Thursday, October 16, 2014

Player Profile #20- Richie Garcia






Richie constitutes the last of the regular old timers that has not yet been highlighted.  I think part of the delay was that Richie seems to stay on the fringe of the MBC these days, due to work, various skateboarding/soccer injuries and ???.  But when I started playing, he was a every Sunday kind of guy.  And to his credit, whenever he does show up these days it is apparent that his skills have not deteriorated one iota.

Richie is the prototypical leadoff hitter, and you can tell that he has always been so.  For starters he is very patient at the plate.  VERY PATIENT.  Some might say overly.  But that is just the pitcher in me talking. And his strike zone is about the smallest of anyone that plays in our league, I don't know how tall he is, but if he's more than 5'5", I would be very surprised.  Compact, I am sure is how he would describe it.  He's all lean and muscle though, and he can move down the line so he is always a bunt/steal threat.

I realized about 8 years ago that I was really stressing myself out too much trying to pitch Richie perfectly.  It's never a good thing to start out a game all frazzled 'cuz the lead off guy is not swinging at your nibbles.  So I decided then and there that I would let the odds and gods take care of it for me.  As we all know, the best hitters fail 70% of the time, so my approach now with Richie is to feed him strikes and hope he doesn't get into anything too fully.  He is decent enough to compliment the good pitches I get by him, as well.

So I can vouch for not always trying to get a guy out, seems to work, as long as you don't mind said guy hitting .500 off you....fine by me.  So Richie gets on base a lot.  He will steal a base whenever he wants to, he was taught to be aggressive on the paths.  His father and former coach came out once and watched us.  Well, he sat and read a book and occasionally paid attention to us.  I don't think he was completely impressed with our skills....

Richie was a catcher for a long while, but then had some sort of multiple concussion incident (skate or die) and hasn't caught since I don't think. 


He can play every position, and play it well.  I think I have even seen him pitch, but that may have been an anomaly.  But he has great hands, and baseball instincts.

Interesting side-note: The first time Richie went to SQ, he got more prison respect than the rest of us.  Being Latino, they gave him the O.G. nods during the handshaking.  Maybe they were just sad that a team hailing from the Mission district of SF was full of goofy white guys.  And maybe they were right.

Richie was also the unfortunate victim of the closest I have ever come in MBC to really hurting someone.  I threw a high and tight fastball (unintentionally) that went straight for Richie's face.  He leaned back enough that it only skimmed his forearm and hand, and then flat to the ground.  For a second I thought I had really hurt him, luckily he was alright, but the shock knocked him out of the game.  I felt pretty sick the rest of the day, thinking about how much worse it could have been.  I don't think he holds a grudge, but he would be right to if he did.

Richie is one of the more level headed, decent people I have ever met, a thing that I take for granted less and less as I grow older.  Pleasant, cheerful, wry, and knows the game in and out.  He is also a drummer, and a good one by all accounts.  I also found out that he went to UC Santa Cruz with a friend of mine, she is blonde and 6'3"...they must have been an awesome looking crew, especially if he was still rocking this look....is that the lead singer from Mr. Big?


 
The only bad thing I have to say about Richie is he loves the wrong baseball team.  Between him, LAttig (that's an intentional typo by the way, think about it) and Nero, they form the triumvirate of Dodger Faithful within the MBC.   The good news is that he is also an Oakland A's fan....so I guess that balances out.

So Richie, I apologize you weren't highlighted sooner, but hopefully this will serve to remind you that baseball is better than soccer and whatever else you find yourself doing on Sundays instead of playing the best game ever invented.

We of the MBC salute you!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Player Profile #19- Brian Cagle


I realized there have been a number of veterans that I have not reviewed, for which I apologize.  Much like Doc's write up, this one is from the way back times of the MBC. 

In fact, Brian Cagle is one of the original 17 Reasons guys (you can see him in the picture I posted recently, although he appears to be about 8 inches taller than is is).  I don't know that he was in any bands, which would make him the oddity in the first squad, but maybe he was the manager or something....I know he is a math teacher, which makes him a genius in my book.

Cagle is a quiet, reserved kind of fellow, but he plays with a degree of intensity that one might be surprised to find in such a taciturn person.  I think part of it is his sense of humor which is rather sarcastic and barbed, but presented so calmly that it flies over a lot of heads.  Having heard stories over the years, it sounds like Brian is not one to be trifled with, but mostly he has struck me as always pleasant and all-weathered.  But, I have seen him when he gets a little aggravated and it is surprising how acidic he can be.   

