Thursday, November 12, 2020

11/8/20 A Cold and Rainy Affair


Thanks again to James for keeping me honest, and the blog moving forward.  Sounds like I may not have missed the most comfortable game, but I still wish I had been there.- Satch

Welcome to another episode of This Week in Mission Baseball!

'Twas a cold, dreary, rainy game for the most part. The home team is not proud of their win, despite pushing about 11 runs across the plate. Why not? Let's give out some awards and see what happened.

SWINGS OF THE WEEK: We're giving this one to Mike L., the toughest out in Mission Baseball these past couple of months (along with Aaron, but Mike has played more). Mike continued his assault on the right-center gap, with power, and the man has been racking up doubles galore. Honorable mention: I'll give this to myself for an OPPOSITE FIELD HIT! Indeed, I followed a little coaching advice from Sean, waited on a pitch more than usual, and pushed one to an empty right field (beat the shift!) on purpose. Yeah!

PITCHES OF THE WEEK: Let's give this to Sean. I would not call it a dominating performance, but he threw well enough and let his fairly solid defense do their thing. 

GLOVES OF THE WEEK: Nick W! In a game that did not showcase the best of Mission Baseball fundamentals in the field (first sun and cold, then rain and cold... Aaugh!), Nick W. made a smothering catch up the middle at second and flipped the ball to second from the ground to get a force out. It was a momentary stop-gag for another home team half inning of death to the visitors by a thousand small cuts. Honorable mentions: Stoner made a falling-to-his-knees catch in center while adjusting for the sun. Welcome back to CF, especially at Portrero! Also, shout-outs to Greg and Mike N. for plenty of impressive stops behind the plate. Sonny and Sean threw quite a few in the dirt; these guys stopped them all!    


- The weather. Not only did the sun f*ck up some folks early on, but later the cold and rain made for tough conditions, especially when trying to field... (thought continues below)  

WORD OF THE WEEK: Bloopers! Why was the home squad not proud of their one-sided victory? Most of our runs were base-to-base, push them across, one at a time, lucky/sloppy bloopers either whooshed around the infield by the wind, or dropping just behind the infield dirt. The visitors were good sports about it, regularly laughing at how long some innings were and whether they would ever get the next out. I know that at least two of my "hits" were bloopers of this fashion. Not our proudest victory, but as Bob says, "I've lost so many times in life... I'll take the victory no matter what!" Something to that effect.     

Saturday, November 7, 2020

10/25/20 A game in the mountains

Sometimes a great opportunity comes along, and you have to grab the bull by the horns.  So the story goes that this guy William, known to JT and Bob, had taken it upon himself to build a baseball field.  The dream many of us consider, but this guy made it a reality.  A lot of blood, sweat, and tears went into this, and he wanted a team of appropriate stature and respect to break it in.  The MBC was happy to oblige.

The field is in Grass Valley which, for those that don't know, is nestled in the fabled foothills of California.  I grew up south of there in Placerville, and for me it was a great opportunity to go home for the weekend, and also indulge a baseball game on Sunday, without the fevered drive home and then the race to the city for game time.  Plus, who could resist being the inaugural team for a new field?

The scheduled game time was 10:30, so I was up and gone by 8:00am.  The drive took less time than I thought, and as I rounded the curve of the back road, I couldn't believe it was real.  The field was beautiful, carved out of a big stretch of sloped land, with a barn and pasture beyond right field.  

I missed the turn, and as I turned and drove back and into the lot I didn't see drills, and teams warming up on the field, I saw dudes drinking and partying in the parking, it was truly a MBC vibe, a dream come true.  Matt, our young power hitter, grew up in Grass Valley, and as he tracked the ins and outs of the players, he decided to call up his old baseball buddies to fill in for the cancellations.  They knew what to do.  

William, our generous host, was perched on the porch of the clubhouse, listening to music and enjoying the fact that something he had built and poured his heart into was about to be utilized.  He sat, just soaking up the moment.  The clubhouse, by the way, is beautiful, completely modern, and filled with baseball and sports memorabilia, in addition to a 12-burner stove and a lot of beautiful work.  

I have to say, the locals were a lot more prompt than the MBC, I sat and waited for the rest of our team for quite a while.  Kudos to Jordan, John, and Arson for being on time and picking up rocks and golf balls while we waited for the rest of the team.  But they did finally show up.  JT gave a very nice speech on the quirks and tenants of MBC baseball and how it differed from a regular game.  

William started for the homers, after a misfire in which Liam McG thought he was getting the ball.  I lay it at the feet of youth and skilled entitlement.  Liam figured he would start because, who wouldn't want him to?  And in a normal game, that may have been the case.  But this was a special game, especially for William, and no one but he was going to toe the rubber on his field for the first pitch.  Liam grudgingly agreed, good for him, and switched teams.  I had already called the starting job for the visitors.  A wise man once said, better to be smart, than quick.

