Thursday, February 26, 2009

Player Profile #6 Mike Lattig

I started to get optimistic about a game this week, but Jebus Chrispo, it looks like more rain, so we are stuck with looking out the window, and hoping for a end to the deluge.

This profile will be the first, ughhh, errr, aghhhh, proud Dodger fan of the bunch. Believe me, there are others, and they will all get their turn, but this is the first. Actually, as much as I bleed black and orange, I really don’t hate the Dodgers very much. I dislike Los Angeles, but you can’t blame the Dodgers for that, blame Walter O’Malley.
In fact I feel downright bad for Dodger fans that come to the Giants games, because they are just there to root for their squad and enjoy a game like the rest of us. The fact that they get accosted, screamed at, spit upon and shanked in parking lots is really beyond the pale as far as sports goes. It’s a game, people. But somewhere along the way, it was decided that pride in your team could extend beyond cheering for your own squad, and more into downgrading the other. The real saps are us fans, feeling like we have some vested interest in a bunch of guys playing the same game that we do, knowing full well our “favorite players” would probably push us out into traffic if we got in their way to the VIP club…

And to pick actual fights over a sports team is just lame, be it baseball or curling. In Europe, they separate soccer fans in stadiums (damn commie sport) to keep the riots down, and they are supposed to be more civilized than us. Go figure.

Anyway, Mike Lattig, he’s a Dodger fan, and a smart one. He is always up to date on how the Giants are going to shit the bed this year, and most of the time he’s right (he said teeth gnashing, just ONCE, PLEASE LORD, LET THEM WIN JUST ONCE!!!!).

But enough about that, Mike is probably the best natural hitter we have, as I have said in previous entries. He can place the ball pretty much where he wants to, and the fact that he is left-handed makes it all the more tricky to play him, knowing that if you play the pull, he can hit it just as hard to left. Once, at the neo-turf Silver Terrace field, I was playing third base, and pretty far of the line, and Mike hit one down the 3rd base line, intentionally. I wish I could do that. I wish I could have a clue of whether I was gonna make contact, much less the direction of the ball.

Mike is another all around player as well, he pitches, I learned how to throw a different breaking ball from him, he scoops it all up around 1st, and can move quick, when he needs to. He also is one of the few who wears shorts consistently, which means you have an advantage if you can get him into a sliding situation. But usually doubles to the gap aren’t sliding situations. I think Mike carries a solid .700 average, but since no one really keeps track, all those records will fade into the ether (a sigh of relief from us pitchers.)

I also like that Mike is a competitor, which in small doses, make our game lively. And he pushes us to make the game more than a bunch of jag offs on a field in polyester pants. We need that sometimes, and Mike understands the measures of a little friendly competition. He’s a grounded guy to boot, and he laughs at some of my jokes, so you can’t argue with that.

Classy, that’s the word. A man that knows how a Manhattan should taste, and I am not just saying that because he and Jen came to the Elks lodge to see the band once (although you should all know that I keep a mental list of who has and hasn’t….)

So when it comes down to it, who cares which team you follow, as long as you know how play the game right.

Pray for sun and wind, March here we come!

S. Paige


Unfortunately, the post scripts have become the place where Pete gets mentioned, but here are two videos shot by Bob at our last game, Pete striking out, Jimmy flying out, and Mitch grounding out. If you look carefully, you will see what appears to be a hippopotamus on 2nd base. But at least the hippo got a hit….

Friday, February 20, 2009

Player Profile #5- Nick Smith

This is Nick. He has been playing longer than me, which is about all I know about his baseball history. I know he works for Pixar, as an editor, but I don't think they have a baseball team. Nick is an anomaly in our game, as he a.) appears to have stopped aging at 39, and b.) is still faster on the base paths than most of our team.

At the plate, Nick is one of the more frustrating hitters to face, as he loves to hit line drives the other way, right field gaps are his favorite, and since he has the speed still, he can make you pay for it.

Another reason Nick is an anomaly to our game is that he is "normal" by society's standards. He is married, with kids, and a full time real job and two cars, in general seems to have his shit together. ..which helps when we need him to get permits, gear, SQ dates, etc.

Nick's defense is almost as stellar as his offense, I can't figure the number of times I have seen him dig something out of the dirt on a play that I thought there was no chance we would get the guy. As a pitcher, its a good feeling. As a sub-par shortstop, it's a life saver.....

Nick's kid comes out from time to time, when he isn't living the good life of a young buck, and has accompanied us to SQ a few times. He is one of only two guys from our team to hit a home run at the Field of Dreams, and from what I heard it was a shot. He gets that from his pops.

