Sunday, July 31, 2005

League Sees Cyclones, Gets Free Stuff

Team Buttermilk watched the Cyclones rout the Jamestown Jammers on July 23. We sat in the centerfield bleachers, where one bench supposedly accomdates 12 people. The Cyclones celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Brooklyn Dodgers' World Series victory, rolling out a few players from the 1955 team and plenty of threadbare nostalgia. (Speaking before the game, Borough President Marty Markowitz drew the inevitable comparison between the Dodgers and the New Jersey Nets, set to move to Brooklyn in the next couple of years.) Our crew developed an antagonistic relationship with the Jammers' No. 8, who really wasn't bothering anyone to be totally honest.

The best part: We netted a host a free stuff...all of which was shaped like a t-shirt:

Chris became the only person I know who has actually caught one of those t-shirts launched from an on-field cannon. He split the shirt 50-50 with Bill (pictured).

Also, Linda nabbed a free t-shirt shaped bottle coozie. (Note: The coozie has not been used since this photo was taken.) All in all, it was a splendid evening, though virtually no one watched the game.

Attention, potential challengers: Buttermilk players got in some extensive but probably irrelevant batting practice at Coney Island's facility near the boardwalk. In the fast-pitch softball cage, Joel did not put the bat on a single ball, save for a foul tip that went straight backwards. Ben fared better.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Game 3: Veterans Explode for Jeans, Wild Card in Sight

After a rainout last Sunday, the Blue Jeans on Fire defeated the Bodegas Unidas de Brooklyn 19-9 in eight innings of play. Original Buttermilk League slugger Kevlar swatted three towering home runs and journeyman interleague figure Dewey logged a key defensive play to help the Jeans improve their record to 2-1.

Despite an even distribution of power, speed and brains among this Sunday's teams, the early innings belonged to the Jeans, who drilled 16 of their runs in the first three innings. The Jeans' Sam lobbed two shutout innings before allowing up five runs in the third and three runs in the fourth. The Bodegas continued to scrap for the duration of the game, but could not crawl out from beneath the Jeans' hogpile of runs.

This Sunday marked Kevlar's debut in the Buttermilk's fourth season. A key player in all previous seasons, Kevlar was dogged by personal commitments and apparently, a regimen of steroids and cross-training that helped him hit the shit out three 14 m.p.h. high-arc pitches which landed somewhere near where all the world music bands play in the summertime.

Shortstop Dewey was called up from the New England League to help set a league record for most family connections by playing in a game alongside his daughter while playing against his daughter's boyfriend, his son-in-law and two guys that live in the house owned by his other daughter and son-in-law. Though not part of official game play, Dewey's wife, daughter and grandchild did watch from the bleachers, which just added to the complexity of Dewey's performance.

An unknown variable from the get-go, Dewey turned in an outstanding defensive effort at short and a more than respectable day at the plate. He earned the award for the game's best defensive play for an over-the-shoulder falling catch that looked certain to sideline him for at least the rest of the game, if not the entire ride back to Massachusetts. Instead, Dewey jumped back to his feet and helped start a hotbox that turned a spectacular single out into a double play--at a crucial moment in the game.

Also on retainer: Canadian League firebrand Brent and girlfriend Susan, who turned in a one-day appearance. Like Kevlar, Brent was on the roster during the inaugural Buttermilk season. He later departed for Toronto and graduate school, where he received his Masters of Funk in Knocking Long Balls and Staying True to the Twinkies, Das All That Matters Yo. (Congratulations on earning this degree.) Our Canadian export hit at least one homer, though stats are scarce because the statistician batted behind Brent in the order.

Regardless: On behalf of the team, Brent, it was great to see you. Thanks for coming down.
One self-indulgent note: This reporter would like to congratulate himself for hitting his first Buttermilk League home run. It's been four long years and a lot of anxiety-choked triples.

Field conditions were optimal this week, much like they were in Game Two. The weather was warm and sweaty, but not too humid. The field was bone dry for perhaps the first time this season. In left field, a game of full-contact, no-pads tackle football didn't disrupt our game too much. Those men, however, had filthy mouths and I for one am not going to let Greg hear that kind of language again.

