Friday, June 29, 2012

Why I Love My New Teammates

One of the things I will miss greatly about not playing softball once I retire...

(No, that's not a good way to start this. I've retired about six times already, so nobody will buy it if I start spouting that nonsense again. Anyway, some unkind souls might be moved to say I haven't actually been playing softball for a while, anyway, and I don't want to have to find them and kick their asses. Let me see if I can re-word the opening.)

I like my new teammates because they are seriously demented.

(Yes, much better.)

The guys on Quencher are uniformly intelligent and have high baseball/softball IQs (not necessarily the same thing, as I've known very intelligent people who had no clue, after having played the game for 20 or 25 years, what exactly has to come into play in order for the infield fly rule to take effect, say, or that, yes, a run scoring on your fielder's choice counts as an RBI.) They have been unfailingly kind in accepting me as a teammate despite my being at least 20 years older than any of them (and often playing like maybe it was 30 years, not 20.) They're talented sons of bitches, too, and I'm glad I'm getting a ride on the coattails of a team such as this, one that has a legit shot at winning the league championship.

Still, they are demented. Allow me to offer some proof.

A couple of days ago, some of us were trying to convince two guys (Jesse Carlton and Mike Curadossi) to put aside other plans in order to make it for our regular season finale against the undefeated Shenanigans team (happening tomorrow, and I'll give you the results come Monday.) The problem was that this game was scheduled for a Saturday, totally outside of the usual expectation for scheduling in our league, and they had made plans with family or something. Fair enough. If guys had family obligations, that's kind of understandable. However, that didn't stop us from guilt-tripping hell out of them to try and make them show up, anyway.

Here's the e-mail back-and-forth that happened, in chronological order as best I can reconstruct it. Understand that ALL team members could read every e-mail; nothing was hidden from anyone.

Leo Evriviades - ... canceled my trip to NYC for this shit! Gotta get my bat going before playoffs - Need the reps.

Bob Carlson - That's what we call a team player! Leez is making you look bad, Jesse!

Leo - I have a feeling we can reel in The Tuna for Saturday....isn't our gm early like 9:30?

Bob - 10:30 game, he'll be in [his] ride by 1:30pm. We need to lay the team guilt trip on thick. Curadossi also.

Mike Briggs - I'm skipping my 90 year-old grandma's birthday brunch to be there. She goes to bed immediately after brunch so I won't even get to see her. Sigh.

Ryan Caswell - I don't have any family up here, but if I did, I would absolutely miss it for Saturday's game. Just sayin'.

Me - Instead of a guilt trip, I'll threaten them. If either them doesn't make the game, I'll start myself in their place and then enter MY stats under THEIR names. That should do it.

Bob - Hahaha, unfortunately that could be an improvement for Curadossi...

Me - Oooooooooooooooh. I'd come to the Saturday game just to punch Bob in the nose, Mike.

Mike Curadossi - Wow, that's a low blow! Figuring how I've been like 9 for my last 10 at bats I will disregard those uneducated comments. I've been commuting to our games from The Cape for the past month.... Cut me some slack here...

Me - I've been commuting to our games from Cedar Junction!

(FYI: That's a Massachusetts maximum security prison.)

Briggs - As the reigning Player Of The Week, I feel I should weigh in here. But I won't.

Ryan - Briggs is the Player Of The Week with a 2.34

(Totally random. Yes, Mike Briggs was Player Of The Week. Anything to do with this conversation? Of course not! The number refers to a formula used to determine who gets the award. Briggs' number was the lowest of any winner.)

Briggs - Wait? That's updated? Haha. What can I say? I'm just... locked in.

Nate Spada - My wife was attacked in our backyard by our neighbor's escaped pet gorilla late last night. She's having experimental face transplant surgery at Brigham and Women's hospital at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday. I'll be at the game, though. I think that it will be good therapy for me to continue to live my life as I normally would. Besides, she'll be loaded up on meds and doesn't have a face to be able to give me that disappointed "I should have married my ex-boyfriend instead of you" look.

Jesse Carlton - Do any of u work during the day?

Ryan - I actually don't work.

Me - I just sit around doing Brigg's stats all day.

Briggs - You should hire an assistant.

Me - Yeah, it IS a lot of work, the way you fill up all the columns on any given night. I hear Ryan is looking for a job. Do you think he'd be interested?

Ryan - no

Bob - He's too busy reading 50 Shades of Gray.

(I happened to check the league website for something, and saw that Briggs had been supplanted as Player Of The Week by another player.)

Me - Well, this is what happens when some teammates are too selfish to help me keep Briggs' stats...

Briggs - Thanks a lot, guys.

Nate - Is everyone really more concerned about Briggs and Curadossi's stats than what me and my wife are going through? Friends off, I'm going to the beach Saturday morning.

And so on...

In the end, I think we got Jesse to play (he said he'll be there, but I think he was half in the bag when he said it - or maybe I was half in the bag when I heard it; one or the other.) Curadossi, however, appears determined to remain on The Cape, totally uncaring about the tears he would have caused Nate Spada's wife if she still had tear ducts with which to cry.

Soon, with more better stuff.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

My Breakfast With Yoooooook

[In honor of Kevin Youkilis departing the Red Sox - originally published 2008.]

On the third day of my vacation, I had breakfast with Kevin Youkilis. Well, kind of. I’ll tell you all about it, but first a couple of explanations may be needed.

Those of you in England, Australia, and other less-civilized outposts of the world, need to know who Kevin Youkilis is. He is a player with the Boston Red Sox. Where I live - and this is what makes us great, despite our predilection for overspending and occasionally invading other countries - baseball is played. The Red Sox are the reigning World Champions of baseball, and Kevin Youkilis is their clean-up hitter.

(I could explain what a clean-up hitter is, but if you don’t know, you probably don’t care. I could also explain how a team that never plays anyone from outside of North America is the World Champion, but I won’t. If you’re a fan, you know this is true. If you’re not, nothing I say will sound convincing. Just rest assured: It’s a fact.)

Another thing you should know is that whenever Kevin Youkilis comes up to bat, the Red Sox fans all yell out his nickname, extending the "oo" sound of it, thusly: Yooooook! It sounds like booing to the uninitiated, but it is actually a love call.

The final thing I need to explain is how I came to be in the same place as Kevin Youkilis on the third day of my vacation.

MY WIFE and I have this fun thing we do. We’ve been doing it since before we were married.

(I could rephrase the foregoing, so that it doesn’t automatically bring certain dirty thoughts into the heads of some of you, but I won’t. This is a long story and if you’re from England or Australia, you may as well get SOMETHING out of it. Enjoy!)

The thing we do is called "The Breakfast Club." We eat alphabetically.

No, we don’t line things up and then consume bacon before eggs and potatoes, then move on to the toast. What we do is go out to breakfast in towns, neighborhoods, and restaurants via an alphabetic scheme. We first went out to eat in Arlington (or it might have been Acton) and then moved on to Bedford, Chelsea, Dorchester, Everett, and so on. We did the same with the names of restaurants – perhaps it was Al’s, then Bickford’s, then Charlie’s – and the same with neighborhoods.

(I hope that explains it. I could elucidate further, but I’m afraid it might prove as inadequate as the baseball explanations previously given.)

The important thing to know is WHY we do this. Aside from the fact that we both really like breakfast foods, we figured it would be a way to get us exploring new places and things. I mean, if we didn’t need to eat in a neighborhood beginning with "Y", there would have been little reason for us to take the New York subway out to York Street in Brooklyn and eat in a restaurant entirely populated by what looked like crack dealers. Nor would we have traveled to the Suffolk Downs Diner, and gotten to sample fried mashed potatoes, if we weren’t looking for an establishment whose name began with "S". It has been a learning experience.

We started this thing with great gusto some 17 years ago. Since it only takes 78 breakfasts to complete all three categories, you can see that we became somewhat bogged down as things went along. The problem was the letter "X." There are only so many breakfast places in the world whose name begins with "X," not to mention towns and neighborhoods. After much searching of maps and phone directories, we finally got past the X portion of the categories during this past year. We were now looking for a restaurant whose name began with "Y."

MY WIFE and I looked in the phone book and found a place.

(I’m not going to tell you the name of it, by the way. Yoooooook seems to have found a nice quiet place where he can take his family and not be bothered too much, so I’m not going to screw that up for him.)

