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....



Thursday, June 7, 2018

6/3/18 Camp Swampy




Hard to say about this game.  It was a nail biter that went down to the wire, and for that, I guess it was a good game.  But somehow it was marred through the entire thing with a certain vibe that just didn't sit right.  Not sure how exactly to describe it, but there are days when things just feel off.  A big part of the problem was that the league game beforehand went wayyyyy over their time limit, and we didn't start until about 3:40.  Which was great for me, since I was late getting to the yard, and so I strolled in figuring it to be the middle innings, and was greeted by the top of the first.

We had 17 at its high point, but we lost quite a few over the course of the game, and by the end, I think we were down to about 13.  Mitch started for the visitors, and he was grinding it out over the course of a long game, and he was getting worked over the coals by his defense and by the home team.  He kept at it, but you could tell he was not happy.

Mike N. started for the homers, and the visitors took their share of hacks and scored some runs, in what would ultimately be a back and forth kind of game.  He only went 2 innings though, as he has been suffering through some arm issues, and Satch took over for the 3rd.  I freely admit to being a little gun-shy after my last outing, when I got shellacked for more runs than I really care to think about.  I honestly thought that it was kind of over for me, and the worm had turned.  But it turns out that it had just been a really bad outing.  I felt so much better on the mound this week, balanced, able to spot the fastball, the change up had a nice move to it.  The wind was blowing out, and a bit at an angle at about 15mph, so the fastball had some tail to it if you threw it right.  I ended up most of the way for the homers, in an agreed-upon shortened game, and Liam came in to slam the door on the visitors, which he did admirably.

John Carey was out to play, and apparently out to break the base running snafu record as well.  Twice he was caught out, trying stretch hits into extra bases and pickled right back into the dugout.  Good job kid!

It was also a game of extra base hit, there was a lot of gappers the right center, and the runs built up, and then the other team would roar back with their own set.  Speaking of hits, in the middle innings, Abe took a ball right off the left elbow, in his self-admitted wobbly attempt to get out of the way of a pitch that was heading for his head.  It was a tense couple of minutes, as Abe was obviously in quite a bit of pain, but he took his base and played it out, and then after the third out, packed up his stuff and went home.  He reported later that he had iced it like a madman, but that it was still pretty stiff past a certain point, when he tried to straighten it.

A pall had fallen over the game after that, no one wants to see a player get hurt, and the general frustrations of the game that had been building to that point, all seemed to culminate in that crappy injury.  John Carey took over pitching after Mitch, and scared the hell out of John McG's middle schooler, Aiden, who was really hoping that John was not going to come at him at 100%.  He never got the chance to find out, as Greg came into pitch by the time his turn came up, and he got a hit!

The score was all tied up at 11s when we entered the last inning (which I think may have been the 7th or 8th in real life).  Bases loaded, I came to the plate, and Greg and I conversed, pitcher to hitter.  It think the conversation went like this:

Greg- "Let's get this over with quick."
Satch-"I'll do my best."

First pitch. I swung, hit a fly ball to center, run scored, game over.  Frighteningly, Greg and I were walking off the field, only to see that Mike N. was also taking his time, and had just barely beaten the throw home, so the run almost didn't score and we almost had to try again.  I have not often wanted a game to end, but this was one of those times when it was a pleasure to be there and a pleasure to leave.

To paraphrase Key and Peele: "[the game] was real.  And it was good.  But it wasn't real good...."

Final 12-11, homers.

Highlights:

* Glad that everyone made it out alive

* Liam and Aiden both did great, they are full-scale MBCers now, Liam pitched well in the final inning, and had some loud hits, Aiden played great defense and also had some hits

* The field was like concrete, and we saw a few third hops that almost took off someone's head.

* Bob called a third strike on me that apparently everyone thought was a strike except me.  Asshole.

