Monday, April 29, 2013

4/28/13- WWJD Game- Camp Swampy

What Would Johnny Do?

It was decided that this Sunday's game would be in honor of our good friend, teammate, hero, Johnny Bartlett.  We met to play the game as we do every Sunday, but each of us took an extra moment and sent our good thoughts/prayers/well wishes/ribald quips in Johnny's direction, as his absence in this little game of ours was/is palpable.

Being reminded of one's mortality is part of the experience of being human, however, our brains have a way of  pushing it out of the conscious so that we are able to function and continue to do all the other things that make us human i.e. laugh, dance, bitch about taxes, drink, carouse, suck the nectar from the bloom of life, etc.  But then something like this happens, and we are all reminded at how quickly our lives can be turned upside down.  Never miss an opportunity to let the people in your life know how important they are to you.

According to memes posted by some of my religious Facebook friends, God gives the hardest challenges to his toughest warriors.  Not knowing God personally, I can't say if this is true or not, but I do know that if ever there was person that has the hardy constitution, positive outlook on life, intestinal fortitude, and strength of character to get through this challenge, it would be Johnny Bartlett.  And everyone else out at the game on Sunday said the same thing.

On paper, the visiting squad looked formidable to say the least.  Mitch, Greg, Tony, Duane, Chris Powell, Nick Smith, Jimmy, John McGrath, New guy 1, and out of the blue, Carlos, who stated the last time he was out playing, was when Bob got hit in the nose in center field, and I will give you one guess as to who hit that ball?

The homers consisted of more raw talent, Elvin (in white sunglasses and a beer on the foul line), Adam, Bob, Satch, Daniel, Will R., Sonny, Kinda new guy 2, Bob's new Guy, and likely MVP, John Nero.

The homers were undaunted, however, and we jumped out to an early lead, helped by the magic of John Nero, who had one of the best games of his life.  I think he might have been 5-6- or 6-7, depending on how many at bats we got.  That included a double, complete with slide, a load of RBI's, runs scored, as well as some damn fine defensive work, including a charging cross-body throw to first!

Through the first five innings, we homers built a strong lead, and continued to shut down the visitors, by the half point in the game, the score stood an impressive 9-0.  Popflys were at the crux of the visitors frustration, helped by the fact that the knuckleball was jamming and jumping particularly well in the ocean breeze.

The high point of our defense came when we escaped a bases loaded, no-outs jam, made even more astounding by the fact that Adam called it, literally.  I believe his exact words were, "Don't worry about it, we're going to get out of this, they aren't going to score, and it's going to be amazing."

And damned if it didn't happen just as he said.

The visitors finally figured me out, and when the dust cleared we had a real ball game in the works, the score being trimmed down to 10-7 by the 7th.  In the 8th, the true spirit of the visitors showed up and they volleyed up and over the homers to take the lead 11-10 , which they improved in the 9th, to 12-10.  Never give up on a MBC team.  Especially one that knows when and how, to bunt, ladies and gentleman, Mr. Tony Rojas.

A few of the softer players had left the game, leaving the hardened veterans to fight it out in the bottom of the 9th.  Helped once more by a single from Nero, a bloop here, a tough groundball there, and a real AOY 2013 (fingers crossed) move by yours truly, taking a base on the weakest HBP in recent memory, we pushed two runs across the board to knot the game at 12-12.  Many more of us had to go at that point, and with smiles and handshakes all around, we agreed to hold the game as a opus infectum in honor of our friend, Johnny, as no game will ever truly be complete without him.


* A great game all around!

* All the new guys hit the hell out of the ball

* John Nero, simply amazing!

* Greg and I both pitched complete games, because that is what Johnny would do

* The homers had two double plays I think, and two more that we almost had

* Gaspar and Lauren came out with beer and conversation   Gaspar was hit by a car, and luckily escaped with only soft tissue damage to his hand, and an outstanding hospital bill of $40 which he hopes the driver is going to pay.

* I was rocking a slurvy sidearm breaking ball to great effect, ala Bartlett.

* Bob's new guy came out, hit well, and had a good time, and made the quintessential mistake of the first step in on a fly ball in the outfield, then having it soar over his head.  We could hear him from the infield saying, "Oh Shit...."

* There was a myriad of doubles and triples throughout the game

* Thanks to Adam, Bob, and Mitch for catching on a day when we were low on catchers and pitchers

* Aiden and Liam were out in the mix.

* A surprise in the appearance of Carlos, who saw Lattig at the Dodgers home opener, and asked if we were still playing.  He played his usual nonchalant game, not volunteering to play defense unless absolutely necessary, and taking a ball off the chin.