The other thing I like about Nick is that he is a committed cigarette smoker. I don't condone smoking (cigarettes) by any means, but if you are gonna do it, I admire it if you are realistic and unapologetic about it. There is a certain style in being glad you flied out for an RBI, so you can sit on the bench and have a quick butt before the inning ends. Richard B. still takes the smoker prize, for his warming up on the mound with smoke in lips, and behind mound smoke stash.
Nick is also reliable, and he lives close enough to me that I can bum a ride from him from time to time. What more do you need?

Keep a sunny day in mind for Sunday!

S. Paige

Friday, February 13, 2009

Player Profile #4- Johnny Bartlett

Well, its raining, and there is little chance of a game this week, so I reckoned on getting a few more stories told while we watch the water fall....

Johnny Bartlett. I knew him long before I met him. Circular commentary I know, but its true. I first heard of Johnny when I moved to the city, in 1995, as an impressionable 17 year old, out of the grips of small town. I had a cousin and a brother in the City who helped me get acquainted and showed me what they thought was cool. Ok, some of it was....Johnny was the lead guitar player for the Phantom Surfers, known as Big Hand, a handle given I can only imagine, for his chops with the Jazzmaster. My cousin Mike Lavella had started a magazine dedicated to muscle cars and punk rock, called Gearhead, (surprisingly still in business, Issue #18 out this month I think) and the Phantom Surfers were on his top 10 bands at the time, along with Gas Huffer and The fastbacks. We would sit and listen to P.S. records while stuffing magazines in protective plastic (hey he provided beer).

Anyway, I had this appreciation for a guy who played awesome guitar, and wore a lone ranger mask at concerts, pretty sweet. My personal favorite band at the time was The Pogues ( I know, join the idiot masses), The Breeders (ah Kim Deal) and Tom Waits (that should get a little street cred back) but I digress.

Oh, PS., I used to also really enjoy going to The Go-nuts shows- SNACK ROCK! (just to bring the whole thing full circle), and Skankin' Pickle now you can all whip the hell out of me with that piece of info.

On a seemingly separate topic, my brother took over the cousins apartment in the Tenderloin, on Leavenworth, and since I was underage, we had to frequent the diviest bars possible to get service. Some of my personal favorites were the Hunter, Harringtons (where a drunk horse jockey invited us to the track to watch him race, and an hour later was picking a fight with me), Geary Club (smallest bar ever), and the Brown Jug, where Ulysses held court. After drinking illicitly for a night, my brother and I would walk home and always we would stop to admire these bowling pin curtains that hung in a street level apartment on Post and Leavenworth. Good times.

Get to the fucking point, you might be saying, and here it is. It was Johnny's apartment, and I now have those curtains in my possession....A lot of lead up for not much payoff, I know, but I am trying to show how threaded life can be. I told this story to Johnny once at a game and the next week, there were the curtains, resplendent in all their glory. As an added bonus I found out that they had hung in the Phantom Surfers touring van, which I think is very cool. And he gave them to me, without a second thought, not too many people I know would do something like that without an agenda. But that's Johnny, all heart, and no agenda.

So not only is Johnny a great guy, and an amazing musician, but he's also great ball player. He's the closest we have to a five tool player, ( most of us are just tools, sorry, I made that joke last week, and needed to insert it somewhere). He can pitch (with a natural slider action) , hit (anything), throw (in the sun, in the wind), plays third like Brooks Robinson, and still has more get up and go than a lot of us. Johnny had a streak of three winning complete games last year, which has to be some sort of record for us, and no matter how I try, he always seems to get the best of me with the bat. I have my moments, but the guy is the best bad ball hitter I have seen, and since that's my bread and butter, I get burned more than I care to say. My regret is that because of his skills, he and I don't get to be on the same team too often, but in our game, the other team is still all your friends, so it works out.

Along with playing good, Johnny has perfected looking good. He wears real vintage wool uniforms, something I envy a great deal (but actually finding a XXL vintage uniform is like throwing a perfect game...blindfolded). He has also been responsible for getting the MBC shirts organized (the non-fading ones, sorry Girgus) which are the closest thing to a team uniform that we have so far, you can see them in the San Quentin photo.

And he's just a good guy. Doesn't argue calls, compliments the hitter, and he shows up regularly, which these days almost overshadows everything else.

Well that's the old rufus goofus for today, stay dry

S. Paige

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Little League Baseball 7x7x7

Well, with the rain this week, I guess I can say that we were happy to get a game in....

