Monday, December 8, 2008

A See-Saw Battle

Just when you think there's no way to be surprised, a game like yesterday happens. But first a message from Jameson's Irish Whiskey, Player Preferred, Game Tested, that's Jameson's!

Anyway, I ended up on the bump once again, wheeling the ol' soup bone for another week. I felt good, it was a nice, cool winter day, and I was the designated driver on Saturday, so the lack of hangover was working for me. Unfortunately, my eyes were not really warmed up, I missed a sign on the second batter, Chris, who raked a four bagger that was still rolling when he crossed home. But it was early. Turns out for the other clubbers, it was early and often, they started tallying runs by the handful, helped by some 7-out innings, and suddenly the lead was becoming insurmountable.

What was also apparent from the start was the other battery, Dustin and Noah, who had decided to come at our team like it was Game 7 of the Worlds Series. Through the first four innings, Greg and Johnny were our only batters who got a hit, and by the end of the 6th, Dustin had 12 strikeouts. Pretty amazing for this rag tag bunch of players.

We finally got on the board to break the shutout, and started our long slow climb back. By the 5th it was 9-2, and then fortune began to smile for us once more. That, Dustin probably got tired of smoking us, and a few opportunistic duffs and stingers, and all of sudden it was 9-8, and then we took the lead for the first time in the game.

I had decided that it wasn't my day on the hill and turned the game over to Greg in the 6th, who shut down the club for the rest of the match.

The dark began to descend and the ball was getting hard to see, but we made it to the 9th, and were crusing but Dustin's boys weren't out of ginger yet. Next thing you know there are men in scoring position, and we are trying to keep our eyes on the ball. Noah steps up with two outs and wallops one to deep center, surely the kind of thing that ties games up or more. But, in the end, this game was decided by the Mitch Factor. He snares them all, center, left, right, in, out. Many a game has rested on the fact that if Mitch can get to it, it's caught. He was guided by Lattig in left who gave him the right direction "Straight back, keep running." A team victory for sure.

Another Sunday in the books.


*A little player in the making who fetched our foul ball and was intrigued by the game.

*Dustin's heat, poise, and cheering section.

*Nero's muscled up double to the gap

*G. Snyder showing us how it is done when you come back from a surfing vacation

*The home run, impressive Chris, if I hadn't seen it many times before.

*John Carey's first big league hit, which I believe was also an RBI. Nice work kid!

Monday, December 1, 2008

A Winter Game to Remember

So we were sitting out in the sunshine yesterday, sweating under the hot sun, when we realized that Christmas was coming up....I have to say, that there are few places I know of where one could play baseball year round. I know, I know, the winter ball in the tropics and Mexico are historical but I can't say that always playing in hot, humid conditions is my idea of paradise. Our game might be a little chilly sometimes, but a long sleeved shirt is the furthest I have to go.

Yesterday's game was also surprising in that we had 24 players show up, which is about 10 more than we have had consistently for the last six months. I didn't know what to do with myself not having to play defense for the other team (which I am sure they were grateful for). It was another close game, see-sawing back and forth, your humble narrator versus Johnny Bartlett, a rematch from last week. Johnny pitched his heart out, and made an amazing basket catch in foul territory, but some of the defense was not where it should be. I had my own share of gaffes, but managed to get a few lucky breaks. Lattig took over in the 6th and rode out the rest of the game with ease, Nice to see the arm back in shape, Mike. Another Mike pitched for Johnny's stalwarts, and that is some nasty screwball, and the knuckle is nothing to sneeze at either.

Our two youngest players, John Carey and Amelia Tiemann did great, for playing with a bunch of crotchety old men. A special shout-out to the fathers of these two players, Bob Carey who small-balled a run when we needed it, and JT Tiemann, who made a great play at first, in spite of taking a ball to the face (wear that shiner with pride, JT.) I know I was 0-5, with a strike out and two errors, so the game ball ain't coming my way. At least Mrs. Paige showed up to see my furthest attempt of the game, a texas leaguer to right field.

At the end of it all, it was another glorious Sunday in the park. With winter approaching quickly, I know it is inevitable that the rain is gonna fall, but for now, yesterday, I was exactly where I wanted to be.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Player Profile #3- Pete Simonelli

This is a tough one. The first thing you will notice is that there isn't actually any pictures of Pete playing baseball. That's because Pete is a rock star, and he doesn't think baseball is cool anymore. Well maybe he does, but he never comes out. I have Pete to thank for introducing me to this game, and for that I am eternally grateful, however, I soon realized that the reason that he drafted me to play, was because he was going the no-show route and wanted to make sure that the team didn't suffer. Or at least that's what I like to think.

