Thursday, June 21, 2018

6/17/18 Golden Gate Park

Father's Day, one of two days that I get to play baseball without having to sell Mrs. Paige on the idea.  We had just gotten back from a camping trip to Brannan Island, where we were at risk of blowing away in the "Delta Breeze" for two days.  I was able to unpack, clean up, put away, and gear up in time to get to the game before it started.

Nick W. wanted to start the game, which was fine with me, having already pitched in SQ four days prior.  Whatever "it" is, Nick didn't have it on Sunday.  He looked uncomfortable with everything he threw, and he ended up hitting Bob 3 times, twice in the same at-bat if I am not mistaken.

Sonny started for the homers, and he did well, though we had more success than usual against him, at least in the first couple of innings.  Then our offense went quiet, and stayed that way.

The homers on the other hand, were taking every opportunity they could to score, and pile it on.  It wasn't a cavalcade of errors all day, but there were a lot of in-betweeners and short gorks.  However, the strangest thing of the day had nothing to do with a play on the field.

There were several pick up soccer games going on in right field, some before we started, and the people playing were dressed up pretty nice for a recreational park activity.  Making it all the more interesting was that they all appeared to all be Muslim.  Some of the younger kids were in soccer gear, but the grown men were all in sport coats and slacks, and some in all white Perahan tunbans. The women and girls were separated into a different play group, and were playing pick-up Ultimate Frisbee, all of them in hijabs and niquabs.

Large wedding, perhaps?  Sunday party after the end of Ramadan (which was Thursday)? Just a party where everyone dresses up and hangs in the park?  Could have been any of them.  The part that became a little surreal was the number of people, at least 300-350?  That's a lot of people kicking it in right field.  The part where this becomes more than just a mention is that there were a lot of kids in the group.  Little kids.  Real little kids.  And no one appeared to be really monitoring them. So when several 2.5-4 year olds suddenly are wandering around in right field,  open to the dangers of flying baseballs, we became very quickly concerned.  Plus, it was strange that as we attempted to guide them off the field that no one showed up to take custody or responsibility.

Trying my best not to sound like a colonialist, I can imagine there might have been some cultural unawareness in the group as to the dangers of small children being in the midst of a baseball game-- and that is totally understandable.  However, it was strange that as we pleaded with members of the group to watch the kids, and to stay off of the field, ten minutes later, they would be back, still seemingly unmonitored.

While all of this was happening, we would also have groups of teens and adults walking in the midst of the infield and outfield while we were playing, and we would be trying to get them either to walk around or to move quickly.  The adults were at least more responsive.  And eventually one or two of the members of the party started to wrangle the wandering kids into the safety of the party, and kept them from coming back.

The game was distracted, would be the best way to put it.  That and it seemed to be going forever, mostly due to the homers scoring runs and the visitors getting base-runners on, but never actually scoring.

So after a disastrous beginning, where we thought it was the 5th inning(and it was actually the 3rd) we decided to just call it the 8th inning and get it over with.  We took our meager last at bats, tried our best to walk some base runners on with John Carey pitching, and the last two outs were Ks, punctuated by a 3rd strike looking.  Hooray.

Final: 9-3, Homers.


* Our team made some great plays in the sun in left field, most of them while we were filling in defensively for the other team.

* Mitch and Powell did their best to keep us in the game, but we just couldn't make it

* Adam was almost on 3 separate foul balls that just landed out of his grasp

* Sonny ripped a ball for a beack breaking pair of RBIs

* Urano was doing it all day with the bat and glove

* Tim Presley, Sean's brother, came out, played second, got a hit

* Adam and I were debating Loren's switch hitting experiment, and that we didn't need to play all that deep in right.  Big mistake as he cranked a big 2-strike hit for a triple.

* Sonny, Sean, and John Carey combined for a dominant outing on the mound

* Greg caught the whole game, bad knee and all

* Bob stormed over to the big group on two separate occasions to ask them to keep the children off the field.  We think he did it firmly and politely.  We do know he yelled "Get off the fucking field!" to a lone man who wandered into left field, but he wasn't part of the bigger group, just a guy with headphones on.

*  With two outs and a chance to score a run finally, I ended up at 2nd base, with a ground ball hit to Sonny at 3rd.  My thought was that if I took off right away, he would have had me dead to rights, so I hung back, creeping along, waiting for him to throw to first.  Finally, I had to commit and made a mad dash for 3rd.  He wheeled around and tried to intercept me as I slid to the corner of the bag.  I was safe, but Sonny stepped on my hand pretty good.  Been awhile since I have been spiked.  Luckily, all soft tissue damage, but it was a tense moment before I realized that my hand wasn't broken.

