Thursday, August 9, 2018

A Love Letter to Sean Paul


 It's been a while since I wrote a player profile. I think I ended when I had written up most of the regulars who had come before me in the MBC. Apologies if I missed any of you.  This profile is a little different though, firstly because it is about a person who started after me.  But also because it is a player that I admire in every sense of the word, and whose pitching skills I am alternatively impressed with and jealous of.

The first mention of Sean in the MBC lore is in a game write up dated Wednesday, January 21, 2009, entitled You football people make me sick.   He is referred to as the new lefty, and his curveball was outstanding.  It appears that his debut was actually the week before, on January 11, though I didn't write that particular game up.

The other distinct thing about Sean was that when he started playing, he would wear these sweatpants that had big, floppy, inside-out pockets.  Mrs. Paige still refers to Sean as Floppy Pockets.  I think we got together as a team and requested he wear something a little more dignified, after he had been coming out for a few weeks in a row.  The irony is that in the time since then, Sean has gone on to win the Best Dressed trophy at the annual 4th of July Doubleheader.  And well deserved, as he has a series of olde tyme uniforms that he sports.

The thing about Sean is that he is the classic 5-tool player, not to mention, a superb pitcher.  He runs fast and he runs smart.  He is a power lefty, who is very hard to strike out.  He can play every position, which I think he has done (maybe not catcher), and his arm is strong from the outfield.  When he started, he pitched as hard as anyone that was playing, and it was great to have a lefty that could bring the heat. His pitching velocity has diminished in the last few years, but he has a full arsenal of pitches he can throw for strikes.

He has been the most consistent starter in our games at SQ, and probably has a pretty good reputation in there by now.  His pickoff move is certainly well celebrated, in a recent game it caused an uproar with the inmates insisting that he was balking, which of course he wasn't.  It's just a really good move.  He also came to my rescue recently in SQ when I was called out on the basepaths during a hidden ball trick, in which the pitcher was clearly on the mound, making it a balk, rather than an out.



Good players come and go, but it is character that is remembered and I think that is where Sean truly shines.  He is consistent in his attendance, even though he moved to Santa Rosa several years ago, he still makes the drive down regularly.  When the SQ games are posted, he is always first to respond.  He plays every position without question, and does not always insist on pitching or playing where a left-hander would naturally be.  And he is just a good-hearted guy, pleasure to be around, great sense of humor, easy going, and just competitive enough to make things interesting, while still keeping the ethos of the MBC spirit.

Three other really awesome things:

1. He has a 0-19 tattoo commemorating his two years as coach and player of the Evergreen State College baseball team, in which they won no games.  Here is a byline from the alumni magazine:  


Slugging It Out

Tough competition and expansion-team status left Evergreen’s club baseball team winless in 18 games in its first full season of competition in the Pacific Mountain Conference. But it was the love of the game that brought together the 20 men who battled the likes of the University of Oregon and Western Washington University over the hard season. Under the direction of team captain and pitcher Sean Presley and with capable logistical guidance from Mike Motte, chief financial officer of nearby Capital Medical Center, the Geoducks gained valuable experience. Presley led the Geoducks in batting with a .310 average, while James Stippich, Russ Trainor and Tucker Waugh also found their way on base regularly. Evan Kearley led Evergreen pitchers with a 4.08 ERA.


I guess that there is an additional game that they didn't win, or maybe I am remembering it wrong.  Either way, I respect the hell out of that tattoo.

2. This thing:




3. Sean is also a musician, which puts him in good company in the MBC.  He played in a band Noddzz that also included Brian Girgus, the celebrated 90/10 player, who is now a successful business owner in Echo Park.

So, in summary, Sean is fucking awesome, and anyone who plays with him should be honored to be in the presence of a player who embodies what we try to do with the MBC.  Namely, playing baseball not just as a enjoyable pastime, but as a collection of diverse personalities and beliefs, coming together democratically to play a game and build upon an ongoing social experiment.

S. Paige.


PS.

Rumor has it he also pulled a Dock Ellis a few years ago.


Tuesday, July 31, 2018

7/29/18 Cop Field



We were there, where were you?

Seriously, I know it's the height of summer and people have other plans, but seriously, 11?  Tt was foggy, and cold, and windy, and miserable, but hey, that's summer in SF. 

