which to score, and had averaged more than three runs an inning in the series.

Also, still alive…

Elaine – Renegades 25

Since she chose the Renegades to win the series, she wins if they win. Although a morally reprehensible choice, it was a smart one. She had to figure she might be the only one to choose the team for which I’m not a player. As it turned out, TechnoBabe also chose the Renegades, but her guess of 11 total runs for the Bombers left her outside looking in.

And, now that I’ve put most of you to sleep, here’s what happened…

BOMBERS – 19 Renegades – 17

Bombers win the first round series, 2 games to none. And Stu pulls off the upset, holding on to win the $25 gift certificate to Amazon. His guess of 36 runs for the Bombers was the closest to the actual two-game total of 38.

Not a lot to note here. After we went scoreless in the fifth, the Renegades tied the game, 16 – 16, with one run in the bottom of the inning. We went back out by one in the top of the sixth, but then they tied it again. We plated two runs in the seventh on a clutch double by Fast Freddie Goodman and some ballsy baserunning by Robbie Rogers. The Renegades failed to score in their final at-bats. They gave us a good fight, but we took care of business and moved on.

Jack Atton had started the game, last week, but Big Jay Atton took over this week. When the Renegades tied it in the fifth, that took the decision out of Jack’s hands and gave it to Jay, win or lose. Jay got the win, and it was his 10th of the year, a new Bomber record, topping Jimmy Jackson’s 9 victories from the 1997 season.

When a team scores 19 runs, that means a lot of guys are fattening up their batting averages. Pat Atton, Charlie Conners, Fast Freddie Goodman, Manny Dominguez, and Joey Baszkiewicz had three-hit games. All three of Pat’s hits were doubles, while Charlie’s three hits consisted of two doubles and a home run, good for six RBI. Joey Baszkiewicz had two triples.

Since we didn’t have to contest a tiebreaker, the win left us with a 90-minute wait before the start of the semi-finals versus The Moe Howard Club. Most of the team went and had breakfast at a diner across the street from Smith Field. Those of us who prefer to play ball without a belly full of grease stayed behind.

(I usually have nothing personal against a belly full of grease, but, if I had eaten, I would have ralphed all over everybody. I didn’t tell Jack until later that evening, but I was sick as a dog all day, and had been feeling fairly miserable since Friday night. It was some sort of flu, or a very bad cold, or maybe a combo of both, and that’s why I missed work this week, too, and why you aren’t reading this recap until Thursday. But, you could have torn out my lungs, stomped on them with metal cleats, then pasted them back in with Elmer’s Glue, and I wouldn’t have missed these games. Once Jack actually put me in, in game two of the semis, adrenalin took over and I felt OK, but when I got home from the games, I pretty much collapsed into bed until today.)

Anyway, after breakfast, it was game time again…

BOMBERS – 6 Moe Howard Club – 4

BOMBERS – 6 Moe Howard Club – 0

Looks like a tennis score (6 - 4, 6 – 0).

MHC always makes you earn it. That’s because they have a couple of good pitchers and a fairly solid defense. They rarely give runs away.

In the opener, Big Jay Atton spread 8 hits over 7 innings, raising his record to 11 – 1 on the season. Charlie Conners and Tom Resor carried the offensive load. Conners had three hits, while Resor blasted a three-run homer.

MHC opened the scoring in the top of the first. With one out, they strung together two singles and a walk, loading the bases. The next batter grounded out, 4 to 3, with a run scoring. Big Jay induced another 4 to 3 groundout to end the inning. 1 – 0, MHC.

Neither team scored until the top of the fourth, when MHC plated two more for a 3 – 0 lead. We really hadn’t threatened the Moe Howard pitcher, Mark Dion (6 IP, 9 hits), but that would change in the bottom of the inning. Charlie Conners got us out of our funk by leading off with his seventh home run of the year. Danny Espinosa then singled, and Robbie Rogers followed with a base on balls. After Dion got the next two batters to fly to left, Patrick Michael Pickup singled home Espinosa, cutting the MHC lead to one. Tom Resor then stepped to the plate and connected on a big three-run blast to put us up 5 – 3.