The bar scene was mild, yet still rewarding. Though Dewey did not make an appearance as rumored on this very blog, Alex did have the dollar High Lifes at his side. Colleen, who flew solo at the bar last week when the rain scared off every other player in the league, was joined by about a dozen Buttermilkers who listed as Dave did a marvelous impression of co-workers that is still cracking this reporter up.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Before Apres Softball

Hey all -

Jeff's show will be a great way to wind down after softball, but first, don't forget to stop by the Buttermilk. Poor Alex already had one Sunday without us and you know he can't feed his cats on just the normal Sunday drunkards' tips. Plus my dad LOVES drinking with my friends in bars (really!), so please stop by on the way to Jeff's show.

Après Softball

So we lost last week due to rain, or rather most of us did. Carlos and I took our "never say die" attitudes out into the wet grass and played a waterlogged game of catch that put me on the fast track to Tommy John surgery. But I digress. Because of the rainout, I'm thinking everyone should be well rested for a big Sunday. After the game, and a de rigeur Bloody Mary or three at the Buttermilk, all friends of softball should consider riding the F back into Manhattan to see my band, the Metric Mile. We're playing at Cake Shop, which is on Ludlow, and features a coffee shop, a record store and a bar in one convenient package. Doors are at 8:30, and I think we're the third of three bands, so there's plenty of time for travel. Sorry to go all off topic and spammy on here, but I don't know any other way of getting in touch with the Coach, and I am dying to hear how he thinks the Metric Mile compare to the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Here's the information:
The Metric Mile (me and Patrick and our iPod)
In Interview (bouncy, skittery pop with deadpan female vocals)
The Smittens (way too cute pop from Vermont)

Cake Shop
152 Ludlow btw Rivington and Stanton
Doors at 8:30, $6

Monday, July 11, 2005

I Heart Jeff Brantley

I'm not going to sit here and deny that a slick double-play or two wasn't turned on Sunday afternoon, or that Aris didn't walk off the field with a slugging percentage of just under six blablillion. But the status of this blog as a news service would be a gol-damned sham if we didn't award play-of-the-game to Alex Darcey for his dramatic dollar Hi-Life move from behind the bar. Those who skipped out on the late innings (by that I mean those innings beginning at 6pm on 15th and 6th) not only missed me artfully suckering Jeff C. into a Double-vertical Checker Jammer during our heated Connect Four best-of-three series (not sure if that's the official name for the move), they also missed Alex gracefully serving up chilly brews for a price that even underemployed midwesterners could call remarkably generous. Its not every day that we're treated to such sublime athleticism. I say: Suck it Jeter: Alex Darcey is a true champion.

In fashion news, David Roth showed up in regulation Buttermilk apparel, and it was left to Jeff Ciprioni to throw down the uncomfortable-looking pants gauntlet. He didn't look half-bad neither, in those pretty tight Wranglers, lacing line drives and booting grounders like he was David Wright all gone country.

Longball slugging Aris' piercing blue eyes, Randy Moss ponytail afro and take-charge outfield demeanor had the ladies in a thrall, while Courtney Martin's slayed the fellers with her trash talk and startlingly unpatriotic tank top (Talking Point: does "Bush is WAC" mean that Courtney Martin is with the terrorists? Warning: she may also believe in global warming and/or know a homosexual) but...

...the most daring style move of the day unquestionably belongs to Jasper J. Musil, age 6.5 months, who not only provided astute game commentary in that grizzled Brooklyn accent he so loves to affect when he wants you to know he's being serious, but also stepped onto the scene in a navy-blue onesy and NOTHING ELSE! Audacious, Jasper.

Finally, I know you all have been closely following may mid-game batting stance adjustments. I'll just inform you that after spending some kinda drunk quality time watching "Baseball Tonight" late last night, I've decided to go with a closed stance. Apparently this has done wonders for Jason Giambi. More on this in the coming weeks.

