Tuesday, December 12, 2017

12/10/17 West Sunset (Remodeled)

I really wanted to be out there on Sunday, but I was dismantling a 15' redwood garage door, in order to salvage some nice lumber for a future project.  Luckily, Mike Lattig had nothing keeping him from the game, and filed this report on the new, and improved West Sunset Field.

The new field was as pristine as the weather - and as perfect as the turnout (an exact 18). Sadly for the pitchers, the same can't be said of the defense on Sunday. Through the first four innings, there were probably somewhere on the order of 10-12 errors. A few of them sun related, a number of them glove-related. And one of them (I'm looking at you Don) feet-related. 

Greg was the first to take the immaculate new hill in the middle of the diamond, and was able to wiggle out of a two on, two out jam to leave it scoreless. Nick toed the rubber for the visitors, and struggled with his command early before his defense began to struggle with their command of catching the ball late. Fortunately for us, that ineptitude in the field was matched by the homers as the game quickly turned very Mission-y... Maybe we just aren't used to a field where the ball rolls that nicely and takes true hops? 

The first sign of trouble was when Mike (Chris' friend, not sure of his last name) in-advisably tried to take third on a fly out to Don in center in the second inning. The throw had him by 5 feet, but short-hopped Tony and skittered to the fence. Mike decided to break for home, and Tony would have had the ball, ready to throw, with him only about a quarter of the way there. But he couldn't find the handle. And then couldn't find the handle. And then couldn't find the handle. 

That theme repeated for both sides over the next few innings. And by the time Greg and Nick made way for fresh meat sometime around the 5th the score was about 10-6 visitors. We eked out a couple more runs against Sean over the ensuing innings, as Mitch kept a tight leash on the homers - and we headed to the 9th up 12-6. 

But, as is often the case, no lead is completely safe. A string of hits (some solid, some bloops) in the 9th, along with a dropped fly ball in left, had the tying run on first with two outs. Alas, we locked it down finally and left with a 12-10 victory. 


* The Jameson Twins made their long overdue returns. Looking like they've been enjoying their downtime to the fullest. They've threatened to become more regular again. We shall see. 

* The sun was the star of the game (see what I did there) for both offenses. Any ball hit into the air in center or left was an adventure. So hat tip to those brave souls (Don, Mitch, Noah, James, Nick) who manned those positions and gave it their best. 

* Mitch made two great catches. One a line drive back to the box while pitching, the other an over the shoulder catch in center after breaking in, losing the ball in the sun, and then having Noah direct him to the right spot. 

* I remember solid line drives from Tony, Mike, Randy, Sean... I'm sure there were more. So it wasn't all bloopers and sun balls. But there were a lot of them. 

* There was a broken windshield in the parking lot, and Parks and Rec came out. Unclear if we'll be on the hook for anything, but stay tuned in case a hat needs to be passed... 

Overall, the new field is stellar. Every ball I threw around the infield from first base took nice true hops, rolled smoothly, etc... It was a treat to play on a great infield for a change. Just have to consider whether playing there in the winter - when the sun is low in the southern sky - is the best idea. 

Thursday, December 7, 2017

12/3/17 Cop Field


Winding down the last of 2017, amazing to have a game as well-attended as we did. Middle of summer we couldn't buy a full squad but come winter time, and we had 21 players. Goes to show you never can tell....

I was the second player out to the yard, after James who was doing a pregame shirtless workout. At 12:45 we already had enough to start which threw the team into a quandary since we are usually trying to figure how many guys from the Mexican league we can entice to stick around. So we warmed up and got to it as soon as possible. I started for the homers and Lord it felt good to throw. Especially without pain. I was noodling around with a different grip on the knuckle ball and when it worked it was great. But I couldn't seem to throw it when there was a batter in the box, without it tailing inside. Luckily the change up was picking up the slack and since I was well rested,  I had a fastball.

Brian Phelps started for the visitors and was my equal in liveliness, but he was having a real murderers row in our team. I don't know how it happened but we should never have been allowed to have the hitters we did: James, Powell, Lattig, Tony, Sean. That right there is a RBI fest.

