Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A day in the Marina

Beautiful. Warm. Breezy. Blue Sky. It’s spring finally, and I got the allergies to prove it. But, it beats the hell out of rain and fog. As an added bonus, the game this week was in the Marina, where the sun pours on to the field, and Parks and Rec must pay a little added attention to the rich people games, because the field was in immaculate condition. We had 17 this week, which was nice to have a little more of a relaxed game, and not be fielding your own teams fly balls. We were haunted early by a drunk bum (not the one Greg beaned) who asked us at least five times who we were, and when the other team was showing up. Then it was explained that we were the other team, he got confused and didn’t know who to cheer for. It became too much for him, and he left, much to the relief of us all, having a drunken gargoyle standing over you, teetering on the falling or vomiting is not the relaxing Sunday we all come out for. He threatened to play, but his broken hand, and lack of email address will probably keep that from happening.

From the onset, I thought ol’ Satch’s team was outmatched bat-wise, but low and behold we had three runs by the end of the 1st, and kept adding. It was a classic showdown, yours truly grinding the soup bone for the visitors and Mr. Snyder for the home squad. It’s been awhile since Greg pitched, not that it showed in performance, but I think he gets tired of catching all the time. If he wasn’t so good at it, we might let him relax once in while….

Defensively we were pretty even, each of us had some ugly innings, and the softball batting practice that occurred from the 3rd to the 6th inning was not helping. Since they were totally in the right, we had to let them do what they wanted. Our permit problems have now been properly explained, and it requires some initiative on the part of the squad. Bob can only get four hours a month from P&R, which means that if we want 2 hour permits, we need to have at least one other person getting permits in THEIR NAME. That is the sticky situation, so I figure (as Mitch stated) we are all adults, and we probably are capable of organizing this. We could rotate one or two people each month from a core group of volunteers that know they will be able to make it, or whatever. I am asking you all to add your feedback, a plan needs to be made here, so we don’t have to kiss the softball players asses anymore….that should be reason enough to figure it out.

Mr. Snyder and I ended up going the distance, challenging one another to finish it up, probably our first combined CG since the rainy times. My slowball was working well, as was my knuckle, but people kept hitting that one, so I focused on getting groundballs and popups. It worked, although the comeback made me a little nervous. Greg’s beanball was working pretty well too, although I think I was the only one that got plunked. It’s been awhile since I was hit square.

You can see the stitch marks on the impact point, and you bet I milked that one for it was worth that night.I have leaned into a few over the years when I got behind early in a count, but this one was a surprise. Well, not too much, as I saw it all the way, thinking curveball, waiting for it to break, and then it was up in me. The SQ game is coming up, so I would suggest all those playing get ready, as Stretch is not above a plunking or three.

Mounting a great comeback, the home squad fell short in the end, but the final was 12-9, which was pretty amazing. The difference in the game, probably was Mitch, again, who scored at least 3 times, stole bases, played the hot corner, and in general showed that he was most likely that guy you could never get out in high school ball.


* Enough people for a real game

* The brothers Bhatia combining for four hits, keep ‘em coming

* Complete game showdown, with a shut out intact until the fourth?? fifth??

* Nero and Gaspar (with a hurt leg) catching a good game, and Bob going the distance behind the dish for Snyder’s team

* Every hit to right field that freaked out the softballers……wussies.

* The double play and a half that ended the game

* It seemed like everyone got at least one hit on the day, which is nice.

* I struck out looking. Been doing that more lately. Not really a highlight.

* Greg’s five pitch inning.

* Bob hit count- 1. It was a classic changeup to the posterior. It wasn’t retaliatory, but I was jealous that I didn’t get hit there.

Bring it on, April. Stretch those hammies and ice those shoulders.

S. Paige

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Snow, Rain, Hail, Sun, Wind, Baseball

Beautiful week and rain all weekend. That is what haunted my thoughts this week. It was promised in all the weather stories, and they sure got the first part right, it was amazing all week. And storm clouds descended as promised on Saturday, although not like I thought they would. By that time, we had gone to the mountains to do some clean living for 24 hours. And I woke up Sunday morning to snow, big fluffy flakes of snow. My family and friends all ragged me, told me it was useless, and the game was sure to be cancelled. I never wavered completely, but I began to prepare myself for a baseball-less Sunday, as we drove back down the hill. By the time we hit Sacramento however, it was 55 degrees and clear skies, and all of sudden, baseball seemed like the most logical activity, and I tromped on the accelerator.

