Great to be back inside with all the players. It was 2019 the last time we graced the field of dreams inside SQ. Hard to believe. The coach who met us in the parking lot ran through the usual stuff, and also told us that we were not going to recognize most of the players, as they have been released, transferred, or are not playing. In addition, one of the housing units was quarantined because of a possible COVID outbreak (it was the flu). In we went, as usual, with 11 players, and through the sally port, and down the main road. New things that I noticed in the main yard:
- Looks like free weights are back in a limited capacity.
- They have horseshoes now.
- The outfield is as dry as the bald pate of a Arizona retiree.
There was a opening day ceremony, the national anthem played by a lovely violin player, and two first pitches were thrown. One by the warden, and one by Brandon, who was getting his freedom in 17 days (he had it briefly, and then was brought back due to an administrative error). The A's have about 20 players, and as usual, every one of them is fast and strong. I started on the bump and was feeling good. I was getting unsolicited coaching advice from HR to throw harder than usual, but the extra adrenaline took care of that.
It's with regret that I say that as a pitcher in SQ, you always have to be able to shrug off the increase in errors, that come along with our games. It is the intimidation factor and the shitty field factor all in one. Trying to dodge 5 guys in the outfield while you catch a ball in the slippery gravel is a recipe for disaster. Or running into a picnic bench in center, or never seeing it in the first place because it blends in with the wall. We got out of one jam, and almost got out of another unscathed, but the scoring was kept low-ish. We scored a run right off the bat, which was nice for a change of pace.
At the end of 5 innings, the score was a respectable 5-3 SQ, and not many of those runs were earned, though I will say that they put a hurt on the ball when they hit it square. Phelps almost made a great play on a ball that was hit to the deep alley, but after the aforementioned dodging and slipping, the ball ricocheted off his wrist, hit him in the chin, almost fell in his glove, and then dropped.
Greg, trying to channel Earl Weaver, gave me the talking to about making hard decisions for the good of the club, and took me out after that inning. In came Nick W. who I didn't know has a real reputation in SQ. And not the good kind. I guess he hit a lot of batters last time, and this time did not prove to be any different. When he wasn't getting calls, he was hitting batters. Or having plays like mine at 1st where I put the runner in between me and the ball during a pick off, and down the right field line goes the ball, not great. Bad vibrations lead to wheels loosening and falling off, and boy howdy did they ever.
Halfway through the 7th inning, Nick pulled himself from the game, after SQ was running the score up, and in came Phelps with the bases loaded. Well, it the first 60 feet of that pitch was great, but the batter squared up and put it into the Native prayer garden for a grand salami. The final total on that inning, 10 runs scored. Whew! Phelps settled down and pitched well for the rest of the game, but there was no way we could surmounted that hill, and the final score was 15-3.
Not our worst, which isn't something to brag about.
* James, HR, Don, Mike Lynch, John Mcg all spanked the ball
* Powell had a rare throwing error, but he also made an amazing sliding grab at SS for an out
* Nick S. stayed down on a ball at 2nd that had all kinds of bad written on it, and flipped it to get an out when we really needed it
* Solo was the new lefty starter for the A's and pitched very well
* Don made a great grab of a pop foul for the 3rd out
* Don also gets the tough man award for taking a foul tip to the jaw that rattled his cage, all that and an unpleasant medical procedure a day prior
* The A's 3rd baseman made the play of the game, snaring a low line drive with the bases juiced
* The A's turned several double plays
* I had 2 singles and a fielders choice, not bad since I was hitting with a toothpick
* If we could get rid of our jitters, we will be contenders with this team
* The umpire was ok, at least his bad calls were fairly even between the teams.
* James nailed a guy at 3rd, with a beautiful throw
* Nick W.- Scourge of the Convict
* Powell came into run for me, and fell victim to the hidden ball trick, perfected by Brandon. That wouldn't have happened if I had stayed in, because I am too lazy to lead off. Note to all, they will try the hidden ball every time
* The coaches spent a lot of time apparently getting the players ready for Sean's pick off move. Our players are ringing out!
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