We jumped for 2 runs in the first inning, then 2 more, then (2) 4 more. By the middle innings the score was 6-0, or 8-0, there was a discussion and it seemed more sporting to assign the lower number. The visitors had opportunities but we managed to keep them stuck at third without scoring. But it couldn't last forever. The left side of the infield was having a lot of trouble holding onto the ball for some reason and with two outs, a ground ball got bobbled and then thrown away and just like that the score was 6-2.

I was still feeling good but after 7 innings I figured I should take a turn sitting out and I was happy with my outing, punctuated with a fastball third strike to Phelps to stop a potential rally. Sean came in and Tony after him and they both pitched quality innings.

The visitors had Phelps in the beginning and then a new guy Urano, and then another new guy Jimmy. About eight pitches into his inning, we hear a strange noise and see a pitch that goes ten feet high and inside and Jimmy is on the ground. Worst case scenario. He isn't screaming in pain but he's not moving either. John McGrath gets him a sling to support his arm, which he can't move. He's able to stand and walk and talk which is great. Richie drives him to the hospital and later updates us that he broke his humerus throwing that slider. Ouch!

The game had taken on a somber tone after that, obviously, but we played out the 9 innings.  Ed pitched in the 9th, and I finally got good wood on the ball, for the first time in the game.  Tony closed it out, and the final was a rather lopsided 12-2 game.


* As Ed said, Jimmy has now joined the MBC Broken Arm club.  Although Jimmy's was done in a more proper fashion than Ed, who stuck his arm into a oncoming convict barreling down the line at San Quentin. 

* Cap tip to Jimmy for a very composed response to a broken arm.

* Tony and Powell were not fans of the new baseballs, must have been too slippery, they combined for about 5 dropped balls.

* But they also had some great outs, so I will compliment those as well

* Randy got hit right in the arm with a pitch, it sounded painful.

* Thanks to McGrath for leaving Liam to start the game, even though he coulnd't be there at the beginning.

* Why didn't Liam pitch, his team could have used it???????

* The first game in a while where there was an AOY battery pitching to an AOY.  Twice! (Combinations of Phelps, Ed, Bob vs. Lattig, me).

* Urano, at SS, on the mound, and with the bat, a new guy with some flair

* Loren was out again, and something is wrong, he isn't killing the ball like he used to.

* Someone had a really good opposite field extra base hit to right field in the later part of the game, but I don't know who it was....

* I threw a hell of a knuckleball to JT and to his credit, he ripped it

* Matt Stone got his quarterly reprieve to come out and play, and he is using wood rather than $300 metal bats now!

* With men on second and third, and one out, Sean made a nice catch on a slicing foul ball that was right near the end of the fence on the first base side, after which he crossed the threshold into out-of-bounds territory.  JT, our resident mentat, tried to wrangle a run to break the shutout by introducing MLB Rule 7.04c, which states:


Each runner, other than the batter, may without liability to be put out, advance one base when—

 (c)     A fielder, after catching a fly ball, falls into a bench or stand, or falls across ropes into a crowd when spectators are on the field; 

Rule 7.04(c) Comment:  If a fielder, after having made a legal catch, should fall into a stand or among spectators or into the dugout or any other out-of-play area while in possession of the ball after making a legal catch, or fall while in the dugout after making a legal catch, the ball is dead and each runner shall advance one base, without liability to be put out, from his last legally touched base at the time the fielder fell into, or in, such out-of-play area.

My response at the time, along with the rest of the team, was: Sure, just as soon as we start calling every balk that has been committed, as well as every other infraction.  Some other wag made comment that it's probably also against the rules to imbibe in intoxicating agents while playing, but that has also somehow historically failed to have been enforced. However, since I was not clear on the rule, I wanted to look it up.  I believe my lawyer teammates would probably point out that the rule clearly states that the runners may advance only if the fielder "falls".  It is repeated five times in the rule, and never does it state that it's in effect if the player "enters" out of play areas. Sean was standing proud the whole time.

Monday, November 13, 2017

11/12/17 Golden Gate Park

I get two games a year where I pretty much can play, without a lot of bargaining.  My birthday weekend and Fathers Day.  This was one of them.  And I was late getting there, due to other family obligations that I won't mention, but suffice to say, there was some bargaining this year....

Luckily, there were plenty of players, and the day was beautiful, so I got there in the end of the first inning, and dropped right into the ball game.  I played right field for the first few innings, and then Greg, magnanimous person that he is, let me pitch for my birthday.