We drove there, went inside, and took a seat in a booth. We ordered some food and engaged in the sort of small talk a husband and WIFE do. I had my back to the door, by the way.

I heard the door open, and then some people sat down in the booth behind me. They had a child. My first thought was that I hope the kid doesn’t squirm around or kick, since I’d feel it through the back of my seat, which abutted his, and I really hate when that happens.

MY WIFE said something. I didn’t hear all of it, really. I was busy thinking about my forthcoming bacon and eggs. She said, "Don’t turn around, but..." and I didn’t catch the rest of it. For some reason, I thought it had something to do with the kid. I didn’t really care if I saw the kid, so it just sort of slipped past me as I dreamed about home fries. Just then, the kid slipped his hand over the back of the booth and inadvertently touched my head. His mother said, "Watch your hand, Michael! We don’t want to bother the people in the next booth!"

Since she cared – which many parents do not (and if she hadn’t, then I would have been pissed) - I sort of half-turned to reassure her that it was no big deal. She said, to Michael, who was perhaps 3 or 4, "What do we say?" and when Michael didn’t answer – being a bit embarrassed – she said, "We say, ‘I’m sorry!’" When Michael, still embarrassed, buried his head into her shoulder, and didn't offer the apology to me, his mother said, "Well, then I’ll say it, anyway." And she did, which was polite and sweet. I again offered my reassurance that it was no big deal, and turned back around to face MY WIFE, once again dreaming of the breakfast food that would be arriving shortly.

MY WIFE said, in a low voice, "So, did you see him?"

"Who? The kid? Yeah, he’s a cutie."

"No, Kevin Youkilis!"


"Kevin Youkilis is sitting behind you!"


"What did you think I was trying to tell you?"


When the family first arrived, MY WIFE wasn't positive it was him, but then a young boy, perhaps 10 or so, had walked up to Yoooooook’s booth and politely asked if he could have a baseball autographed. Youkilis did so, with a smile. That's when MY WIFE knew for sure it was him and tried to let me know. Now I understood why she had suggested I hold up my spoon and use it as a mirror.

(Talking about this incident later, about the boy asking for an autograph, MY WIFE deduced that the kid, who looked to be with his grandpa, must have been hip to the fact that Youkilis might be coming there at some point. Why else would he have a baseball in his pocket, at this time of year, while having breakfast with his grandpa?)

Well, now I wanted to see Yooooook, but I wasn’t about to turn around and gawk. Luckily enough, Michael had left his seat to look around the small restaurant. It was obvious, from the way they talked and acted, that the counter people knew the family, and liked Michael a lot. He was welcome to roam. Yoooooook, however, wanted Michael to sit down for breakfast, so he got up and went to fetch him, walking by us while doing so.

I don’t know what your impression of Kevin Youkilis might be (if you have one, that is) but sitting at home and seeing him at-bat and whatnot, MY WIFE and I have always thought he looked a bit like Bluto from the Popeye cartoons. Not an ogre or anything, but not tremendously friendly. He looks much nicer in person. The dark beard looks threatening when standing out in relief from his white home uniform, but Yooooook was dressed in a dark t-shirt and denims, so the contrast wasn’t as startling. He is also a bit shorter than I imagined, not much taller than my 5’10". He guided Michael back to the booth gently.

Our food arrived and we dug in. The kid and his grandpa had left. There had been a few old-timers at the counter when we arrived, but they were now gone, too. We were the only other folks in the place aside from Youkilis, his family, and the wait staff (who I believe were also the owners.)

While we ate, we were treated to some insights into Yoooooook’s manner off of the field, via snippets of conversation and the way he interacted with his fiance and Michael. He seems like a nice normal guy. The most endearing thing about this chance encounter with baseball royalty was seeing Yoooooook playfully trying to get Michael to eat his pancakes. I’ll try to explain in a way that casts the conversation in as nice a light as it deserves.

Youkilis said, to the waitress, "So, is that bird still in here, the one from last week?"

I looked up to see if there was actually a bird I hadn’t noticed. MY WIFE rolled her eyes.

We then heard a whistle, sounding vaguely like a bird. It was Youkilis. He said something like, "Oops! There’s the bird! He’s going to eat your pancakes, Michael!"

Michael looked around for the bird. No doubt, Yoooooook took a fork and stole a bit of Michael's pancakes at that point, which is something my father would have done, bless him. Yoooooook then said something to the effect of "Oops! The bird got some of your pancakes! You’d better start eating before he gets more of them!"

It was sweet. The act was repeated, with minor variations, when Michael once again got up to roam about, this time to spin the seats at the counter. We were all smiling at that point, probably because it’s a universal desire to spin the seats at a counter, but only a young kid would act upon that desire, so we were living vicariously through Michael.

One other small bit of talk was memorable. I found out which candidate Kevin Youkilis is voting for in the upcoming presidential election. As with the name of the restaurant, I won’t divulge that information. This is because Youkilis said, to his fiance, after a very brief divergence into political conversation, "Come on, you know I don’t want to discuss politics outside of the house." It immediately became clear to me that, as a public figure, he had no desire to have his intentions become known, as then he might be asked to endorse someone, or be fearful of losing fans who might like another candidate, or something of that nature. His reticence was understandable, so I won’t tell you. But, I know! Feel free to imagine me sticking my tongue out at you and waggling my fingers in my ears.

We finished our meal and got up to leave. I wanted to say "Hi" to him, since I’m a huge Red Sox fan. MY WIFE and I sort of consider him "our" player, too, since we were both watching the game where he hit his first major league home run and got a great kick out of how the players in the dugout studiously ignored him upon his return, only to then all jump up in unison and give him congratulations, a standard "hazing" given a rookie who accomplishes that feat for the first time.

MY WIFE suggested that perhaps he would notice my shirt – I was wearing my Bombers softball jersey – and say something about me being a ballplayer, too. I rather doubted that. I did, however, come up with a decent way to say something, without being too smarmy.

As we walked past their booth, I said, "Hi, Yook!"

He looked up and said, "Hi, how are you?"

I then asked, "Just out of curiosity, what IS the breakfast of champions?"

He smiled and gave a little laugh. I persisted.

"No, seriously, what is it?"

"Sausage, egg, and cheese, on an English muffin."

MY WIFE asked, "Just on game days?"”

Yook’s fiance then offered, with a roll of her eyes, "No, ALL the time."

She sounded as faintly exasperated as MY WIFE does. You see, I order the same thing all the time at the restaurants we go to.

Yook started to protest, but stopped, realizing the futility of doing so. I felt more of a kinship with him than ever before.

I said, "Good luck tonight!", to which he replied, "Thanks!", then we left.

Unfortunately, the Sox lost that night, 9 – 1, and Yook went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts. And, as you know by now, they also lost the American League Championship Series - though not without a good fight. I’d think about going back to the same place again for breakfast, but knowing how superstitious ballplayers are, he’d come in, see me sitting there, and turn around and walk out. The owners seem like nice folks, so I wouldn’t want to cost them his business.

Soon, with more better stuff.

[Addendum, 2012: He was a 3B, asked to move to 1B. He did it, and became a gold-glove first baseman, outstanding. They traded for another gold-glover, and moved Yook back to 3B. He did what was asked, both times, in addition to taking a few short stints in the OF. Meanwhile, he put up some good numbers, excellent for a couple of years. Now he slumps, gets injured, and his replacement tears it up, so he's traded.

They never should have taken him off of 1B, IMHO, but business is business, I guess. They had acquired Gonzo, 3B was open... In any case, Yook's head was screwed with by management more than most gold glove all-stars would have been.

Godspeed, Yoooooook. Here's hoping you find a good place in Chicago to get a sausage, egg, and cheese English muffin.]

Monday, June 25, 2012

Puncher's Chance

In sports, and most specifically boxing, to have a “puncher’s chance” means that the person or team may not be the favorite to win a championship, but it could happen if the favorite isn’t careful. The puncher has the ability to land a knockout blow. What is needed is an opening, no fear, and then the tenaciousness to keep pressing the advantage. As a puncher, once you gain the advantage, you can’t afford to let up. If you do, you might not get another chance.