* We had a huge group of Mexican leaguers that dwindled to the hard core enthusiasts by the end of the game, reinforced with another 24-pack of Modelo that helped in their cause.  They also were really helpful and decent about the numerous foul balls that we kept lining straight at their group

* James helped me get my first triple in a while, by planting himself on a line drive I hit, and then inexplicably watching it sail over his head.

* Mitch hit a line drive single over my head that sizzled

* John Carey on the other hand, hit a line drive right at me, I managed to get my glove hand up enough to almost catch it, but took it off 50% glove/50% fat part of my hand.  It was sore, but real happy that it wasn't at my face or sternum.

* I hit Bob with a change-up that he could have rolled a smoke and still had time to move out of the way

*  Extra base hits all around, up and down the line up

* Loren's slump appears to be at an end

* Thanks to Bob, John, Mike for catching

* We did a good job of holding on to the ball , rather than the tee-ball throw-around that seems to be making a comeback.

*  Glad Abe seems to be alright, he sent me this picture and I think we all are a little confused as to how there can be three stitch marks.  Just lucky, I guess....




S. Paige



Tuesday, May 29, 2018

5/27/18 Cop Field




It seemed like it couldn't be true, but there he was.... the city maintenance guy was actually dragging the field and then watering it before the game.  I have never seen that level of care taken for our Sunday game.

Oh, and Pete Simonelli showed up too.  With new helmets, purchased by Adam, who claimed that he had been the riding the goodwill of the base purchase for too long.  I am not sure who is giving him grief for not supporting the team enough, but thanks to Adam!

We had enough old guys that we decided to play an old guard vs. new guard game.  Should have known better.  I was starting for the old guys, and the first five batters all torched the ball.  I am not sure why I was so bad, I didn't feel any different, but everything was getting pounded hard.

Including a base hit up the middle that Tony went for, getting all his momentum in one direction, missing the ball and then tumbling after the fact.  Hard.  He landed on his shoulder, and from then on knew something was terribly wrong.  Greg and Pete took him to the hospital, after he greyed out on the bench, while attempting to change his shoes.  Luckily, the faint was probably a physiological reaction, not a more complex vascular issue.

Diagnosis: Shoulder separation, AC-variety.  Unknown yet if it will require surgery.  Get well soon Tony!

The game was pretty much a version of that diagnosis, it was painful, weird, and required rehab.

I lasted 6 innings, and had a few that were not complete shit shows, but on the whole, I think I gave up something in the neighborhood of 15 runs.  About 10 were earned.  New guys were hitting the alleys, right and left, all day.  Our team was also hampered by an almost eerie inability to get the first out.  Brian Phelps was traded to our team after we lost a big group to the Tony situation. Brian, being a middling guy in the MBC universe timeline had his choice of teams, but he wanted to be with us old guys.  He fared little better than I, which was cold comfort that it hadn't just been my shitty pitching.

So, we learned that the time of the old guys taking on all-comers is probably not a good idea anymore.  And we know which guys from the new squad shouldn't be on the same team, lest we have another blowout. The new guys lacked depth in pitching but they made up for it by throwing the rainbow at us, changing every inning or so.

I think we only played 8 innings, everyone had had enough and the new guys were going station to station on hits that should have been triples.  You know you are screwing the pooch when the other team isn't interested in triples.

Final Score: 28-7.

Highlights:

* The visitor's hitting, all day

* The vistor's defense, all day

* John Carey, the one youth on the old guard, made some great plays in the outfield, covering center, left and right

* Always interesting seeing players with nice fluid throwing motions get all weird and elbow-centric when they try to pitch.

* Elvin was almost hit several times

* I struck out for the first time in a while, other than the game in Brooklyn.  Felt about the same

* The separation rule for the game was: Did you ever play at the Presidio?  It was then changed to, Do you even know what I am talking about, when I ask that question?

* Not much else to really report, it was a ugly blowout and we lost a great teammate to an injury.  Fuck off, this whole thing, to quote Tony as he sat on the bench, trying to make sense of what had happened.