Sean had started for the visitors, and he was doing well, keeping us from really breaking anything loose.  I was in the hole against Sean, but managed to get two singles, line drive to left, and line drive to right.  The amazing part is that I scored both of those times, I can't remember the last time I scored two runs in a game. 

We were up 4-2, then James came up and bunted for a single, then stole second of course, and then scored.  So the next time he comes up, Greg decides to goad him into doing it again by playing on the grass on the third base side of the mound.  James, a New Yorker, wasn't about to let anyone push him around, and so he bunted again.  Greg picked it up, got an eyeful of the afternoon sun and promptly winged the ball past first base and out of bounds.  James take second, and then comes around to score again.  It was all going to be so perfect.

All this time, I am pitching my heart out, despite about four different nagging injuries.  The knuckleball is working beautifully, I think I got at least 5 pop outs on knucklers.  I keep picking on Don for strikeouts and then, just like last game, a pop up in the no man's land behind the mound.  I feel like this one is a little easier, and then I step on the group of spare baseballs we keep back there just as the ball hits my glove, it bounces up and hits me right in the philtrum (anatomy lesson- the space between the nose and the lip). So my face hurts now too.  But I was still having fun.

The entire game, Greg and I are on a diving mission to see who can make more errors, mental and physical.  I came up short on a ball in right, Greg gets a ball in right, hits him right in the middle of the glove and pops out.  His throwing error, my dropped ball.  The rest of the team was picking us up though, Tony played outfield all game and made some fine plays, Chris Powell had another amazing over the shoulder catch as well as one in foul territory.  New guy Dave made some solid plays at 2nd, Ed and Mike were both rock solid behind the dish, Abe made a beautiful play at third, diving to catch a ball and then making the out at 1st.  So other than me and Greg, defense was aces.

Sonny takes over around the 7th, and the mystery of Sonny continues to abound.  He is deceptively fast at times, and just when you think he is wild, he hits the corners and makes you rethink the whole thing.  We couldn't buy a rally.  But the visitors tie up the game, and then go ahead in the 9th, 5-4.  Mike takes his walk in the bottom of the 9th, as he is supposed to.  Steals second, is moved to third, someone didn't take their walk and suddenly there are two outs, a man on third, and I am hitting.  Not what I usually look forward to, but hey, can't say it wasn't a good birthday game.  I get in a hole with Sonny, and then when I think it's all over, I choke up about 4 inches and poke a single to short left, luckily the outfielders were all playing me at 390.  So we tie it at 5 and go to extra innings.  Which was great.

Except that we still can't score a run, and the other team has Mitch, who called his shot after refusing a walk, knowing that he could then steal second easily.  He told us that "he wanted to get his 2 [bases]."  And then he hit a double, and we collectively shrugged and figured, if you can do it that way, why not?  He came around to score, making it 6-5.  We had no more magic to give, though Chris absolutely destroyed a ball that Elvin came up with at 3rd on a wing and prayer, and by his own admission had to take a moment to realize that he had A.) caught the ground ball, and B.) had to make a throw to 1st.  Which he did very well.  There are those of us that now believe that Elvin is a really, really good player but only when he is in total shock.

Final Score- 6-5


* Thank you to everyone that made it out, I would have been real bummed at a Havana 6 game for my birthday.

* The visitors played hard the entire game, and minimized the damage of their errors.  The homers maximized the damage of ours.

* Kudos to James for bunting in the face of the bunt shift.

* Bob was coaching the first baseman after he dropped a thrown ball, to get Bob out.  We think maybe he didn't want to keep running, but was obliged to until the out was recorded.

* Sean and Sonny both did a really good job on the mound, as did Greg, and I want to say that I appreciated getting the chance to throw.

* James made an error in center field, very uncharacteristic, that allowed us to score a run.  He continued to snap catch fly balls after that, ala Ricky.

* Loren showed up and dragged himself into the fray in the middle innings, but couldn't come up with the big hit

* Mitch hit one between 3rd and SS, and Chris made a great sliding stop to keep the ball in the infield.  The next time, Mitch hit it just a little different and it perfectly threaded the defense.  He's always trying to improve....