We added a run in the fifth on consecutive singles by Pat Atton, Conners, and Espinosa. That made the score 6 – 3, Bombers, and that’s how it stayed until the top of the seventh.

In the seventh, the first man reached on a single. Big Jay Atton got an out on a nice catch of a foul pop by third baseman Manny Dominguez, and then struck out the following batter looking. Pitcher Mark Dion was the last hope for MHC, and he came through with a triple, making the score 6 – 4 and bringing the tying run to the plate. However, Big Jay reached back for something extra and struck out the final batter, preserving the victory.

The story in game two was Jack Atton. In only his third start of the year, he came through big, throwing no-hit ball for 5 1/3 and finishing with a one-hit shutout.

This time, we got on the board first. The game began with three consecutive walks, followed by a Robbie Rogers single good for two runs. After Fast Freddie Goodman singled, moving Rogers to third, Big Jay Atton hit a sac fly to make it 3 – 0.

In the bottom of the first, Jack Atton loaded the bases on walks with two out, but got a 6 – 4 force to end the threat. He walked another in the second, and one more in the third, but MHC still hadn’t managed a hit.

In our half of the fourth, Fast Freddie Goodman and Patrick Michael Pickup reached base on singles, giving Jack Atton the opportunity to help his own cause, which he did with an RBI single, making it 4 - 0.

In the fifth, we added two more on Charlie Conners eighth home run. Meanwhile, Jack kept sending the MHC batters back to the bench until, with one out in the sixth, Steve Stalcup stroked a clean single to center to break up the no-hit bid.

The funny part of this was that everybody on the team, except Jack, knew that Jack had a no-hitter going. We weren’t going to tell him, of course, but when he gave up that single, his nephew, Big Jay, walked over to the mound from his position at first base and gave Jack the news concerning what he had thus far accomplished. To Jack’s credit, finding out that he had lost a no-no didn’t shake him up. He retired the next two hitters, stranding Stalcup on first and sending us into the seventh with a 6 – 0 lead, three outs away from going to the championship.

Our half of the seventh didn’t produce anything, and then Jack toed the rubber again. He walked the leadoff man, but got the next batter to ground into a force at second. The final play of the game was made by Jack’s son, Pat Atton (we’ve cornered the market on Attons) who got an unassisted double play when a ball to him resulted in his tagging the lead runner and then going to the bag at first to get the final out of the game.

The Bombers are going to the championship. Can you believe it?

(My day was fairly uneventful, 0 for 1 with two walks, but I had the great pleasure of catching the one-hitter.)

Complete Bombers stats for the season may be found at the Bombers homepage.

Several individual team records have either already been toppled or are in danger of falling.

Big Jay Atton’s 11 wins, and his overall mark of 11 – 1, are both team records. The winning percentage mark cannot be affected by his own performance in the championship, but could be impacted by Jack Atton, who enters the series at 2 - 0 on the year. If Jack picks up another win, without a loss, he would own that record (three decisions is the minimum qualifier.)

Charlie Conners has already tied the season record for doubles with 9. His co-record holders, for the time being, are Matt Widiger [2003] and Big Jay Atton [2005]. Barring a hitless championship series with a huge number of at-bats, Charlie will break the records for Slugging Percentage [Conrad Pacquette, 2007] and OPS [Big Jay Atton, 2009]. Charlie also has a good shot at setting the standards for Home Runs and RBI, currently held by Conrad Pacquette [2007] at 10 and 42 respectively.

Pat Atton has a fair shot at busting the mark for runs scored. He currently has 28, with the record being 35 by Scott Sarro in 1997. Since Pat bats leadoff, he’ll at least have an opportunity to give it a go. Fast Freddie Goodman has an outside shot at setting a team record for bases on balls, with his 12 trailing Mike Martin’s 17 from 2004.

Finally, Charlie Conners has already bested Charlie White’s 2005 mark (tied by Conrad Pacquette in 2007) of 17 extra-base hits. He has 18 thus far.