IOC To Drop Softball and Baseball?

"The International Olympic Committee ... voted yesterday in Singapore to drop softball and baseball from the 2012 Games," reports William Rhoden in a New York Times column.

He continues: "...make no mistake, this vote was aimed at the United States - a backlash against the lopsided dominance of women's softball and the perceived arrogance of the men's baseball."

In short, the American women are too good. And the American men? Well, they don't send their superstars. [Thanks for the link, Miriam!]

Game Two: Jeans Shut Down Bodegas

Sunday. Bloody Sunday.

The Blue Jeans on Fire beat the Bodegas Unidas de Brooklyn last night 23-5 in a lopsided, humid blowout.

"The runs are just pouring in," remarked Blue Jeans on Fire shortstop Ben, who turned one of the team's two double plays. Third baseman/pitcher Jesse produced the other. (Editor's note: There were two DPs yesterday, right?) New guy Aris was the offensive hero of the game, hammering three homers and collecting an uncounted number of RBI.

The game remained amicable, however, despite the nearly 20-run gap in the box score. Chalk that up to the return of many familiar faces to the Buttermilk Softball on the first non-holiday outing of the season. The league welcomed back such marquee names as Jesse, Nick, Jeff, Lonnie and Tiffany, Seth and Colleen. The franchise also joined the brotherly ranks of the Ripkens and Alomars, with the appearance of Jeff's kin, Greg.

The Prospect Park gods smiled down on the contest. A group playing on the field at Buttermilk's regularly scheduled game time left with only a minor display of dickishness. Also, to the amazement of many, there was not a soccer or ultimate frisbee game anywhere in our outfield. But Mother Nature was not as kind, sending down heavy rains on Friday and Saturday that kept the field muddy and lumpy. Few in the softball community expect our half dozen game balls to hold out much longer.

The mud pit at first base nearly claimed one of its own when Young Steven's throw to first literally became that Old Timey saloon toast, "Here's mud in your eye." First baseman Joel was temporarily blinded and nearly required medical attention to regain vision in his contact lens. After a cortizone shot and the application of a mystery cream on his backside, Joel was good to go. He promptly pulled his quadricep. This morning, he woke up with some kind of head cold, leading many coaches around the league to speculate that the 28-year-old is fucking falling apart.

"Jesus Christmas, I'm going to Toronto," he told the Buttermilk Softball blog in a phone interview. "I'm in a wedding next week. Sam has all the equipment."

Game attendance was 2, including Jasper the Baby and mom Heather.

The Buttermilk Softball blog would like to acknowledge the final game of Wade, an occasional participant who joined the game last season. Wade is moving to the Summit Hill neighborhood of St. Paul, Minn., where he will live with his wife, Heidi. The blog's editor would like to charge Wade with finding out just what the hell is going on inside the Minnesota State Capitol.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Roll Out The Tarp

One love to Roy "Snowblind" Tarpley, but that's not what I'm referring to. I'm referring to the rain that has now been falling on the city for 24 consecutive hours, and I'm wondering what effect it will have on the game Sunday.

Worst case scenario is that the rainy conditions awaken Francisco Dinosaurio from his beauty sleep, and that he'll hurriedly re-shape his goatee, throw back a cool pint of crazy sauce, and get back out there to show us how it's done ("it," in this case, being "what the queers are doing to the soil"). Failing that, though, we'll probably still be dodging puddles and playing station-to-station softball with a six-pound ball by the time 5:15 rolls around. I am not complaining about this -- it's better than not playing softball by a damn sight, and there's nothing like the tension of a low-scoring slow-pitch softball game. But the foul weather, and Field 5's drainage issues, reminds me of a moment from last year that I think was one of the most beautiful in Buttermilk history. Seriously: it's up there with me hurting myself in Year One, if not quite in the class of Jesse's Motorola-aided outfield play or last year's season-ending Alex/Ben collision in centerfield on the season's final putout.