* Sounds like the SQ game went as well as this one, 11-1, one hitter, the SQ team supplemented the visitors with 5 extra players, when only 2 were needed.


Tuesday, May 22, 2018

5/17/18 MBC San Quentin A's/Giants

Cap tip to Ed "Eddie Spaghetti" Sidawi for taking the time to write up this recap of the San Quentin game.  Sounds like they have been having trouble getting teams cleared through the DOJ process this year, so we are having more opportunities to play.


Originally Scheduled for Wednesday May 16 but cancelled due to Basket-Ball on TV, nine of us entered San Quentin on Thursday May 17 amidst fears of flu and a full west block quarantine. Shockingly, the nine committed souls showed up on time, no id's thrown out car windows on the way to the parking lot.

Getting to the gate at 4:30 is dandy, but turning the corner to a COMPLETELY uninhabited yard is a bit unnerving.  We warmed up and slowly the boys in blue began to trickle out. Lockdown made for a thin A's team that had to be augmented by Giants that were allowed out.

Big Rob started for the A's and he generally threw strikes (fastball only). He was very apologetic to Greg who he apparently hit last time out, which in retrospect is probably why Greg got a meatball for our first single of the day. Rob kept us off-balance, only allowing one run over 5 innings before having to leave for class.

Sean labored through 6 innings, giving up a picket fence in the first three. The only Mission baseball inning came in the 4th when we should have had about 6 outs, but only achieved 3. Luckily Sean limited the damage to 2. A lefty added a long HR to left, off the education building, in the 5th. Sean had luck in the first as a pick-off to third was not caught due to our guy being too timid to fully extend his left arm into a runner, despite it being highly unlikely to break an arm twice that way.

The 6th began with a SQ A's 6-2 lead. With Rob bettering himself, Old Terry put himself on the mound. We nearly batted a round, scoring 4 to tie.

Sean went back out for the 6th facing, for the last time, Manuel who had been on 4 or 5 consecutive times either by walk or by dropped third strike. He walked on 4 pitches.

Two force plays at second and a pop up to the pitcher later, the game was called. as a tie 6-6.

Highlights

*We had a legit argument with the umpire. Instead of the usual deference, we took exception to allowing Manuel to advance to first on a strike out that he readily admitted hit his foot.  Nothing came of it, other than a run on the next batter, but we argued.

*Elvin showed up his hecklers who were calling him "little league" by going 2-3

* James hit one off the razor wire fence for a triple.

*Sean must have had at least 10 Ks because I can't think of many plays in the field. 

*We live in California. It is Spring/summer. We are sitting outside. Bring a jacket and don't be soft

*The yard was empty-empty-empty. I think there were more guards than residents watching


The non-losing team at the Marin Brewing Co.  Greg loves selfies almost as much as he loves leagues and religion.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

5/6/18- Ramblers game- Prospect Park, Brooklyn, NY




First of all, what the fuck am I doing up at 6:30am ready to play a non-SQ baseball game?

Secondly, where the hell am I and how did I get home from JJ Bubbles in Bay Ridge?



Culminating a week of neurology conference meetings, and rubbery chicken in tasteless sauce, I had the ultimate gift of being able to play with our brothers to the east, the Brooklyn Ramblers in Prospect Park.

The Ramblers started about a decade ago when Dave Johnson moved back to NYC.  He missed playing ball, so he scraped together a few players from various sources, and they in turn, scraped a few more until they had a nice roster of regulars.  And while they are not able to play year-round due to the inclement weather of the Northeast, they still incorporate the ethos of the Mission Baseball Club.  While I knew that I was not probably going to be facing a hostile crowd, I was a little apprehensive about stepping onto the field and taking the ball as a starting pitcher.  One would have to have some pretty serious credentials and a few rabbis to get that kind of treatment first time out at the MBC game.