Not every team has a puncher’s chance. A team has to have enough talent to get into position to have that chance. A bum is still a bum, and a bad team is still a bad team. They don’t have the puncher’s chance. You have to be good to have a puncher’s chance.

Both of my teams this year have at least a puncher’s chance, maybe more.

Let’s start with my weekday team from the M Street Softball League, Quencher Tavern.

QUENCHER – 23 Cornerstone – 0
QUENCHER – 24 Playwright – 8
QUENCHER - 9 The Warehouse – 8

Our overall record now stands at 10 and 3, good (at least temporarily) for second place in the 16-team league. We have three games remaining before the playoffs, and our realistic eventual seeding is probably third to fifth.

The current first place team, Shenanigans, is a three-time repeat champion and undefeated thus far. We have yet to play them. We’ll do so in the final game of the season. Our two games prior to that are games we should win, barring us being shorthanded or there being some outstanding performances from those other teams. They have a combined record of, I believe, 3 and 21. So, we SHOULD enter that final game at 12 and 3, no lower than fourth place and possibly still as high as second.

No offense to any of the other playoff-bound teams, but I see M Street coming down to one of four squads – Shenanigans, Sonny’s Pirates, The George Pratt Club, and us. Purely on a talent basis, man-for-man, with full squads available, these four teams should be in the semi-finals. For our part, we need to take care of business over the final three games, taking the two we figure to win and then seeing if we can pass a big test in the final regular season game. In our other two games against the top competition, we’ve come up a bit short. We lost to Sonny’s, 7 – 2, and we dropped an 8 – 6 decision to George Pratt. Both of those games were winnable, though, and I’d say we at least have that puncher’s chance in any series against those other three teams. We have one hellacious offense and two solid pitchers. On top of our game, we could land that knockout blow. Whether we play at the top of our game during the playoffs, or not, may be what decides it. It’s up to us to play to the level at which we’re capable.

I could now give the love to everybody on the team, because everybody has contributed something good to our wins, but I’d like to give special kudos to a few guys for outstanding performances this week.

Leo Evriviades is our center fielder and leadoff hitter. He hit for the cycle in the Playwright game.

Bob Carlson is the guy who keeps it all together. He’s the coach and the guy who recruited most of the talent, while I’m sort of his bench manager this season. He had a two-triple two-home-run game, good for player of the week honors in the league.

Steve Mills started all three games at pitcher, and threw his second shutout. He took a ball to the face in the fourth inning of one game, leading to…

… Josh Lebron coming in to relieve him and throwing a scoreless three innings to save it. The following night, Josh once again came in with the game on the line and gave up no earned runs while recording his second save.


For Quencher this past week, in four plate appearances, I had a single and three walks. Between both teams, I’m on a ten-consecutive-times-on-base streak. And that’s my cue to say, “See you after tomorrow’s Bomber doubleheader, when we find out if both my teams and I can have a perfect week!”


No, NOT a perfect week. Not too bad, though.

Mayhem – 5 BOMBERS – 2
BOMBERS – 10 Mayhem – 8

As is the case with Quencher, the Bombers (6 – 2) are in second place in their league. As is the case with Quencher, the Bombers face their undefeated first-place opponents (who are multiple repeat champions) next weekend. As is the case with Quencher, the Bombers are good. Good enough to take it all? As is the case with Quencher, the answer to that question will become clearer in the near future.

The loss in game one was tough to take. It was a 2 – 2 tie through six innings. In the top of the seventh, Mayhem loaded the bases with none out. A great double play (force at third, followed by a tag out at home) gave us a lift, but it didn’t happen for us after that. They plated three, we failed to score, end of game. A couple of bad defensive plays here, a load of pop outs there (15 of our 21 outs were in the air), and we dropped a game we could have won.

Game two was ours, leading start to finish, although Mayhem was game and put the winning run to bat in the seventh. Big Jay Atton (who pitched both ends of the doubleheader) held tough, though, and induced a fly to left to end it in our favor.

My contribution to the win was a 2 for 3 performance at the plate, the first at-bat (a 6 to 3 ground out) breaking my ten-at-bat on-base streak. I beat out a similar grounder in my next plate appearance, and then stroked a solid single to right center in my final shot. That was swell enough, but I’m ashamed of one defensive play. There was a grounder to Joel Kershner at shortstop. I was playing first, and I went to the bag to take his throw. The throw was OK, but I dropped it. It was just a lazy-ass play on my part. I was counting it as an out before the out was actually made, and I gave them a runner as a result. Luckily, that runner didn’t score, but that play, more than the two hits I got, is what I’m taking away from this game. I will NOT be that lazy again this year, on defense or on offense or in whatever duties I have as a coach. I will NOT count anything as over until it is actually over. I owe that to my teammates and to myself.

I can’t afford to make mistakes like that. I’m no superstar. I have to be solid, totally utilizing the modest gifts I now bring to the table, to have real worth to my teams. We’ll find out this week how the teams, as a whole, measure up in that regard.

And whether we have a puncher’s chance, or maybe even a little more.



Soon, with... ???

Friday, June 22, 2012

Blood, Sweat, No Tears

Over the past two weeks, two pitchers I am friends with were hit in the face by batted balls.

Both my good buddy, Big Jay Atton (left), and my current teammate on Quencher, Steve Mills (right), are OK, Thank God, but it's always scary when someone gets one in the mush. In their honor, I now present this re-print from 2006, wherein I received the same treatment.

BLOOD, SWEAT, NO TEARS (from August, 2006)

"Time! The ball is dead!"

What did the umpire say? Who's dead?


I was asked after the game if everything went in slow motion when it happened, like you might see in the movies. Nope. Fast as hell. If it happened in slow motion, I would have caught the damned thing.

"Sully, are you OK?"

I ran my tongue around my mouth to see if I still had all of my teeth. Yup. Oh, shit, what about the implants? Yeah, no problem.

"Yeah, I'm OK."

"Do you have all your teeth?"

I checked again.

"Yeah, I'm OK."


It's odd the things you think about when you're lying on the ground. The first thing I thought was, "They should really rake this field more often. Too many pebbles."

I guess it wasn't really too odd, though, since I had a few of the smaller ones in my mouth.


Two batters previous, there was a soft liner a couple of feet over my head. I reached up to catch it, but it was already past me. I swore. I knew that if my reflexes were just a bit younger, it would have been the second out of the inning.

Then, one batter previous to it happening, a one-hopper bounced over my head. I swore more vigorously. That should have been the third out and I should have been back on the bench.

Since I had proven that I couldn't use my glove quickly enough to catch the balls that came close to me, God had no other alternative than to have me stop the next one with whatever part of my body was available at the time. It turned out to be my face. I guess that's what I got for swearing.


We were the visiting team, so we batted first. I led off the game by drawing a walk. That pretty much turned out to be the highlight of the evening. We failed to score and then our opponents plated four runs in the bottom of the first.

We got one back in the top of the second, but after the bottom of the second the game (and the season) were pretty much a done deal. Fifteen runs. We trailed 19 - 1 after two innings.

I hate to give you the impression that the Linwood Flames are that bad of a team. We really aren't. It was just one of those innings where everything went wrong; easily the worst inning of the year for us. Only one error, and the other team doesn't score fifteen runs without hitting the ball pretty well, but there were a whole bunch of pops that fell between fielders and stuff like that.

Anyway, we get into the third inning and they're still scoring. I had been playing first base and I got the ball back from an outfielder after a home run. I toss the ball back to our pitcher, but now Kevin (a coach) yells out from the bench, "OK, Sully, it's your turn", with a tone of voice that sounded only slightly sadistic.

I took the ball from the departing pitcher, placed my right foot on the rubber and started tossing warm-ups. Felt pretty good, actually. After only four or five, I told the ump I was set. He called the next batter into the box. On a 1 - 1 count, he grounded out hard, third to first.

The next batter hit a fly to right. I'm halfway to the bench, savoring the thought that I got out of the inning with no further damage, when the right fielder dropped the ball. The batter had barely bothered to run, so he only made first. Oh, well. I can get the next guy.

Nope. The next guy hit a rocket to right. Two more runs in. I then got the third guy. Well, actually my center fielder got him. It was a decent liner that he ranged to his left to snag on the run.

I'm back on the bench now, telling my manager that I feel pretty good and I'd like to throw another inning, if that's OK.