I have no pictures of this moment -- Joel, if you have them, I think they'd make a great post -- but I'm talking about the day last year when we all spent the first thirty or forty minutes of softball running around with rakes and nasty sump-pumps and shovels like a bunch of hungover kibbutzniks (right down to my sister and me doing insulting Israeli accents) and grounds-kept a field that looked like a pasture of loose Bigfoot poo into semi-playability. The communal spirit of it, the primal joy of working with the soil, comrades of all sizes, shapes, colors and softball abilities laboring side-by-side... I'm kind of humming the "Internationale" right now just thinking about it.

But I'm still hoping it's sunny and hot tomorrow, and that the field will be viable by Sunday 4pm. Playing second base is hard enough without having to worry which side of the puddle you're going to position yourself on.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Classic Pics: The Ambulance Incident

On a beautiful day back in 2003, Steven suffered a separated shoulder while lunging back to second base in his only Buttermilk Softball game. The incident was a lot like Woodstock in 1969: many people say they attended, but few of them actually did. To put it another way, using another tired line copped straight from a Spencer Gifts key chain: If you remember Steven's separated shoulder, you weren't really there.

For those that couldn't make it that fateful day, there are always the photos.

To be honest, I remember very little about Steven's injury. In fact, just now I had to flex my memory muscle to recall that these pictures are from two years ago. Here's my single memory of that day: running around the park like a maniac with Chris, hoping to flag down an ambulance. On second thought, there's more: I remember the "helpful" park volunteer who squatted down on Steven's chest like a mama goose hatching an egg.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Cups Of Coffee

Polo shirt, yes. Dark sunglasses that are definitively not my prescription: a thousand times yes (added benefit of these: they turn you into Elana Berkowitz whenever a fly ball is hit to you). But expensive jeans: nah, B. The only thing valuable about those pants -- other than an authentic, league-approved bright yellow paint stain on the crotch -- is the fact that they were given to me by Jonathan Kaminsky. Anyway, after Sunday, I call these my clutch hittin' pants. I will never wear them to softball again.

There's been a lot of talk about Steven The Picked-Up Kid (and a bit of talk about his Metallica t-shirt) and this has led me to do two things. First, I Dub Thee Unforgiven. All of you. Deal with that: you label me, I label you.

Secondly, I have given some thought to our best picked-up Prospect Park randoms and one-off performers. This list does not include Brad -- a stalwart B-Milker who missed all of last season with an injury/starting-to-feel-weird issues, and who will hopefully be back. I have limited it to people I remember. Drop some comments in there if I forgot anyone. Now:

MGR: Old Sparky Anderson Guy who showed up last year and coached third base for one game. I want to say his name was John, but I am pretty sure it was actually Leo Durocher -- possibly his ghost, or possibly his dessicated corpse, armed with all sorts of witty beyond-the-grave barbs about how bad the '04 Mets were. He wore shorts, was old, and had lots of crusty old baseball sayings. I'm fairly certain this man adopted Jeff Ciprioni after the game.

Trainer: Mustachioed Yankees Fan Guy Who Tended To Injured Steven. This guy was wearing gym teacher shorts that revealed just a hint o' balls, and was so authoratative in dealing with Steven's dislocated shoulder that I almost forgot how nauseous said dislocated shoulder made me. I am glad this man arrived, but I am doubly glad that he did not get McGyver on Injured Steven's shoulder. You can't just pop that shit back, no matter how freshly pressed your Yanks t-shirt is. You just can't.

C: Big-Swingin' Q-Train Sam Horn from last year, who came to a game with another pickup whose name I forget. He was a distractable sort who managed to become the only gentleman ever to receive a strikeout in Buttermilk Softball League Play. Eleven slow, meatbally Joel Meyer "circle changes" crossed the plate, and eleven errant Glenn Braggs-y swings followed each about a second after it had crossed the plate. He didn't come back, BUT he did bring a really good bat the one day he was there. I hit well that day. Incidentally, this guy is at catcher because he was so tuned-out in the outfield that he was honestly a risk to his fellow players. Which is important when you look to...