* Sean had a real nice opposite field line drive

* Elvin also came through in the clutch with a RBI hit

* There were drones overhead for some of the game, and we all wished that the GGP hawk would take one of them out.  No luck, but he did make an appearance.

Monday, June 18, 2018

6/13/18 San Quentin A's vs. MBC

It was the first time this season that I had been able to make it in to SQ, and am I glad I did.  Somehow, miraculously, we played a really good game, and were rewarded with the victory, even if it was only 6 innings.

The most amazing stat is that we made no errors the entire game.  Usually, we make so many errors in SQ that they only count the first error of the play, and we still end up with about 11.  But we played it clean this time, no rubber-arms, booted grounders, lost balls in the sun, base running gaffes, etc.

The closest we came was when SQ employed the ol' hidden ball trick to get Satch at 2nd base.  The only problem was that the pitcher was standing on the mound when it happened, which is technically a balk.  Now I am dumb at times, but I am not that dumb.  I am also a pitcher, so I know exactly what you can and can't do with the hidden ball trick.  Sean took it upon himself to argue the rules, as a neutral party. I was pretty sure I was safe, but didn't want to push it.  The A's pitcher was already running hot over the fact that he had given up about 8 runs in the first two innings.  The umpires talked it over and I was called safe.  When someone brought up the balk aspect, we squashed that, no need to throw gasoline on the fire.

The game had several moments of need for review, some with cause and some that were downright wrong.  Mitch slid into third and was called out, and even the A's knew he was safe.  A play at 1st lead to a long talk on whether the runner had beaten the throw.

The most egregious was James' home run, and yes, it was a home run, regardless of what the history books tell.  James tattooed a ball to left that was 20 feet higher than the foul pole when it passed by.  It was curving, but it was definitely fair when it went over the fence.  The umpires thought differently, but they were wrong.  The ball actually got hung up in the razor wire and bounced back.  Here is what it looked like:

The other excitement was the first SQ run came by way of the home run, from a lefty who looked pretty fresh to the team.  He rode the curve ball rotation to a opposite field hit that just barely cleared the fence.  He was so excited that he was whooping and hollering as he ran around the bases, and when he hit home, he took off his helmet and gave a big exaltation and yelled SAN QUENTIN!  An inning or so later, he approached me, hat in hand, and sincerely apologized for his behavior.  He said he had never played ball on the outside, and didn't know that you are not supposed to show up the pitcher in such obvious ways, and if you do, you are supposed to tip your cap.  I told him not to worry about it and that he should celebrate.  But obviously, the elder statesmen on the team wanted to teach him the right way, which I applaud.
I went out on top after three innings, and about 4-5 Ks.  It felt good, and the weather was awesome.  Mike came in for an inning, then removed himself in the midst of his second.  Sean took over and rode the rest of the way, both he and Mike did great jobs of keeping the hitters off balance.

Some of the team had to leave early to get back to their blocks in time, and by 7:45 were were changing shoes and walking out.


Final Score: 10(12)-3. MBC


* A great game by all involved.

* We bade farewell to a convict that has been in SQ for 47 years....Vaya con Dios!

* There was a short guy that seemed to be helping with the team, but mostly he just made fun of all of us

* The home plate umpire was not bad, but his strike calls were awesome:  "Oooooooooooh.......Good Morning......Strike one!"

* Mitch and Mike both plastered the ball all day

* Don broke the bat that everyone had been using successfully, and our rallies died after that, nice work guy.

* Shallow pop up behind second base. Mitch and James rapidly converging on the play. Neither one of them call it loudly enough. They collide at full speed, with Mitch getting the worst of it. However, Mitch made the catch and held on to the ball, to the detriment of his rib cage.

*  We finally managed to have a good comeback to the guards when they made the well worn joke, You only get to leave if you win

* The prison kumquats are in season, someone call Gaston

* It was revealed to me later, by an inside source that SQ employs the hidden ball trick a lot because they count on the umpires not knowing the rules about being on the mound....

* Not many balls hit to the outfield, Mitch did a lot of work at SS, as did Sonny at 2nd.

* Don caught the whole game, and as payment got some of the worst calls while he was at bat.

* Branden (SQ) lost his cross on the field, and it was nowhere to be found around the SS area.  We all took turns looking for it.  Then Sean randomly found it on the mound when he was warming up.  Weird.

* Our record at SQ now extends for about 12 years, and I think were about 11-49....