Well, no thanks to all you no-showers, we made the most of it playing a bastardized version of Havana 6's.  Greg took one for the team and caught the whole game, with no rest.  Hopefully he got that extra ibuprofen after the game.

I started and threw back to back innings, while we swapped out teams of three.  It felt good, and my leg might be on the verge of mending.  I also seemed to have a preternatural inclination for the inside pitch, no matter where I tried standing on the rubber, it was all going inside.   But I didn't do too bad.  Sean pitched next, then Lattig, then Elvin, and then me and Sean again. Everyone pitched well, given the circumstances.

The real story here was Nick W. who decided to turn in an single-game record of hitting, I think he had 3-4 doubles, and at least 2 triples.  Now it could be argued that two outfielders is going to impact that line, but still the guy was just bashing all day.

We also had the unfortunate honor of at least 4 dropped foul balls.  On a day when we could have used that little bit of defense, it completely escaped us.

It was good to see Nick Smith again, I don't know if it's just cuz I don't come out as much, but it seems like it has been awhile.  I was playing right when he batted and having to shift to the Smith defense every 3rd at bat was hard to explain to the kids.


Urano had one of the the defensive plays of the game, taking a gamble to get the lead runner at third, rather than the easy out at first.  And this game was all about getting the easy outs.  The other defensive play was a double play that we managed to turn to stymie a big hitting rally.  Through out the game, the cry, " Do we even have an out yet?" was heard more than once.

Elvin took the mound, having convinced himself that this time it would be different, and it was!  He threw strikes, mostly, and did just fine.  I hit a triple off him, that was just fine as well.

I had the two boys with me as well, which actually was the one nice thing about an abbreviated game, there was less whining from them on how much more time they had to stay at the game.  In fact, they both got some good at bats, and ran the bases.  I had them at 3rd during Bob's at bat, and when he singled, they raced home, to the cheers of the partying Mexican leaguers in the stands.

Tim, Sean's brother playing left, physically embodied what we are all feeling at one point when yet another fly ball was hit where there was no outfielder.  He stood there and watched it, didn't move a muscle.  As Greg said, Tim decided that was somebody else's fly ball from the start. 

I beat the left-handed third baseman at his own Topsy-turvey game by grounding the ball just inside the foul line.

Hopefully, all you reading this are appropriately ashamed for not showing up, and this kind of thing won't happen again.  But if it does, make sure it happens at Balboa Park, because they have a really nice playground that my kids love playing on.

Gamers List, everyone on this list gets extra credit:
  1. Greg
  2. Bob
  3. Urano
  4. Nick S.
  5. Nick W.
  6. Gabriel
  7. Sean
  8. Tim
  9. Elvin
  10. Lattig
  11. Satch

Friday, July 20, 2018

7/15/2018 GGP


I showed up after having been out at the beach with the family, and figured I would be the Johnny Come Lately.  Instead, I made the lucky 14th player, which makes a game legit.  Thank goodness!  On paper our team was stacked, we had Sean, New Chris, James, Bob, John Carey, I didn't think we could be beat.  But beat, we were.

The game swelled as time went on, so that by the middle innings, instead of subbing in for the defense, we had people sitting each inning.  John McG showed up with Liam and Aiden, which makes 3 new players right there.  Loren was his customary late self.  All in all, it was really nice to play a game that stayed lighthearted the whole time, and had just the right amount of competitiveness.  I have to say that the last few games I have been a part of have all had a tinge of negativity to them.

I started for the visitors, and never quite felt right, though I didn't end up pitching all that bad.  The mound had a lot of new clay on, which ordinarily is a good thing, but tit threw my balance all out of whack.  A good pitcher always blames his mound, right?  They scored a few runs, but by and large, no huge deficits.  After 4 innings, the score was 4-2?  Sean took over, and didn't fare any better, the homers were just hitting the crap out of the ball.

Speaking of hitting, I went a glorious 0-5, with at least 4 of those hits being really hard hit, but directly at someone.  Chris Powell snared a line drive for an out, and then the next time, made a leap to get a high bouncing ground ball, that defied physics.  Seriously, he leapt about 6 feet in the air to get this ball.  Then a hard come-backer to Sonny on the mound who knocked it down, and then a drive to left field that would have been extra bases if Loren hadn't been playing at just the right place.

