This blog covers the 2010 season of the Hastings Reachers 55+ softball team in the Greenburgh, N.Y. Recreation League. For your nostalgic pleasure, there is also an archive of reports from our championship 2009 season, selected posts from the 2008 season and the ongoing saga of Jock Jones by Mark Smith.
The Reachers’ 2008 squad.
...and came up a few runs short of repeating as champeens this year.
I don't have time right now to write about each of your singular contributions, but what impresses me most is the way have each other's backs. …
“So Mac,” says Joe, and lifts a glass –
“I heard you boys sure kicked some ass.
They say you fellas black and blued ‘em.
Stripped, filleted and cooked and chewed ‘em.
I seen each game you played this sked
Otto may have missed one or two of you after the game — and I'll also repeat it for you geezers scoring at home or on vacation (with or without the aid of pharmaceuticals): The august umpire suggested that I be administered a Breathalyzer test to determine if my crapulent performance in left field tonight was due to the vestiges of my last drink 25 years ago. …
Now it's In Your Head
As Mark and I were picking up empty elixir bottles and discarded plugs of chaw after y'all had fled into the dulcet breeze of the night, out of nowhere, the tune on the left lodged in my brain.
Two other thoughts slithered into my consciousness as I drove home: 1. …
Our deviously devised and flawlessly executed stratagem to exhibit total and unabated ineptitude during the regular season made great advances tonight. In the end, the opposition was held to less than triple digits, according to the official scorebook, although I find that hard to believe.
The bad news is that they scored more runs than we did. A lot more. But, like a fly ball gently floating like a can of corn above Mark's mitt — which is the oxymoronic equivalent of a feather bounding off the hard turf over Mark's prodigious leap — there are positives to be snared.
The leather was on display tonight, boys, in our 9-2 victory over Mac II. Arch, Rick and Robert and Pete all snared grounders to their left or right that would have gotten though the usual way-far-above-average-55-plus infielder. …
Sorry for the silence. I had to do Friday morning's work on Thursday night after the game since we were closing on a getaway in Garrison at 10 a.m.. Then we spent the weekend there without an Internet connection. …
In the spirit of the fastest game of softball I've ever participated in, we were victorious, 6-2, in about 39:39 and everyone — present or not — was a credit to his family.
Next up: Mike C., Charlie and Tony — the Moretrench Boys — at 7 p.m., Thursday, May 27. …
Dr. Pangloss took me aside after the game and pointed out that It was a much better performance tonight against Casa than a few of our losses last year. "And look where that got you,'" quoth he. "The bloody bloomin' world champeenship of the Greenburgh Old Times League, that's where!
Howie Grossman of the Rivertowns Guide just sent me this video of Mike Royko at the Bill Goat Tavern in 1982 after a softball game. Tell me you're not fantasizing the same ending Royko is at the end of the interview.…
Archive of posts from our memorable 2009 campaign.
Fred Wertz volunteer to be both pitcher and catcher — he's fast enough to do it, methinks — so we had enough to take the field tonight. If need be. But it needn't, so we just marveled at the trophy, told tall tales about stickball exploits past, and wondered if Jason was sitting outside in his car. I'll get the shirts to the rest of you one way or another; you'll feel right at home at Wykaygl CC.
We can only hope to suck as badly in our real-worldly endeavors as we do in this fantasy universe we've been lucky enough to play in. Last night was a perfectly executed ending to a splendiferous stretch run. An 8 - 3 victory in the first game; a 12 - 1 shellacking in the second.
There was a certain air of inevitability about the evening that kept us loosey and goosey (although our consigliere, role model and Chief Sun Dance Chanter, Robert "Solid" Gold, suggests that I am once again mistaking an excess of humidity for inevitability.)
As usual, I have spent some time avoiding work and offer the ditty below. Do not report me to the Verity Police. Time may fly "like an arrow," as Grocho said, but "fruit flies like a banana." This effort is more of the banana variety, with time out of sequence and reality off kilter.
Fred set the tone
By smacking a double
Ed shot him home
With right-field trouble
Ed took flight
As it rattled around
Setting his sight
On third-base ground
Where we heard Mark cry
Now that's what I was talking about. 10 - 2 against the defending champs, who had lost only two games this year. And there were a lot of heros.
Let's start with Jimmy. As Arch pointed out, he set the tone in the top of the first by singling and then "stealing" third on Arch's smash through the six hole when he saw that no one was covering the bag. Mike followed with a deep sac fly and Pete drove in a run with another single.