Dan led off for us, which why not, he was the last person to arrive....and he struck out.  Aiden was next, and he got on base, and when I came up, he stole second, then came around on a botched pick-off for the first run of the game.  I got a RBI doing nothing.  But I did manage to get a legit single, so that was something.  Older McGrath also roped a solid one.

In the bottom half, the homers made noise, but no runs. Same with the next couple of innings, as I was helped by a weird infield fly, double play at first base.  Burt Field, our eternal right fielder, made the call.  He is a real umpire in his other life, and explained it to us so that we all felt like it was right.  He then hit a down the line extra base hit, and our collective base coaching fell short, as he tried to stretch it into a triple and was thrown out by a large margin.  I sruck out a few, got some groundballs, and bailed early on a pop up that landed on the mound-- "Fuck, I'm not getting it!"-- and then bowed out, with the score 1-1, after a failed throw to second contributed to another run scored. Liam took over for the next batch and threw very well.

In the meantime, people got hits, plays were made, the homers switched pitchers at least 3 times, including Jordan, and then William was back in again for the rest of the game. Bob talked a lot of shit from first base.  Don got a clutch-hit, deep in the game, after listening to William complain about a called strike 3 two innings prior.  When asked how and why he had hit such an outside pitch, Don's reply was " Well, I was tired of listening to you bitch about that call."  

Like any quality game, it went into extra innings, and Aiden took over for Liam.  The score was tied for two innings, and then, like a fairytale ending, a runner ended up on 3rd, with one out, William was up and he pushed a hit right through the left side, and the winning run crossed the plate.  A win for the guy who wanted it, and a good game for all the rest of us.

Final Score: 5-4

This postscript from our resident poetic professor JT Tiemann to William, the field owner. 

I’ve been thinking for the past couple of days about Sunday. Thanks for welcoming the Mission Baseball guys up to play the inaugural game at your field. The Field played great, and it’s fun to think about how much better it will get as the grass comes in and everything settles down. Building The Field was obviously a labor of love, and, well, we all loved it.

The Field is a thing of beauty on its own, but a baseball field is most beautiful when people are playing baseball on it. I’m sure Dave will organize rosters, and captains, and umpires, and such, and all that is to the good. But I’m glad we baptized your field with the spirit of Mission Baseball, sorting ourselves into teams organically, playing fair without umpires, and delivering a tight, well-played, enjoyable - and epic - game. 

Sitting here watching the World Series reminds me of an observation I’ve long made about baseball as part of American life. Baseball only suffers a shortage of one thing: people coming out to play the game just for fun. Well, we made a little progress fixing that last Sunday, thanks to you and The Field.

Monday, November 2, 2020

11/1/2020 The CITY

 Welcome to another episode of This Week in Mission Baseball!

We played a solid game this week. The home team eventually pulled away while shutting down a few attempted rallies by the visitors. The game ended in the top of the ninth on a cleanly executed, 6-4-3 double play! Let's give out some awards and see what happened.

SWINGS OF THE WEEK: We're splitting the honors this week. Tony gets an award for two solid hits, one to each gap and both with decent power. Abe gets a mention for a solid, opposite field double. Sean blasted one to right field late in the game. The fence is deeper to right, so he becomes an honorary member of the Warning Track Club because if he was a righty, it would have threatened the fence. Finally, I am tipping the hat to myself for a renewal of my Warning Track Club membership with a blast to deep left field early in the game, driving in two. It felt good!

PITCHES OF THE WEEK: This one goes to Greg. Both starters pitched well and cancelled each other out. Greg came in for the home team in the 8th and 9th and closed the door. Well done! 

GLOVES OF THE WEEK: The very best glove of the week goes to Mike G! Early in the game, Big Dave was looking at an RBI situation against Nick. Dave fought one off the hands and pushed it to the right side. A bit of a soft liner, but it looked like a fine piece of hitting and a sure opposite field single through the hole. However, Mike G at second base moved to his left, dove, and produced a cloud of dirt while making the stop! He then continued the heroics with a throw from the ground to get Dave at first. Excellent put out. Honorable mentions: Adam at first base on a ground ball towards the hole made a graceful, spinning catch/turn/throw to the pitcher covering first. Check out the film! Phelps fell to his knees while running forward to make a catch in center. Greg playing catcher threw behind the runner at third after a pitch and caught Adam sleeping. Because he is so nice, he let it go despite many people agreeing that he was out. We scored two after that on a single the very next pitch, but we agreed to trim one run off the scoreboard due to Greg's generosity. He wins a glove of the week and sportsmanship award! Finally, I'll say that as catcher, something I do from time to time, I made a nice play on a swinging bunt up the third base line late in the game. I sprinted up the line, snatched the ball on a high bounce before it could land one more time and leak into foul territory, and threw a laser to Adam at first to get the runner. I felt like a pro catcher! I even ditched the mask!    