Credentials and character vouchers notwithstanding, I got by on the weight of Dave, who is clearly the captain of the squad.  Dave takes a firmer hand in managing the team than any of us in SF would, and I would liken him to a hybrid of Greg/Bob, except he deals with things that Greg/Bob would have neither the interest nor inclination in handling.

One big difference is that the Ramblers are expected to pre-pay for the entire season!  This in turn, makes collecting of dues a more hefty occupation than the rumpled $5 bills that we shove in Bob's hand after each game.  For all Ramblers reading this- get right with the dues to Dave, or enjoy your season of hitting last and playing right field.

No judgement on this next one, but another big difference is that the Ramblers keep score —including the formulation of a carefully considered lineups— and the players are equally distributed, according to skill set.  The practical implication is that pitchers and catchers can be in short supply, so resources have to be even. I admit that we of the MBC always attempt to balance the teams so we don't end up with blowouts.  However, I would also say our weekly teams are usually more organically grown (Insert CA joke here). We play in SF and are a self-admitted bunch of pinko lefty commies after all.....except you, Bob.

The Ramblers also play by the rules of baseball, which means walks and HBPs are enforced, balks are called.  From a pitching perspective, my fear was that I was going to end up walking a bunch of people, not having the advantage of a count reset.

One last difference that you probably already noticed, the Ramblers start their games early.  The Ramblers play at 8:00am and I don't think that the MBC would last very long if we had to do that.  In fact, I know it.  That being said, once past the initial hangover gurgles that always accompany a good Saturday night, I actually enjoyed being out in the fresh air of the morning.  As well, having the game done by noon, one still has a full day to accomplish all the other shit that takes over one's life.  Dave said that sometimes that accomplishment is just hanging out in Prospect Park and drinking, and I can think of plenty worse ways to spend a Sunday afternoon.

In any case, after waiting around for a little while for the gates to be unlocked, we unloaded our stuff and established camp in the third base dugout.  The field was in great condition—the infield grass had just been re-sodded— and real clay abounded!  The dugout was sunken, complete with extra storage, a nice fence for leaning, and a drinking fountain!  It reminded me of what Crocker-Amazon could be like if it was refurbished and if it wasn't used as a public toilet for the indigent and intoxicated population of SF.

The lineup consortium debated each position and hitting potential while we warmed up and arrived at the final teams.  We skipped infield warm-ups to get the game going, since we are were already at 18+.  Starting for the homers was Tom, who played college-level ball, and who had a whole bag of tricks and junk to work with.  He also changed his arm slot continually, which made it hard to get a handle on tracking the ball.  He had his good stuff working too, to the tune of 11 Ks in 5 innings.  The only run we scored was a walk that came into score on a ball hit to right.  There was an exciting play at the plate, and the runner (another collegiate baseballer) named Dave, came in hot and then at the last second, slid into, rather than bowled over the catcher.  It had the looks of a Ray Fosse/Pete Rose All-Star moment until the last second.

I definitely did not have as large a bag of tricks as Tom, but I stayed efficient.  From the looks of the scorecard, I pitched 7 innings, struck out 5, walked 1, and gave up 4 hits.  I'll take that any day of the week.

What really made me feel at home, was the presence of THE INNING.  Those who follow this rambling narrative on a regular basis know exactly what that is.  The plot rarely varies, a few no-doubt, well-placed hits, and then....the wheels come off.  The defense that previously locked down ground balls can't grab the handle, I am leaving pitches up in the zone to be crushed, and ultimately, a shitload of runs go on the board.  This particular one wasn't that bad, four runs scored, and it was familiar to me as the golden hills of California.  I was told that the proper phrase in Brooklyn for this is "You got Rambled."  Very similar to our own home-grown phrase of "real Mission Baseball play," or the Brian Girgus favorite,"[that rally had] some good, old-fashioned shitty fielding."