He said, "OK?!? You're probably throwing the next four, Sull. You're pretty much it."

Not too long after that, I was counting my teeth and complaining in my head about the number of pebbles on the field.


So, it was first and second, one out. I honestly can't remember even seeing the ball. I distinctly remember it hitting my throat first and then my jaw, which is odd since there's so little space between them. I may have gotten a small piece of my glove in front of it, but I don't know for sure. All I recall is thinking, "Oh, shit" and hitting the ground. I'm not sure if the thought preceded the hit or vice-versa.

I heard the umpire calling time. I checked my mouth for teeth. Everybody from both benches was coming towards the mound as I got up. Kevin or Kurt asked me about my teeth. I said I was OK. Then someone told me I was bleeding, which I was. It was just a couple of scrapes where the ball had hit my jaw, although I was still dazed enough so that when I put my hand up to my face and saw blood on it when I took it back down, I wasn't sure where it was from.

Then someone from the other team pointed out that there was a bit of blood from my mouth. That worried me. I checked my teeth again. No, they were fine. I spit. Yeah, a bit of red. Where was it from? I guess when I went down I either bit my inside lower lip or the small pebbles in my mouth had cut it.

As he saw that I wasn't going to die, the opposing batter apologized for hitting me. Nice of him, but it wasn't like he was trying to kill me. That's just the way it goes sometimes. He held out his hand and I touched my glove to it. It was the kind of moment that would have received a thunderous ovation if there was a big crowd at our games, but since there were only ten or twelve people in the stands, I think the only noise came from the geese in left field honking.

Kurt kind of took my arm and started to lead me to the bench. All things considered, it would have been the smart thing for me to do, to take a seat. However, how often do you get a chance to be macho in a softball game? I said I wanted to stay in. Against his better judgment, he let me. So, now the bases were loaded. I threw a couple of warm-ups, just to make sure I was OK. Yeah, no worse than usual. Next batter.

Grand slam. Now Kurt comes to get me again. I beg him for one more batter. I'm really (honestly) finally figuring out this pitching stuff. I know the secret now. The idea is to avoid the hitter's bat.

I struck out the next batter, swinging, and got the final out on, I believe, a pop to Kurt at first. Now I was definitely out of the game. End of the season for me.


A nice guy in the stands - no idea who he was - went to a store and got a couple of chemical ice packs when he saw me get hit. As I came back to the bench, he was just getting back from the store or wherever and he handed them to me. I thanked him profusely. I would have bought him a beer after the game, but this game was so bad he was gone by the time it ended.


So, that's the end of my weekday season. Good bunch of guys on that team. I'm hoping to come back for one more year and I hope all of them will be there, too. We're much better than this. I'd like to see us prove it.

Four more games on Sundays - two this Sunday, two the next - and that will be it for the entire season. No playoffs for that team. My championship drought has now reached 42 years. Next year I'm 50 and I really, honestly, truly think it will probably be the last one for me. One more chance.

[What a lie that turned out to be! - 2012 Jim]

So, I said yesterday that I'd leave every bit of sweat I had in me on the field. That turned out to be true. I didn't know I'd leave some blood, too. No tears, though. It's all good. It always is.

Soon, with more better stuff.

Thursday, June 21, 2012


Despite what I said ten days ago, some dim bulbs insist that I should keep on accepting awards. Today's 15-watt porch light is Quirkyloon. Here's a photo of her enjoying a wombat in her underwear.

And here's the award.

These virtual cases of chlamydia always come with rules, which is one of the reasons I despise them. Do they ask you to follow some absurd set of rules when you receive an Oscar, an Emmy, or a Tony? NO! As a matter of fact, when you receive a Tony, it explicitly says on the statue that you never have to follow the rules again (unless you're straight, in which case they check to see how the voting got screwed up.) So why, in order to display one of these armpit pimples on your blog, should you have to list Six Things You Ate That Were Still Alive? Or even Reveal What You Wore The Last Time You Had Sex With A Human?


(Which would be a good thing to yell in a crowded theater in order to see if anyone was truly listening.)

(Now, THAT'S a non sequitur what is one!)

Anyway, one of the hideous rules connected with this particular internet equivalent of toe jam is that the recipient is supposed to pass it along to seven other unsuspecting and otherwise peaceful individuals in an effort to see that everyone with a computer eventually ends up with this pussy rash.

(That's pussy, as in filled with pus, and not the vulgarity for the female sexual organs, although if I know my audience, that's how each and every one of you pronounced it on the first read.)

When Quirkyloon, an otherwise harmless molester of zombie wombats, foisted this fetid pile of stink cheese on me, here's what she said:

Suldog... is funny and wise. And he LOATHES awards and will ROAST you if you bestow one upon him. Let's see if he READS this post, cuz I ain't gonna tell him.

Me? Funny and wise? That tells you right there just how much of both of those superlatives she has on board, which is to say she is equivalent to Pooh.

(That would be Pooh, the bear of very little brain, as opposed to pooh, the shit. Still, if I know my audience, you're probably long gone by now, so why am I still typing?)

Well, first off, I figure there might be a few [hundred] of you who are glad to see anything from me that doesn't mention softball. A couple others have fallen asleep in their chairs, and I like to hear myself talk, so wot the hell.

Anyways, here's the thing:

Hah! If I know my audience, half of you don't get it and the other half are saying, "It's a proper name, so it should have been capitalized, like "Pooh" was."


And now that I've finished my last line of coke, we'll go on. You see, I don't have anything more than what I've already given you, which, you have to admit, hasn't been all that and a bag of chips. However, I do have a very large backlog of USED insults from when I accepted other awards in the past, so I'm just going to trot a bunch of 'em out on the stage now and you can decide if they apply to Quirkyloon or not. I don't give a rat's ass whether they do because I've done my job here, as shoddily and haphazardly as I'm allowed under union blogging rules, and I'm going home now. Before I go, though, I am telling you the stone-cold absolute bottom-line truth:


(Or maybe I'll just ignore it, which is what I could have done with this award, but I truly like Quirky, she asked for it, and I always try to be kind to the dull-witted.)

OK, here come the old insults! Few of them will make any sense in the current context, but so am I.

"Being a blogger deemed worthy of note by Quirky is similar to being a food item declared healthy by a sack full of Twinkies."

"I suppose Quirky is creative, in the same way that a vicious dog leaving a cat only three legs to hobble around on is creative, but that does little to swell the dog’s reputation and leaves you with somewhat less of a cat. In certain circles, that might qualify as art."

"Next up on this edition of World's Dumbest Criminals is Quirkyloon. Quirky hails from Neptune, and her hobbies include pretending she's Queen Elizabeth and fondling herself."

"I'm wracking my brain trying to come up with just exactly what type of gift Quirky might have, other than the ability to induce type-2 diabetes, but I think the idea is to just acknowledge that such gifts exist in all of us, even if when we put on a jumper and sandals we become the stuff of a bad STP trip."

"To be singled out, in her estimation, as funny, is certainly an honor that ranks up there with, say, being named starting first baseman for the 1963 Washington Senators."

"Too easy a target. I mean, sure, I could sit around all day bashing Quirky, but where's the sport in that? I'd have her skewered before she could wipe the tobacco drool off of her chin. It would be like... well, like making fun of Texans or lesbians. All they have to do is show up and it's funny. I don't have to say a damn thing."

(End of old insults, all of which were re-cycled even before this, as My Darker Grey Friend, Michelle, knows. Sad. Truly and officially sad. I'm quoting myself quoting myself quoting myself. Even Truman Capote never sank that low.)

Of course, I could have saved all of us some trouble if I had remembered earlier that I already received this award and just sent you to read the post I wrote back then. But, I didn't. I'll try to give you back these ten minutes some other day.

Thanks bunches, Quirky. If I know my audience, I now don't have one. My reputation has been destro... well, no, my reputation is pretty much bulletproof, unfortunately, so never mind.

Moon, with snore butter muff.

(Why not? It makes as much sense as anything else here.)

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

You Win Some, You Lose Some, You Puke A Bit

Odd little week on the softball diamond. Two wins, two losses, the only game I was healthy for I didn’t play in, the three I was sick during I batted .800.