- Poor Tony and Abe. Early in the game, they got in front of some hard-hit balls at 3rd and short, respectively, and had to deal with wicked hops up into their chest (Tony) and near the face (Abe). 

WORD OF THE WEEK: Double play. I think the home team turned three or four. The most clutch was in the top of the 7th. Bases loaded, one out, HR struggling the entire inning, and then he gets a friendly grounder up the middle. 6-4-3... it ended a 20-minute inning where the visitors got no runs for all their work. Then, they ended the game on a double play as well. Nice.       

10/25/2020 SF

Some of the MBCers were away at a different game (more on that to come), so a split-squad kind of day.  Here with the report is James "Coney Island" aka "Brooklyn Biologist" Madden:

Welcome to another episode of This Week in Mission Baseball!

 Another wild and wacky game, no joke! So many errors all around. Seriously, raise your hand if you did NOT have multiple errors in this game. I sure did! Plenty of "AAUGH" to go around. What else? We had another instance of "well, looks like this game is over... oh wait, he's not running for home for some reason... or, oh wait, they just blew an easy double play to end the game... or, oh my god, HR caught that blast to save the tie!" Yes, the game should have been over at least four times, but wound up an 8-8 tie. Let's give out some awards and see what happened.

 SWINGS OF THE WEEK: Hands down this goes to Chris. He self-reported a 5 for 7 day, with most of those hits being well struck. Also, allow me to welcome you to the Warning Track Club of Portero, Chris! He joins James and Aaron! He blasted one to deep left field that one hopped to hit the fence and missed hitting a dog by inches. Indeed, a group of young folks were picnicking against the left field fence, they asked me if they were in danger/can anyone hit one this far, and I did tell them yes! One or two pitches later, and their dog got the sh*t scared out of it. Later on, Chris bombed one deep to left again that looked like a sure game-winning blast in the 10th, but HR ran it down! Honorable mentions: all of Chris's other hits.

 PITCHES OF THE WEEK: Another hands down award, this time to Sean, who pitched 10 innings and really deserved the win and not a crappy tie. Here's one of those "oh, this game should be over" moments. Bottom ninth, one out (Sean just struck me out on a high fastball!), and home team has men on 1st and 2nd. I lend myself to play third. Immediately an easy grounder gets hit right at me, I field it cleanly, and think to myself, "Well, I'll sling this over to second, then on to first for the double play. Game over, visitors win." Only I proceeded to throw the ball into right center field. That should have ended the game, PART 1. Sorry, Sean! The home team would then tie it up. Interestingly, the home team then should have won the game PART 2, but New Mike pulled a Nick W. and decided to hold at 3rd despite having a clean, easy walk home to win the game. It was like a replay of last week! Why don't Mission Baseball baserunners trust their legs? Seriously, he could have walked backwards home to score the winning run. Then again, he is recovering from a hamstring injury... In the top of the 10th, the home team could have protected a lead and then won the game, but a weird "throw it behind yourself after fielding a line drive" error happened in left field, allowing another tying run to score. Should have been the end, PART 3. Finally, in the bottom of the 10th, Chris blasted another one to left field that looked certain to drive in the winning run, but HR tracked it down and made an extended catch! Should have been the end, PART 4! However, we decided to call it 8 to 8 tie after that, so it was the end.

 GLOVES OF THE WEEK: I'll toot my own horn again here, despite my horrible missed double play ("the final snowball that started the avalanche," as Sean put it). I had back-to-back web gems in the top of the 4th to extinguish a rally. A diving catch in shallow center of a Sean line drive to rob a hit, and then a not-so-nice throw out of Greg at first from centerfield to rob him of a hit, too. There were baserunners threatening to score; lo, they did not! Honorable mentions: Mike N. made a tumbling catch of a hard line drive to rob me of a hit, HR made that tie-saving running grab in left to rob Chris, and Greg made a beautiful chest-only stop of a short-hopped pitch at one point that I made a mental note of. Also, New Mike made an interesting basket catch of a bloop to center and then doubled the runner off second. 'Twas quite funny. He had it lined up, then clearly lost it in the sun (desperation body language kicked in), then he found it at the last moment to make a waist-level basket catch. Quick toss to second = double play! 


- Early in the game, Sean blooped one between short and center. Chris and I couldn't get there. It drops for a single. I scoop it up and flip the ball casually at Chris, not noticing that he had already turned his back to walk back to the infield. Weak little toss trickles away, Sean advances to 2nd, score slater. Aaugh!

-  See the four times the game should have ended above. Aaugh!


WORD OF THE WEEK: Defense. It was bad! So bad, in fact, that there was chatter about mid-week fielding drills.