We made a
great comeback in the middle innings to tie up the game, and then we let the lead slip away again, came back, tied it at 8, in the 8th inning, but were out of chances, and the homers took the opportunity to finish the game in the bottom of the 9th and as Chris Powell scored, the game ended 9-8.

Highlights:

* A really good game

* The rally that we started was the moment when the game took a turn into real enjoyable, I think another thing we have been having lately is real lop sided games, which are not as much fun

* James explained that he hits lefty when the game is tied, or his team is ahead, his take on how to make MBC the most enjoyable

* John McG was back to hitting righty

* Aiden gets the start in the next game, so says Greg, since he did not get a chance to pitch in the 10th.

* The homers had 3 line drives in a row that all went to the same place for hits

* We had to shoulder tap around the park for a an extra guy, Doug, who was hanging with his girlfriend.  He played the whole game, and did a great job.  Hopefully he will come out again

* James made a nice catch on a hit to center, I couldn't watch, for fear that it was going to die before he got to it

* The homers had a nice double up play at first

* I am probably preaching to the choir, but it is really important that people pay Bob and Greg for the permits, it should be about $5 a game, but everyone, especially if you don't come out a lot, should be paying into the community fund

* Gabe, who hasn't been seen in a while, showed up, and proved that it had been a while....

* Chris Powell proved the difference, the Powell run was the decider

* Loren seemed to play at just the right place to make a play, while looking like he had been completely caught off guard.

* We at least solved the mystery of Sonny enough to tie up the game

* Loren's triple was probably the hit of the game

* New Chris scored the majority of our runs in the beginning of the game

* Aiden had a legit hit

* Defensively, the home team was just superior and it made the difference

S. Paige


Friday, July 6, 2018

7/1/18 GGP- Doubleheader

The MBC 2018 Fourth of July BBQ Doubleheader- Photo by John Nero, assistance by Miss Mcgrath.


I missed my window with trying to write this early, when I still remembered a lot of what happened, so pardon my Swiss cheese memory of the games.  I can say that it was a cold, foggy, surreal kind of day.  The yellow ashen sky, a result of the You Only Live Once fire, made driving into the city line something out of an apocalyptic movie.  We certainly did not want for players, there was more than 20 by the time I got there and I think at our high point we were fielding 16-16 teams.

Cold and foggy.  All day.  At one point the sky lightened a little, but never actually saw the sun.  We had a pair of hawks circling the game for the most of the day.  The olde tyme baseballers occupied the other field.
















Game I

Sonny started for the visitors, and Mike Lattig for the homers.  The rule was laid down early that no one could pitch more than 4 innings, since all players had to sit every other inning to give people a chance to play.  I am not going to try and remember all the people who pitched, but I know in the first game, that Chris and John Carey came in relief, and I think Chris Powell went for the homers at some point in the game. The visitors tallied a lot of runs in the beginning do the game, and that cushion allowed us to take the first win, though the game was abbreviated by a sudden stop in the 8th inning, as a softball team had reserved the 1-3pm spot.

It was jarring, in the midst of a good game to have it all wash away.  By a softball team practicing.  In clear violation of the No Softball rule stated on the sign.  But Greg, being the level-headed sort that he is, talked us all into being zen about the whole thing, and certainly if the shoe was on the other foot, we would have wanted our permit respected.  Next year, lets cough up the extra permit though.  It will mean 3 people will have to apply, but it would be nice for continuity.  Plus, the homers might have staged a comeback, and you can't put a price on that.

BBQ

The food was great this year, and just the right amount.  I was a little worried when we had a last minute cancellation by Mike N. who fractured a rib, and punctured his lung.  He emailed us from his hospital bed, which was very nice of him (get well soon!)  We had burgers and dogs, and spicy chicken things, and ribs, and the vegetarians looked like they had some lovely soy-based treats.  Powell came through with several refills of a great green salad, we had a table to place things on, and JT usurped my haphazard camping collection of silverware and plates with a fantastic travel set of platterware, as well as the biggest pan of cornbread I have ever seen, courtesy of Mrs. Tiemann.  BBQ MVP contender!