Team records for batting average, slugging percentage, and OPS will be broken unless we come up completely empty in the championship series. The second win against the Renegades broke the team mark for victories in a season (even if you want to discount our two wins by forfeit, the victories against Moe Howard would have broken that mark) and the team’s winning percentage will be a record no matter what transpires in the championship.

And now, it’s on to the finals. We will face the Titans, last year’s defending champs, and winners of the league championship more times than any other team since I first entered the league 16 years ago. It will be my first trip to the championship in this league. You could take out my liver with a chainsaw, use it in a game of Frisbee with your dog, then re-attach it with roofing nails and chicken wire, and I’ll still be at Smith Field ready to rock. I’ve waited a long time for this, and I’m psyched.

Soon, with more better stuff.

Monday, August 09, 2010

And The Winners Are...

[Ready To Rock, In The Official Bombers Uniform]

[Playoff Socks]

And so, Sunday came and went. It was a very important day in my softball life. Not only did I desperately need to get the taste out of my mouth from the end-of-season fall from grace of the Swingers at M Street, but I also knew tens of you would be hanging on the news of the final scores. I had, after all, promised a fabulous* prize to the person who…

Oh, hell, you know all that, right? No reason to recap or explain. Those who care, know. Those who don’t care, don’t care. Those who might have cared, but who aren’t sure whether or not they care now, can go HERE and HERE for explanations.

OK, here are some scores, but if you picked the Bombers to win, and had us scoring 35 runs, it’s best not to get all excited. I apologize, and I’ll explain.

BOMBERS - 19 Renegades – 8
BOMBERS - 16 Renegades – 15

The contest isn’t over, and nobody is a winner yet. That’s because the second game isn’t complete.

Confused? Welcome to the club. The entire league is awaiting the final score of game two. Until that second game is resolved – and then possibly a third game – the winners of the other playoff series won’t know who they play next week.

I’ll try to be succinct. That’s not my specialty, so bear with me.

Game one went the way we expected it might. The Renegades are a game bunch, but we’re a very tough club to beat this year. We pounded out 23 hits (including 5 doubles, 4 triples, and 3 home runs) and had the game well in hand most of the way.

The Renegades took advantage of three walks and a couple of infield errors, plating four runs to begin the game. We came back at them with eight in the bottom of the first. We pushed the lead to seven after the second, then nine after the third, and then finally to eleven, the final margin.

Pretty much everybody in the lineup had a good game. Leading the way statistically were Pat Atton, with two triples and a home run from the leadoff spot, and Cam Zirpolo, who had four hits and four runs batted in. Charlie Conners continued his drive towards possibly setting a number of team records, stroking two doubles and driving in two runs. Patrick Michael Pickup had a home run and three RBI. Emilio Zirpolo, who had been without an extra base hit this season, got his first in a big way, with his three-run homer putting the capper on the eight-run first inning. Pitcher Big Jay Atton notched his ninth victory of the year, tying a team record held by Jimmy Jackson since 1997.

And the second game began in a fashion that made it seem like we’d probably advance without too much of a problem. We led, 6 – 2, after two innings, and we increased our lead to ten runs by the top of the fourth.

Meanwhile, something we weren’t expecting began to happen. Members of the league that usually plays after ours started showing up. It was our understanding – and that of our commissioner – that we had the fields for as long as we needed them this week. This presented little or no problem for the other teams competing at Smith. They had wrapped their games up more quickly, with two-game victories for the Titans over A-Town, and the suddenly powerful Brighton All-Stars over the Reds. Ours was the only series still in doubt.

(At Cleveland Circle, the Moe Howard Club had dispatched the Dot Rats in two, also.)

The reason for the doubt in our series was that the Renegades were shown life and they grabbed for it with both hands. Jack Atton, on the hill for us in the second game, lost his control and gave them six walks in the fourth. Meanwhile, his defense did him no favors, dropping a routine fly and then having another ball, a single, go through the five hole of an outfielder, giving the Renegades a couple of expensive gifts. By the time the damage was done, a game that had clincher written all over it was back to a one-run lead.

