Two things a Californian is always prepared for. Shitty traffic and beautiful weather.
We had both on Thursday as we trotted out the squad for the final SQ game of the season against the SQ Giants. Greg was the late guy for once, amazing us all, but we managed to get our ID’s and equipment cavity searches done in a good time and first pitch was probably before 6. The only SQ rookie this time was Ted, a visiting player from the Brooklyn Ramblers squad, out on the West coast scouting out the playing conditions and general vibe of the MBC.
Sean started for the homers, and was contending with what might have been the world’s biggest divot in the mound. We jumped out to a 2-0 lead, helped by a wild pitcher who had trouble finding the strike zone (he left with a knee injury soon after) and Sonny’s solid line drive double down the third base line.
Sean felt the need to walk the bases loaded in order to get out of the 2nd, another time tested MBC tradition, but he escaped unsinged. The word had come down from the skipper that we would be doing 2 innings a piece; throw a lefty—righty—lefty combo at them. Satch came in for the 3rd and felt good, the warm Marin sun sure helps the body get loose. It occurred to me last time I played a weekday game, that less warm up, meant more game playing time, so I tried for three warm up pitches and then get on with it. My reward was I got to throw 4 innings, since we had more time than we usually do. I was also aided by some excellent defense, especially Sonny, Mitch, and Chris.
The umpire was one of the better I have experienced in the pen, he didn’t have the usual SQ low ball strike. The only contention I had was that he gave up on a sweet change-up, same as the batter, and it sailed right over the heart of the strike zone. Given its slow nature, by the time it got to the plate the ump had stood up and started to call it a ball.
We kept a steady pressure on the new pitcher, Ru (ben), who is usually the catcher. He was having trouble with the mound as well (Satch’s legs were just long enough to get over the deep part of the hole). We tallied a 5-0 lead going into 7th, which was our last inning. Gaston was charged with the duty of protecting the lead and saving the dignity of the MBC. But no pressure.
The Giants did their best to mount a comeback, but were hindered by the first batter popping up on the first pitch. That first out is crucial. A possible double play got the guy at second, but then turned into a play at the plate. I think Greg got the guy (he landed on Greg’s glove before bouncing on the plate). The umpire disagreed and the Giants pushed two runs across the board before running out of steam as Gaston got a swinging strikeout to finish.
We shook hands and reveled in a winning-ish record for the first time in our SQ history. Back through the gates, same old jokes from the guards e.g. we get to leave since we won, etc., and into the parking lot.
At the post-game meal, we debated on the merits of winning versus losing in SQ. With a few dissenters, the general thought was that while winning is fun, losing a close game to the Giants is somehow better. In that situation, we get to play ball, have a worthwhile experience, and leave back to the safety of our lives. The prisoners get to say they won and— for a few fleeting moments—feel decent about themselves. Since most of the people reading this are not currently incarcerated, it’s probably hard to fully grasp the weight of that. Not discounting the (sometime heinous) choices that these guys have made, a little restorative power probably goes a long way in the Q.
* Proud be a part of a strong pitching performance
* We never had the SQ inning where our knees turn to water and every ball is clanked around three times.
* Not a big turn out, too bad more fans couldn’t come out but apparently Thursday is school day, so lots of guys in class
* After Chris walked for the 3rd time, I whispered to him as he passed me that I was going to bunt on the 2nd pitch. He didn’t hear me, but he broke for second on the 2nd pitch. I was all excited and laid down a bunt, that would have been a sure fire infield hit without a great play from the pitcher. Only after did I realize that I probably should have taken that pitch and then bunted him to third. I forget there are people on the MBC that can easily steal bases; I figured I was helping him out. If it was me stealing, I would have appreciated (and required) the distraction.
* Greg caught the whole game, with a bad knee. MBC lifer.
* Ted comported himself with dignity and grace and scorched (see: cue shot) a line drive to second for his first hit on the inside.
* Gaston was hit with a pitch and looked relieved that he got to take a base. His nickname has expanded to Low-Hanging Prison Fruit now.
* Sonny tried to score from 2nd on a single to right, which is a lot like saying a single to the second baseman. He was twelve feet from the plate when he was tagged out.
* If they hadn’t hit so many balls directly at our defense, the game might have been very different.
* Brian sold out the body trying to catch a flare to short left. It managed to hit him in about three places before dropping. But it looked good...sort of.
* The wind was playing a lot of tricks, Chris ranged all the way to right field to catch a pop up that started near the mound
* Ke Lam looks like he is getting out soon, hopefully a long range successful rehabilitation story in the making.
* The SQ third baseman made a number of great plays
* In the same vein, the SQ infield turned 2 double plays.
* Mitch didn’t get beaned for the first time in SQ that I can remember. He is known now as the Prison Bob.
* Thanks to the Giants, Elliot, and SQ for another good year on the Field of Dreams.