First, the two losses…

George Pratt Club – 8 QUENCHER – 6

Telegraph Hill – 10 QUENCHER – 9

Those two losses drop Quencher’s record to 7 and 3, and probably put any hope of our finishing first out of reach. We’re alive mathematically, but a hard look at the schedule tells the real story.

Current three-time repeat champion Shenanigans stands at 9 and 0. We have six games remaining, they have seven, and even though our final game of the year is against them, it would be an upset if they were beat by two others before we meet. Also standing in the way are Sonny’s Pirates with one loss. They handed us our first loss of the season two weeks ago. Even if Shenanigans were to lose two games, then lose to us when we meet in the season finale, we would have to have Sonny’s lose three more along the way since they own the tiebreaker against us (also, Shenanigans and Sonny’s still have to play each other, so while one of them will get a loss there, the other will get the win.) Now add the George Pratt Club into the mix, because by beating us they upped their record to 7 and 2 (8 and 2, with another victory since then) and you see the dilemma.

The George Pratt Club (named for deceased ace pitcher George Pratt, and which I was proud to be a part of during their 2004 season when they were known as Sidewalk CafĂ©) is a good team. They were in the finals against Shenanigans last season, boast a very strong lineup, and have four past championships in their pedigree. There’s nothing to be ashamed of in losing to them, but I think most of our guys believe we should have beaten them. We had two runners erased at the plate on what appeared to be dubious calls. Score either of those runs and keep the innings going…

Well, it doesn’t look good to start blaming the umpire for your losses, even if you feel you might have a legitimate case. We lost, they won, and that’s that. We had a couple of innings to do something after those calls, but didn’t make it happen. There was also a bit of bad blood stemming from those plays at the plate, words exchanged with a few guys getting nose-to-nose for a brief time, but cooler heads prevailed. It will be a good lively series if we meet them again in the playoffs.

The loss to Telegraph Hill was more painful, both for the team and for me personally.

Telegraph Hill has on its roster five players who also play for my Sunday team, the Bombers, and the team is generally filled with nice guys, so it was a good-natured game. I really wanted to beat them, though, for both the bragging rights and because it would have meant keeping alive our hopes for finishing first. And we jumped to an 8 – 2 lead after two innings. There was little good news from then on, however, as Telegraph Hill took advantage of a couple of truly bad-looking defensive plays and they also delivered in the clutch. The main thorn in our side was my good buddy, Big Jay Atton.

Big Jay entered the game in the fourth, taking over for his uncle, Jack Atton, first as a pinch-hitter and then on the mound. We were still holding an 8 – 7 lead when he went in to pitch in the fifth, but he allowed only one hit in his three innings of work (my single in the sixth, which resulted in our ninth run following a couple of walks and a double play) and then, in their half of the sixth, he delivered a triple to right that scored the tying run. His run subsequently scored to give them the lead, he pitched a perfect seventh, and the bragging rights went to him and more power; he deserved it.

So, I said I didn’t play in the one game I was healthy, but batted well in the three games I was sick. Here’s that story.

I didn’t play in the game against George Pratt. When our full squad is available, Nate Spada catches, and rightly so. He’s a better bat, younger, faster, better arm, no complaints from me if I sit in his favor. Then, in the game against Telegraph Hill, we were short three of our starters, necessitating a move of our regular first baseman, Mike Briggs, to the outfield. Nate came out from behind the plate to man first base, and I caught the game. Nate supplied the power early on with a big home run in the first, and I went two-for-three, so that worked out OK offensively. As the game went on, though, I felt more and more like I was fixing to die.

You know that nasty feeling you can get when a bad cold is coming on and there’s nothing you can do about it but just wait for it to knock you down? That’s how I felt all day at work Friday. And I was pissed about it, too. I knew I’d be starting that night, I really wanted that game, and here I was feeling more washed out by the hour. By the time I arrived at the park, I was having a bit of trouble breathing. Once the game began, I built up a good sweat and felt better because of it. After the game, though, I hung out in the stands, watching the following game with Big Jay and other members of Telegraph Hill, and I found that when I laughed I couldn’t really get my breath too well (which is a serious problem when hanging with Big Jay because he’s a funny guy.) I had originally planned on spending more of the evening in the stands, watching the other league games, but I had to leave. I felt like crap.

I got home, took a steaming hot shower, and threw a frozen pizza in the oven. I should have been hungry as a horse, having just played and this being my first real meal of the day, but I could only finish two slices. I took some cold pills, alternated between sweating and chills for the rest of the night, and spent most of Saturday in bed sleeping.

Come Sunday morning, I knew I was the only catcher available for the Bombers (Joey Baszkiewicz was in Chicago watching the Red Sox play the Cubs.) I still felt pretty nasty, but I dressed and went to Smith Field. I expected to catch both ends of the doubleheader.

Here’s what happened…

BOMBERS – 18 Flush – 2

BOMBERS – 30 Flush – 4

I caught 8 of a possible 10 innings (both games were 5-inning mercy rules, and someone else took over for two innings), and had a perfect day at the plate (2 for 2, with 3 walks, 4 RBI, 4 runs scored.) So, for the three games when I was sick, I totaled 4 for 5 [.800], with 3 walks [OBP of .875], and had more RBI than I’d had the whole rest of the season.

I should be that sick every game.

I felt really good after the doubleheader, too. I sweated a lot, got my lungs a decent workout and cleared them of a lot of crap, and then raising our record to 5 - 1 certainly didn’t hurt. I thought I had found the cure for the common cold (your team has to win two while you get on base every time) but I got home, the adrenalin diminished, and I went back to bed. I coughed my fool head off most of the day, puked a couple of times in the evening, and here I am on Monday, home from work and typing this because I’m sick of being in bed and coughing so I figured I’d sit at the keyboard and cough instead.

If you’re reading this on Tuesday, it’s because I made it to work on that day. That’s a good thing, because we have a game and I want to play. If I’m still sick enough, maybe I can go four for four.



Soon, with more better stuff.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Commencement Address

Well, another graduation season has come and gone with nobody asking me to be their commencement speaker.

(They asked this guy - and rightly so. Great speech! Not as good as mine, though.)

Yes, I have a commencement address, ready to go at a moment's notice, and it's a corker. Since you've got nothing better to do (and I have nothing better to write) here it is. Feel free to recommend me to your alma mater next year.

(In case they need to know, my fee is contingent upon how far I'll have to travel. I figure thirty dollars a mile would be fair, so if you're a graduate of the University of Bangkok, I'll return your call immediately. Harvard? I'm just down the street from there, so not as quickly.)

As an added incentive, I'll mention your name in the first minute of my speech and make it seem as though you actually amounted to something.

Here's the speech.


Hello, suckers! I'm your commencement speaker. My name is Suldog.

You may be wondering who I am and how in the hell I was chosen to be your commencement speaker. Too many questions! The first lesson you need to learn before hitting the real world is nobody gives a damn who I am, so why should you? Face it - nobody gives a damn who you are, either, so I'm at least your equal. In any case, your illustrious past graduate, [insert name here], never worried about who I was and look what it did for [him/her/it].

If you have any complaints, I turned down Harvard to be here today, so shut up.

The first thing you should know is that, monetarily speaking, you wasted the past four years. If you add the money you could have earned in the real world to the money you (or, more likely, your parents) spent on this place, and invested it in even an extremely cautious mutual fund, you would have been a millionaire by the age of thirty-five. Instead, you'll be paying off student loans for the next ten years and the only way you'll ever make up the ground you've lost is if you marry someone rich. Hell, I'm 55, and the only reason my student loans are paid off is because I got this gig talking to you. And I only went to a one-year certificate-program broadcasting school. Yes, that's right. I'm not even a college graduate, yet here I am giving your commencement address. See? Four years down the tubes. Oh, well. I hope the beer was good. And if you didn't get laid once or twice, you should ask for a refund.

All right, graduates, I've given you my credentials - such as they are - and now is the time when I give you some good advice that you'll find useful throughout your life. Here it is:

Wherever you go, there you are.

(*stares at audience for five seconds*)

That's it.

(*another five seconds of staring*)

I'm serious. That's it. That's the best advice I've got.