We had made such good time in the game that by the time that the 9th inning arrived, we still had 50 minutes left on the permit, so we kept the game going.  I had bowed out after 7, and JC—who is counted among the original 17 Reasons MBC players— came in for an inning and did a great job, as did the two pitchers after him: Money, who kept on the fake mustache while he threw, and Rob, who peered over his glove like Randy Johnson.  Tom went out after 5 innings of giving us the business, and Dr. Milo Vassallo came in for the homers.  He continued to shut us down completely, and it was only in the 9th and beyond, with the entry of a third pitcher, Brian, that the visitors managed to finally score a few runs.

Those runs live on only in our memories, cuz the scorecard notations were abandoned after the 8th inning (see pics).

Final Score- 7-4?

Highlights:

* It was an honor to play with the Ramblers, something I have wanted to do since they were created.

* There was a tense moment before we got to the game.  Dave is still rocking that '71 BMW 2002 and it sputtered to a complete stop (on the Prospect Expressway I think) on the way there.  I made my peace with the fact that everything was fucked and my baseball dream was gone.  Dave tinkered under the hood for a second, then had an epiphany, and took my suitcase out of the trunk where the weight of it had been crimping the recently installed external fuel pump hose.  Problem solved.

* I was sure glad that it was 65 degrees and overcast, if it had been a full-on heat and humidity Brooklyn day, the conditions and the cumulative hangover would have killed me.

* It was good to see Ted B. who you should all remember from his visit and SQ game, on his home turf.

* Tom deserves a cap tip for an overpowering pitching performance, as well as shaking off a nasty cervical compression scare in the last inning, while fielding a play at 1st.

* After 6 innings, I tried to do the gentlemanly thing, as we do in the MBC when we have 12-12 games, and take myself out so that I have my turn to sit and let other play.  That is not how they do it in Brooklyn.  Dave said, and I quote," Fuck that.  Keep pitching.  I'm catching."

* Milo (pronounced Mee-lo) wins the Terry Steinbach Helmet award

* The team that was waiting to take the field after us, showed up two hours early!

* The Prospect Park field had a snack bar, something that we should try and instigate at our local fields.  At the very least, get some hot dog cart out at Golden Gate Park once or twice.

* I was expecting to see a few familiar faces (Ezra, you suck) but Randy wasn't one of them.  He was waylaid in NY waiting for a job in Europe, and has ended up playing with the Ramblers.  Great to see him.

* Dave K. made an awesome play at 1st and JC almost had a amazing catch on a foul ball line drive near first

* Speaking of MBCers, Will Rockwell-AOY 2013, is known in the Ramblers circle as SF Willie.  He is still an asshole too, cuz he got on a plane to SF at 6am on Sunday morning and missed the game.

* Another Rambler nicknamed Money, played the entire game in a fake mustache and sleeveless shirt, in parody of Milo.  I didn't ask if they take turns doing this, or if it's just his thing.

* I ended up with a 1.000 on-base percentage, by way of a dropped third strike, a walk, and two singles.  The Ramblers were nice enough to allow me to have a runner each time, my quad/hip thing still being a pain.

* I tried to get Simonelli to come out for a game.  His response: Not at 8am I'm not. Fuck that.

* Only two extra base hits the whole game: JC had a nice crack to right center for a double, and Nick (with a manly beard) had a long double over the left fielders head to score a run in the midst of THE INNING.

* I am sure part of it was being unused to it, but I didn't get much response when I occasionally tried to be witty with the hitters from the mound, everyone was pretty locked in to their game. Or maybe playing by the rules of baseball extend to the unwritten stuff like not being overtly genial with the opposing team?  Or maybe I am just not funny?

* If there is one bad thing about the field, it needs a net or something for foul balls.  The field is surrounded by a perimeter fence, so you have to completely exit through the one open gate, to get a ball that is about 30 feet away from home.  First World Problems.

* The 4-9-6 play to end the 3rd inning, you know, the usual

* I figured a 6 hour flight after playing a game would break me, but I feel surprisingly good for a Tuesday.