* In hindsight, I wish I had stayed and hit in the 9th, but taking the walk just seemed like the right move, and my ankle and right serratus anterior agree with me.  The swing before, I fouled Greg's lucky ball out of play, and he credited that with the turnaround in the 9th.  So I did something....

* Jimmy thoughtfully acknowledged that the game could have been over had there not been a sympathetic and considerate catcher behind the dish in the 9th.  Cuz that curve ball WAS strike 3.

* Daniel broke his glasses with a flat out dive in center

* A credit to everyone who caught a pop fly, the wind and sun were formidable

* Bob stole a base in a clutch situation

* Chris Powell made an amazing shoestring catch in center

* Lots of good uniforms and quality hosiery in honor of the Dapper Gentleman, Mr. J Bartlett.

* Elvin made a great stab at a line drive, knocked it down, and got the out,  it's the second effort that usually counts in our game

* Bob flied out at least 4 times.  He finally got on, by flying to right, which I captured, as you can see below.  Thanks Mitch for the letting us all know where it is....

* The well placed gork was a strong part of both lineups

* The visitors comeback was a thing of a beauty, and I say that with full understanding that it was me they mounted their comeback against.

* Tony had one of the best and clutchest bunts of all time

* We had about six balls go out of play, our team had trouble stopping the ball at the bases

* Here are some candids from the game, all our love and best wishes to Johnny and Lynn.

(For those of your wondering, Will is doing #45 in honor of Johnny.  And #55, cuz his fingers got confused.)

Friday, April 26, 2013

Our teammate, Johnny Bartlett.

The MBC was saddened to hear that Johnny suffered a pretty serious health crisis in the last 48 hours.  All of our good thoughts and hopes of a speedy recovery go out to him and his lovely wife, Lynn.

Stay strong, Johnny, we don't know what we would do without ya!  Where else are we going to find such a versatile player, great person and true bon vivant such as yourself!  Here is an edited re-post of the write up I did on Johnny some years back.  It all still holds true today, only more so!

We love you Johnny!  Get well soon!

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.

I had this appreciation for a guy who played awesome guitar, and wore a lone ranger mask at concerts, pretty sweet.

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

First published Feb 13, 2009

Monday, April 22, 2013

4/21/13 Camp Swampy

Here with the recap is our own left handed specialist, soccer coach, and ne'er do well, Brian "SQ Neck" Phelps.

Summer weather at Balboa and a perfect 18 to start the game.

Will started off the game for the homers, since his childhood home is a few blocks away. Phelps hopped onto the bump for the visitors with Doc behind the plate calling balls and strikes. After 4 innings with an mild Wrigley type wind blowing out, the game was 5-7 in favor of the homers.

Noah relieved Phelps and that sparked a rally for the visitors. The game got tied up at 7 and then turned to 9-7. The home team took one out of the San Quentin playbook and batted around scoring 8 runs on some errors, a few well-placed hits and bases loaded triple from Carter.

Sean came in a shut down the door for the homers and Tony mopped up for the visitors. Not sure what the final score was but the homers took this one.


• Mike threw out Daniel stealing third with a nice tag by Jay

• The weather was perfect sans wind which played tricks on the outfield

• Carter got hit 3 times, walked and struck out in one at-bat

• JT flashed some great leather and hit the crap out of the ball

• Daniel robbed JT of a sure hit

• Sean had some good hits

• Mike, Ed, Bob, Mitch were in the squat

• Mitch golfed a curve ball 4 inches off the ground to deep center

• Hank pulled the ball well all day

• Adam showed up late and made up for it with some good hitting

More highlights but beer and fatigue have taken over

PS: Get well soon Greg.

4/17/13 MBC vs. San Quentin A's

It wasn't our finest showing, but not our worst shellacking either.  And that is saying something....

Elliot told us that we couldn't get in any earlier than 5:00 pm, so we waited like good little boys in the parking lot, until Len showed up and asked why we hadn't come earlier.  That is the kind of cracker jack communication that we have come to expect, but hopefully next time we can get in a little earlier and get some more game in.  We were two men light as Adam and Bob were late scratches from the game.  The entry rules, or at least the officer at the gate, are very stringent this year.  He actually searched our bags, asked us to pull everything out, told us several times about no sunflower seeds, which must be some sort of high risk security thing... or they don't want the prisoners getting too much sodium in their diet.

Through the gates and on the field, we were playing the A's, which we know meant that we were probably going to get creamed, given our success rate.  It was after 5:30 before the first pitch was thrown, and surprisingly we, actually scored first, something that has not happened in a while.  But the elation did not last long, the A's are still a bunch of hitters, and they took Satch to the woodpile, early and often.  The end of the first inning the score was 5-4.

The end of the 2nd inning, the score was 17-4.

Take that Matt Cain, with your puny 9 runs in one inning....