(*five more seconds, or until they start to throw stuff*)

Look, here's the thing. If you're driving north on Route 1 in Boston, and you get onto the Tobin Bridge, then you take the off-ramp for Charlestown, and go into McDonald's and buy an Egg McMuffin, you shouldn't bitch about not being in Los Angeles scarfing down a filet mignon at Emeril's. It's your own fucking fault you're in Charlestown, right? If you don't make the effort to put your ass in a seat at Emeril's, why do you think you have a right to complain? And if you never made even the slightest attempt to get to L.A., why in the name of Beelzebub's left ass cheek do you think you might deserve to be there?

Wherever you go, there you are.

Mostly, YOU will decide where you end up. The choices you make will bring you somewhere, so it would be smart of you to consider just where those choices might bring you and make sure that's someplace you won't mind being. And if you have someplace you want to be, do what needs to be done to get there. You can't get to Paris by taking the New York City Subway, but it's a swell option if you want to go to Brooklyn.

Now, some of you are saying, "But, I had to overcome so much to get here! I had an alcoholic father and my mother was a crack whore and I had to eat welly-cheese every second meal and my parish priest fondled me on alternate Sundays."

Well, boo-friggin-hoo, precious little snowflake! Consider yourself dope-slapped. You think everyone else had it easier than you? Well, yeah, OK, maybe most people did. Shut the fuck up, anyway. Everybody on the face of the earth had to overcome something.

Maybe you had to overcome more than the guy or gal next to you? Fine. Congratulations on your achievement. You know what? You had it easier than someone else, too. There's someone out there who had no father or mother, didn't even get welly cheese, and whose parish priest fondled him every day, twice on Sundays, and then rented him out to the next parish over for summer vacation. On top of that, he was born with one eye and then contracted cancer of the ears at age three. And he's out there somewhere doing his nine-to-five and happy to have the opportunity.

Here's the deal: If you're a nice person, and you don't whine about your problems, people will actually ask you to tell your story. Rest assured, however, that nobody wants you to grab them by the lapels and sobbingly complain about how tough you've had it. All that will do is make you a pain in the ass.

So, let me slightly amend my advice. Wherever you go, there you are. And, while you're there, shut the hell up about the problems you had getting there, unless you can make the story entertaining. If someone asks you about your journey, use your sense of humor (if God granted you one.) Everybody likes to laugh. And if you can tell people your problems and make them laugh at the same time? You'll never be without someone willing to listen to your problems. It's only the little girl pissy pants whining that drives people away. Make 'em laugh and you own 'em.


OK, that's the big deal advice. Here's some smaller stuff you should know.

One - Nobody wants to hear your music. It doesn't matter if it's heavy metal, rap, classical, klezmer, show tunes, jazz, or Tuvan throat singing. If you turn it up loud enough to invade someone's hearing space, they will not enjoy it. They will, in fact, call you an inconsiderate asshole - and rightly so.

Two - Over the course of your lifetime, you will be able to count on the fingers of one hand the number of times that you will be thanked for having beeped your horn. Mostly, beeping your horn will not make people think kindly of you. It's the same as the music thing above, but in a shorter ruder form. And if you're giving someone a ride and you come to their house and beep the horn for them to come out, that person might thank you, but there will be at least ten neighbors who think you suck, so that doesn't count as one of the times you should have done it.

Three - If you own a vicious dog and it decides to go off its nut and maul somebody, you deserve to be strung up. As a matter of fact, if you own a vicious dog at all, I say we cut to the chase and string you up now. What possible reason could you have for owning a dangerous weapon as a pet? If you're that insecure, get a gun. At least then, when the thing you own kills somebody, we can kill you instead of the dog.

Four - Trust me on this next one. Nobody wants to hear your cell phone conversations. Well, nobody except the government. In any case, the next time you're using public transportation and I'm sitting next to you and you tell the person on the other end of your blathering conversation, "I'm at Park Street right now", when in actuality you're somewhere else, I am going to grab the phone from you and yell into it, "He's Lying!", and then either toss the friggin' phone out the window or throw it on the ground and stomp on it. It's bad enough that I have to listen to you at all; I refuse to also listen to you lie.

Five - You should never be afraid to say "please" or "thank you". It doesn't cost anything and people will like you a lot more if you do.

Six - No matter how terrible some situation is, have a cookie. It'll make you feel better.

Seven - The word "lose" is spelled with one "o". If you use more than one "o", you will go through life mystified as to why you get no respect from those of us who use only one "o". If you ask us, we will gladly tell you. However, most of you who use two are ignorant self-satisfied twats who think spelling and grammar aren't important. Those of us who know better are happy to have such an easy way to identify the assholes, and we thank you.

In closing, be aware that you will never replace these past fifteen minutes, nor should you want to. They may have been the most valuable fifteen minutes of your life. I know they're pretty high up on the list for me, assuming the check has cleared. If it hasn't, consider everything I just told you a lie.

So long, losers!

(Or "loosers", as the case may be...)


I'm sure the offers will now come flooding in for me to deliver this address, so I may be tied up for a while. If not...

Soon, with more better stuff.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Enchilda Van Vechten

My good internet friend, Lime, gave me an award.

If you're one of the masochists who has been coming here for years, then you know that I long ago gave up accepting awards. The short story, since few of you will have clicked onto the link for the long version, is that I got tired of spewing venom upon those kind souls who gave them to me. It was my practice to heap insults and humiliation on the poor suckers, and while most victims of the abuse asked for it and reveled in it, once or twice the person on the receiving end didn't understand the humorous intent and had been basically brought to tears by what they perceived as a truly mean and rude reaction by a self-confessed Christian and a fanatic about Mister Rogers. So, I said, "Enough is too much!", and stopped accepting the damn things.

Lime is my good friend, however, and she pretty much begged to be abused, so I accepted her award and promised to barbecue her. That was three weeks ago. I have not been able to work up enough vitriolic pressure to do so. That's probably due to my softball teams winning most of their games. I'm too happy a guy to call her a despicable and overbearing wart on the hindquarters of humanity. I just don't feel like tearing her a new one (and, anyway, she lives in West Bumfuck, PA, and thinks a thesaurus is what you get on your lips when you kiss a T Rex with herpes, so why bother?)

I did promise her a post, though, so I hope her nasty and brutish disposition will allow her to accept what follows in the hideous spirit intended. It is a re-run, from six years ago, and if paying back her kindness with a moldy old re-run isn't insult enough for her, then I don't know my business and she can go take a flying fuck at a rolling donut (except she's a she, so I think she'd have to be the rolling donut and somebody else will have to take the flying fuck and if anybody is in the vicinity with a camera, I'll pay good money.)

Wow! That was worse than the stuff that made other people cry, so maybe I'm just a rotten person and should kill myself for the betterment of everyone else?

Nah! Here's the old stuff. By the way, it's a recipe for...


The enchilda (misspellicus enchilada) is the only mammal native to the continent of Antarctica. It was discovered in 1995 by the brilliant yet extremely alcoholic zoologist, Kenneth Van Vechten. Until that time, he had been best known for his work in the field of animal husbandry. Then one day they caught him at it (see Lehrer for details) and he had to skip town, so he headed to Antarctica.

While in Antarctica, Van Vechten stumbled upon the enchilda, literally. In a blind stupor one evening, he went to take a whiz behind a handy iceberg and tripped over the only known colony of the creatures. He estimated that there were 2 million enchilda in the colony. Later (sober) counts put the number at 403.

The general consensus among the scientific community, upon being informed by Van Vechten of his discovery, was one of disbelief. This was because he had previously “discovered” giant pink rabbits. This time, though, he had taken pictures that actually showed something other than his disheveled living room strewn with tequila bottles. Upon seeing these newer photographs, the scientific community said, "Bleah!"

A full-grown adult enchilda weighs 75 pounds, most of that weight being in the legs. This is because it has 12 legs, each approximately 30 inches long. It has been postulated by some that it developed multiple legs in an evolutionary response to its environment. It has been postulated by others that the original postulators are full of shit and that God just has a tremendous sense of humor. In any case, the legs do aid in locomotion over ice and snow.

A thick pelt of white hair covers the body of the enchilda. This is the reason for its not having been discovered sooner, since it blends into the Antarctican background so readily. Either that or every scientist who visited Antarctica prior to Van Vechten must have been on the crack pipe to have missed these hideous creatures.

[The Antarctican night is the best time for viewing enchilda, as their pure white pelts make them almost invisible during the daytime.]