* Always a pleasure when I can get new guys to swing at the knuckleball, I think the humidity on the East Coast helped too

Thank you again for all the good times and the opportunity to play Ramblers ball.  I highly recommend any MBCers that find themselves in NYC to get to a game.










The man and the mustache



Monday, April 30, 2018

4/29/18 Cop Field

Beautiful day, we had 19 people show up, Mrs. Paige and the kids came in with me, and played at the playground for 2.5 hours, it was just an all around good day. 

Except of course, for the problem my team had with scoring runs and catching the ball, other than that though.....  It actually was a great game, and I can't knock my team too much, since they did make a legit double play, helped by Greg's almost complete surrender about 10 feet up the basepath, and then the realization that he had to at least try.  In fact, there were quite a few give up early's and then something happened plays.  That's why we run out every ball people.

Greg started for the homers and Satch for the visitors.  Greg's knee appeared to not bother him much, but for whatever reason, his usual game of bust them inside, became, throw at their head and trunk.  Seriously, for a guy who didn't technically hit anyone all game, he averaged about 3 near misses per batter. 

I was throwing pretty good, had a few Ks, the change up was definitely on point, which always makes it easier to pitch, when your go to is real easy on the arm.  Defensively, we just were out of position some of the time, dropped some balls, didn't get to some balls, and then the homers also hit the crap out of the few balls.  Typical MBC stuff, really.  Mitch came in to mop up in the 8th, and threw a good inning.

The sad thing was that going into the middle innings, we were down 4-0, which is pretty rare to have in a Mission game.  No lead is usually safe, but seriously, not even a run?  Our downfall was hitting the ball to Chris P continuously, which is never a good strategy.  We got a runner into scoring position more than once, but just couldn't capitalize.  When we finally did score a run, I think it was the 6th inning, and I think we were lucky to get it. 

The bats finally came alive in the 9th, but we had idled away too much time, and while we did mount a comeback, we fell short with a final 6-4 loss.

Highlights:

* Greg pitched well, when he wasn't trying to hit anyone

* Chris also did well in relief, and ironically, is the only one who did hit someone.

* The sun in left field was not fun

* In catching news, Ed caught two foul pop flies and Bob hung on to a foul tip for strike three, best defensive catching of the year, I say.

* I got Loren to swing at knuckleballs twice for pop ups

* It got a little convoluted, but I had to make a point of James, Chris, and Mitch not being on the same team. That is three big hitters with guaranteed base stealing ability.

* For all of my bad mouthing, my defense also got a runner at home, on a non-force play, corners in.  It was awesome.

* On the other hand, our defense showed it's lack of understanding went into a serious lefty shift against Lattig, only to be corrected by Lattig that is was not a sound strategy, which is very true, he is capable of hitting to any part of the field

* Mitch had a couple of throws from the outfield that saved more runs from being scored

* John McG came late, and opted to go on to the winning team, although he had his opportunity to join us underdogs

* I was trying to old-school a run by bunting with Mitch on first in the 2nd to try and get on the board, but apparently, you are not supposed to sacrifice outs for potential runs anymore.  What I was supposed to do was hit a long double.  And if a frog had wings, he wouldn't bump his ass a'hoppin'.

* I got caught in left trying to catch a hit from Powell, chances are I wouldn't have gotten to it, but my first step was in, and it definitely should have been back

* Urano played a solid game, he needed to exploit his youth a bit more though

* Dennis tried to turn a double play with no one on first, the SS relayed the ball, but the batter was safe at first.  Always know where the runners are, people!

* I caught a infield pop fly, and called off the third baseman by staring into the sky and saying, and I quote,"Oh shit.  I think I got that."

* We almost had a second double play!

* At one point, my best pitch was a fat, straight fastball down the middle.