Pete moved to New York a while ago, and played once or twice with the East coasters, but I never heard much after that. I am sure that in his short stint there, he managed to break a bat or two and maybe bark the phrase, "You know what you outta do...." at least four times.
Pitching to Pete was always one of my favorite things, because he never gave an inch, and it was always a challenge to out-think him. At the same time, I always wanted to be on his team, because it was really amusing to listen to his misanthropic view of all that is this world. But facing him, I got to hear more shit talking, and that was always fun.

Pete was the another of the original MBC tribe, back when it was all punk rock musicians and mission no-goodniks. He grew up in Stockton, a great baseball town, and was one of the better athletes I played with. I hate to make this sound like a eulogy, but Pete has pretty much promised that if and when he comes back to SF to record with his band, the Enablers, he will NOT play baseball. Here's hoping he changes his least he left us some bats before he disappeared into the ether. We miss you buddy, and you didn't leave that Iggy Pop shirt like you said you would. It could be our team pennant....

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

S. Paige

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Living in the tall cotton

I have to say this Sunday's game was spectacular. The weather was perfect, a hint of fall in the air, but with warm sunshine and a fairly well maintained field, we made the most of the November day.
One of my favorite things about baseball is the vernacular. A lot of our everyday expressions came about because of the game, people who act crazy are said to be "off base," a wacky idea comes out of "left field", to fail at something is to "strike out," etc. One of the things that has floated around the email chain over the years is a growing glossary of old baseball terms. In an effort to show reverence for the game and also entertain myself, I will now provide the highlights of today's game, in 19th century baseball-speak....enjoy.

19th-century Base Ball Slang

Aces: runs

Apple, pill, horsehide, onion: the ball

Basetender: an infielder stationed near one of the rag-stuffed bags that serve as bases

Behind: catcher

Blooper, banjo hit: weak fly ball that barely soars beyond the infielders

Bowler, hurler, thrower, feeder: pitcher

Break one off: to throw a curve ball

Club nine: team

Cranks: fans

Daisy cutter: a well-hit ground ball

Dew drop: slow pitch

Dead: put out

Dish: home plate

Duff, Muff: an error

Foul tick: foul ball

Hand out: player out

Leg it: run hard

Muffin: a player of lesser talent

The line: the batter's box. The umpire would often shout, "Striker, to the line!"

Make your first: a single. Also "make your second" or "took his third."

Match: game

Plugging the runner, soaking the runner: throwing the ball at the runner to put him out (illegal after 1845)

Show a little ginger: play harder or play smarter

Side out: three outs

Sky ball: a high pop-up

Stinger: a hard hit ball

Striker: batter

Tally: a run or ace counted after a runner has touched all four bases in consecutive order

Three hands out: side retired, teams must switch sides

Whitewash: to hold a team scoreless in an at-bat

Willow: the bat

A Score of Gentleman Meet for Baseball Match, Camaraderie.

There was no shortage of ginger on the diamond this afternoon, and nary a muffin in sight as strikers on both sides girded up their loins to take the field of battle in that time honored tradition of the willowed warriors. In the end, the match was decided by a single tally, as both sides vied for their day of glory. Johnny Bartlett, feeder for one of the Club nines, dealt a complete games worth of breaking off the onion, keeping his team in the thick of the match.

However, it was not to be. Duane Harris reeled in banjo hit after banjo hit, robbing the honorable nine of any opportunity to put up more than an ace or two. The basetenders for both sides kept the tally low, and both clubs did their best to negate the duffs, whitewashing many a scoring opportunity. A. Daley, usually a dew dropper with the pill, answered back at Bartlett with his own complete match, and seemed well in control of the bump, breaking off pitch after pitch when needed to, and dipping into his valise of twirls when Bartlett's strikers attempted to get comfortable at the line.

In the end, the match was decided by who's daisy cutters got through the basetenders, and who's did not. The real winners of today's game were the cranks who braved the trip across the big muddy to experience the delight of another day in the sun.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Player Profile #2- Tony "Big Stick" Rojas

There are certain people who look really good at a position. Brooks Robinson of course, Ozzie Smith comes to mind, Will Clark was another. These guys were masters of their position and it showed in their approach. Rojas is one these guys. He may not always make the play, but damn! does he look good doing it.