Home by 2:45, out the door by 3:00, and to the park by 3:25. Excited, nervous, happy, worried. All emotions came tumbling through as I neared the field. Lo and behold, the game had started, and it looked like we were well stocked. Silently I thanked the baseball gods, and threw on my uniform. Luckily I brought my undershirt, the wind never stopped blowing, and the temperature probably didn’t get above 54, but the sun was bright, and the game was lively….for the other team anyway.

Noah threw a masterful complete game, resplendent in fadeaway pitches, and low and slow changes. Struck ol’ Paige out (with some psychological help from Gaspar), as well as Zerbes, who ate Satch for breakfast last week. Noah’s team had hits all day, line shots, dribblers, soaring shots, they all came out to play. Our team of hitters couldn’t do much more than pop up to the infield, which had us beaten hands down on defensive ability. Johnny tried his best, but our team gave him no help in the field, I think we averaged three errors an inning. We had apparently adopted a couple of new guys who showed up to play their own game and joined ours. Noah’s new guys were juiced up monsters with defensive capabilities. Ours didn’t get a hit, and managed to fuck up groundballs, and a relay throw about five times, although there was a nice double play turn later on. Not to lump too much on any specific player, as we all managed to hump the wrong leg at some point in the game.

We started to mount a comeback, and the momentum was hurtling our way, but then there was a doubling off, and some more pop ups, and suddenly the game was over. Mentally, I think most of our team was changing their shoes by the 7th inning. The final score was 15-4, but luckily, there is always another game…..


* Noah, again with the CG, nibbling and jamming the whole game

* The homeruns and triples and doubles that all seemed to follow one another

* Mitch, doing it with the bat, and the glove, strangling the hell out of our last rally chance

* The return of Nick Levine, who proved that you can be gone for years, and still put on a hitting display

* New guy 1 and 2 for smoking the ball, and making some fine defensive plays

The sun is supposed to stay, but so is the wind, so bring your long sleeves and cap.

Stay loose

S. Paige

Monday, March 16, 2009

The game that was, then wasn’t, then was again.

Sunday’s game was not the best we have ever had, although it turned out to be a pretty solid contest. Havana 6 is always a little confusing; since the turn-around from batting to defense happens so many times that you forget who you are playing for. Not to mention that in a bases loaded situation, there is no one on your team to cheer you on from the bench, they are all on base or in the field. But, hey it was a game.

The rainy mist came and went through the day, and by 2 pm, Nick and I were prepared to call No Joy for the day, based on the steady wetness in the Richmond. But a message from Ezra (visiting from NY) turned it around, who stated that the neighborhood where the field was hadn’t seen any rain. All of a sudden my shitty day locked inside, doing house chores was washed away, and I raced out the door.

I was still expecting to see three people, but I was amazed we had a starting 9 by the time I got there. A few more showed up and all of a sudden we had a game, well, we had Havana 6. Coincidentally, we would have had 14, if Tony and Greg hadn’t been at the Japan- Cuba game in San Diego….too bad Cuba, maybe you should start playing Havana 6 instead.

Long lost Zerbes showed up for his annual 6 month assignment, and shut us down as usual, with sidearm, screwy action. Satch threw five, and never felt right, although Pfhaler would probably disagree (hope that forearm got some ice). We had a beautiful four innings, where the sun poked through, and day was looking good. Then, it was windy cold and a steady sideways mist reminded us that it was still early spring. We called it a game after 6 ½, and headed for cover. It beat the hell out of vacuuming….


* Having enough brave souls to play something

* Johnny’s fortitude in making it out from the East Bay, complete with back tracking and 180’s.

* For being gone so long, Zerbes is still a maniac with the bat, and artist with the ball

* New guy Brian, for attacking the ball, motoring on the base paths, and laying all the way out to try for a fly ball

* Pfhaler….tough outing, don’t get discouraged, we all strike out sometimes

* Gaspar up the middle! In a clutch situation!

* Ezra for the field report, and the furthest commute….

Thanks for making it out, all who did, thanks for lugging the gear Nick, thanks Bob for the permit (although, is it possible to tell them we got rained out and re-use?)

At least the uniform got washed in the rain,

S. Paige

Monday, March 9, 2009

San Quentin season coming up...