* Bob tried to cheer up our team by singing the Dr. Demento classic Dead Puppies Aren't much Fun

Dead puppies
Dead puppies
Dead puppies aren't much fun
They don't come when you call
They don't chase squirrels at all
Dead puppies aren't much fun

My puppy died late last fall
He's still rotting in the hall
Dead puppies aren't much fun
Mom says puppy's days are through
She's gonna throw him in the stew
Dead puppies aren't much fun

Dead puppies
Dead puppies
Dead puppies aren't much fun


Wednesday, April 25, 2018

2018 San Quentin Series- Game 1

 It's that time of year again, when the team makes the trip north to SQ to play the inmate team.  It's been happening for a lot of years at this point, and we almost always have a good time.  The problems, when they occur, are usually administrative in nature.  Obviously, we want the prison to function well so that everyone remains safe.  But it can be trying, when all you want to do is play some ball.

Two reports so far on how the game went, the first from Nick W:

It was a doozy. A back and forth nailbiter finally sealed by an 8th inning dropped 3rd strike that scored 2 runs, and bookended by opening day ceremonies with a touching goodbye to Elliot and Phelps having to drive to Novato for a spare set of car keys because he locked his in his trunk.

Final score SQ A's/Giants 11, Mission 8

And this commentary from Sonny:

 Sean threw a runner out at first, with his amazing deceptive leg-kick-looks-like-he’s-
already-pitching-but-throws-to-first move.

Chris made a major league-like out catching a grounder at SS and long throw in air to first.

Mike threw some great pitches in the 9th , almost everything dipping down right at the plate.

I had longest at bat of my life fouling off like 14 balls.

We had three errors on one ball, first Sean missed it, then I missed it then Greg missed it.
So we are 0-1 in the season, with about 4 games to go.  Let's hope for a better outcome in May.  Strangely, two of the three people who contributed to this blog article, are two of the only three MBC players that you can actually identify in the Religion of Sports: Through the Darkness documentary that filmed last year while we were there.  
Here's a screen shot, with Elliot talking, and Chris "Stretch" Rich, the former inmate who returned to give some inspiring words to the players.  As for the third man, well, shoot, everyone knows who he is.



Tuesday, April 24, 2018

400th Post! Huzzah!




This serves as a placeholder, I hope to include a longer post when I can, but for now, let's just say, Wow!  Who would have thought that this whole thing would have lasted this long?  Not the MBC game of course, that will go on forever, but I can't believe that I am still reporting on it, even if it is a semi-regular basis.

Hope for the future of this blog:

A new round of player profiles to acknowledge those who started playing after 2003.

More in-depth stories on the things that matter, like how to properly throw a spitball,lean into a pitch, and not be a basic douchebag while playing baseball.

Hopefully more posts on games that I attended, which means that I am attending more games.

An answer once and for all on the most pressing question of our generation- When will Bert Campaneris, Steve Garvey, Will Clark, Jeff Kent, and Fernando Valenzuela make the Hall of Fame?

Thursday, April 19, 2018

4/15/18 Cop Field- Unofficial game

An abbreviated attempt at a game was pursued on Sunday.  I showed up sometime after first pitch with the two lil' guys in tow, mostly to get out of the Missus' hair for a few hours and cuz the boys love playing on the old batting cage structure at Sundberg. 

Unfortunately, the skies grew darker the closer we got to SF, and by the time we reached the field it was lightly misting.  The mist turned into a fine rain, lightened for a second, then got steadily heavier and heavier.  We lasted about an hour, I threw batting practice to the kids for a bit, and then called it a day.  No sooner had we gotten into the car then the skies opened up and a real downpour descended on the game, which I figure probably stopped it for good.

I can't tell you anything about what happened, other than Greg was back from Peru, and was pitching which means his knee can't be that bad, or he has taken the traditional MBC play-through-the-pain route.  Either way, it was good to see him. 

Tony was ready to pack it in as soon as the rain started, but was shouted down.  He then had to make a play on a ground ball that threw up a rooster tail of water as it headed towards him, and then when he threw it to first, it looked more like a shot put. 