Brian is what you want in a middle infielder, good hands, quick reflexes, and steady with the bat.  What Brian really has is one of the finest abilities to bunt that I have witnessed since I have been playing. He's like a surgeon out there, and you never know when but you always know it will be in the hardest possible place to reach.

It is a shame that we don't see him much anymore, there was a good run for a few years when he could be counted on each week.  My jealousy runs high in fashion as well, being on the smaller side, Cagle also had the added bonus of being able to fit in to all number of vintage woolen jersey's that us behemoths would kill for a chance at.

 So, a ballplayer who keeps his own counsel, executes when needed, plays solid defense and can be counted on to be fair minded.  Who wouldn't want that as part of their team?

 Thanks Brian, hope we see you again soon!

10/12/14 Cop Field



This just in from the opposite field hitting surgeon, Mike Gaspar.  I wish I could have been there, but hopefully weekends will be a little easier now that we are out of wedding season.

It wasn't nice, it wasn't decent.  It was downright hot at Balboa Park on Sunday.  

If nothing else, Fleet Week seems to bring some great weather with it.  Per Bob's advice we all arrived a little early.  But as it turned out there were only 13 of us regulars.  Luckily, there were a couple of guys practicing their bunting and playing pepper at the field and they were more than happy to join us.

Greg took the mound for the home team and was immediately greeted with a line drive single off the bat of John Mac.  A couple of hits later it was 2-0.  Then came the big hit,  a three run homer from the visitors pitcher Mitch.  And the hits just kept coming.  It was eight or nine to nothing before the homers even came to bat.  

Mitch, given the big lead, was aggressive with the fast ball and mixed in just enough curves to keep the homers off balance.  And with the combination of at ‘em balls and just plain good defense the homers were kept off the board until late in the game.  Mitch gave way to yours truly in the eighth (a sure sign the game is out of hand) and Hank pitched the ninth.   

Greg went the distance for the homers.  And to be fair, his defense let him down a bit.  Their center fielder, Rufino, was very reluctant to catch balls in the air.  Preferred to let them bounce once or twice.  

Final score was 15-2.

Highlights:


  • ·         Everyone on the visiting side had multiple hits, with Mitch's being the most memorable.
  • ·         Nick had some nice catches in right
  • ·         Milo had a home run.  And showed some nice flair when he threw off his sunglasses half way between third and home.  Love the Hello Kitty batting gloves by the way.
  • ·         Fun in the sun.  Well maybe not for the homers.  Sorry guys.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Player Profile #18 - Greg "Doc" Magrane




I thought I would start the next session of player profiles off with a golden oldie (which isn't a old age joke, but maybe should be).  Greg "Doc" Magrane has been around the MBC for quite some time.  And he has always anchored the veteran end of the spectrum with aplomb, with his current age approaching 70?  To me, every hard scrabble baseball team needs someone nicknamed Doc, and we are lucky to have ours.

Doc was an original SF bum, starting sooner than anyone, I think, and we all smile at the thought of him footloose and fancy-free, cruising the Mission back in the 70's.  Since then, he has earned a Ph.D, got married, had two great kids and worked at UCSF in cancer research.  Doc retired a few years ago and now follows the sun down to Venezuela where his wife has built their retirement haven.  Not a bad life.  We have threatened to put together a barnstorming team and play our way through the country some day.  And we should.

Between back and hip ailments, Doc stopped playing baseball about five years ago, but he still comes out and umpires when he can.  The game always has a bit more shine to it when Doc shows up, makes us feel official.  Still, it is a strange thing to have an umpire after so many years of the catcher's calls.  Doc does a good job, and he is humble enough to let the catcher overrule him if they feel strongly enough about it.  MBC is still baseball by democracy.

Doc's son, Oliver, used to come out whenever he did and he was a decent player, even when he was 10?  Oliver was faster than any of us, of course, and it was a pleasure to watch him grow up from a young quiet kid, to a young quiet man.  Seriously, quietest kid ever.  Except when it's 2 am apparently.  Doc was good enough to rent a room to my buddy Rob for a few years, and Rob said on more than one occasion, Oliver would start practicing trumpet in the middle of the night.  Oliver stopped coming out to play when he got to be a teenager, but I would still see him occasionally at music festivals, wrapped in a serape, with a massive afro of screwy black hair adorned with bits of feather.  Kids these days....I bet he can still catch a ball though.

For an older guy, Doc was a hard out, he always made contact, and put the ball just over the infielders head.  Plus, you couldn't brush him back cuz then you would just look like a bully picking on some old guy....
Something that you might not know is that Doc plays the gut bucket, a skill he picked up in his native state of Indiana.  When we used to have band practice in his living room, Doc would roll out the gut bucket and play along, good times.
Doc, we miss you when you go, and we are always happy to see you return!