If I am correct, our first SQ game is April 11th. I ran into Doug Norris at the bar last week, and he told me about a thing he had written after the first game. I am including it below, and encouraging all others who have written about it to email me, so we can get a collection of stories?
Doug claims he can't field ground balls anymore, and that is why he doesn't come out. However, he had no trouble drinking beer, beating up the 500 club photo booth and walking around the bar in a life preserver.....?

MBC Inside
Today was the day. Off to prison. No, not like that, or for that, should i say. A guy that occasionally plays with my pickup hardball team hooked us up with a woman who organizes baseball teams to play against the San Quentin Giants. We sent them our driver's license #'s and Soc. Security #'s and passed the screening process and today at 8 am we showed up at San Quentin. On the drive over the prison jokes were never ending. After waiting around for awhile at the entrance we went through two checkpoints and then walked through the main courtyard, around a building, and POW we were in the yard. I think most of us had assumed that we would be separated from the general populace by some kind of barrier but no, we were right there walking through the inmates.They have a field that the inmates built that covers about half of "the yard" and it's pretty nice although the infield has no grass. It was a beautiful day and there were lots of guys out in the yard. Most of them wearing their prison blues but a lot of them had their shirts off sporting a variety of tattoos. One that stood out was a guy who had Co Co County across his stomach(Contra Costa County). They didn't really look all that scary which might be misleading.Charley Manson used to be at San Quentin and it was said that he used to run out onto the field while they were playing. I would have liked to have seen that.In addition to the ball field there is a basketball court, horseshoes, and even a tennis court. There was a doubles match going on and one guy was wearing tennis whites. Probably a white collar criminal who somehow didn't make it into the country club correctional facility.There was also a large bandstand with instruments already set up. The band hadn't started yet and the sound system was blasting the Allman Bros. song "In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed". I didn't ask how she died.I think we were a little nervous.We were only allowed to bring our baseball stuff, no cameras, phones, street clothes, etc. Cigarettes are okay but only for another three weeks and then they become "contraband".We got our cleats on and took some infield. I immediately let a ball go through my legs and Aaron, who was trading off with me at shortstop said to be careful 'cause I was showing weakness.I wasn't really that nervous...what was the worse that could happen? A shiv in the kidney? hmm.The game started. Their pitcher was called Stretch for obvious reasons. He was about 6'6" and built like a rail. He had a pretty quick fastball and a hard late breaking curve.First inning was scoreless 3 up 3 down on both sides.Top of the second we got a bit of a rally going and scored 3 runs to take the lead on some hard won hits. We had eighteen guys (which was too many) and everybody was batting. I batted tenth and at my first at bat I sat on his curve and whacked one down the third base line. Unfortunately the third baseman made a fine play and I was thrown out. But I felt okay with that and at the bottom of the second went out to play shortstop.Of course the first batter would hit to me. I fielded it cleanly and threw him out at first. Yes. My first put out in prison. Sweet.The next guy up for them ropes one to right center that bounces over the barbwire topped chain link fence. Ground rule double. As he pulls up at second I say, Hey, nice hit. He doesn't even look at me.Okey dokey.After that was a bit of mayhem as they scored 6 runs and got our our pitcher fairly rattled. He isn't one of our regular guys and since he had organized the event he had started himself as pitcher. He definitely would not have been any of our guys first choice. After the inning ended he said he wanted to throw one more inning and was pretty much told to hand the ball over to someone else. It didn't really matter though, they ended up scoring eighteen runs total to our four. Aaron, the other shorstop, hit one over the right field fence for a home run which was our only other run in the game.I got up again in the sixth and got a base hit over the shortstops head. We ended up only getting six hits and I think, the official tally on our errors was also six, but I think we definitely had more than that.During the game some of the inmates came up and chatted with us though the fence near the dugout. They were good guys and were giving us shit. They particularly liked Brian and got on us when he was pitching and we made some errors. Of course Brian had dropped two easy fly balls when he was playing centerfield but they didn't mention that.The inmates could walk all around the yard and even stand or sit at the edge of the outfield against the fence. There were a bunch of guys out there and the rule was it if it hit them it was a ground rule double. In about the eighth inning a guy was sitting out there and he had a giant silver belt buckle that was reflecting the sun right into the batters eyes. He was totally oblivious and the home plate umpire had to yell out to him to cover it up.At a couple times during the game suddenly all the inmates would freeze and get down on one knee. It was kind of eery. When there is an emergency the guards ring a bell and all the inamtes have to get down and freeze so the guards can see what is happening. We were told to remain standing. Then they would sound the all clear and everything would go back to normal. It happened twice while we were there and no one on our team heard the warning bell. All of a sudden the players would get down and we would realize the bell must have gone off.It was a good game, we had fun and afterwards we lined up to shake the opposing teams hands and they all seemed like nice guys who were appreciative of us for coming out to play them.We have plans to go back and play them again. Hopefully with the jitters gone and a trimmed down team we can be a little more competitive. I'll definitely go back-I'm batting .500 in the Prison League.