And, despite it only being through the fourth inning of game two, we were smacked up against the starting time for the league that follows ours.

The Commissioner tried to give both teams a way to finish it, getting on his phone to the fields down at Cleveland Circle and arranging for us to travel there for the remainder of game two (and for a possible game three.) A few of our guys were pressed for time, though – work commitments – and we would have been in a very rough spot overall. If both teams went to Cleveland Circle, and then played the second game to completion, it would have been well past one o’clock.

After some discussion between The Commissioner, the managers, and the umpires, it was decided that the game would be picked up next week from the point at which it had been stopped. And that’s where we stand, up one game to none, with a 16 –15 lead in game two.

So, the winner of the contest is nobody (yet) and the fabulous* prize (which I decided will be a $25 gift certificate to Amazon, by the way) isn’t anyone’s (yet.)

*Prize is NOT fabulous, but that’s not too bad for very little effort. Next time I run a contest, I bet a whole bunch more people will enter. But, I’ll tell you upfront that the next prize may not be as fabulous as this one. I decided to make it more fabulous than I had originally planned just to piss off the slugs that didn’t feel it was worth their time and effort to make a guess.

(Hey, who knows? Next time the prize might be even MORE fabulous. I’m perverse in that way – among others – and I’m likely to increase the value of a prize in inverse proportion to the number of entries received. Someday, if only one of you enters a contest of mine, you might end up with me as your personal slave.)

(That might not be so fabulous, either, considering my habits and general slugginess.)

This is the most bollixed up scenario I’ve ever been a part of, softball-wise. Next week now includes the possibility of the Bombers playing FIVE games in one day. We should have taken care of business and had it done more quickly, but having the field you’re contesting a playoff series on suddenly made unavailable is just bizarre. I would have preferred getting it done, by traveling to Cleveland Circle and playing it out this week, but I don’t have a life on Sunday outside of softball. Some guys do.

Stats, through the first game of the playoffs, have been updated at the Bombers website.

For those of you who care about my performance, I caught game one and went 3-for-4, a double included. I scored once and drove in one. I would have given you some good humor describing a couple of things that transpired on the bases, but this has gone on way too long already. Maybe I’ll hit you with them next week. Meanwhile, be patient. Keep your playoff socks on.

Soon, with more better stuff.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Wow, I'm Sort Of Disappointed

[I've set this to auto-post on Saturday morning. I never post on the weekend, but, well...]

I assumed my little contest from yesterday was an easy way to involve some of you in my softball pursuits, making my far-too-numerous posts about those exploits slightly more palatable. It appears I somehow missed the mark. By the time I had left work yesterday, only ten of you had even responded to the post. Even fewer had hazarded a guess for the contest.

Obviously, there is no law forcing you to take a guess. If you don't want to win the fabulous* prize, then that's your business. However, I feel that perhaps the fault is with me. Perhaps I didn't make the concept clear enough, or I muddied the waters too much for those without sporting knowledge? I don't know, for sure, but obviously something wasn't right.

So, if you're reading this - which I think you are - and you wish to enter the contest (and maybe win the fabulous* prize), then go to yesterday's piece, and scroll down to the italicized portion. That's all you need to know, really. Then, make a guess. You have absolutely nothing to lose.

(That's the part that throws me for a loop. The lack of response makes me feel that perhaps I explained things in such a manner as to give some of you the mistaken impression that you would be anally-assaulted if you proffered a comment. Odd.)

OK, see you soon. Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

*prize is not fabulous

(Maybe that's the part that kept some of you from guessing? It's just a joke, and covers my ass legally in case whoever wins decides that they don't like the prize. Do I really have to explain that? I guess, maybe.)

Friday, August 06, 2010

A Contest (And A Rant)

[Me, in vintage Bomber uniform, circa 1999.]

I was showering this morning - What an experience! - and, while shampooing what's left of my hair, the invigoration of my scalp produced an idea. I figured out a way to keep you folks, who don't care about softball, caring about my softball posts.

A contest! With prizes!

Well, OK, not prizeS, just one prize. And I'm not yet sure what it will be. It will be something for nothing, though, so that should be enough for most of you slugs.

