Sunday, June 21, 2015

No Softball - Herald

The hed somewhat resembles the punchline to an old joke, but so do I. In case you don't know the joke, here's a link that might not help.

A link that will help (well, it will help me) is this one to my op-ed at the Boston Herald. Enjoy my humorous take on politics!

(There is so little politically we can all laugh about, but I think you'll agree that the main premise is extremely laughable. If you don't find it funny - instead finding it something you can get behind - I expect your donation in the mail tomorrow. If you don't find it funny - instead finding it to be something alarming - I assure you it was meant to be funny. If you don't find it funny - instead finding it just boring - that's your tough luck. No refunds.)

As always, anyone with a hard copy of one of my Herald columns in hand will gain admittance to the party I'm going to throw in 2034 when they award me my Pulitzer. There will be free artichokes for everyone attending, so it will be well worth the effort of saving the paper for almost twenty years.

If you say something kind at the website (or, even better, in an actual letter to the editor) such as, "Sully is so good I take his columns into the bedroom and read them alone with my pants down!", I will hunt you down and kill you because that makes no sense whatsoever and my editor will probably never accept anything from me again in fear of you showing up at her office someday demanding your free artichoke.

Well, this has certainly been a pathetic attempt at writing something that would get you to go read my piece in the Herald. Wash 'n wear giraffe radios!**

Soon, with more better stuff (I should hope so.)

P.S. The headline has to do with the fact that my softball games today were cancelled. The writing that followed the headline is what happens when I don't have that outlet. The only time I play now is on Sundays and then it's limited to one or two at-bats. By next week, I will have been in the on-deck circle for two weeks. This does not bode well for you or the Herald.

P.P.S. The artichoke came from here.

P.P.P.S. And, in case you were wondering ** is the answer to What did Harold Pinter say to Samuel Beckett?

P.P.P.P.S. Go read my piece in the... oh, hell, you know where to go if you want to read it. You also know where to go if you don't.

Friday, June 19, 2015


This is just a quick one to let those of you who have contributed to the "Go Fund Me" for my friend, Big Jay Atton, know that I have seen and appreciated your donations. Also, every share of the page - whether a contribution came with it or not - is also something for which I'm thankful. Every person it reaches is another potential contributor (and the call for prayer costs nothing and pays big dividends, IMVHO.)

If you haven't seen it yet, please go HERE.

Thank you again, from the bottom of my heart.

As for Jay's condition, it is improving, although he still has a long hard road to travel. His breathing has been improving and he is being weaned off both the oxygen and the sedative medications. He has had at least eight rounds of dialysis, so his functions in that area have seen some improvement.

For the latest updates concerning his condition, visiting his Facebook page is the best. His brother, Derick, posts something most days after his visits to the hospital - and God bless him for the service he's providing all of us, as well as Jay.

That's all for now. Back Sunday with directions to a piece of mine in the Boston Herald. Hope you enjoy it.

Soon, with more better stuff.

Monday, June 08, 2015

Please Share, Please Donate

You may have read the bad news concerning my friend and teammate, Big Jay Atton.

The short version: Jay had a heart attack and is in ICU in Houston, Texas. His kidneys have failed and he will likely need a transplant.

As you might expect, this sort of medical catastrophe has affected many people. For one thing, his medical bills will be enormous (and likely ongoing for some time, as he will need thrice-weekly dialysis tretments until he gets the kidney transplant.)

Jay's very good friend, Tasha Isabelle, has set up a Go Fund Me account to raise funds to help with Big Jay's expenses. I very rarely ask you for help, or ask for donations of any sort, but in this case I will outright plead with you for one, the other, or both.

Please go to the Go Fund Me page and read what Tasha has written.

If you have the wherewithal, I ask you to please make a donation.

Whether you are financially able to make a donation or not, I ask you to please share Jason's fundraising page on Facebook. It costs nothing to do so, but you may reach someone who is able to donate.

Jay is laying in a hospital bed and his future prospects are nothing any of us would like to be facing. I care deeply enough for this man that I've offered one of my kidneys for transplant. It may end up being a more symbolic than practical offer, considering my age and own bad habits past and present, but the offer is on the table. I don't say this to be self-serving ("Oh, look what a swell guy Jim is!") but to let you know the depth of my feeling on this.

Please do what you can. Thank you, and God bless you.

Saturday, June 06, 2015

My Season Opener

Tomorrow will be my season opener for softball this year.

Yeah, I know. June 7th. Of course, since I've told everyone I've retired, having a season opener AT ALL is rather surprising. I guess I need to explain.

Last year, I played in three leagues. Since I was 57 last year, that was a ridiculous sort of decision to make, but it's the one I did make. And it was ridiculous. I played part-time in one of the leagues (the toughest one, with fastballs I couldn't catch up to any longer), but in the other two leagues (modified fast-pitch) I caught just about every game for my teams. As a result, I ruined my rotator cuff. Destroyed it. Barbecued it. Ground it into little pieces.

We won a championship, though, and that's what I was after. I can live with the occasional pain in my shoulder so long as I have that memory. If we hadn't won, I'd be more mad about it.

Anyway, I can't throw now; not even a soft toss game of catch. That being the case, it makes perfect sense for me to be retired from the game. However, my Sunday team, the Bombers - the team with whom I shared the championship celebration last season - are still playing on Sundays (their, and my, 21st season in that league) and was I going to pass up a victory lap? Not with my ego.

So, tomorrow is my opening day. The team actually opened on May 31st, but I missed it - the first opening day I've missed in some 50+ years of playing ball. That's just the sort of fuck-up I am. I finally get the championship and then miss opening day the next season.