* I was cited for giving too much direction to the team during plays, I always like to think of it as real-time encouraging commentary.

* My steadfast refusal to back up 3rd continues

* Ed chose to signal a fair ball with arm only, on a long drive down the left field line.  I like the nostalgia of it, but I bet defense and offense alike would appreciate a vocalized version.

* After popping up a first pitch knuckleball, I asked Bob how he could do such a thing?  He told me I was tipping my pitches.  To which Chris replied, Then why didn't you get a hit?  It's a valid question.

* Thanks for a great game, my philtrum hardly hurts at all anymore.  My adductor longus, iliocostalis lumborum, plantar fascia, and deltoid and teres minor muscles on the other hand.....

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

10-22-17 Big Rec GGP

An amazing day for a game, perfect weather, exactly 18 players (eventually) and what looked like a good matchup.  But for some reason, though the homers lineup was formidable on paper, we couldn't hit our way out of a paper bag.

A lot of the credit needs to go to Sonny, who for 9 innings kept us off balance, hitting pop flies and weak grounders.  You do that, and your defense makes the plays, you can't lose.  His team also turned a legit double play, which was awesome, if you weren't the team trying to build some momentum.

Satch was out and hoping to get a good workout to keep the arm limber, and sweat out the dastardly poisons as a result of a late-night 3-generation poker game.  The results of my poker game were a lot like the baseball game, unfortunately.  But it felt good to throw, and other than the hard hit balls, and the wobbly defense, myself included, it was a good outing.

Chris Powell continued to rip me apart, much like his last outing, where he had several extra base hits.  I thought that if Powell was the only player allowed to score, which is always a foregone conclusion, the score would remain close enough for us to have a fighting chance.  Well, it kinda worked.  He scored a lot anyway.

The game wasn't a blow out, but when you hit 19+ balls in the air and they get caught that doesn't leave a whole lot of chances to score.  Sonny and I shared a few really tight short innings, 5 pitch kind of affairs.

The 9th inning came and we tried to mount a comeback, I leaned in to a pitch, took it off the arm and took my base, howling and rending my teeth to sell it ( I would like to thank the Academy), Greg took his walk, and there we were suddenly with the bases loaded for the first time in the game, and Nick W coming up.  He took 4 straight balls, but chose not to take his base, something we all were a little confused by.  But we trust our players.  From 3rd base I said, "You are going to feel pretty dumb when you pop out to 2nd base."

And then he popped out to 2nd base.

Although technically, Liam dropped it and them got the force out at 1st, but still, pretty amazing right?  Maybe I can market my self as the Picayune Jerk Psychic.  I can only psychically predict when small, shitty things will happen to you.

We had kept the game moving so briskly, that by the end, it was only about 5:10pm.  In our stupidity, we proposed an extra inning, just for fun.  I trudged out to the mound for the 10th, and felt settled in. 3 runs later, it was not quite such a good idea.  And our turn in the bottom of the 10th, we fared no better against the new pitcher, who had a 1-2-3 inning.  Yay.

Final score: 6-2

Final Extra Inning Scrimmage- 3-0 


* A lot of new faces, which was nice to have since we actually had enough players for once

* Somewhere there is cell phone footage of me attempting to pick up a weak ground ball with my bare hands and failing, about 8 times.

* Big thank you for John Mcg and Liam for making the late arrival to square us at 9 a piece.  It makes a difference!

* Nick W. made a fine catch in left field but the best part of the play was that he didn't try and throw the ball afterwards as he was spinning and tumbling.  There has been an uptick in little league throw-arounds lately in the MBC.

* We had Mitch in center field, and I don't know if he made a single out.  That is a waste of talent

* We had a new guy at SS, who made some great plays, and looked like he had the capacity to hit well, though he suffered along with the rest of us.

* A real new guy, Jeremy, played for the first time since 1997, and held his own for being out of the game so long.  I did strike him out with a change-up that was a grade a certified dick move, as Greg pointed out.  It was also completely necessary at the moment, which Greg also pointed out.

* Jimmy broke a cheap bat he got at West Coast Sports and is not faced with the unenviable task of going back there and trying to buy a new one.  You just never know if it's going to be a good experience, or a really trying, soul crushing one.

* Cap tip to Sonny, effectively wild and changed speeds really well

* Liam was nice enough to swing at a knuckleball for strike 3 that was around his eyeballs.

