Tuesday, August 15, 2006
Home Field Advantage: Buttermilk Softball Week Seven
Why do we do this? Why do we run around in the sun, wearing outfits that are -- for the most part, with Carlos and Greg Ciprioni excluded -- not our most flattering? Why do we do things like slide into third base, get an authentic baseball "strawberry" and bleed through our jeans (welcome aboard, Ted!) or let my sister hit line drives off our shins (be careful, Seth Nelson!)? Is it because we don't get the chance to clap enough in our everyday lives? Is it because there aren't enough weekday opportunities to swing a bat? A shortage of rhetorical questions in the blogs we read regularly?
I think it's because of days like Sunday. And I'm not saying this because I played well -- I spent most of my day chasing softballs that had been hit far over my head, and managed to nail myself on the back of the head with the follow-through of my swing not once but twice. I'm saying it because Sunday's game was pretty close to the way softball is supposed to be.
Due to work obligations the next day -- if talking to NBA rookies for seven hours can be considered an obligation (the answer: yes, it can) -- I drove my car in from New Jersey, where it lives. Due to my customary time-management issues, I cut things kind of close in getting to the field. Had there been a parking spot right by the park's entrance, batmobile-stizz, I would've been there around 4:05. As it worked out, I gave the equipment bag to Colleen (pay attention: this will become important) and went looking for a spot. I had no idea what to expect when I got to the field. Well, I was expecting Team Vehemence to be playing its customary 16-inning split squad game while a few of my hungover softball paisans chilled out in the shade, grousing. But when I finally arrived at the field -- around 4:20 (dude) -- I was met with a glorious sight. Not only were the softball regulars out in force (even without Scott Snelling, Chris Martin and either of the Ciprioni Bros., seen above at left), but rising stars Anna and Molly showed up, brought with them their friends Kate (who'd been working towards her softball debut for weeks, to be fair) and Sam, and a large group of the team we dispatched in Week Five turned out ready to rock. Team Vehemence, it turns out, had been turned out -- willingly, pleasantly, and apparently in a transaction wholly devoid of rancor (I say apparently because I was trying to parallel park while this was happening) -- by Colleen, brandishing the permit with a cool forcefulness that I think it's fair to say I've never displayed in my life. We had our field back, and enough people to play a full game. The sun was shining, the temperature gently pushing 80 degrees. Green grass and dirt and softballs and bats.
So that was pretty awesome.
For me, it would wind up being one of the high points of the day. See, the thing with counting off is that it doesn't work sometimes. Like when one team has the formed-like-Voltron combo of my sister, myself, Ben Taussig, able randoms Kim, Jeff and Angelo (from The Week Five All-Stars), Molly and newcomer Sam, Ben's friend Ted (in a smashing debut that involved the aforementioned jeans-compromising strawberry) and, in her long awaited debut, modern dance dynamo/softball backstop Erika Hansen-Nelson-Nordicssen. And the other team has a bunch of varsity college baseball players on it (Emerson College, but still) and skilled players at every position. They scored early, and scored often. A partial list of sluggers who went deep includes Random Henry (from Emerson? Transcendent!), Random D.J., fresh-off-the-plane Random Crandall (spelled phonetically, because you made me run, dude), Drew, Drew's Dog Buster and Seth. Multi-hit games came from Colleen, Michigan alum Katie and Anna -- whose multiple hits included getting pelted by a thrown ball while pulling into second base. Except for one rocky inning from Seth -- throwing some reverse-spin ball that everyone hit very hard, including your slightly concussed author, delivering his only RBIs of the day on a triple -- their defense was game tight. The game was not tight: final score was something like 15-6.
Highlights on the losing side: Ted's authoratative first-inning triple, culminating with a knee-shredding slide that was officially on some Jody Gerut 2003 ROY shit; Ben handling first base with the grace, skill and mustache of a young Keith Hernandez; brilliant diving defense by Angelo, a standard-setting lefthanded 3B; continued accomplishment at the shortstop position from Kim; Molly "Boomerang" Bielaski (that is a joke only for my sister) nearly catching a scorching line drive and then displaying remarkable hustle by crawling after a ball later in the same inning. And I finally caught a ball in the outfield in the seventh and final inning after spending much of the game in center, breaking in on 475-foot line drives.
Anyway, good times. Alex is done for the season as B-Milk bartender, as he's heading off to Argentina and Uruguay to take photos and eat fried food for two weeks. I'm gone for a week to scout talent in rural Maine. My sister and Ben T. are out for a week to attend a wedding of redneck Jews in Michigan (seriously). Sam and Ben are out because they now live in Minneapolis, but I spoke to them in a happy coincedence on Monday night and they send their love to all. I'll see you all on August 27. Hopefully Jeff, or somebody else (Joel, I never did get that email about how to open up the blog to other posters), will cover next week's game. If he/she can do it in a more long-winded and needlessly allusive way than me, I'll buy him/her a High Life.
We're in the home stretch with this season, we've got our field back, got our games as tight as they get, and have hungry eyes on some P-Swayz shit. Here's to continued excellence. And maybe batting helmets. My brain hurtz.
Oh, also, the Not Mentioned: The Worst Day Ever To Be A Baby Near Buttermilk Softball And Seth's Attendant $100 Debt; The Molly-Sam parallel cutoff; The Randoms' New Bats (feel great bouncing the fuck off my head!); An Extended Discussion of Phillip Kauffman's super-shitty (and not family-safe) Rising Sun. Yeah, that's a good note to end on.