You'd think that playing basically one game in the past 3 weeks would lend itself to posting frequently. not so!
I wish they'd schedule these things a little better – after playing Monday night (for the first time in almost two weeks), we play two on Saturday, then don't play again until next Sunday. It's hard to actually get into a rhythm, or even work on parts of your game, when the games themselves are so infrequent.
Ah well, on to this week's daring tale, in which we play a team from the Upper Division…and win!
Game #9: Us 10, Them 7
Team Record: 6-3
Blow, Joe: 1-3 (single, K, 1 RBI)
Season-to-Date Totals (through game 9 – on a side note, I seem to have misplaced the official season totals, and I think the last update was missing a game…these look better, too, so let's keep 'em):
Avg: .250 (5 for 20)
Back to the ghetto park this time, which had surprisingly been dragged and had about 3-4 inches of dirt removed. Somebody from the league had been there! It's too bad the "dirt" is still more like running track rocks. And, unfortunately, with all of the rain that fell a couple days before, the outfield had turned to mush.
My assignment: right field.
Batting Position: 6th.
Before the game started, I was presented with the official (though slightly used) team hat! Well, one version of it, anyway – no more than 3-4 guys actually wear the same style of "team hat" to any given game. And, you know, I was more than ok with playing right field – despite the fact that He Who Cannot Play Outfield started over me in left – because the twilight games at this field are absolutely brutal in left until the sun goes down (I wrote about that in the last entry). The sad part is this guy starting in left forgot to bring his cleats. Yeah, that's right – he's coming to a baseball game, and can't even remember to bring his shoes! Jesus Christ.
So, my spot was taken by a chucklehead wearing someone else's shoes, who took the first couple of innings to loudly talk to everybody on the field about playing Bases Loaded and Excitebike on Nintendo. You think I'm kidding, but I am not. He stood in left field and shouted to everyone his favorite parts of the games, and how a glitch in Bases Loaded was almost exactly like this play that happened in the first, when the SS caught a line-drive just above the ground, but threw it to first base just in case (yeah, that surprised me, too – the SS making a play, that is.) Apparently in Bases Loaded, sometimes the computer would call the throw to first an additional out! And now everybody that was at the park knows.
I liked right field even more when I got to make the first two putouts of the inning: one on a long running catch in foul territory, and another on a drive hit to deep right-center. I tracked it back and started calling for it, when I heard a soft "Ok!" from a little ways away in centerfield. He obviously had no interest in going for it. The footing was terrible – I stationed myself a little to the left of the puddles that had formed in some tire marks in straight-away right – and it seemed like it took forever to get to any fly balls. But, hey, apparently I had forever and a couple seconds to get to each of the first two.
Anyway, always good to get the first couple of nice plays out of the way, just in case of any screw-ups later. Which, there was one…sort of.
First, my at-bat in the 2nd inning…with nobody out, one run in, and a runner on third, I proceeded to take 5 pitches: 4 balls and a borderline strike. One of the balls – clearly outside and low – was called a strike. If there's one thing I've learned repeatedly in the first 8 games, it's that the umpires are very, very generous. I really have to start going up to the plate just looking to swing at something.
And that something is *anything close*. I try to, sometimes, but I can't get away from taking borderline pitches when I'm ahead in the count. What fun is it if you can't drive a couple pitches, though? I've definitely let a few pitches go that could have been driven. This Saturday, they're not getting through..
Anyway, so, count at 3-2, I grounded an outside pitch between 1st and 2nd for an RBI single, took 2nd on a fielder's choice (in which I was prepared to take out the 2nd baseman, but didn't have to, as apparently my blazing speed was too much for the shortstop to think about trying to turn a double-play…heh, uh, yeah..), and eventually scored (this time!) on a wild pitch. And, if you're keeping track at home, I (of course) managed to rough up the thing on my knee that will now never go away.
Anyway, my play the first couple of innings set me up to deflect criticism (or so I thought) when, a couple innings later, a high, short pop-up was hit just behind the outfield grass in short right field. Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but I always thought that:
1) the right fielder has precedence over calling for the ball, but..
2) the infielder is supposed to call for it if they're going to be able to catch the ball – but peels off if the right fielder *also* calls for it
I was charging hard, watching the ball, and could see that the 2nd baseman was still running towards me, meaning he hadn't set to catch it. I never heard anybody else call for it…so I assumed I was going to be the only one who could catch it. Shouldn't the infielder call for it if they're going to be able to make the play? Because what ended up happening is that I called for it (very late), then couldn't make the catch because the 2nd baseman was still moving directly into the spot I would be right after I made the catch while running forward. Not being interested in an Adult Baseball Season Ending Injury, I avoided a collision, which eventually cost us two runs.
Well, I'll tell you what cost us two runs: Pregnant Man, stationed at 3rd base (!) this game (I could have sworn I told her I could play 3rd when I first joined the team..), took a ground ball with the guy that had hit the pop-up now on first. And when I say "took" a ground ball…the way he fields it is to basically let it bounce off his chest, then pick it up and try to throw the guy out. Except this time when it hit him, it stuck. Because, see, his belly requires portions of his jersey to remain unbuttoned; when the ball struck his chest, it stayed in his shirt.
So, in the few seconds it's taken him to realize the ball's in his shirt, the runner is safe at 2nd and the batter's safe at 1st. You'd assume he just holds the ball and everyone has a (pathetic) chuckle at him, right? Nope. He grabs the ball (keep in mind the runner's already standing on 1st base) and heaves a throw all the way over the 1st baseman's head, sending the runners to 2nd and 3rd, and with the way the inning played out, eventually costing us both of those runs.
I about chucked my new team hat over the right field fence.
Maybe the guys on the team just know Pregnant Man is a lost cause that really, really can't play. Because, once we returned to the dugout, the criticism from a few guys came in the form of *my* poor communication on the pop-up! Holy shit! I mean, I could have called him off earlier, but I really didn't know if I was going to be able to get to the ball. When no one else called for it, I assumed I was the only one that had a chance. And, you know…fuck it.
My next two at-bats consisted of a 10-pitch at bat that ultimately led to a ground out to short, and a sad looking strikeout on an actual curveball. haven't seen one of those in a while! I realized that taking batting practice with this team in the hopes of learning to hit a curve would be pretty worthless, since none of our pitchers actually know how to throw one.
The game was 10-5 heading into the bottom of the last inning, so naturally our (new) pitcher starts giving up hits left and right. I had a sinking line drive hit down the line in right that I thought I could get to, but after giving chase, it was *just* out of reach. I had to do sort of a half-dive, since I had reached as far as I could and the ground was too soft and slick to actually attempt to stop. The grass was long enough that the ball barely rolled any further, and I popped to my feet and still held the guy to a single. Another dunker landed fair behind 2nd base, which I had no chance at…and wouldn't you know it, after a couple more hits and a walk or two sprinkled in, the game suddenly sat at 10-7, bases loaded, 2 outs. If I was a praying man, I would have sent some sort of message to the deity of my choice floating out in the sky for a strikeout, because I knew none of those fuckers would be able to field the ball in that situation if it was hit to them.
And, just like that, my invisible buddy came through! Strikeout to end the game! Now we get to do it all twice on Saturday, in the middle of a hot June day..
I'm crankin' the ball one of these at-bats.