Yes, I got spanked good and proper.  We also met with a series of challenges of which there was no good solution:

1.) I gave up a lot of big hits, despite throwing the pitches I wanted to.  Only one home run though.

2.) The umpire refused to call a strike for the first three batters for the A's and then just refused to call strikes that were strikes.  Greg would hold his glove as long as he could, hoping for a late call, but nope, nothing doing.  He also would not call the change up for a strike, which is rough when that is your bread and butter.

3.) Sean lost a series of balls in left field, trying not to run in to random convicts that were walking around out there. I asked the field umpire if we could get some recognition of interference.   He said they stop the play if there was contact made.  I told Sean he just had to start running into guys out there....he was less than enthusiastic.

4.) The third base coach was stealing Greg's signs.  At first I thought he was just yelling out encouragement,  pitches to be aware of, but eventually we realized, no, he was just stealing signs.

5.) We got through the 1st inning with out our accustomed 6 SQ nerves errors.  But they showed up in the 2nd.

6.) I hit about three guys, all with 2 strikes.

Now I know all about the similarity of excuses and assholes, so I won't whine too much more.  We did manage a nifty little rally, without getting more than 1 hit.  They put in there B squad once it was clear that we were not going to win, and we stole off the catcher, who couldn't hold on to the ball.  Chris Powell got the one hit in the inning, the rest were walks, steal 2nd, 3rd, home.  Even Greg!

So at the end of the top of the 5th, the game was called, due to the fact that all the inmates had to be back in their cells soon.  The final, 19-11.


* Great atmosphere, everyone had a good time playing and watching.

* The Native American drum chant in right field made it feel like we were at the Coliseum.

* Mitch was a perfect 0-0, with a run scored.  HBP x2!

* I waved Greg around third and he had time to exclaim "Really???"

* Ed gets the ambitious award for basecoaching and Phelps gets the how many awkward plays at the plate can one man have award

* The A's had about 10 hits that went over 1-3 feet over SS's glove.

* Despite not seeming very good, the relief pitcher struck out 4 guys in two innings.

* The field umpire said he was going to write about my changeup in the newsletter....

* We had a guy out at the plate, umpire missed the tag, the runner rolled over Greg's head

* Umpire called the latest 3-0 strike I have ever had, I took a moment in the box to give him a chance, then when I still didn't hear anything, I started for 1st.  Then he called the strike.

* Next game May 11.

S. Paige

Monday, April 15, 2013

4/14/13 Camp Swampy

A strange day for sure, it was sunny, and warm-ish, but with gale like wind bursts.  I lost my hat about 9 times off the pitchers mound.

Also strange because at last count we have approximately 70 people on the email list and at 3:07 only 10 people had showed up for the game.  We cobbled together 12 and started a Havana 6, which worked until Chris Powell and John McG and a guy named Casey showed up.  Johnny was pitching for the homers and Satch went to work for the visitors, in a pre-SQ warm up.  The wind was pushing so much, I figured all I could do with the fastball is hurt myself, so I threw a lot of change ups, which the wind did a great job of pushing around.  Johnny was solid as usual.

The game was close for the first inning or so.  Then the homers really went to work, and by the 4th inning it was a kind 12-4.  Our team had some trouble with the defense, and I had some trouble giving up big hits.  But we seemed to muddle through and at times, were down right solid ourselves.

After a hurling a pitch, Johnny's game eye fetched loose and went blurry and we were all understandably concerned.  Hopefully it has cleared itself, but a scary incident.  Mitch came in for pitching duty and did well, he said his arm felt alive for the first time in quite a while.  Will mopped up the last inning.

I bowed out after 6 and handed the pill to John McG, who is working on his style and accuracy, and he did a great job after he settled down.  By that point, the score was probably 18-4, so throwing lots of strikes was all we all we were interested in.

The game ended with sliding catch in center field, made by Casey.  It was briefly questioned as a trap, but nope, we were just out and the game was over.


* Bob got hit, first in a while

* I managed to really screw the pooch with bases loaded and got through two counts, and then popped up in the infield.  Real ugly.

* Mitch was Mitched, joining an auspicious club

* Powell caught my monstrous rip to center field, as payback for striking him out...then I struck him out again

* Hank had another full day of batting

* Daniel made some much needed plays in the outfield

* Greg just missed his chance at the 3 fastballs I threw him

* We had some confused base runners

* The wind helped me throw a curve that broke about 4 feet

* Daniel had a rough outing from the left side, for the first time.

* We did a good job of not throwing the ball around too much, in our long innings where the first out eluded us.

* The visitors also had a great, cutoff man relay to get an out at the plate

* Jimmy hoovered up a lot at 3rd

* We all got our exercise for the first three innings, covering defense, then batting, running the bases and the back out to the field

* Sonny Smith, one of the MBC pioneers, came out and played well for a man without cleats.