It was a great showing for a questionable day, all the usual suspects were out.  Too bad it wasn't a full game. 

We drove home, and the rain stopped just as we pulled in to the driveway.  I guess the wind and the storm must have been stronger than I realized, as I found our EZ Up had blown up and over the safety fence and was upside down at the bottom of the pool.  I donned a mask and spent ten minutes in the semi-frigid water, detaching the canopy and pulling the structure to the side so that we could haul it out.  Not how I pictured the day coming to an end.

Let's hope for a nice Sunday to make up for it!

S. Paige

Monday, April 2, 2018

4/1/18 West Sunset

Easter Sunday and April Fools in the one day, and what a day it was.  Glorious weather, warm but not too hot, the field was in immaculate condition, and we had 20 players show up.  How can you go wrong?

The teams may have been a little lopsided, but on the whole, it was a pretty good split.  Chris Powell started for the visitors and Satch, so hungry to play ball that he could hardly stand it, went for the homers.  We shut down the first inning in about 8 pitches, and then went to town to the tune of 5 runs.  We were feeling pretty good about ourselves, until the visitors roared back and tied it up with their own barrage of runs, making it a 5-5 affair.

We traded zeroes for a few innings, and then the homers struck again for another 5 runs, and never looked back.  Chris had given way to New guy Chris, who was a bit wild.  He was then replaced by Abe, who I think I have only seen throw one other time.  It was a pitching by committee for the visitors, for sure.  Satch ended up throwing a  complete game for the homers, which was very nice to air out the arm for a lot of innings.  Special thanks to Tony for letting me keep going, even though I know he wanted to throw.

We tacked on a few more, the visitors had another mini-barrage, but it was too little too late, and with a ground ball to SS we ended the game in a tidy 2.5 hours.

Final score: 14-8

Highlights:

* What an amazing day, other than the sun which temporarily blinded more than a few fielders.

* Thanks to Bob, Ed, Gaspar, Don, Chris for donning the tools of ignorance

* Adam tried the ol' rufus goofus of leaving early and trying to get picked off of first to give the man on third a chance to run home.  Unfortunately, he didn't realize that there was a runner on second too.  He made it back safely.

* Urano had a great day at SS, making play after play with a smooth precision.

* Derek made a great catch in right field after it was obvious that he could not see it in the sun.  It was headed right for him, so at the last second he saw it enough to catch it.

* Additional thanks to Derek's special lady friend who watched the entire game

* RBI Ed is back!

* Bob was HBP, though he tried so little to get out of the way that it was almost batter's interference.

* Big flies were hit by James, Dave, Chris P., Satch.  Should have had the cones out.

* Nick Smith had no luck at first all day, his infield could not throw him a decent ball for an out, he was jumping, and digging, and pulled off the bag every time.

* Speaking of, we have decided that a ball that hits the wall behind 1st, and bounces back is a live ball.  If it goes past the wall to the fence area it is out of bounds.

* We had a couple of good 2-out rallies

* I think I struck out five for the day, the change up was working really well, as was the curve, with the exception of the second inning, when the visitors were squaring up on everything I threw.

* I think James won the biggest hit, he almost reached the other field, and we all thought Loren was going to catch it Willie Mays style-but it ended up right at the fringe of the infield grass. James got a triple because he isn't a fat bag of slow like me.






* Bob told some new guy on his team to tell me to go fuck myself, but he never did.  So I am owed.

*  I think 5 people got hit by pitches, which is more than usual.  Urano and Tony both took one off the knee but seemed to shake it off.

* The grass on the infield is almost too good, you don't expect that a low ground ball will stay low.

* Thanks to everyone that showed up, I would have been super bummed to have to do...gulp...batting practice.

Here are Ed Sidawi's action photos for the day, as well as a slo-mo of Urano's hit/ error off of Chris Powell:





 



S. Paige