Here's what you have to do:

1 - Choose a winner in the playoff series between the team for which I play, the wholly-upstanding and beloved Bombers, and the evil nasty Renegades.

(The Renegades are nice guys, actually, but don't let that sway you.)

2 - Predict the amount of total runs scored by the Bombers and the Renegades.

That's about it. The winner of the contest will be the person who chooses the winner of the playoff series correctly, AND who comes closest to the number of runs scored by the Bombers. In the event of a tie, whoever comes closest to the amount of runs scored by the Renegades will win. Should there still be a tie, here's the tiebreaker: Guess how many hits and walks, combined, I had.


Here's a sample of what your entry should look like:

BOMBERS win. BOMBERS score 43 total runs. RENEGADES score 17 total runs. SULDOG has 3 hits/walks.

As a matter of fact, if those of you having trouble with this would like to just cut and paste that whole thing, substituting your own numbers for those given in the example, that would be OK.


Some guidelines for those who wouldn't have the slightest idea what to guess...

The series is best 2 of 3, so there will be either two or three games played.

In the previous match-up this season, the Bombers won both games. The scores were 11 - 10, and 11 - 8.

Through all games this year, the Bombers are averaging 12.3 runs per game, and giving up an average of 8.3 runs.

I am averaging 1.57 combined hits and/or walks per game I play.

BOMBERS website, for those who might like to do some math for themselves and make a very educated guess.

There you go! Give it your best guess and leave that guess in the comments. All guesses made before 9am, Eastern Time, Sunday, August 8th, will be eligible. You'll have the answer on Monday, August 9th. And one of you - perhaps even someone who wouldn't know a softball from a grapefruit - will walk away with a fabulous prize!*

*Prize will not be fabulous. But it will be SOMETHING FOR NOTHING!

[Me, about two months ago, in Swingers gear.]

And now, with nothing better to fill the rest of this space, I'm going to publish the rant I spoke of earlier in the week.

It mostly goes on (and on, and on) about a specific play sometimes attempted by first basemen. I figure it might be useful to some catcher or first baseman or coach. It specifically pertains to modified fast-pitch softball, so don't come to me with your baseball knowledge and start telling me I'm out of my mind, OK?

(When I say something like "my first basemen", I'm not implying ownership. I'm just talking about games I caught for The Swingers, over at M Street.)

In the brand of softball we play, there is no stealing, and the rules call for a force out back to the bag on a pick off throw. That is, a runner who takes off on a pitch doesn’t have to be tagged out when returning to his previous base. If the throw from the catcher beats the runner back to the bag, he’s out. During the 16 games we’ve thus far played, our first basemen have never, not even once, tried to jump in behind a runner and pick him off on a throw from the catcher [in most instances this year, me.] Staying with the honesty, I don’t have a very good arm anymore. I don’t expect to pick off too many guys. But, the only idea isn’t to actually pick off a runner, although it’s nice when that happens. The other goal is to put a thought into the runner’s head that he can’t just take whatever damn lead he wants to, never having to worry about being picked off. Even if the catcher never attempts a throw, the action of a first baseman running in behind you is enough to keep you a step or two closer to the bag, at least for a few pitches.

My first basemen stand eight feet off of the bag, like statues. They don’t move from that spot until someone hits the ball. Well, if you vacate that spot, to try and deke a runner, what do you lose? Most times, not a damn thing. If it’s a right-handed batter, the likelihood of him hitting one into the spot you just vacated is miniscule. For one thing, his eye is on the pitch, not you going to first, but even if he does see you going, his adjusting, in mid-pitch, and then hitting the ball to that spot, is highly unlikely. So, the worst situation you’re getting yourself into is probably just being on the bag early in preparation for a throw from your infielders. And, if you’re lucky, maybe you get an ungodly good break on a foul pop. Whatever else happens, the other team knows they have to keep an eye on you and your catcher, and that distracts them from other things. It’s a play with much more upside than downside.