There is a new AOY year, after a contentious last year where the vote went the way of No Confidence, and players were chastised for too much polite play and lack of bad sportsmanship. This year though, Don really shined and we were happy to open the books and add his name to the growing list of AOYs.  His insistence on wearing random t-shirts, his running banter, his willingness to strap on the tools of ignorance, his support of the Evil Empire, all these things and more.  This year, for the first time, the AOY was forced into a hazing ritual, but singing that old Tex Ritter favorite Rye Whiskey, with AOY veterans providing the chorus.  He was a good sport about it, and to everyone's surprise, he indeed got a bottle of Bulliet Rye to take home, leading all of us degenerates to consider what we have to do to gather a second AOY commendation.... A transcript of Don's acceptance speech: "Thanks.  I should have had this last year, you bastards."

Game II

We swapped sides, so the visitors from the first game, were now the homers. I started for the homers, and Sean for the others, in classic duel.  And it was a great match up, Sean was in rare form, picking off at least 2-3 runners at first.  What really stood out though was the double plays.  We turned one I think.  The visitors turned about 4.

Our offense went into the tank, and if we ever got a runner, they got picked off or doubled up.  Not great.  Don, fresh from his win, hit a triple for us, that was real impressive.  But we couldn't break through.  Chris, Abe, Storm, Greg all came in to throw.  The game went a long at a good clip, but the score just got more and more lopsided.  Loren had the closing duties, and e threw cream puffs for 98% of his pitches, and then uncorked a fastball just to establish that he still had it.  We went down meekly and the Visitors took that game by a large margin, 8-2?

Highlights:

* A great time was had by all, and no one got injured.

* We had two young players, Aiden and Milo, and they both did a fantastic job, Milo got his first hit off of me.

* James and Don had the longest hits of the day

* Brian P. played Jim Abbot style at first base for most of the game, due to a fractured wrist.

* Bob's recommendation on chew: Days 'o' Work plug

* Adam brought some more fancy helmets for everyone

* It was good to see some guys that had not been out in a long time: Danny Chester, who claimed it had been over 8 years!  Daniel D. now living in Monterey, Stoner, who brought his family out, Richie, Jimmy, Duane, great to see them all!

* Doc and Oliver also showed up, Doc umpired for some of the game, Oliver has an awesome mustache now.

* Rich J. came with his son, and fell right back into hitting line drives to the power alleys

*  Special thanks to John Mcg for a great game, and for bringing a table so that we didn't have to serve the BBQ on the ground

* Carter's alternative name for his bat company is Friendly Face Bats.

* The grillers did a fine job with all the meats

* We missed Johnny Bartlett this year, and his wagon.  No word on why he doidn't make it, but his absence was palpable

* Adam, being the nice guy that he is, put a plate together to take to our rehabbing SS, Tony Rojas.  Wasn't the same without him!

* Other Awards:

Best Dressed- In a stunning revelation, Bob Carey was singled out for his always stylish apparel. By last count he has: 2x MBC unis, 1x USC, 1x Giants, 1x Red Sox, 1 x [John's College].  By contrast, I wash my one uniform occasionally.  He will receive his trophy one year from now, due to the time-honored tradition of the delay.

Rookie of the Year- Though not formally announced, Urano gets this award hands down.

MVP- Also Urano.  Some one should tell him, since he probably doesn't follow the blog.

*  I struck out Greg.  That made the day worth it.

* There seems to be a collection of MBCers who are switch hitting and switch fielding now.  Is this a response to injury, or curiosity?

Another great doubleheader in the books.  Thanks to everyone who contributed and special thanks to Bob and Greg for the permits.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

6/17/18 Golden Gate Park




Father's Day, one of two days that I get to play baseball without having to sell Mrs. Paige on the idea.  We had just gotten back from a camping trip to Brannan Island, where we were at risk of blowing away in the "Delta Breeze" for two days.  I was able to unpack, clean up, put away, and gear up in time to get to the game before it started.

Nick W. wanted to start the game, which was fine with me, having already pitched in SQ four days prior.  Whatever "it" is, Nick didn't have it on Sunday.  He looked uncomfortable with everything he threw, and he ended up hitting Bob 3 times, twice in the same at-bat if I am not mistaken.