* I had a defensive game, one on a great play by Hank at first to stop a ball, and me racing as hard as I could to cover, arm span at full reach to catch the ball and tag the bag and I made a sliding catch in the no man zone of the infield, when we needed an out, badly.

Into the gates of San Quentin ride the valiant 12 this Wednesday.  Shivs and sunflower seeds are not allowed.

S. Paige

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

4/7/13 Camp Swampy

There are great games, and there are great games, and there are great games.

After what felt like an eternity away from the game, I was across the bridge in record time and into the heart of Balboa Park, and the MBC Sunday game.  From the start, I could tell it was going to be a memorable one.  We had a outstanding roster of players, the field was in immaculate, albeit a little hardpan, condition, and the weather as exactly as predicted, muggy, cloudy with patches of sun.  By the time AOY 2011 finally showed up and got dressed, we were a perfect 18.

Noah and Satch faced off in a innings-eating grudge match that has been going on for several years now, with about a even split of decisions between us.  The scoring started in the first and we see-sawed back and forth through the game.  What was apparent from the beginning as well was that it was going to be a bump and bruise kind of day.  Greg and Bob took at least three foul tips off  the face mask before we had played 2 innings, and Noah had three batters in a row get a piece of him off the mound with come backers.

Elsewhere in the field things were a bit more calm, as the defenses settled down.  The middle innings saw both teams get some great 1-2-3 shutdowns, and rallies were stifled with line drive snares and timely K's.  The visiting squad was having a field day with Satch for a while, not missing a thing, laying off pitches that I was counting on for swings, and in general hitting the shit out of the ball when the opportunity presented itself.  By the time we got into the 7th (which seemed like it was about 4 hours, the first two innings were at least 45 minutes a piece) the homers were trailing by a score of 8-6, having given up the lead on a hit-a-thon rally by the visitors.

Noah and Satch still were battling on the bump, neither willing to go soft into that good night.  We had gone from a 9-6 deficit to 9-8, but by the end of the 8th, my arm started to feel like it belonged on a dead man, so I decided 8 innings was better than 8+1 inning too many.  I handed the pill to Rojas, who was itching to get a chance at the visitors.  Tony did not disappoint, as he and the defense shut down the visitors chance at insurance.  Noah, a veteran of many a complete game jogged (limped) out to the mound to close his own game.

Into the bottom of the 9th rode the gallant 9, leading off with Elvin, who had gone from running in circles to running the game in the course of a few innings.  He led off with a sharp line drive, as did Richie behind him.  They took second and third and were poised for the tie and the win.  And wouldn't you know it, Satch got a chance to win the game.  And with a swing from the heels, and a long drive to left center, home came the boys of April, and the game was ours.

Deepest thanks to all who played for one of the better MBC games I have had the honor to play in.


* Greg had a great game behind the dish, threw out 4 people, if you include a pickle play on a situation between home and third (missed squeeze sign, Phelps?)

* Visitors had some monstrous hits, Hank had at least 5 hits, John McG hit everything under the sun with authority, as did Phelps.

* Daniel has become a lefty phenom, collecting at least 3 hits from that side.  He may never hit righty again.

* Elvin had a rough outing in center field, as he played a little too in and had some balls go over his head.  He moved to 2nd base, and promptly made the most (ahem) aggressive 4-3 double play I have ever seen.  The ball bounced directly over the base, Elvin blocked it, pounced on it, guarded it like a convict guards his food, against the reaching hands of Richie and threw it to Adam for the 2.

* Mitch scored at least 3 times, and probably had 6 stolen bases on the day.

* Tony had the best avoidance slide of the day, a sort of tuck and roll at second to escape the tag

* Phelps maintains he was safe at second on a steal attempt, we all know the throw beat him, but the proximity of the tag may still be up for debate.

* I caught a line drive comebacker from Bob, and my thumb is still a little sore (Bob likes to know these sorts of things)

* Adam had a stellar day at 1st.

* Our pickle was executed almost perfectly, which is actually saying quite a bit (Elvin, make sure you get out of the base path once you have gotten rid of the ball...)

* I threw two pitches behind Phelps, I wasn't trying to hit him, but I wasn't trying not to either, if that makes sense...or maybe I was trying to hit him?

* I think I was 5-6 with 2 doubles, the only time I didn't get a hit was when I used something other than the Shoeless Joe bat, which some have coined the Table Leg.

* Noah pitched his heart out, a great game!

* Daniel almost had an amazing diving play in left field.

* Hank and Phelps almost/kinda had an amazing collision in the same spot, in any case, Hank came up with the ball for the out.

* The visitors really pounded the third base line for hits all day

* We had a failed safety squeeze play, which is always fun.

Thanks again to all that played!

S. Paige