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

9/21/14- West Sunset

Felt like forever since I had played.  And my own rusty feelings aside, when 3:00 rolled around and we still only had 10 people, I started to get really nervous that my one free pass was going to be taken up by ...*gulp*.... batting practice.  Luckily, a few more souls appeared out of the fog and we had a game, enlightened by the umpiring appearance of Doc from his South American abode, back for few weeks.

Greg started for the homers, and since Greg is playing with a injured knee, there is no catching, but only pitching for him these days.  Which is both a testament to his fortitude and the overall spirit of the MBC.  We all play hurt, its just a matter of whether the injuries out-weigh the ability.  So unless you can't walk or see, you have no excuses....

Satch started for the visitors, and felt lively as usual since I get to rehab my arm for four weeks after every game.  We both were hampered a bit by Doc's "strike zone" but got through with enough strikes to make the game interesting.  I struck out looking on my first at bat, on a perfectly placed inside fastball, in the one location I knew I couldn't get to.  Not auspicious.  But my team picked me up and we scored a few in the first.

We kept the game within reason for the first few innings, and the homers roared back to score a few.  By the middle innings, it was close and by the end of the sixth when I departed from the bump, the homers had taken the lead, to the tune of 8-6.  They were assisted by some tough grounders, a number of well-placed singles, interspersed with about 5 doubles.

Greg had mentioned before that he was in danger of losing a fourth consecutive MBC game, so I guess I was heartened by the fact that I had put him in a good position to break that cycle.  Brian Phelps came in for one inning of work, followed by another Brian, resplendent in a early 70's Joe Rudi A's jersey. 

Greg kept pumping for the homers and finished us off with little effort, for a 11-6 complete game win.  Enjoy that stay-cation, Greg!

Highlights:

* The homers were a lot more focused on the game than we.

* For only having 15, the teams were both stocked with power.

* Adam definitely gets the MVP, he smoked the ball all day, had about 5 RBI's and was not fooled once.

* Jay, who was the one respondent to my email plea, showed up in the second, and was more than a little off-kilter.  Somewhere between too much tequila and/or not enough Seroquel is how I would affectionately describe it.  He managed to get some hits and was 100% in caught pop fly balls, but his bizarre warm-up batting routine and base-running left some of us a bit rankled.  In his defense, when he showed up he warned me, in response to my email plea, that I needed to "be careful what [ I ] wished for...."  Point taken.  Hope you are doing alright, Mr. Cellini.

* I had a slider as the one pitch that worked for me all day.  I managed to strike out Greg with it, who was too frozen to realize that it had been the third strike.

* Brian Phelps had the ugliest first hit of recent memory, he jumped backwards, then half chopped with the bat, to poke it over third base.

* Elvin played well, came through with some big at-bats, and appears to juicing, or wearing tighter t-shirts

* I took a page from Tony's playbook and started yelling cautioning base-coach instructions to the other team's runners from the mound

* Loren was inquiring about the parameters of getting a AOY 2015 nomination.  I said the first thing is you got to show up regularly.  Nice to see some interest.

* Brian Phelps made 2 spectacular catches in center, one to rob his best friend of an extra base hit....nice work asshole.

* Far too much talk about football in the dugout.

* Bob showed off the range at SS.  He also reported that he was hit four times in one at bat last week.  Pretty amazing.

* Thanks to Bob, Gaspar, Adam and Duane for catching.

* Gaspar had a quintessential gaspar hit to left, no way to really defend it.

* I would describe the weather as the coldest, hot muggy day I have seen in SF in quite a while.

Much needed rain this week, sunny on the weekend.  Quit watching sports and start playing sports.

S. Paige

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

4th of July Doubleheader Pics

Thanks again to Jay Cellini, resident shutterbug for these shots from our glorious doubleheader.  Sorry it took so long to post, but, well, you know....life.









































Monday, August 25, 2014

8/24/14 Balboa Cop Field

What a beautiful day.  I know I say that a lot, but seriously, it was borderline perfect weather at the ballyard.  We were a little worried when there were only 12 people including a DL'd Greg dropping off the equipment, but then, our ranks swelled and we ended up with 20!

Noah started for the homers, fresh from his sojurn to RI, but he didn't seem to have practiced his pitching while he was there.  The visitors touched him for two runs in the first, then we tacked on a few more runs, and I guess he must not have been feeling it cuz by the 3rd he had given the duties over to Mitch who took it the rest of the way. 