Greenwich tied it up with single runs in the first and third.
I'm not exactly sure how we scored our third run in the bottom of the fifth. Fred had informed me this morning that he probably couldn't play because of a sprained ankle but he was coming to the game anyway to cheer us on. He took BP, though, and said he felt good enough to hit. And that's exactly what he did leading off the inning. I was on deck taking some practice swings and the next thing I knew, there was Fred standing on third. I knew what I had to do — get it out of the infield — and came as far from executing as is humanly possible. But the catcher evidently decided to play my nubber, despite the fact that it was spinning back and would have gone foul. Somehow Fred, bum ankle notwithstanding, scored and I found myself on first.
We sauntered off to an early 7-1 lead last night, but our bats turned to parasols (well, I'm speaking for myself) as we prematurely strolled down Victory Lane. Moretrench scored five runs in the sixth and seventh, but left the tying run dancing off third when Kevin snared a hot shot off Charlie's bat and won a foot race to to the bag.
The top of the order came through big time. Rick had two singles and a walk and scored thrice. Ed had three hits and reached on a error in the No. 2 hole. Jimmy pounded two hits, including a double off the fence, and Fred knocked in several runs with a key hit and a tricky fly that was dropped for an error. Kevin and Steve also had a couple of hits on the other end of the spectrum. The rest of us were, well, appreciative of everyone else picking us up. (Mark, however, is reportedly testifying before a self-convened grand jury. His only public comment: "I wuz robbed. I wuz robbed. And I wuz robbed again.") Jay pitched masterfully.
As the season progresses, I've become increasingly aware that encomiums are backfiring. Ed sends me a nice email about my line-drive hitting and I wind up dribbling ground balls. Mark talks about Jimmy clobbering the ball for three games, including last night, and he immediately pops up. I mutter "Arch Who?" after Ed makes a nifty over-the- shoulder catch and he proceeds to drop kick a grounder to the five-yard line (in the wrong direction). Clearly, a little reverse psychology is called for.
Tonight's 8-2 victory against third-place 4 Corners (10-4) was the game we've been waiting for all season. Sharp fielding, including four double plays. Good, timely hitting — and even the outs were loud. In fact, I was just going to sit out the second inning to take a few pictures but couldn't get myself back into the field because we were playing so crisply.
We finished the season strongly, including the narrow loss against second-place Francesca's (11-3) last Thursday, and have every reason to believe that we can go all the way in the playoffs. Greenwich, 12-2, finished first. We're fourth at 6-8. LaManda's, CASA and Moretrench all finished 5-9, I believe, and we'll be playing one one of them this Thursday, 8/14, at 9:30. Mac II, unless they upset Moretrench in the second game tonight, finished last at 2-12.
So far I know that Robert, Arch, Lary and Pete (unless we're short) are out Thursday. Fred, Ed, Mike, Jimmy, Jason, Steve, Mark and Thom are in. Bob is getting back to me. Rick? Kevin?
My police scanner today picked up a report of Fire Island peace officers responding to complaints of a nekkid man chanting and dancing on the beach. As I watched the morning's rain clouds dissipate, I knew this was not business as usual, as some of you may have surmised, and reached Robert "Solid" Gold on the party line in his vacation cabin. Robert, who claims he was wearing his jock strap whilst performing the Flatbush Ave. Sun Dance on our behalf, says he can't believe anybody called the cops in the first place.
Speaking of first place, we're a long way from it. Indeed, we failed to cement our hold on fourth this evening with a heartbreaker. Franceso's came from behind and pulled out a 7 - 6 win in the bottom of the seventh. We were blanked from the third inning on despite some well-hit shots that were snared with circus catches or smacked right at 'em. Wayne, Ed, Steve and Rick each had two hits. Nice game overall, except for the loss.
Now, about next Monday at 6:30. I know that Robert, Arch, Kevin are out. Mark, who came off IR and did yogiman duty today for a couple of innings while Arch navigated the Cross Bronx, should rest his back. Rick is doubtful. Please let me know if you're available or not ASAP.
They've been hanging around the clubhouse all season, clamoring, "Put me in coach, puh-leez put me in."
But, truth be told, as good as they looked in BP last week, they were nowhere to be found when the game was on the line. But hark! There's one of the whippersnappers now, hovering around the hot corner with Robert "Gold Glove" Gold, who also collected two hits. (As Mike, looking viagraous at short himself, said: "Whatever pills he's taking, I want 'em.") Robert, by the way, turns 69 on Friday, according to sources close to his three thousandth and fifty-second career resurgence.