Sonny started for the homers, and he did well, though we had more success than usual against him, at least in the first couple of innings.  Then our offense went quiet, and stayed that way.

The homers on the other hand, were taking every opportunity they could to score, and pile it on.  It wasn't a cavalcade of errors all day, but there were a lot of in-betweeners and short gorks.  However, the strangest thing of the day had nothing to do with a play on the field.

There were several pick up soccer games going on in right field, some before we started, and the people playing were dressed up pretty nice for a recreational park activity.  Making it all the more interesting was that they all appeared to all be Muslim.  Some of the younger kids were in soccer gear, but the grown men were all in sport coats and slacks, and some in all white Perahan tunbans. The women and girls were separated into a different play group, and were playing pick-up Ultimate Frisbee, all of them in hijabs and niquabs.

Large wedding, perhaps?  Sunday party after the end of Ramadan (which was Thursday)? Just a party where everyone dresses up and hangs in the park?  Could have been any of them.  The part that became a little surreal was the number of people, at least 300-350?  That's a lot of people kicking it in right field.  The part where this becomes more than just a mention is that there were a lot of kids in the group.  Little kids.  Real little kids.  And no one appeared to be really monitoring them. So when several 2.5-4 year olds suddenly are wandering around in right field,  open to the dangers of flying baseballs, we became very quickly concerned.  Plus, it was strange that as we attempted to guide them off the field that no one showed up to take custody or responsibility.

Trying my best not to sound like a colonialist, I can imagine there might have been some cultural unawareness in the group as to the dangers of small children being in the midst of a baseball game-- and that is totally understandable.  However, it was strange that as we pleaded with members of the group to watch the kids, and to stay off of the field, ten minutes later, they would be back, still seemingly unmonitored.

While all of this was happening, we would also have groups of teens and adults walking in the midst of the infield and outfield while we were playing, and we would be trying to get them either to walk around or to move quickly.  The adults were at least more responsive.  And eventually one or two of the members of the party started to wrangle the wandering kids into the safety of the party, and kept them from coming back.

The game was distracted, would be the best way to put it.  That and it seemed to be going forever, mostly due to the homers scoring runs and the visitors getting base-runners on, but never actually scoring.

So after a disastrous beginning, where we thought it was the 5th inning(and it was actually the 3rd) we decided to just call it the 8th inning and get it over with.  We took our meager last at bats, tried our best to walk some base runners on with John Carey pitching, and the last two outs were Ks, punctuated by a 3rd strike looking.  Hooray.

Final: 9-3, Homers.

Highlights:

* Our team made some great plays in the sun in left field, most of them while we were filling in defensively for the other team.

* Mitch and Powell did their best to keep us in the game, but we just couldn't make it

* Adam was almost on 3 separate foul balls that just landed out of his grasp

* Sonny ripped a ball for a beack breaking pair of RBIs

* Urano was doing it all day with the bat and glove

* Tim Presley, Sean's brother, came out, played second, got a hit

* Adam and I were debating Loren's switch hitting experiment, and that we didn't need to play all that deep in right.  Big mistake as he cranked a big 2-strike hit for a triple.

* Sonny, Sean, and John Carey combined for a dominant outing on the mound

* Greg caught the whole game, bad knee and all

* Bob stormed over to the big group on two separate occasions to ask them to keep the children off the field.  We think he did it firmly and politely.  We do know he yelled "Get off the fucking field!" to a lone man who wandered into left field, but he wasn't part of the bigger group, just a guy with headphones on.

*  With two outs and a chance to score a run finally, I ended up at 2nd base, with a ground ball hit to Sonny at 3rd.  My thought was that if I took off right away, he would have had me dead to rights, so I hung back, creeping along, waiting for him to throw to first.  Finally, I had to commit and made a mad dash for 3rd.  He wheeled around and tried to intercept me as I slid to the corner of the bag.  I was safe, but Sonny stepped on my hand pretty good.  Been awhile since I have been spiked.  Luckily, all soft tissue damage, but it was a tense moment before I realized that my hand wasn't broken.






















* Sean had a real nice opposite field line drive

* Elvin also came through in the clutch with a RBI hit

* There were drones overhead for some of the game, and we all wished that the GGP hawk would take one of them out.  No luck, but he did make an appearance.

