Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Neither Rain, Nor...Anything Else: Season Six, Week Five

I'm often amazed at how many names I know. I forget the names of friends' significant others all the time, of course -- you should forget this the next time I ask how "your special lady/dude-friend" is doing -- and yet, whenever my girlfriend tells me about an article she read in a recent New Yorker (or Cat Fancy), I ask the author's name and then respond to it as if I know who the person is. "Oh," I say, "David Grann. He used to write for The New Republic." Like he's fucking Alfredo Griffin (um, left) and he was the good field-no hit shortstop for the A's in the pre-Walt Weiss era and I know everything about his career. Sadly, though, I know a lot about both David Grann and Alfredo Griffin. More, at least, than I need to know about either. What I'm saying is...what am I saying?

Oh, I'm saying that I -- and maybe you -- compile all this useless information, and yet have no need for it. What I need is to remember the things I want to remember -- that is, the details of softball games in which I enjoyed participating, as opposed to the life stories of guys who wrote lengthy, impressive, remunerative features for The New Yorker (or Cat Fancy) while I was writing, say, this (or who retired with on-base percentages of .285 after 18 seasons (!), for that matter). I want to remember every hit, every defensive gem, every bit of salty clubhouse wisdom (note: we have no clubhouses and are not an especially salty group). But what I have for you, people, is this: the best I can do, a few days after the fact. Oh, and I'm padding the job with an LOLAnimal image somewhere down there. It makes it easier.

And there it is. So, uh, hai. An unexpected glut of work -- unexpected considering that my working life is, in general and to the extent that it can be referred to as containing either "working" or "life," defined by the absence of work -- delayed this recap by a few days, but the more memorable softball games tend, luckily, to be more memorable than your less-memorable ones. Which is to say that I can tell you this: the Ones won, 8-7, with Serena Roth (she's my sister! and a doctor!) (my parents ask that I mention that, parenthetically, every time her name appears here) earning the win and Jeff "Rhymes with Aase" Ciprioni coming on to earn a harrowingly John Franconian save.

The losing pitcher, if you need to know, is so awesome that it doesn't even matter that he lost. A lot of losing pitchers couldn't write 1500 words on a softball game played between goofy folks in their late-20s to early-30s several days after said game happened. How could a loser do that? The guy who didn't win -- because he gave up 8 runs and nearly botched an easy pop-up catch and still feels kind of embarrassed about it -- could write something like that. A loser simply couldn't. There's a difference.

Anyway, yeah: the Ones were stacked. The Twos, to be honest, were probably a little less stacked. But the game itself was pretty well-played -- despite the mysterious lack of official bases, which I'm pretty sure is my fault -- and remarkably close throughout. While the whole thing hinged on what nearly wound up being what Kelsey termed "The SCIAC Inning" -- a term from the collegiate athletic conference that includes both our alma maters, referring to an inning in which one team scores more runs than the other team scores in the entire game -- the Twos hung around thanks to solid defense, timely hitting and...hold up, let me be real with you for a minute.

Ramin was with the Twos and hit two home runs. They were both bombs. They were both to right field and were hit deep enough that there was a better chance of them injuring one of the random Hasidic dudes lounging with their gigantic families out in right field than of Ramin getting thrown out at home plate. He could've taken a 25-second Mel Hall home run trot on the second one -- and dropped the one flap like Jeff Leonard -- and still arrived at the plate long before the rightfielder tracked down the ball. The reason the Twos stayed in the game was that ol' boy hit two homers. He had fan-dudes printing up t-shirts in his honor after the second blast (see left). So, you know, hats off to the guy who's almost certainly the best softball player ever to own the last name "Hedayati." It may not sound like much, but there's this doof standing between me and being the best Roth ever to play the game. Well, Braggo and my sister.

The Ones were keyed by a powerful lineup that included Kelsey, My Sister The Doctor (there you go, Mom and Dad), Jeff Ciprioni (who, like your author, seems to have belatedly found his stroke), returning B-Milk supa-legend Joel Meyer, '07 alum Jay, promising newcomer Carlton C. Ward (who also has a Pomeranian that can do tricks, which is more than your author or His Sister The Doctor or Jeff or Joel or anyone else in the game can say, frankly) and a pair of powerful Bens, one of whom I know has the last name Tausig. The other boldly paired a Thundercats t-shirt with New Jersey State Trooper mesh shorts and made several excellent plays in the outfield; that he also authored one of the best outfield throws in Buttermilk history, and that said throw nearly murdered my (admittedly not-totally-paying-attention) girlfriend is worth mentioning only after a semicolon. At any rate, I know he felt terrible about it, and I wish I knew his last name, but I know I'd shake his hand for those sartorial decisions. I'll hopefully do it in a few days.