[If it’s such a good play, why not do it all the time? It’s the SURPRISE of it that gives it effectiveness. If you do it too often, a smart hitter will find that hole in the defense, the runner will never be caught unprepared, and it becomes even more futile than standing stock-still.]

Since the time I told one of my first basemen all of the above, I’ve caught his eye a few times before a pitch, and I’ve seen him make a sort-of half-step to the bag when I got the ball in my hands following a pitch, but he’s never actually gone to the bag. And, anyway, it’s too damn late to run to the bag when the catcher has the ball. You have to run to the bag on the pitch, and be there, waiting for the catcher’s throw, if he decides to make one. That’s the only way the play works.)

Wow! Was that way too much about strategy? Why, yes, it was! Sorry!

Remember to make your best guesses for the contest, and I'll see you Monday, which is likely to be...

Soon, with more better stuff.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Hurry Sunday

I just did something I'm fairly certain no other 53-year-old catcher has done recently. I caught three games in 24 hours. The good news (aside from my legs still being attached to my body) is that those of you who don’t give a hairy rat’s ass about softball are halfway toward having me back as a blogger who writes about other things. The Swingers are dead. We had three chances to secure a playoff berth, by winning one game, but we lost all three.

Last night, in our final game, we lost, 5 – 4.

I assume it was a good game to watch from the stands. It was a good game, period. We trailed, 4 – 0, after three innings; came back to tie it after five; and then Stadium put one across in the bottom of the seventh. And that was the season.

We finished fourth in our seven-team division, with a 7 – 10 – 1 record. Only the top three spots made the playoffs.

In many ways, it was a successful season for the team. Last year – prior to my knowing them – the Swingers won two games. They began this season by going 0 – 4 – 1, then went on a nice run to get to 7 – 7 – 1. They controlled their own destiny.

We only had to win one more.

We didn’t get the job done.

Big Jay Atton pitched a whale of a game. He gave up one in the first, two in the second, then another in the third. If I remember correctly, only three of the four were earned. Then he shut Stadium down over the next three innings. He was on it last night. Most of the time, giving up three earned runs in six innings is enough to secure a win in our brand of ball.

In the fourth and the fifth, we had some life. Brendon Duca started the scoring, driving one in with a triple. I followed with a two-out single to drive in Duca. In the fifth, Big Jay drove in a run. I want to say it was Dan Chan who scored on his hit, but I'm not positive of that. I know Brian Finnerty had a couple of hits, and I recall Julian Hickman scoring somewhere in there.

(It just occurs to me that I didn't get a team photo. I wish I had one to show you, so you could put some faces with the names. I very much expected there to be another opportunity for me to get one, so I didn't bring a camera to any of the last three games. Damn.)

I’ve sometimes denigrated the Swingers’ defensive skills in this space, but last night they were pretty damned good. They came up with a decent game when their backs were against the wall. I don’t think anyone has anything to be ashamed of, in any case; at least, not from last night. Big Jay did not have to check into the state hospital and take a rest in a rubber room. There were no easy flies dropped; no egregious errors that could be pointed to as the straw that might have broken the big man’s back.

For my part, I did my job over the three games. I went 3 for 5, with two walks. Barring one tag play at home, in the second-to-last game (which I probably should have made, but didn’t), I played good defense. I’m OK with what I contributed, both offensively and defensively. I’m neither elated nor depressed. I’m empty, more than anything else. I think I pretty much played to the best of my abilities, limited as they sometimes are in this twilight of my softball days.

I would rather we had won, of course. It would have been nice to celebrate a playoff spot with these guys. They’re really a nice bunch, and I appreciate that they accepted my grandpa-like ass with a minimum of age-related jokes.

(Of course, I made my share of those jokes first, before they could, and I hope I let them know that I wouldn’t be offended by some ribbing. I think they just accepted me as a teammate, of whatever age, and that was nice.)

After the loss, a few of us (Big Jay, myself, Pat Atton, Joey McCarthy, Joe Baszkiewicz) went and drowned our sorrows in roast beef. Aside from the play of the games themselves, the thing I'll miss most with the season being over is The Liberty Bell. A great roast beef sandwich from there was my reward for playing well, and it was also my solace following a loss. I don't get over to Southie for any other reason than softball, these days, so no more delicious sandwiches for me. I wish we could have extended the season another King Beef or two.