* I celebrated a little too much after we successfully carried out the Gaspar shift.  I think it was the relief of not another bloop, in a day filled with them.  But I apologized to Gaspar afterwards.

* One of the longest foul balls I have ever seen was hit, either by Don or Chris

* A ball was popped up behind the mound, and I went after it, knowing that it was going to fall in between the defense, and as I called it, Greg commented, "I don't think you do." He was right, but we got the out.  Real time, real talk.

* We had Chris picked off twice, and both times Adam was sure that he had caught the ball, but no.

* I did manage to finish strong in the regular game, striking out three of the last four batters I faced, including Mr. Powell.

* Missing regulars list- Tony, Abe, Nick S., Lattig, Elvin, Bob, Sean, Nero, Coney Island James, Duane, Carter, JT

Hope this late summer weather continues for another week.

Monday, October 9, 2017

10/9/17 Cop Field

It is official.  The Mission Baseball club is experiencing a drought of players.  We thought it was just the summer doldrums, but it's October now, and we had 10 players show up yesterday.  Sure a few of the regulars had legitimate excuses but even counting them, were are barely 15.  I am not helping the cause any with my own spotty attendance but for fucks sake, we need some new blood.

The field was in amazing shape, so good that we almost didn't want to set foot on it until we had a team.  We approached the Mexican teams that were having batting practice on Camp Swampy, but they wanted nothing to do with us.  We asked a father and son that were practicing in left field, and they were excited to play.  Ended up being the best thing we did all day.  Javeed and Janier were both excellent, especially since one of them was a 10 year old kid.

So we ended up with 6-6, also known as Havana 6's if I am not mistaken.  No one sat on the bench for more than a minute or two the whole game, and we played with two outfielders and all fields open.  Tony pitched for the visitors and Satch for the homers.  It was a pretty low scoring affair, given the holes in the defense, the visitors were ahead for the entire game, but the homers slowly chipped away at the lead.  We scored first, but then went silent for several innings.  Tony is currently unhittable at times, he struck out quite a few of us, some more than once.

We entered the bottom of the 9th (which was really the 7th or 8th, just to get on with it) only down by a run.  I had a spectacular O-fer going, struck out the first two times, high pop fly, another pop fly.  Tony got me in the hole 1-2, and I was determined not to strike out on the Uncle Charlie again.  I reached out about 3 feet off the plate to get the ball and wristed it right between SS and 3rd.  Finally!

I was forced off on a fielders choice but Elvin got on, took second, and was hit home by Don to tie the game.  Bob stepped up and in true AOY style, hit a ball to right field where no one was playing and the game was ours.

Not a bad little game for such an ugly showing.

I am not going to harp on no one showing up because it doesn't seem to work, or that our email has about 100 people on it and we can't get a full 18 regularly but if you are reading this, better start asking your friends about playing, we need warm bodies.  If you are a once in a while player, start making it more often.  If you are a stranger who enjoys a quality and friendly game of baseball, let us know.


* Tony threw another excellent game, new iteration of the player the SS/CG pitcher.

* Chris Powell was 5-5, all line drives, amazing

* Thanks to Ed and Bob for catching in addition to playing defense.

* While we are on the topic, Ed let a fly ball bounce right past him while filling in center field for us, which scored 2 runs.  Suspicious behavior....

* Janier had a legit hit to right field, as well as making several good defensive plays at 2nd.  His last hit was a line drive straight back at me, which I luckily caught in my glove rather than my face. Gamer!

* His dad hit two triples before I got him to reach for a knuckleball

* Ed on the other hand hit the knuckleball up in the air twice in a row for infield outs

* Wes Phelps was cheering us on, sharing his seaweed snacks, and napping in the outfield.

* We turned a legitimate double play in the early innings!

* Not too many hits to the opposite field until the last inning

* Elvin played well at 1st, scored the tying run and stole and almost slid into 3rd...

* Nick W scored our first run, and appeared to be suffering from the fall out of hustling for the rest of the game

* I think Tony joined me in being anemic at the plate

* Don was HBP 3 times by Tony.  It was brutal.  :)

Well, hope some people are inspired to come out and play, we could use about 6 more regulars.

S. Paige