1B: I'm putting Injured Steven here. Good pop at this spot is a necessity, especially when... no, a socket-related "pop" punchline is stupid and also puts me at explicit and grievous karmic risk of dislocating my own shoulder.

2B: Some Random Visiting Boyfriend. There's always one. I can't think of anyone, and anybody can play second base. I do it every week.

3B: Steven. Enough has been said about this kid, I think. He's not Scott Rolen just because he wore skate shoes and outplayed a bunch of rusty MFs in their upper-twenties. And not to be a hater or anything, but there's no way he would've been that good if he had been forced to wear sunglasses he couldn't see through.

SS: Francisco Dinosaurio. This homophobic gadfly showed up during a rain-shortened game last year and promptly made everyone feel really weird. I wasn't there for his elaborate monologue behind the backstop -- I was hitting infield practice to an ten year old who was playing with us while Francisquito was tying in homosexuals, dinosaurs, Freemasons, Anthony Mason and Newsday with some elaborate conspiracy to deprive him of his purity of essence. I was there, though, for his few moments of field generalship in between downpours. I can't say I liked him, but he was more like Carlos Baerga than anyone else who has played with our group. I'd bet any amount of money homeboy wasn't wearing underpants, either.

OF: Three rightfielders? You're goddamn right: all the better for chasing down Scott Snelling's controversial "homers." Playing in foul territory and directly on the foul line are Elana Berkowitz and Kate Reilly, two strikeout victims (I personally shut down Elana, I think) who brought the free-swingin' fuss with no coming-back-for-another-go-round muss. The ladies is champs, seen? Our third and fourth outfield spots are filled by some spunky prospects. Rocking at rover is the really young kid from last year who confessed to Ben that he was really afraid of the ball; holding it down in left (i.e. right-center) is Yung Wun, who was so impressed with my friendliness during the game that he asked me for $5 immediately after the last pitch. That's some hardball, right thurr. You'll notice that Kyle Stirrup-Cleats -- who showed up last season in full hardball regalia (right down to the green stirrups and metal spikes), misplayed a few balls in the outfield like me wearing shades, and then managed to get in a meaty cleating of Joel before fading into the sunset -- is not on the team. Two words on that f-cake: clubhouse poison.


Dudes of softball,

Joel's excellent game summary re-introduced to the Buttermilk softball league a conundrum nearly as old as the league itself, and only slightly older than my acquired taste for post-exercise bloody marys: which team was the Brooklyn Bodegas and which team was the Blue Jeans on Fire? I'll leave it to the literary critics to glean the answer from the text of joel's posting, but in terms of settling the dispute of who actually won the game, I'd like to introduce a standard that we might want to consult after every game: whomever Scott Snelling hits the most homers for, wins the game.

On to more important things. Like who wins the first installment of Buttermilk Softball fashion watch!? We might want to call these the Jeff Ciprioni Memorial See-Through Pants Awards. Here we go!:

Best Use of Matching: Obviously it was Jessica Roake. Did she just wake up on Sunday and say to herself "lets see, what could I possibly wear with my incredibly cute shocking yellow, green and red shirt? Hrrrrmmmm....oh maybe these Asics track shoes with the exact same color scheme!" Inspiring, Jessica.

Best Use of a Threadbare Wipers Rock Tee as Softball Jersey: Carlos Salazar.

Least Practical Softball Uniform: David Roth came through big in this category with his polo shirt, expensive jeans and very, very dark aviator sunglasses. He looked so dapper, dignified and unprepared for physical exertion he could've been a member of that late-70's White Sox squad that sported all-black uniforms with lace-up jerseys and (literally) six-inch, white collars. Dave, it doesn't matter if you can't see the ball through those shades, you looked sharp doing it.

Smallest Glove: As per usual, this one goes to Scott "Toe" Snelling who on the day he was discovered by an Orioles scout in the Louisiana bayou at age 17, playing barefoot with a milki-carton for a glove, hit 4 homers left-handed, 4 right handed, and threw a no-hitter. (It would've been a perfect game but someone reached on an error.)