Perhaps the most interesting thing about the enchilda is its reproductive cycle. All enchilda are bisexual and hermaphroditic. They are born with five each of male sexual organs and five each of female sexual organs. They do not become sexually mature until they reach exactly six years of age. At precisely midnight on the day of their maturity, they indulge in a gigantic community orgy. Each enchilda copulates with ten other enchilda in an amazing daisy chain that ends with an explosive group orgasm at dawn.

Enchilda copulation always results in pregnancy and the gestation period is three hours. At 9:36 am, every pregnant enchilda makes its way down to the sea, dives into the water, gives birth, and then dies. They all give birth to one new enchilda, thus the population is static.

Until Van Vechten came along the dead enchilda were all eaten by whales. Van Vechten, having done a miserable job of planning for his food needs (he had packed 15 cases of tequila and two jelly donuts) decided to see if the enchilda were edible.

As it turns out, the answer was yes and no. Fully mature enchilda, having given birth and died, become both completely edible and utterly delicious. However, the non-mature-yet-to-have-sex-and-give-birth enchilda are fatally poisonous. Thus, since the only edible enchilda is one that has died of natural causes, the enchilda is the only animal approved for eating by PETA.

Since enchilda mate and give birth once - and only once - every six years, the window of opportunity for eating enchilda is limited. Due to their severe physiology, it is impossible to freeze an enchilda; they all must be harvested and eaten fresh. In addition, they rot in less than twenty minutes once exposed to warm-weather bacterial forms, so it is impossible at this time to eat them anywhere on Earth except their native land. The next enchilda orgy will occur on March 19th of 2014, so the following recipe is useless unless you plan on being in Antarctica on that date.

(It should also be noted that the enchilda-eating whales are so intent on their once-every-six-years feast they will actually pursue onto the ice sheet anyone who tries to poach “their” enchilda. Unfortunately, this is how Van Vechten met his demise. After eating an enchilda, he was himself eaten by a pissed-off whale.)

So, on to the recipe. Here’s what you’ll need:

1 Fully Matured (Dead And Sexually Satisfied) Enchilda
1 Very Heavy Cast Iron Frying Pan

That’s about it. The frying pan is for fighting off the whales. Whack 'em over the head with it if they get close to you.

As for the enchilda, they taste exactly like a medium rare strip sirloin when raw, so that’s the best way to eat them. When you cook one, it tastes like Spackle. The only exception is the spleen, which after cooking tastes like licorice bubble gum. And nobody in their right mind eats the liver; even the whales spit it out. The middle toe on the fifth left leg is considered a delicacy, but nobody knows why.


I hope that satisfies you, bitch (though I have no earthly idea why it would.)

Soon, with more bitter stuff.

Monday, June 11, 2012

A Pleasant Sunday

It was a short softball week, but a pleasant one.

BOMBERS – 12 Moe Howard Club – 9

BOMBERS – 13 Moe Howard Club – 3

These two wins bring our record in the Sunday league to 3 and 1, firmly in third place (of eight teams.) It’s early in the season, but I really like what I’ve seen of this team thus far. We’ve got a strong lineup pretty much top to bottom. Our pitching staff is deep. I have no doubt we’ll make the playoffs, and then we’ll see what happens.

(Quencher, my weekday team, was rained out. With the rainouts piling up, and the season having already been shortened due to a pending re-sod of the field in August, we’ll now be scheduling make-up games on Saturdays, a first for this league. I thought it would be fine by me, since I have no life, but I do have MY WIFE, and we had just made tentative plans for the weekend when the games are now re-scheduled. Ick.)

Anyway, back to the Bombers. We’ve picked up three new players for this season and I like them all. They all bring good things to the team.

Robby Costello is a pitcher and third baseman. Very funny guy with a live fastball. What more could a manager ask for? He’s pitched well so far. There were some control issues in the first game this week, but while he walked eight, he also struck out eight, so it was fun to watch.

Jimmy Botting is either the younger brother or older brother of three-year Bomber, Billy Botting. Being as ancient as I am, I can’t tell who’s older when two people are both under thirty-five. Hell, I’m lucky I can see them at all without my glasses. Even if I was blind, though, I’d be able to tell Jimmy is a good ballplayer.

(Not really. If I was blind, I wouldn’t have any idea. It sounded good, though, huh?)

Jimmy has speed to burn. Every single is a possible double if he’s in the mood. Sometimes, he’s not in the mood to stop at third base when his coach asks him to do so, but he wasn’t out and he understands why it was a mistake, so I still like him. Besides, he’s got everything else you’d want in a ballplayer, just like his older (or younger) brother, Billy – good stick, range in the field, strong arm, and a great attitude.

Speaking of a great attitude, Bennett is the third new player. He’s a friend of Billy and Jimmy (don’t ask me if he’s younger or older) and – this is a compliment – I don’t think he’d say shit even if he had a mouthful. Due to our numbers, he’s been used sparingly. But he understands the situation and he’s raring to go when he gets in. Every team needs good guys like Bennett who are ready to go when their number is called.

Some of you (although I’m not sure why) like to hear about how I did personally. I’m happy to report I feel like I actually did contribute to a win this week. My bat is still about as useful as… well, I could be carting a piece of taffy to the plate and accomplish as much. I popped up and drew a walk in my two at-bats. But I did a good job behind the plate when I replaced Joey Baszkiewicz in game one. As mentioned previously, Robby walked eight. In the final three innings, while I was catching him, he gave up one hit, walked none, and struck out three. None of that is to diss Joey; he’s a fine catcher. But sometimes it works to change the target when a guy is struggling with his control, and it did in this case. Robby threw what I suggested, hit the glove where I put it, and I was lucky enough to hang on to two foul tips for third strikes.

(Guys always come up to you after the inning and say stuff like, “Good job on that foul tip, Sully!” and other nice things. I appreciate the thought, but it’s about 99% chance and 1% talent. If it hits me in the glove, I might catch it. The only talent is remembering to close the glove. It’s not like any catcher has time enough to react to make that play, or the superman-like reflexes it would take to do anything about it even if he had the time.)

I have one last thing to mention before I go earn an actual living. Big Jay Atton pitched game two. It was his first start since being [LINK] hit in the face with a line drive at M Street last Friday. I’m happy to report he pitched well and he didn’t seem to let what happened to him affect his performance. That’s good news. Aside from being my good buddy, he’s been our ace for a while now and we won’t win any championship without him. If he throws like he did yesterday, we’re in good shape.



Quencher will be playing Tuesday and Friday, the Bombers take the field for another doubleheader on Sunday, and I’ll be back to tell you about all of it a week from today. That’s sad news for some of you, but too bad. I’ll give you something that’s NOT about softball tomorrow, so the words below might still apply.

Soon, with more better stuff.

Friday, June 08, 2012

You Can Grow Ideas In The Garden Of Your Mind

Yesterday, it was a speech that told young people You Are Not Special (even though the actual thought was that they are special; you have to read it.) Today, something new from the man who told everyone that they were special - Mister Rogers.

The musical style may not be everyone's favorite, but I think this is a brilliant piece of work. Enjoy!

(I thank Lime for bringing this to my attention. It made my morning.)


Thursday, June 07, 2012

"You Are Not Special"

I recently enjoyed reading something so extraordinary, so singular, that I feel an overwhelming need to bring it to your attention. It is the commencement address given by a high school English teacher, David McCullough, to the class of 2012 at Wellesley High School.

I would give my left nut to have written this.

(Statements such as the above are sometimes said in haste and don't truly reflect the sincerity of the person saying it - especially if it's a woman - but I mean it. It is good enough to cost one, so long as I have two.)

Please do yourself a favor and set aside a few minutes to read this amazing piece of literature.

You Are Not Special

(I should note that the public reaction to Mr. McCullough's speech has not universally matched my reaction. While it seems, from my perspective, that a majority appreciate his words, there are some lackluster individuals, without a sense of humor nor particularly efficient reading comprehension, who have said unkind things concerning him. It should go without saying, but I feel the need to say it, anyway, just in case I can save you some grief: those people are dolts and should be avoided at all costs. They will drain delight from your life as surely as David Ortiz removes medium-speed fastballs down the middle from Fenway.)

Soon, With Something Else (But It Won't Be Better, I Assure You.)