Theirs was a good team, and after a few innings it seemed as if the scrappy Twos might be well and truly pants-ed by the Ones. Still, we hung around thanks to the fact that many of the remarkably sharply hit line drives I yielded found the gloves of ace centerfielder Dave The Tattooed, the aforementioned Greatest Sports Hedayati Ever at shortstop, and exceptionally game third base-people Erika Friday (who stood up well to an unseemly onslaught of potentially weekend-ruining shots) and a late-arriving Dan May. All of the aforementioned owe debts to sweet-picking first basemen Jordan and Greg, who performed ably at the less-hot corner. On offense, the twos got timely hits from...pretty much everybody, as I remember it. Linda Moucha and Colleen Hooper both drove in runs (I think), and I also managed to score and drive in a run despite being robbed not once but twice by a strangely vengeful Jay at third base. I'd like to talk to Jay for a minute.

I guess it's not cool when a bloggy-recapper guy hits a ball hard, apparently. Let alone does so once, but apparently twice is beyond the pale. You could've just told me, man. I'm really sorry I pissed you off so much by daring to, like, try to be good at softball. I didn't know it was so wrong. Underneath the good looks and easy charm and nerve-jangling sensuality, I'm just an ordinary dude (who happens to be the prose voice of his generation) who's trying to keep my front shoulder closed and swing through the ball. I'm sorry I made you so mad that you thought I needed to be punished for that. Twice. Anyway, if you were wondering: you have to keep your front shoulder closed, so you're hitting with something other than your arms. Do that, and you might be able to, like me, reach base twice on errors and get one hit in four trips to the plate. I know it sounds like bragging, but I totally did that. (Also, my glove died: by pour some out, please)

While the Twos had a chance at a dramatic comeback in the bottom of the whateverth (this was a fast-moving game; it could easily have been the 9th, or 10th, or 15th), the Ones overcame an intimidating "Ral-LY CAP" chant and locked down a win when Jeff C coaxed Ramin into a game-ending groundout. Ciprioni was immediately designated for assignment (the Ones needed to make room for Ruddy Lugo), but the end result stands: Ones win, 8-7, and...everyone goes to the bar and kind of immediately forgets some stuff.

Post-game highlights include Jeff Ciprioni earning both he and I free beers through a feat of keg-related strength, Jordan's introduction of the pepperoni roll into the softball culinary lexicon, and a declined invitation to play softball from our new bartender (who has, in her tattooed and exuberant kindness, rendered Zombie Jeff Tweedy little more than a brain-noshing memory) that was briefly controversial because some peoples (what up, Linda) misheard some things.

A good time was had by all, as far as I could tell. Although possibly Joel (because he didn't have to give time, traffic and weather info every 30 minutes), Jordan (c.f., pepperoni roll), and me, Joel and Jeff (because we got to talk about the old, soon-to-be-revived, "Around the Horn" feature) (see here for my and Jeff's contribution to it) had a better time than anyone else. But, really, probably not.

After all, everyone's beers cost the same amount at the bar. And in that way -- and in terms of impending soreness and possibly in terms of hung-overness -- we were all equal. We were all, in our way, wrapped in the same embrace: the warm, slightly clammy, slightly whiskey-smelling enclaspment of half-serious athletic endeavor, done among friends and with the best of intentions. I am a perpetual risk to wax too emo about this stuff -- and also to make up words (does it surprise you that "enclaspment" isn't a word? Because it ought not) -- but I'll just say that this was another good one. Last year's One-Eyed/Old Cat-necessitating personnel issues aside, we're back (baby), and shit is more or less the same as it ever was. We play softball on Sundays and enjoy it. Then, later, we drink the beers up. It's simple, but it works; at least, it sure works for me. I'll see you all this Sunday, I hope. I'm going to start stretching in an hour or so, just to be sure I don't hurt myself too badly.

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