Best Shants: Steven, who barely beat out Yours Truly with his sheer number of zippers and pockets, and inability to keep them from falling down. Color me humbled.

Any comments, corrections, or additional categories are welcome. We wait on the debut of the slick-fielding, polyester clad Ciprioni brothers with bated breath.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Around the Horn: Sam

Contract coordinator and organizer of social events

What position do you like to play?

Pitcher (for serving up sweet and hittable balls) and 2nd Base (for trying to get over my fear of the ball hitting my shins)

Your softball role model:

Jeff Reardon, Bert Blyleven, Rick Aguilera -- basically any mid-late ’80s Twins pitchers because they made me wave my Homer Hanky so hard. And my dad, because he was always making me play catch in the backyard when I didn't want to and had awesome scars and scabs on his knees from his softball playing.

Thing you like most about Buttermilk Softball: Hanging out with friends in the park every week, hitting left-field foul balls for 15 minutes every time I am up; Alex's delicious drinks; the Buttermilk jukebox

Thing you like least about Buttermilk Softball:
Hitting left field foul balls for 15 minutes every time I am up

What do you do in the off-season?
I rigorously train for the next season by drinking at the Buttermilk, playing the jukebox and watching lots of NBA basketball playoffs.

Complete this sentence: The highlight of my Buttermilk Softball career was when...
…The surly little league coach who was fighting us for the field called Gene "Bruce Lee" and then "Soy Sauce." I use those all the time now.

Game One: Bodegas Defeat Jeans

On opening day of the 2005 season, the Bodega Unidas de Brooklyn defeated the Jeans on Fire 11-10 in six innings.

The Jeans jumped out to a five-run lead in the first inning, but the Bodegas later pulled ahead, thanks to a key mid-game player trade. Scott left the Bodegas to produce, I think, three home runs as a Jean on Fire.

My recollection of the game might be a little fuzzy. I asked Linda whether the game was actually a tie, since the Jeans gave the Bodegas an extra inning to try to make up a one-run defecit. As I recall, the Jeans scored a run in that inning to tie the game but could not pull ahead. Rather than call the game a tie, we might as well give it to the Bodegas for being good sports.

The game was a classic Buttermilk Softball outing, with the league's two teams playing under fair skies and optimal weather conditions. The field was almost completely drained, though two mud puddles near first base were like two old, drunk friends: they just wouldn't leave the party, even though we had no desire to go out to breakfast with them the following day. Also, game hazards were kept to a minimum: the soccer game in right field was almost undetectable.

Game highlights include: the debut of Steven, a 15-ish local kid with large pants and a good arm; the on-field debut of former bystander Jessica; Linda's miraculous catch in right field (pictured); Linda's attempt to force out a runner in a close play at the plate; an outfielder from a nearby softball game screaming aggressive (yet...romantic) threats into a cell phone; and last but certainly not least, the friendly face of our Sunday afternoon bartender, Alex, welcoming us to our fourth year of post-game analysis at the Buttermilk.

Chime in with a comment if your recollection of the game is different. Man, maybe I should start keeping stats again: It would make this Monday morning recap a helluva lot easier.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

2005 Season Begins This Weekend!

Welcome to the Buttermilk Softball blog!

This Independence Day weekend, the Brooklyn Bodegas and the Jeans on Fire will ring in the fourth season of weekly grudge matches in the park. Our league has neither a consistent roster of players nor a coherent set of rules. No one in league history has ever struck out. Well, maybe this one guy, but we never saw him again.

I, for one, am ready to add a new volume to the Buttermilk Softball mythology. And there are many questions that remain from last season: Will the field drain properly this year? Will anyone suffer an injury more gruesome than Steven's separated shoulder? Can any single defense play top the flyness of Jesse's absentminded cell-phone catch in the outfield? And...will I continue my remarkable losing streak from last season? (My selection to a team meant almost certain defeat for that side.)

Keep checking for more team-related news. I plan to post game recaps here every weekend, but other Buttermilkians should post their clever ideas as well. (Send me an e-mail, and I'll share my special powers with you.)