For those who did as I requested, and offered up a prayer on my behalf, I thank you. I asked you to pray that I play to the best of my abilities, that no one be hurt, and that the best team would win. I think your prayers were answered, most especially concerning the no one being hurt part. One of the Stadium players lost the grip on his bat last night, sending it flying at his own bench full of players. It hit the wall behind the bench - *CLANG* - and nobody was struck by it, either incoming or on the rebound. I consider that at least a minor miracle.

Before I finish up, I want to thank Dan Chan, the manager. He’s a very good type to manage a team like this. He’s easy-going enough to have not blown up over mistakes born of inexperience, but intense enough to not just let them pass by, trying to correct them as best as was possible considering the pieces he had with which to play the games. I enjoyed playing for him.

Last night, as I was leaving the park, I tried to make a small joke, to Dan, about stats. I've nagged him, for about half the season, about not seeing a double of mine credited. In the sadness following the defeat, he opined how he probably wouldn't bother entering the game stats from last night on the website. I told him he should. However, I didn't give him a good reason. Now I will. Dan, if you're reading this, the reason to enter the stats is so that, in future, guys like me can go to the website, see them, and remember the good times. For those of us who are more mathematically inclined - and I'm fairly certain there are a number of literal accountants on the Swingers - each number can bring to mind a fond memory. That's why I'm meticulous in my stat keeping for the Bombers.

Speaking of the Bombers, I need it to be Sunday - NOW. I need to have a win in our first playoff game, getting back to that feeling of confidence I’ve had most of the season, the feeling that I’m part of a really good team that deserves to win. The Swingers were fun, and God bless them all, but now it’s time to kick ass and take names.

Soon – Sunday, I hope - with more better stuff.

P.S. I just checked the M Street Softball League website, and Dan did enter the stats from last night. Good man, Dan. Thank you.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Time To Win One

It is now post time. Post-SEASON time, that is. And that means it’s time to win one. One what? A championship.

I’ve played softball and/or baseball, at many different levels, for 46 years. I’ve played in organized leagues and very disorganized leagues. I’ve played Little League and CYO, during junior high and high school, on neighborhood teams, as part of company softball teams in industrial leagues, church leagues on Sundays, and then rounded out the rest of the week traveling and playing. My best estimate is that, aside from pick-up games and other non-championship ball, I’ve been a part of teams that have competed for actual titles, of one sort or another, on 48 different occasions.

I have never been part of a championship team.

Some guys, reaching this stage of their careers and having never won one, might start to think that perhaps they were the problem. I’ve had those thoughts. But, when I look back over the record books I’m able to consult, I find no reason to believe that any of those teams would have been better off without me. Hell, a few of those teams wouldn’t have existed had I not personally kept them afloat.

I hope I’m not blowing my own horn to any obnoxious degree, but I can honestly state that I’ve come through, in clutch situations – either in the playoffs or within games that would get my team into the playoffs – far more often than I’ve failed. And I know this not from my own biased memories, but because I’ve got the score sheets to verify my recollections.

OK, enough of that. This year, I’ve got two chances to be part of that winning team. One chance is significantly better than the other chance, but I’m going to play out both as though they were of equal importance.

The Swingers, in the M Street Softball League, are – by any rational accounting – the lesser chance. A very nice bunch of guys, who were gracious enough to accept someone onto their team who is old enough to be their father, they have a startling lack of defensive prowess.

(A couple of the guys can really pick it, but I won’t name names. That way, everybody can think I’m talking about him being one of the good ones and not be offended by the rant that follows.)

I like these guys, but I don’t know if I’ve ever played on a worse defensive team. It’s not just that some of them don’t catch the ball; it’s also that many of them don’t know HOW to catch the ball. Some of them either were never taught fundamentals or were taught them incorrectly.

(You may well ask yourself two questions:

1 – Are you perfect defensively, Sully?