Tony is another of the original MBC players, back when most if not all of the players lived in and around the Mission district of San Francisco. Tony still does, one of the last. Another of the Hardball/Surfing Club, Tony is a firm supporter of the belief that there are times when baseball has to take a back seat to the Pacific. I can't say I agree, but my surfing experience adds up to about .076 seconds actually vertical on the board, so I am not the right guy to ask. You have to admire the passion though.

One of the best things about when Tony shows up is the uniforms. I wish I could fit into the kind of cool stuff he finds, alas, vintage and Big and Tall were not of the same generation. He always looks sharp, and it usually celebrates his Cuban roots (talk about a great baseball past...) or his love of ruined liquor stores (sorry Tag, whoever you were.)

Tony is also one of the few switch hitters we have, which I love, because pitching to left handed batters is always less stressful for me ( lefties don't crowd the plate and there is less of a chance of me hitting them.) Plus, he loves my knuckleball, which makes him a star in my book. I have also noticed that the more Tony is banged up the better he plays, in the last week he could barely run, but he was 3-5, with two beautiful line drives. I feel tip top most of the time, and all I can do is hit weak grounders to short.

I broke Tony's bat a few months back. I usually don't use wooden bats, for this reason, but he practically dared me to use it. The bat, named Krakatoa, was like swinging a 2x4, but it had a lot of hits. I promised to replace it, but Tony thinks he can fix it...that's the kind of player Tony is.

See you on the bump,

S. Paige

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Player Profile #1- Greg Snyder

Greg is the heart and soul of the team. He was a part of the original MBC, back when they tried to play in a league. That quickly fizzled when the other teams took unkindly to the MBC having girls on their team, girls who might get hits off their pitchers. So the pitchers hit the girls instead, which was viewed as unfavorable by the MBC. Plus, those other guys cared about winning and losing. So the MBC did it's own thing, and here we are today.

Greg is the unofficial captain of the MBC, and is the last word in disagreements and rules. He is a battery player, but if you ask him he likes catching (except when I am pitching) and pitching (when I am pitching for the other team). Due to his surfing fanaticism, Greg's shoulder has taken on a certain mythic quality, he can easily pitch 9 innings, he usually gets warm around the 5th. As such, he is better as a starter than as a reliever (re: San Quentin).

Greg also possesses the attitude that we try to promote in the MBC; laid back, easy going, and a certain "life-is-too-short-to-care about-whether-you-think-you were safe-at second" quality. Greg was out for six months with a knee injury a few years ago, and the game just wasn't the same, and not because we lost a catcher and pitcher, but the vibe wasn't right. Hopefully, Greg will play forever, cuz without him, the MBC could self-destruct...

Monday, November 17, 2008

MBC- The beginnings

So we have this baseball club, sometimes we play at San Quentin, but we can't take pictures of the game, so we get them afterwards in the parking lot. The games are always entertaining, and sometimes we manage to give them a real game. This game we actually tied, although we were saved by the yard bell. it made both teams happy.

Every Sunday we play in San Francisco, and since the weather is always partially overcast and somewhere between 54 and 71 degrees, we play pretty much year round. The team is comprised of about 25 regulars who try to show up when they can, the teams are always different, the people stay the same. The one standing rule is that you can't be an asshole. Everything else is pretty much negotiable. If you like 9 innings of hard ball, this is the game for you. if you care about stats, being safe on every play, or whether that last pitch was on the corner or not, this is not the game for you. It's baseball by democracy, or kindergarten baseball, as in if you can't play well with others, go swing on the jungle gym. here's another picture with a few more of the usual suspects.

This was taken at a Fourth of July BBQ that we try to do every year. We play a game, have a party, and then play another game. Usually the first game has a bit more pep than the second. But it is the one game where we usually have more than enough people. Everyone is welcome to play on the 4th, and we have had some surprising plays come out of unexpected players.

We have lost a lot of friends to the East Coast, but enough of them still had the fire to start their own team. They can't play all year like us, and they start at the god awful time of 9 am on Sunday morning, but they are trying to keep the dream alive. The rumblings of a East Coast- West Coast game are getting louder by the day. Maybe in a common area, known as Cooperstown???? Here's a team photo from team 5 Boroughs.The surly one in the middle is probably angry that someone put out his cigarette that he left on the ground while he was warming up.
Anyway, this is game is our church service, and I for one would not know what to do with myself if it didn't exist.

Until next time, Let's play 2!


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Batter Up

Figured I would give this a whack.