There was a championship league game or something on our field, so we had to make do on the little league field at Balboa. We were promised a weeks free permit if we gave up the field, and after a little deliberation we gave in and headed for the far field. Our bases ended up being about 75 feet, and the mound was somewhere between 56-62 feet. But hey, it beats a rain out. I think everyone involved had some trouble running with the grass to dirt to grass lip to dirt process, but we all made it through fairly unscathed (take care of that hammy Neel.)

We instituted a wooden bat only rule to keep the game in check, and Dennis started on the bump for the home team, yours truly faced off for the visiting warriors. I got to say that Satch thrives on games in the ambiguous realm. Dennis threw 6 for the first time and kept the pill all around the zone. Crackatoa treated our team pretty well, I must say, and we notched up a healthy lead early. The home squad just seemed to be swinging at my slowball, which was alright with me, cuz the moist air made for a heavy pitching day. However, I don't know if I have seen the ball flying so live in the outfield, so I guess my wet ball theory doesn't hold too much water (natch).

The game was a little lopsided for a few innings, and the wind and clouds kept coming and going, but like in all games, one error begat another, and line drives and long bombs ensued and the home squad was threatening comeback. Being 7 on 7, we had a few unlucky players who had to do the inning and a half of defense, but hey, that's what happens. Unfortunately as the sun faded in the west the wind picked up and the temperature started to drop. The Championship game ended and the field opened up, but we decided that we should finish what we started on our own field of least until the end of the 7th, and then we got tired of freezing our asses off and called it a game.

Had a flash of my very first little league team, the Pirates. I was the only kid on the team that used a wooden fact I think I was the only kid that could heft the thing. Back then, I just thought that was the only way to play the game. Being older now, and poorer to boot, I avoid the wood for fear of breaking someone's $65 dollar investment. But the wood bat sound is true, and that is what I got most out of today's game; the cacophony of clicks and snicks of a good piece of hickory on the old horsehide.


* A good clean game

* Chris, Neel, Bob, Tony, Satch, Noah, for giving the pill a first class ticket to the Himalayas...a couple of times each.

* The knuckleball Greg swung at, not my best, but it had some funk

* Dennis doing his part with the bump and the bat

* Johnny back in form, glad your airsacks are back on track Chief!

* Bob for getting our permits, so we had some legal swing in the Championship snafu (remember to toss some lettuce his way when you get a chance)

* The fact that the monsoon that has descended while your humble servant writes this out waited until we finished our game

* The successful dusting off of the time honored old favorite center fielder pickoff manuever, almost a two pickoff day, if Tony's catlike reflexes hadn't saved him one more time (yeah that throw was a little wide too)

Looks like the February rains have come, which we need, so get some liniment and a medicine ball and lets all start gearing up for spring.

Well....lets have a few more games before that happens.

See you under the tarp

S. Paige


Here is an official picture of Pete Simonelli in baseball gear. It was great to see a East coast player out in the sun, and a hell of a good show at the Hemlock that night too...

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Superbowl, pfffffffffffffffffffff.....

Well, after all the whining and complaining and threatening, we finally had a full team out there, even an extra here and there. The day couldn't have been better, the teams were evenly matched, and we had a surprise visit from not one but three historical players, Dani and Pete and a much late but great Brustus appearance.

The game went briskly and the see-saw was in effect. There were thrills, spills, and cheers....and we weren't watching the Superbowl, so that made it extra nice.

The final score was 6-5, and I found myself on the losing side for the first time in quite a while. I got to give the other squad credit, they came through when they needed to, and Johnny and Sean combined to keep us off balance. Noah backed me up solidly, but a few errors and flares and a Rick big fly and all of a sudden we were sucking hind left tit. Eh, it happens. I do love a tight contest though, funny how we actually take it seriously sometimes....well, not too seriously.

Now I know I have been bragging about the beautiful days as of late, but this one might have been the best....and maybe it was added by the high quality game and the stalwart players that came out.

So for all of those suckers that watched the Superbowl, you missed a game that will be referenced again....and those who were there will know what we're talking about....

For our East Coast brethren, stay warm, and loose, Spring training is on its way.


* Rick, again, with the hits and rbi's...and one error, you still owe us.

* Solid double play when I needed it, Mitch to Dani to Nick

* Yours truly finally struck out Lattig, for the first time since 2006, I think.

* Gaspar up the middle????

* The return of Johnny Bartlett, good to see you the north side of a six foot hole, my friend, hope you feel better....

* Bob catching a tricky pop up while I was barreling in on him

* Greg and Adam for missing the popups I gave 'em.

* And a day spent in pursuit of a true American past time.

Now where's the Advil, ice and booze?

S. Paige