Monday, June 18, 2018

6/13/18 San Quentin A's vs. MBC




It was the first time this season that I had been able to make it in to SQ, and am I glad I did.  Somehow, miraculously, we played a really good game, and were rewarded with the victory, even if it was only 6 innings.

The most amazing stat is that we made no errors the entire game.  Usually, we make so many errors in SQ that they only count the first error of the play, and we still end up with about 11.  But we played it clean this time, no rubber-arms, booted grounders, lost balls in the sun, base running gaffes, etc.

The closest we came was when SQ employed the ol' hidden ball trick to get Satch at 2nd base.  The only problem was that the pitcher was standing on the mound when it happened, which is technically a balk.  Now I am dumb at times, but I am not that dumb.  I am also a pitcher, so I know exactly what you can and can't do with the hidden ball trick.  Sean took it upon himself to argue the rules, as a neutral party. I was pretty sure I was safe, but didn't want to push it.  The A's pitcher was already running hot over the fact that he had given up about 8 runs in the first two innings.  The umpires talked it over and I was called safe.  When someone brought up the balk aspect, we squashed that, no need to throw gasoline on the fire.

The game had several moments of need for review, some with cause and some that were downright wrong.  Mitch slid into third and was called out, and even the A's knew he was safe.  A play at 1st lead to a long talk on whether the runner had beaten the throw.

The most egregious was James' home run, and yes, it was a home run, regardless of what the history books tell.  James tattooed a ball to left that was 20 feet higher than the foul pole when it passed by.  It was curving, but it was definitely fair when it went over the fence.  The umpires thought differently, but they were wrong.  The ball actually got hung up in the razor wire and bounced back.  Here is what it looked like:



The other excitement was the first SQ run came by way of the home run, from a lefty who looked pretty fresh to the team.  He rode the curve ball rotation to a opposite field hit that just barely cleared the fence.  He was so excited that he was whooping and hollering as he ran around the bases, and when he hit home, he took off his helmet and gave a big exaltation and yelled SAN QUENTIN!  An inning or so later, he approached me, hat in hand, and sincerely apologized for his behavior.  He said he had never played ball on the outside, and didn't know that you are not supposed to show up the pitcher in such obvious ways, and if you do, you are supposed to tip your cap.  I told him not to worry about it and that he should celebrate.  But obviously, the elder statesmen on the team wanted to teach him the right way, which I applaud.
I went out on top after three innings, and about 4-5 Ks.  It felt good, and the weather was awesome.  Mike came in for an inning, then removed himself in the midst of his second.  Sean took over and rode the rest of the way, both he and Mike did great jobs of keeping the hitters off balance.

Some of the team had to leave early to get back to their blocks in time, and by 7:45 were were changing shoes and walking out.

Victory!

Final Score: 10(12)-3. MBC

Highlights:

* A great game by all involved.

* We bade farewell to a convict that has been in SQ for 47 years....Vaya con Dios!

* There was a short guy that seemed to be helping with the team, but mostly he just made fun of all of us

* The home plate umpire was not bad, but his strike calls were awesome:  "Oooooooooooh.......Good Morning......Strike one!"

* Mitch and Mike both plastered the ball all day

* Don broke the bat that everyone had been using successfully, and our rallies died after that, nice work guy.

* Shallow pop up behind second base. Mitch and James rapidly converging on the play. Neither one of them call it loudly enough. They collide at full speed, with Mitch getting the worst of it. However, Mitch made the catch and held on to the ball, to the detriment of his rib cage.

*  We finally managed to have a good comeback to the guards when they made the well worn joke, You only get to leave if you win

* The prison kumquats are in season, someone call Gaston

* It was revealed to me later, by an inside source that SQ employs the hidden ball trick a lot because they count on the umpires not knowing the rules about being on the mound....

* Not many balls hit to the outfield, Mitch did a lot of work at SS, as did Sonny at 2nd.

* Don caught the whole game, and as payment got some of the worst calls while he was at bat.

* Branden (SQ) lost his cross on the field, and it was nowhere to be found around the SS area.  We all took turns looking for it.  Then Sean randomly found it on the mound when he was warming up.  Weird.

* Our record at SQ now extends for about 12 years, and I think were about 11-49....