Thursday, June 7, 2018

6/3/18 Camp Swampy

Hard to say about this game.  It was a nail biter that went down to the wire, and for that, I guess it was a good game.  But somehow it was marred through the entire thing with a certain vibe that just didn't sit right.  Not sure how exactly to describe it, but there are days when things just feel off.  A big part of the problem was that the league game beforehand went wayyyyy over their time limit, and we didn't start until about 3:40.  Which was great for me, since I was late getting to the yard, and so I strolled in figuring it to be the middle innings, and was greeted by the top of the first.

We had 17 at its high point, but we lost quite a few over the course of the game, and by the end, I think we were down to about 13.  Mitch started for the visitors, and he was grinding it out over the course of a long game, and he was getting worked over the coals by his defense and by the home team.  He kept at it, but you could tell he was not happy.

Mike N. started for the homers, and the visitors took their share of hacks and scored some runs, in what would ultimately be a back and forth kind of game.  He only went 2 innings though, as he has been suffering through some arm issues, and Satch took over for the 3rd.  I freely admit to being a little gun-shy after my last outing, when I got shellacked for more runs than I really care to think about.  I honestly thought that it was kind of over for me, and the worm had turned.  But it turns out that it had just been a really bad outing.  I felt so much better on the mound this week, balanced, able to spot the fastball, the change up had a nice move to it.  The wind was blowing out, and a bit at an angle at about 15mph, so the fastball had some tail to it if you threw it right.  I ended up most of the way for the homers, in an agreed-upon shortened game, and Liam came in to slam the door on the visitors, which he did admirably.

John Carey was out to play, and apparently out to break the base running snafu record as well.  Twice he was caught out, trying stretch hits into extra bases and pickled right back into the dugout.  Good job kid!

It was also a game of extra base hit, there was a lot of gappers the right center, and the runs built up, and then the other team would roar back with their own set.  Speaking of hits, in the middle innings, Abe took a ball right off the left elbow, in his self-admitted wobbly attempt to get out of the way of a pitch that was heading for his head.  It was a tense couple of minutes, as Abe was obviously in quite a bit of pain, but he took his base and played it out, and then after the third out, packed up his stuff and went home.  He reported later that he had iced it like a madman, but that it was still pretty stiff past a certain point, when he tried to straighten it.

A pall had fallen over the game after that, no one wants to see a player get hurt, and the general frustrations of the game that had been building to that point, all seemed to culminate in that crappy injury.  John Carey took over pitching after Mitch, and scared the hell out of John McG's middle schooler, Aiden, who was really hoping that John was not going to come at him at 100%.  He never got the chance to find out, as Greg came into pitch by the time his turn came up, and he got a hit!

The score was all tied up at 11s when we entered the last inning (which I think may have been the 7th or 8th in real life).  Bases loaded, I came to the plate, and Greg and I conversed, pitcher to hitter.  It think the conversation went like this:

Greg- "Let's get this over with quick."
Satch-"I'll do my best."

First pitch. I swung, hit a fly ball to center, run scored, game over.  Frighteningly, Greg and I were walking off the field, only to see that Mike N. was also taking his time, and had just barely beaten the throw home, so the run almost didn't score and we almost had to try again.  I have not often wanted a game to end, but this was one of those times when it was a pleasure to be there and a pleasure to leave.

To paraphrase Key and Peele: "[the game] was real.  And it was good.  But it wasn't real good...."

Final 12-11, homers.


* Glad that everyone made it out alive

* Liam and Aiden both did great, they are full-scale MBCers now, Liam pitched well in the final inning, and had some loud hits, Aiden played great defense and also had some hits

* The field was like concrete, and we saw a few third hops that almost took off someone's head.

* Bob called a third strike on me that apparently everyone thought was a strike except me.  Asshole.

* We had a huge group of Mexican leaguers that dwindled to the hard core enthusiasts by the end of the game, reinforced with another 24-pack of Modelo that helped in their cause.  They also were really helpful and decent about the numerous foul balls that we kept lining straight at their group

* James helped me get my first triple in a while, by planting himself on a line drive I hit, and then inexplicably watching it sail over his head.

* Mitch hit a line drive single over my head that sizzled

* John Carey on the other hand, hit a line drive right at me, I managed to get my glove hand up enough to almost catch it, but took it off 50% glove/50% fat part of my hand.  It was sore, but real happy that it wasn't at my face or sternum.

* I hit Bob with a change-up that he could have rolled a smoke and still had time to move out of the way

*  Extra base hits all around, up and down the line up

* Loren's slump appears to be at an end

* Thanks to Bob, John, Mike for catching

* We did a good job of holding on to the ball , rather than the tee-ball throw-around that seems to be making a comeback.

*  Glad Abe seems to be alright, he sent me this picture and I think we all are a little confused as to how there can be three stitch marks.  Just lucky, I guess....

S. Paige