2 – If you know so much, why don’t you impart some of that wisdom to your teammates?

Good questions. I’ll answer honestly.

1 – No, I’m not perfect. I make mistakes. The difference is that, any time I make a mistake, I know WHY I made that mistake, and that decreases the chances of my making that mistake in future.

2 – The few times I’ve tried to coach somebody, I’ve either not gotten through to the person I was coaching or someone else decided to contradict what I was teaching. I’d give you examples, and, as a matter of fact, I wrote out about five hundred words as an example, but I decided it was too self-serving, and also singled out a couple of guys too much, so I decided to edit it out. If you really feel a need to see it, drop me a line at and I'll send it to you.)

Bottom line: If the Swingers win, it will be on the strength of their hitting and the artistry of Big Jay Atton’s pitching. First, we have to win one to get into the playoffs. We play tonight (Monday), one of two remaining games on the regular season schedule. We must win one of those games to get into the playoffs.


My other team, the Bombers, are good defensively, have a knowledge of fundamentals, are superb hitters, and enjoy a deep pitching staff. This is the best Bomber team in the sixteen years I’ve been a Bomber. We’ve already made the playoffs, and we have as good a chance to win that elusive championship as any team of which I’ve been a part.

(Here's how good we are. Over the last 8 games, I've gone 11 for 18 with 5 bases on balls. That's a batting average well over .600 and an OB% approaching .700, and I've also played well defensively, but I'll likely be spending more of the playoffs on the bench than on the field. And I really can't complain about it because the guys who will be getting the starts are younger, faster, stronger, and probably as intelligent. Besides, Jack Atton (our manager) has kept himself out of many games this year, so how can I argue for playing time when he's that unselfish himself?)

BOMBERS - A-Town –
BOMBERS - A-Town –

You no doubt noticed the lack of scores. That’s because we didn’t play. A-Town, for some damn reason, decided to just forfeit the two games. We finish at 14 and 2, and we also finish IN FIRST PLACE, as the Titans split their doubleheader with the Reds.

I knew about the forfeits on Saturday night. Jack Atton called and told me that A-Town already had told the commissioner that they wouldn’t be playing. Jack and I decided to go down to the ballpark at Cleveland Circle on Sunday morning, anyway, to watch the Reds play the Titans. If the Reds could win one of the two games, we would be the top seed from the regular season.

In the top of the first inning of game one, the Titans put up eleven runs. I did not get the feeling that the Reds would be doing the job for us. They kept battling in that game, however, finally dropping it by a score of 19 – 15.

In the second game, the Reds played fine defense, got smart pitching, and led the Titans, 2 – 0, through five. Entering the seventh, it remained a two-run game, at 3 – 1. In the top of the seventh, the Reds added three insurance runs, and the Titans went down in order in their half. The Reds won, 6 – 1, and then Jack and I had the smallest first-place-clinching celebration in the history of the sport, bumping fists quietly on the bench we were sharing in foul territory.

It’s the first time in their history that the Bombers have finished first, and we did so on a day when we didn’t even play. Very bizarre. Jack and I walked down to the field, talked nicely to some of the Titans, then went over to the Reds bench and thanked them for doing the good job for us. Then we headed over to Smith Field to find out the results of other games in the league. We wanted to find out what team we would be facing in the first round of the playoffs.

The Renegades swept their doubleheader, securing the last playoff spot, so that’s who we’ll be taking on, 9 am, on Smith 3, next Sunday.

(Softball is sometimes quite incestuous. Dan Chan, manager of the Swingers, recently joined the Renegades. We’ll be teammates on Monday – and maybe other times this week – and then we'll be trying to finish off each other’s seasons come next weekend.)

Stats haven’t changed since last week, but final standings and such may be found at the BOMBERS website.

Please say an athlete’s prayer for me for tonight (that I be allowed to perform to the best of my abilities, that nobody be hurt during the competition, and that the best team wins.) I’d appreciate it greatly.

Results, for the Swingers, later this week. Bombers again next Monday. As always, thanks for indulging my odd passion.

Soon, with more better stuff.