Satch started for the visitors, and it felt good, even had some extra zip on his fastball to help off set the change up.  That being said, the homers kind of lit me up when they were hitting, they answered back to tie the game in the first to make it 2-2 and seemed to be on the verge of several big innings that fizzled out.  After 7 strong, I handed the game over to Sean and then Tony for the finish, both of whom did admirable jobs.  Sean is leaving the MBC for a few months to tour with some rock and rollers, Good Luck!

The defense on both teams was not bad, other than a few of the usual muffs and drops.  The game was quick and we were having so much fun that we played an extra inning.  The homers loaded the bags and were on the verge of breaking out only to be turned away after a great pitch and a bang-bang double play.

Not much else to report, the final was 8-5 visitors.

Highlights:

* Good turnout and a fun game

* Thanks to Bob, Mike, Adam and Noah for taking the catching duties

* Gaspar gave me a true Gasparian at bat, fouled off at least 6 balls.

* Tony and I fouled out in successive order

* Powell turned a double play with the bases full to end the game!

* My last at bat, Tony and I were determined not to go down so easy.  For my part I hit a ball about 380 feet and into the glove of Sean, who was covering left field and playing me at 370.

* Mitch sent a low line drive to center field that was snared by a diving Phelps.  Mitch got Mitched (except of course, that Mitch would never have to dive, he would instinctively know where the ball would be hit....)!

* Sean's friend Miles came out and made several good plays in the field and had at least one hit

* Ball went right through my wickets on a comebacker.  Powell picked it up for the out. Nice.

* New Guy Ryan played well and also broke his first bat.  Hazards of the game.

* Don is a scary batter to face, I had a lot of confidence in my stuff and everything that was close he was right on it.  Had to downshift to junkballs

* Both teams seemed to overthrow first a lot

* Powell also made the correct choice in electing to go to third on a ground ball to get the lead runner.  I know that is what you are supposed to do, but in the MBC that is sometimes a frightening proposition.

* Adam missed a play at first, I haven't seen that in a long time

* Thank you to Nick for taking the gear and allowing us to play an extra one

* I think I may have not allowed a hit to Lattig?  Or maybe just wishful thinking.

*  Mitch hit a big league triple

* Double steal, me and Sean.  Becoming quite the thief....

* There were also a lot of infield hits, not by me though, I grounded out twice to third and both times I barely got it out of 2nd gear...but I didn't want to blow out the legs early, ya know?

* Thanks again to everyone who came out, it was a great game!

S. Paige

PS
Sorry if I have left out any memorable plays.  Feel free to remind me and I will add in




Monday, August 11, 2014

8/10/14 Balboa Cop Field


This week's write up courtesy of Mike Gaspar, thank you Mike!  Seven Double plays, that is definitely a MBC record!

It was a surprisingly sunny day at balboa park.  The field was in peak summer shape.  Meaning, alternating dry, bare patches and swampy patches in the outfield.  Hit a dry patch and you got an easy double, hit a swampy patch and you might get thrown out at first.  Players started slowly assembling and it looked like me might not get to the magic number of fourteen.  

When low and behold, like a scene out of Field of Dreams, William Rockwell appeared.
Will's back in town to see his brother Carter get hitched (congrats dude!) and as luck would have it, play an s.q. game.  After a round of hugs and handshakes and a little infield practice,  we were ready to start.

Mike Lattig took the bump for the home team and as he would for most of the day had a tidy first inning.  As for the visitors, Chris Powell got the starting duty.  And after a solid hit by Tim, some shoddy defense and a weak ground ball by yours truly, the score was 1-0 homers.

The big story line (besides the return of Will) was the amount of double plays turned.  In a typical mbc game you might have one or even two but on this day there were seven.  Now a couple of these were a result of some questionable base running,  but most were due to good infield defense.

Both pitchers settled into a good rhythm and because of the aforementioned double plays the game was low scoring and played at a quick pace.  The visitors tied it up.  And then the homers tacked on a couple.  And in the bottom of eighth it was 3-1.  That's when the homers put up a crooked number.  At this point Greg then Tony had taken over for Chris.  The big hit of inning came off the bat of Mike Lattig.  A double that plated two runs.  

With the score 6-1 at that point, Sonny came in and got the 'save'.

Highlights:

-playing with Will " Straight outta Brooklyn" Rockwell.
-seven double plays!
-J.T. had some nice line drives right at Mitch.  Then one finally fell.
- John McG.  had a hit from the left side.
- Mike L.  pitched one of his better games.  Mixing his pitches well.
- We all got like seven at bats.
- A nine inning game in under three hours.  (mlb take note)