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.


CiCi said...

Good comeback in last night's game. Oh speaking of age related jokes, are they going to let you play on the team forever or is there a time that you have to switch to senior league? I am glad you are having a good time and darn it you just had to put the link to the photo of the roast beef sandwich, hubby and I are on a losing streak of our own here, poundage.

The Good Cook said...

Three games in 24 hours? Catching? I would not be able to stand, walk or write a post about it. Good man!

Jinksy said...

Strange how "Having a ball" can mean different things to different people...

Pam said...

Now that's a lot of softball! You need a vacation! 3 for 5 pretty good! Good luck Sunday!

Daryl said...

There's always next year .. and I am keeping the win vibes headed your way for this weekend!

Michelle H. said...

What a wonderful job at catching. You still have the stuff and can keep up with anyone. Good luck on Sunday!

Chris said...

Tough luck, Swingers, but this season sounds like it was a step forward.

What's the playoff format for the Bombers? Best of three? How many rounds?

Your fan wants to know!! said...

I couldn't squat if my life depended on it! Good for you.

Jazz said...

Sorry you lost...

Chuck said...

The only bad thing about my schedule (swing shift) is that I can't ever do things scheduled when normal people aren't working (evenings, weekends.) I suppose if I had consistent days off, then I could do things in the evenings on those days, but my days off rotate (5-2-5-3 schedule) so that's not possible either. However, it does leave my mornings free, so I should get off my butt and take some classes or something then. Good luck on Sunday, grandpa! :)

Anonymous said...

pat a-rcf










best 2 out 3

Angie Ledbetter said...

Can ya swing one for my slothy arse? :)

Buck said...

Speaking of the Bombers, I need it to be Sunday - NOW.

Not after catching three games in 24 hours you don't. Just sayin'.

Crazed Nitwit said...

I have to ask: how do you do this without killing your knees?

Suldog said...

CN - I do kill them, but I kill them slowly. I wear a velcro-fastened brace on each knee. That helps tremendously. I stretch, a lot, before every game. After games, after showering down, I sometimes ice my knees. At the very least, I give the legs a bit of cool down with cold water. Other than that, I already have very little cartilage remaining in the right knee, as I had arthroscopy on it back in '97, so there's not much else I can do to make that one worse for sports, outside of some sort of major traumatic injury.

Last, but certainly not least, I pray. And God has always been more kind to me than I deserve.

Carolina said...

Are commiserations in order? Or congratulations? Or both perhaps?

(have you noticed I started a list of 100 things I love about the Netherlands? It's the post before the stupid chicken-dog-getting laid one. Thanks for the inspiration ;-))

WV = exosta (you must be after catching all those games)

Saz said...

l have a tape l listen to in bed when l cant sleep, its called peaceful sleep all hypnotic, slow words calming and it always sends me off, l dont think lve ever heard the end of it....(you know what lm going to say dontcha?)

record your softball posts and send them in an email to me, l will load them as mp3's onto my ipod...and ring the changes with my peaceful sleep lady...

just a thought

saz x
(i still luv ya)

Suldog said...

Saz - And here I thought you were going to offer me good advice on getting to sleep before a game day. I'm cut to the quick!

(Of course, my quick could use some cutting, so it's all good, and I still love you, too.)

Hilary said...

Three baseball posts in a row.. a triple header..

You've got to know that you're about the only one who can talk sports this much and still draw me to your blog. I'm still a huge Suldog fan no matter what.

Jewels said...

I confess to reading only the first two paragraphs of this post due to a short attention span - however, that being said, sorry you didn't make the playoffs. I'm sad that your favourite topic is ending for the season but definitely looking forward to more better stuff (un-baseball related stuff possibly.. or not. You're really the only one I've ever met that can make baseball interesting). So cheers to you Suldog for finishing... what's that over there? Is that a cat? It is... I think it's a cat. Anyway, what was I saying?

Matt Conlon said...

Sorry to hear you didn't make the playoffs!

You'll always have next year! (Right??)

Jeni said...

Holy Rip, Man! Are you completely insane? Catching three games in a row would be a killer on the legs even for a much younger player, wouldn't it?
But then too, just goes to show the stamina that age brings as well as perseverance too.
Just glad you survived the games in one piece.

Angela Christensen said...

Damn: even though it's softball (which I'm sure I told you before puts it unofficially off the table for Little League moms, officials and - as I finally ended my career - scorekeepers) I LOVE hearing you talk about it, care about it, and purely LOVE the game as a guy far too old (no offense - you know I'm a fan) to catch.
Thank you so much for sharing. I see the prosaic, reassuring, adrenaline-injected game through your eyes, and I also get the gentle whiff of peanuts roasting and hot dogs and old beer. And I love it all. I'ma get my old Book out and write about that on my own blog.

Unknown said...

Sorry to hear about the Swingers but here's to lots of luck winning game 1 with the Bombers on Sunday!