Monday, June 04, 2012

Athlete's Prayer

You’ve seen it. An athlete kneels down on the field and prays, or makes the sign of the cross before he steps into the batters box. And you’ve heard people say, "Hmpf! Does this guy think God will be more willing to help HIM win the game?" It’s a fair question, but I have to believe it’s asked more often by people who either don’t pray or who don’t understand prayer. Maybe you’ve been the one asking it. If so, I’ll try to supply you with an answer, because I pray before every game I play.

I suppose the first thing to tell you is that I never pray to God to make my team the winner.

(If some of my former teammates are reading this, they might be saying, "Well, I wish you had, Sully, because we could have used the help." Ha-Ha, wise guy. Shut up.)

What I do pray for are these three things:

1 – To play to the best of my abilities.

2 – For a clear head to make the decisions which will be best for my team.

And, very important...

3 – That no one be injured.

Now, I’m no mind reader, so I don’t know what goes into the prayers of other athletes, but I suspect that most of them are praying for somewhat similar things. I think there are very few who pray something as selfish as "Hey, God, make me the winner!" If that’s what they do pray, I hope they have a backup plan, because I don’t think God really cares one way or the other who wins. In the long run, does a game matter? Does who wins or loses affect anything important? Is victory - or defeat - remembered, by those who didn’t play, years after the game? Rarely, if at all, and even more rarely does it result in anything that redounds to God’s glory. And glory to God is the thing that matters when praying, even in a context as relatively meaningless as my softball games.

So, that’s why I end every prayer by saying, "I ask these things in Jesus’ name, for your glory, Lord. Amen."

Are MY prayers always answered? Do I always perform to the utmost of my God-granted physical abilities? Do I always make the right decisions? Is no one ever hurt? I have to be honest and say no, not all of those prayers are answered in the affirmative every time. But I’ll tell you that the fault is generally mine, not God’s. I have to hold up my end of the bargain, and sometimes I don’t. If I swing at bad pitches, or refuse to take what the other team is giving me, I can’t expect God to turn my bad judgment into a home run. If I don’t take the time to think things through, I don’t expect God to do my thinking for me. And if I step in front of a fastball, I deserve a dent in my head. However, when I truly put my heart into it, and I don’t just recite those prayers in a rote way as though it were a superstitious ritual like kissing a rabbit’s foot or stroking a four-leaf clover, and when I hold up my end of the bargain and try to bring glory to God in some way, my prayers have a higher success rate. In other words, when I do what’s right, I get what’s good.

(Does this always happen for everybody who prays? No. Some very serious and fervent prayers have been said by people, with every bit of their heart and soul behind the prayer, and the answer given has not been that for which they hoped. I understand that, and I don’t mean to imply that they were somehow deficient in their prayer and that’s why the person for whom they were praying did not receive the blessing they had hoped. Sometimes God has a greater purpose and plan than our hopes take into account, and sometimes we just have to accept the fact that we don’t have the capacity to always see or understand what good is going to come about in future because of the present tragedy. That’s just the way it is. And, if you don’t accept that premise, then anything else I have to say about prayer probably won’t make sense to you. Sorry about that! You’d be a much happier person overall, though, if you allowed yourself to believe it.)

The other important thing to remember is that people play games because the competition is fun. They enjoy the test. Figuring out the puzzle is part of the joy. Even professionals start out playing their games because they have fun doing it and enjoy the competition; the money comes later. If you know for a fact that you're going to succeed every time, where’s the fun in that? That isn’t a test. If all it took was saying words in a certain order, and then letting another higher being take over the controls, would that produce joy? God knows why we play, so He isn’t going to influence the outcome in a way that voids all of the good components of the games. And I'm fairly sure I speak for the vast majority of athletes when I say that I’m glad God isn’t some cosmic third-grade soccer mom handing out miracles as though they were trophies for showing up and having tried your hardest. You have to earn it, even if you pray.

I always say another prayer AFTER each game. I say, "Thanks, God, for allowing me the opportunity to have such fun." Hey, if you were God, would you listen to somebody who wasn’t grateful for the opportunities? Neither would I. So I can’t expect my prayers before the game to be given a friendly ear without saying "Thanks!" after those prayers have been given consideration, right?

What brings this all to mind is what happened on the field last week. I’ll explain.

I was playing with my new team, Quencher Tavern. We’ve had a few rainouts in our league this year, so we’re doubling up on the make-up games. Whereas our league usually plays Monday through Thursday, on one diamond of the two available at M Street, this past Friday there were six games scheduled utilizing both diamonds. So, while we were playing the 7:30 game on one diamond, my very good friend, Big Jay Atton, was pitching in a game on the other diamond.

We were winning our game handily. I looked toward the other diamond and saw a crowd gathered around the pitching mound. Then someone told me Big Jay had been hit in the face with a line drive.

My first reaction was disbelief. I’ve never known a better fielding pitcher than Big Jay. He has reflexes that make cats jealous. When he’s not playing softball, he’s a goalie in both hockey and soccer. Getting a ball past him is not an easy thing, and I had seen him snare many shots back to the box that would have left a big scar on other guys. I couldn’t believe somebody had hit one so hard that he couldn’t get a glove in front of it.

My next reaction was concern, of course. He’s my buddy, and one of the nicest people to ever step onto a field. I’m pretty sure you could ask everybody in the league to express an opinion concerning Big Jay and be hard pressed to find somebody who truly dislikes the guy. He’s always doing favors for people, offering to fill in when they’re missing a player or giving good advice when someone asks for it. He just purely loves playing, is a great teammate, a fierce competitor, and a very funny son of a bitch, too. Great sense of humor; he keeps everybody loose when he’s around. So, I became more and more troubled as I looked over at the field and the crowd stayed gathered around the mound. He wasn’t getting up.

Since we had our game well in hand, I wanted to go see what was up. I asked one of my teammates to take the scorebook from me and I walked over to the other diamond. I was hoping I wouldn’t see Big Jay with a face full of blood, spitting out teeth. When I got there, I was glad to see he seemed to be resting comfortably and wasn’t screaming in pain or anything. Joey Magee, another good guy, was keeping him still, checking him for signs of concussion. He was assured none of his teeth had been lost. There was an ugly set of scratches on his chin. They were in a precise row, and I assumed they were made by the stitches on the ball. This meant the ball that hit him was a rising line drive since Big Jay stands about six-seven.

There was nothing I could do for him by standing around gawking at his chin, so I decided to go back to my game. Before I left, though, I decided to see if his sense of humor was intact. I said something along the lines of, "How many Sullys do you see?" I think he replied, "One too many..." Whatever he said, he said it with the best smile he could muster under the circumstances, so I went back to my game.

Another ten minutes or so passed, and then I saw an ambulance pull up on M Street. They brought out the gurney. As a precautionary measure, they wrapped Big Jay up like a mummy before loading him onto the gurney. They took him off the field and drove away. His uncle, Jack, came over and told me they were taking him to New England Medical Center, and he was going to follow the ambulance. I thanked him for letting me know. I told him to call me if anything serious went down.

The main point of this whole mess is to tell you that I said a prayer for Big Jay, as I assume some others did. This writing is my payback to God for listening to that prayer. I just got off the phone with Big Jay. They kept him overnight for observation, but aside from being sore, he says he feels OK. He’s still there at the hospital, though, so I’m headed up to visit him in an hour or so.

As for the games this week, here are the scores.

Sonny’s Pirates – 7 QUENCHER – 2

QUENCHER – 19 Cranberry Cafe – 7

QUENCHER – 14 Bulldogs – 2

The loss to Sonny’s was our first of the season. They’re a tough team and they beat us fair and square. We may meet again in the playoffs; we’ll see. Otherwise, we continued our winning ways, taking our record to 7 and 1 on the year. As I write this, we’re tied for second place (there are seventeen teams in the league this year.) It’s a great squad and I’ll give them more individual props as the season goes on. As you can tell, I had some other stuff on my mind right now.

The Bombers were rained out, which is just as well considering I wouldn’t have had Big Jay to pitch in one of the games.

Off to visit my buddy now.

Soon, with more better stuff.

P.S. I'm happy to report that Big Jay was discharged from the hospital about twenty minutes after I arrived. He appears to be as normal as he gets.