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.)