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... ?


Anonymous said...

Seriously, those two wins are the only thing you'll ever ask for ever again? Ever?

Shammickite said...

I'm sending winning vibes to the whole team. I have no idea what those stats in red mean, but I know that it's important for the team to get those two more wins, so go for it, Sully!

Anonymous said...

this is jack atton and if you knew sully i do truly believe that if we win this championship he is good, will not need another thing up to this point in his life! we met vie softball and we dont hang out much before or after the season but i know those months that we are playing during the summer there is not another teammate who wants it more, than sully, he is chasing the ghost and it is almost there!!!

Cricket said...

I'm praying for you and the Bombers, my swell pal.

St. Sebastien is the patron saint of athletes and sport. St. Rita and St. Christopher are the (unofficial) patron saints of baseball and softball respectively. Just in case.

I'll let Mary know you don't really hate her.

Saz said...

lll keep everything crossed for you Jim!

saz x

Suldog said...

Haphazard - Outside of a miracle cure for sick relatives or friends, yes.

Shammickite - Knowing how little the sporting life interests you - and others - I truly do appreciate the best wishes even more. I know they're sincere, and I thank you deeply.

Jack - You're the best manager I've ever played for. You deserve this championship.

Suldog said...

Cricket - Cricket - Thanks for the prayers. My own prayer is never for victory, per se, but always to compete to the best of my abilities, for no one to be injured, and for the best team to win. Of course, I always hope ours is the best team :-)

I had no idea there was a patron saint of softball, much less that it was Saint Christopher. I don't suppose you have any idea how he secured that office?

Suldog said...

Saz - Ooh. If I start imagining just what those things might be, it will take my mind off my game :-)

Craig said...

You know, I understand what you're saying here. There are some things in your life which, while falling well short of 'ultimate' status in any 'absolute' sense, nonetheless give us wonderful satisfaction, which we are only too happy to bask in for the rest of our lives. (The trick, of course, is not to get stuck in the past with those; we've all known the pathetic guy who, in his 40s, is still living off the emotional capital of some success he had in his teens. . .)

I can't think of anything like that for me, personally (altho I can still call up inner warmth by thinking of the '68 World Series, or the '79 NCAA hoop final), at least on an athletic level. I, too, have played on some good teams and some bad teams (and I have made personal contributions to both the goodness and badness), and some of the middling teams had their moments in the sun; but I don't think I ever won a championship. So go Bombers! (And there's something to be said for being able to go out on top).

But I do remember saying that, if I ever got to sing the Exsultet at the Easter Vigil Mass, I could die happy. And so I will. . . ;)

Pam said...

Here's hoping you get the 2 more wins. Glad you came out of retirement and have this good year! Way to go. I think you deserve birthday and Christmas gifts anyway!

jennifer aniston and jason aniston said...


cant wait to go to war on sunday on list of championships...........i have won alot i would rank uscaa national champs number one under 14 street hockey team number 2 and after sunday bombers 3 sully this ones 4 u

Suldog said...

The comment directly above is from Big Jay Atton, my teammate. He played center on a national championship basketball team in college. That was just WAY cool. I was as proud of him for accomplishing that as he will be happy this Sunday if we win.

CiCi said...

Have fun. You have a great bunch of guys to play ball with that's for sure.

Anonymous said...

Conrad here...psyched for you guys and I hope you can bring it home! of luck and congrats on a great season thus far...just finish the job now!...your former Bomber teammate...CDP

Jeni said...

I'm sure sometime in my lifetime I have uttered wishes similar to yours. Right now, I can't remember what those wishes might have been for though -the curse of growing senile, ya know. But here's hoping that you have your wish come true for you. A winning season is something I think everyone -players and fans alike -always want to see happen with their favorite team. I wish for that every year for the Pirates and looks like next year I'll still be doing that. The kind of patience required for that type of thinking is about the only area where I can really be patient, keep the faith, etc., etc., if you know what I mean there. Now, how long do you have to go this year before you either realize your dream has come true or have to plan to return to the team again next year?

Michelle H. said...

Go at 'em and get those wins, MLGF!

Suldog said...

Conrad! Thank you, my friend. You know how much I appreciate having been your teammate. Your season in 2007 was something special.

Anonymous said...

I have everything crossed for you and your team, and that is not only uncomfortable but slightly dangerous [there is no guarantee that things will go back where they should be]

It isn't too much to ask after a lifetime of play...but you have good times to remember and great friends too. XX

Buck said...

You GO, Jim! I'll be thinkin' about ya this weekend. And you can re-direct Santa to New Mexico with your stuff this Christmas.

Chris said...

I have a good feeling about you guys this weekend. Make it happen, but either way it's been a successful year.

So would you go out a winner, or would you pull a Favre? That's the question here.

Mariann Simms said...

Hope you get your wish, Sully. But have your wife call me so I can tell her this is the last thing you'll ever wish for. ;)

Ericka said...

i'm not entirely sure i believe you on the wish thing, but good luck anyway!

Anonymous said...

Wow. This is it! Good luck and may you be blessed with many runs and grass stains as you slide into bases!

And I like your ending. "Soon with...?"

hee hee

(not necessarily your) Uncle Skip, said...

Having played on three different softball teams who were "This Close," I understand. What really is irksome is that two of them went all the way the year after I moved on... hmmmmm?

I did, however, play on a championship basketball team in 1959. We didn't win any trophies, but we got a free prime rib dinner at Ed's Chuckwagon.

I would comment in a more timely manner but there are some connection difficulties.

Carolina said...

Oh, please stop throwing all these numbers into your posts. They make no sense to me in any language ;-) But hey, I hope you get two more wins. Sending all sorts of positive vibes your way.

The word verification is spooky. No, it's not 'spooky', it's 'twooloo'. Honest.

Good luck to the Bombers!

Daryl said...

I hear that Minnesota may need another player ..

WV enlyedad ... translation .. GO TEAM!

Sandra said...

Jim -- I don't usually talk to God about sports, but I'll say a prayer for you that you get your two more wins. :)

The love you have for this game and the men you have played it with are why I love sports. The bonds that are built and the highs and lows that are experienced together create relationships like no other.

As they say in the other kind of "theater" break a leg, my friend.

Unknown said...

Oh I can't wait to read the report! My fingers are reverse time crossed for you guys to pull it off!