There was a reason, of course. My good friend and teammate, Fast Freddie Goodman, had invited me to accompany him on a road trip to New York to see a Mets game. The game was on May 30th. I said "yes" for three reasons:

1 - The league season was supposed to open on May 17th, so I wouldn't be missing that.

2 - I assumed May 30th would be the Memorial Day weekend and the league doesn't play then.

3 - I love Fred.

And here's what happened:

1 - The league DID open on May 17th. Unfortunately, with 7 teams in the league this year, each team would have to have a bye week. We drew the first bye.

2 - Memorial Day was on the weekend of the 24th. D'Oh!

3 - The team opened on May 31st while I was on the road with Fred (whom I still love, but missing that opener ate a little piece of my heart.)

Meanwhile, as you'll recall, I still can't throw. So what in blue hell am I doing still on the team?

I can still swing a bat and make my way to first base (it would be charitable to call how I make my way there "running", but it's something beyond walking, at least.) So I will wheedle an at-bat or two each Sunday, as conditions permit (we're either up or down by a bunch of runs, probably) and qualify myself for the playoffs and be ready for those in case nine other guys better than me come down with the flu or break a leg or something else horrendous enough to make it useful to have me in a playoff line-up. And then I will hang them up forever.

(Unless we win again, of course, in which case I'll have to come back for another victory lap.)

Bottom Row - Ron Aquino, Brad Cole, me, Brian Pacheco, Fast Freddie Goodman
Middle Row - Joe Baszkiewicz, Ron Johnson, M. J. McCabe, Pat Atton
Back Row - Billy Botting, Big Jay Atton, Bobby Botting, Jimmy Botting, Mark Preziosi, Jack Atton
(Not Pictured - Robby Costello)

On a more serious note, most of you heard my news concerning Big Jay Atton. He is still in ICU, but his condition has been improving somewhat. We're all hoping for a full recovery, of course, but he has a long road to travel. Please keep him in your prayers. I couldn't have asked for a more fun teammate for the past 18 years and I'll be missing him sorely tomorrow.

Soon, with more better stuff.

Monday, June 01, 2015

Prayer Request

I have not been a great blogger lately. I've come here less and less more and more. My appearances have sometimes been limited to flogging my latest piece of writing elsewhere (usually in some newspaper or magazine you have to pay to read) and then sending you there (and, on top of that, asking you to write the editors of said journals to tell them what a swell guy I am.)

In other words, I've been a jerk.

I offer that blanket apology (and a small blanket it is; if it were winter, you'd freeze...) because I really do have a serious request to make. I want you to offer up some prayers.

They're not for me; I wouldn't be that selfish when I've been so casual with our relationship. They're for a good friend of mine, Big Jay Atton.

Big Jay, maybe 2011?

I've known Jay for 18 years. When we met, he was a kid of 20 and I had just been asked by another ballplayer to manage a softball team over in South Boston's M Street Softball League, a premier fast-pitch league in Boston. The first player I met on the team was Jay. As I say, he was 20. However, it was hard to judge his age. I only found it out years later by doing retrograde math. Jay was maybe 6' 6" and weighed probably 270, but he had (as now) a real baby face. He could have been anywhere between 16 and 25.

Jay, 1998

He was -and still is - the most enthusiastic lover of softball I'd ever met. I was a nut about the game, always keeping stats and coming up with arcane formulations for comparing one player to another, and he was ready to talk strategy for - literally - hours at a time. We hit it off immediately. And we've been teammates, in more than that one league, every year since then. I've managed him, on occasion he's managed me, and when neither one of us was the manager, his Uncle Jack usually took the job.

BIG Jay, somewhere around 2007, I think

OK, I could go on and on telling you about my relationship with Jason Atton, but maybe you're wondering why he needs prayers. I apologize for keeping you in suspense for so long.

This past weekend, Jay suffered a heart attack while visiting with family in Houston Texas. Once hospitalized, we all found out that Jay had been keeping something from us. His kidneys were bad. He has had almost complete kidney failure and, in addition to his heart troubles, it is likely he will need a kidney transplant. Barring that, he's looking at dialysis for the foreseeable future.

So, as might imagine, he needs every prayer available.

Not that you have to have some sort of sparkling record for God to hear prayers about you, but Jay deserves them. He's a huge gentle giant with the joy of a kid. One of the funniest men I know, his size and demeanor sometimes leads people to believe he's not as intelligent as he is. And let me tell you - Jay Atton is THE smartest ballplayer with whom I've ever shared a field. I mean that in the way it reads, that he's savvy about softball in ways most people are not, but I also mean it as testament to his real-life intelligence. He's one smart cat. I've had teammates who are as intelligent as Jay, but none more so. It took me a while to realize that to a full extent, since he's always being so (usually intentionally) goofy, but it's true.

One of my favorite photos from softball.
L to R - me, Fast Freddie Goodman, Big Jay (with Joe Baszkiewicz lurking almost out of frame to the right.)
 Notice, if you will, the way the bench area tilts towards the field. Jay is standing on the lower end of it, while I stand on the higher end. He still makes me and Fred look like midgets.

I could go on with Big Jay stories and I'm sure I'll write a few more as time goes on. But, for now, I'll just ask, once again, for your kindest thoughts and prayers. The Big Man, one of my dearest friends, needs them. He's strong-willed, so he'll take it from a certain point and beat the hell out of it, but he could use your hands right now.

Soon, with (God willing) more better stuff.