Spring Straining

Well, we made it through the storms, the mountains got some snow, and now the new season is upon us. Sunday’s game had thrills and chills, and mishaps, and that was just the permit snafu. We were bit in the ass by our own sneakiness, and found that there was a league game scheduled an hour after our game time. We had no legal recourse, and fighting seemed unnecessary, so we tried to fit in the most we could in an hour and the devil take the high road. Bartlett led his team on the bump, and looked like he hadn’t missed a step in the rain out, pouring the ol’ pill in with the usual nasty movement. The teams seemed a little lopsided when we started but, in the end, it was one of the better balanced games we have had. Satch started for the home squad, and did three unimpressive innings. Mike came in with his funky stuff, and then Sean “Elephant Pockets” came in to close it down.

We got four solid innings in, before having to relinquish the field, and then wandered the St. Ignatius grounds in search of a ball field. We found an open one, but even hitting with wood bats, and a handicap, we still would have knocked every other pitch out of the park. There was talk of storming the Presidio field for old times sake, but cooler heads prevailed, and diplomacy won in the end. We waited for little league practice to break up on the JV field, and took over. Funny how stiff you get in 30 minutes… But the field was passable, and it was nice to have a left field fence for once.

I won’t say this was the sharpest game we have ever played, but there were some surprisingly good plays, for a group that has been waterlogged for the last month. Maybe it was playing on the little league field twice in a row…or maybe just the natural passion in the rubes that come out for our Sunday thing.

In any case, the game was held, and I don’t know if a one of us could say there was anywhere else in the world we would have rather been.


* Timely hitting, a lot seeing eye ground balls, bloops, gappers

* Rick’s colossal hit

* Gaspar’s back pedaling snare of Rick’s colossal hit, which none of us thought he had a chance to get

* Is that Jackie Robinson???? No, it’s BIG STICK stealing home for the go ahead run, sliding head first, no fear….

* Greg, for taking a lot of shots to the chest, legs, and other areas where you don’t want baseballs hitting you

* Team USA for his heads up play, you gotta run those out Lattig! (Ok, it was kind of a dick move, but still…)

* Everyone who hit the cutoff man, makes it a lot easier, doesn’t it?

* Bob only got hit once (I am thinking of starting a tally, so we can document the multi-hit games?)

* The fact that we had a game, 22 guys showed up, and no one was injured (although I’m a little more sore than usual).

Well, ‘nuff sed,

S. Paige

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Don't Jinx it you say, what have we got to lose, I say.

FridayPartly cloudy. Highs in the upper 50s. Northwest winds 10 to 20 mph.

Friday NightPartly cloudy. Lows in the lower 40s. Northwest winds 10 to 20 mph decreasing to 5 to 10 mph after midnight.

SaturdayPartly cloudy. Highs in the mid 50s to lower 60s. West winds 5 to 10 mph.

Saturday NightPartly cloudy. Lows in the mid 40s.

SundayMostly sunny. Highs in the 50s.

Sunday Night and MondayPartly cloudy. Lows in the mid 40s. Highs in the upper 50s.

So, if things go right, and everyone brings a rake, we should have a game this week. There, I said it. If we don't blame the forecasters for getting my hopes up.

Top Five things that convince me that I need to play baseball sooner rather than later:

5. Cleaning the house is not as much fun as clearing the bases

4. In boring work meetings, I find myself thinking about creative ways to throw pitches

3. Real exercise sucks- baseball exercise rules

2. The game on Sunday makes the weekend seem like you accomplished more than got drunk and spent money that you didn't have.

1. I can't stand people who pontificate for hours about the game, and then you ask if they ever played, and it's always, Oh, the coach was an asshole, or Yeah, but then I didn't like competing, or No, but you don't have to play to know about it...Talking about baseball is what old guys and frustrated nerds do. Playing baseball is what real fans do.