Friday, July 24, 2009

The Old Mushball: Weeks 1 and 2 Power Recap

Activate the powertron! I am going to attempt to push my old, soft brain -- depicted at left, actual size -- to remember something from our three weeks of softball-related activities. Things have definitely happened, I'm sure of that. There are pictures, and there's no way the softballs in the equipment bag could've gotten quite so oblong (again, consult the pic -- that is what happens when Scott Snelling gets aholt of one) if they hadn't been struck by bats. But it's hazy.

But this is what happens when you wait like 20 days to write what should -- and would be, in more competent and less helplessly prolix hands -- be something along the lines of "everyone had a good time at softball and then got beers, so that was cool." But I had to get all SABR on everything, try to calculate my own VORP and break down Jeff Ciprioni's OPS+ (to be fair, he asked me to do this, because he thinks it'll help him in arbitration). And I didn't even learn anything from all this -- I learned that I procrastinate a lot, and that apparently per Baseball Reference's formulae, the most similar player to me through age 31 are Wally Whitehurst and Pat Meares, which was disappointing. And now it's kind of near the end of July, and we started playing on July 5 and okay, fine. Fine. Because you know what? I'm not going to let the fact that I only vaguely remember things that happened earlier this week stop me from attempting to discuss what went down several weeks ago.

Week One:

It was sunny, that's for sure! Or I think it was sunny! Anyway!

It really was sunny, and beautiful in Week One, which was July 5. I remember this one pretty well -- I expected something like an extended spring training/simulated game, being as it was the day after a fairly major holiday (Purim). I'd like to tell you that was why I showed up as hungover as I did, but that had more to do with the fact that I'd worked all day on July 4 and then went to dinner with some people at a sake bar right next to Buttermilk Softball official sponsor the Hawaiian Tropic Zone. As the fireworks boomed behind me and sarong-clad Hawaiian Tropic Cleavage Technicians rushed out to watch, I descended into a basement for fried weird seafood and drink. I knew that I'd have a hard time reaching my Whitehurstian/Mearesian norm by the time I scaled those stairs again.

But the whole experience was a surprise, as it turned out. Thanks to a few good-natured pickups -- Artie, Jason and...Heriberto? I don't remember, it was in like May that all this happened -- and a surprisingly strong turnout, we actually got an excellent game in on Week One. Good enough, in fact, that I didn't even feel badly about rousting the full game of very good-natured lesbians who were playing on the field when we arrived.

The game itself... rust was in evidence. Linda Moucha not expecting to play in her nice pants and Fashion Keds was in evidence. What are certain to be season-long issues with muscle soreness and uncooperative ligaments made themselves known. The long-awaited return of Buttermilk legend Alex -- you may remember him from his avant-garde bloody mary work during his long-ago stint as a Buttermilk bartender -- was marred by injury, although (spoiler alert) he made a triumphant, be-braced return in Week Three. This week also marked the Buttermilk debuts of newbies-turned-regulars Kenny and Colleen, and what may be the final league appearances for awhile for Benny Maniere and Dave Batt. Those two players, who rode to renown as B-Milk rookies in 2008 thanks to their unique combination of competence and good-natured patience with others' non-competence, have signed on with another Sunday softball league, and will only be making it to games when their schedule permits. Which is to say when they don't have a 2pm game on 145th Street in Manhattan. It apparently happens sometimes.

Also, I yelled a profanity at Benny while he was trying -- unsuccessfully! -- to stretch a double into a homer. I don't know if that Hasidic toddler had never heard someone loudly be called a "fucking idiot" before, but he certainly acted as if he hadn't. Which I guess is his prerogative, but I'm just trying to play softball, you know?

Anyway, I don't remember who won. I remember a good-natured pop-up-hitting contest between Joel, Jeff and myself (although I did record a season-high three (actual) hits, despite trailing a clammy, headachey rice-winey wake). I remember solid showings from Stephen J. Patnode, Jordan Watkowski and reliably be-cigged slugger Forrest. But this was a long time ago. I only remember that it was on July 5 because I kept telling everyone about the Hawaiian Tropic ladies running out of their sad boob-staurant to see the fireworks and describing them as "hoes." No one acted offended, which I really appreciated. After the game, Forrest -- a towheaded terror who has been one of the breakout offensive stars of the young season -- told us about his early career as a child star in cartoons. Here's a taste:

Feel the synthesized sax!

Week Two:

Something of a step back, in part due to what might've been a faulty commissioner executive decision on my part. I decreed that everyone who played must pass a basic written exam on the history of softball history, which I thought would be fun but wound up excluding a bunch of people who didn't even know who Francisco Dinosaurio is/was. They seemed more confused than embarrassed, but I'm sure that has changed.

In actuality, we just didn't get that many people this week. My idea of breaking into three teams of five so that there would always be enough people in the field sounded good at the time (to me, and apparently only to me), but everyone was all pissy about how they had to keep leaving the field and changing positions and oh what the fuck ever, you know? You appoint a commissioner and you do what the commissioner wants to do. Even when it's stupid and doesn't help that much.

I paid the price for my decision by committing errors at seemingly every position. But Carlton and Jodi and Jeremy and Abby made their season debuts, and I think more people had fun than not, so that was at least pretty good. The final score was like 8-5-2. It basically looks like a denotation of an impossible baseball double play that gets started by an outfielder, involves an infielder, and then gets the catcher into the mix. Doesn't happen in the real world, but that's how softball works. We've already had two of those this season.

Okay, this is already 2,500 words long or thereabouts, so I'm going to stop here. Week Three recap to come. I actually remember what happened in that one. There are even villains in that recap.

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