Can you pitch any better than the Jay Man, who gave up five unearned runs in the first inning and a lone single after that (while collecting a couple of hits and, feeling his oats, volunteering to pinch run for me from third, anticipating, no doubt, tagging up on a pop to short left)?
How about the versatile Ed, who played seven positions, including bench coach ("take two steps, Robert, before you throw") with aplomb (he's a multifaceted threat without it, too).
And no one got thrown out at home. Unfortunately, whilst we had 12 stalwarts appear, after all, LaManda's didn't show up. Nary a one. Helluva a way to stay out of the cellar, but we had a great BP.
Ed's banging the ball again. Jimmy P.'s hitting the fence. Rick, too, almost (it must have been the shorts). Jim C. was lacing line drives to left. Steve — our very own Cesar Tovar — looks like he can throw strikes, too. Pete continued to berate the outfield for a few dropped flies here and there. Arch came all the way up from the city on a gimp leg and karmically almost took Pete's head off with a liner. Bob and his personal trainer (no steroids involved), Eddie, laced the ball to all fields. Kevin was glad he had an excuse to end his meeting early. Mike flew the coop, probably to a money game in the Bronx, as soon as the forfeit was official. I could feel my batting slump slip-sliding away.
Next up: 4 Corners at 7:00 NEXT THURSDAY, 7/23. No game Monday. Lemme know,.
... where your pitcher (probably you) stuck out nearly everybody who didn't get on base from an error or walk and you lost 17-7? Yep, this one goes into the books as the night our pitchers — Kevin and Jason — struck out five opposing batters but we managed to get creamed anyway. The score was 17-7, as irony would have it.
Let he who is without a dropped, booted or misplayed ball cast the first wild throw. But, to be uncharacteristically accurate in my reportage, they collected their fair share of line-drive singles and doubles, too. As for our own hitting, with the exception of two innings, let's not go there.
Of more pressing concern is Thursday's game, which we are in dire jeopardy of forfeiting, The commish doesn't like that.
We can play if we scrape together a mere nine players, but so far there are only six men committed: Rick, Mike, Pete, Jim, Jason and me. Steve and Kevin have meetings that may, or may not, end by the 9:30 start. Wayne will be there if he doesn't have to take a trip.
I realize that Reachers who were not at the game tonight might misconstrue my headline to mean that we beat the highly self-regarded Greenwich Greys. Alas, that is not the case. We lost 8 - 3.
At some point in the bottom of the third inning — while the Greys were scoring runs three, four and five — a stench descended upon Rumbrook Upper Field and greeted us in the dugout when we trudged in from the diamond. At first, being a bunch of polite old coots, we all looked like we were overlooking the gastric distress of one of our brothers. That's what Reacher would do, after all. But it soon became apparent that we had a natural, or supernatural, disaster on our hands.
I asked Mike if the stink wasn't reminiscent of some political affairs he's been around but he just whispered a few words into his shirt collar and started straight ahead (I think he arranged for that Cobra helicopter that followed me home). Steve, who certainly has the professional credentials to root out a backed up sanitary sewer when he smells one, swore it was just that — a backed-up sanitary sewer. But he was clearly out of his league on this. Jason, who did not divulge from whence he gained such expertise, said the sulfuric fumes came straight from hell, and it occurred to me that he might be onto something. Robert, who is always my go-to guy for questions like these, referred me to the Rev. S. Putrid Miasma, a pentasoftballist preacher from Florida who is not only Mel's personal confessor during the winter league but also testifies that he is in frequent and direct communication with the gods of softball, Elvis and Rich Sauerhaft. Robert had his rotary-dial number so I borrowed Pete's bluetooth and patched a call through the Cobra's next-gen, otherworldly communication system on the ride home.
No, I'm not talking about our game. (i like to think it's not big news when we win big, as we did, but that does seem to be the case this year. So far.) But click here, then scroll down to No. 46. Yep. "Gone Tomorrow," No. 13 in the Jack Reacher oeuvre, is considered to be one of the top "Fifty Books for Our Times" by Newsweek (right between "The Elegance of the Hedgehog" and "Things Fall Apart, " which I don't think has nothing to do with our sophomore jinx).
Anyway, back to the game. Just when it looked like we we might as well spend our Monday nights discussing Jack Reacher, we had ourself a laughter – so much so that I was channeling the young Markist Smith and asking Rick Bohm to be gracious to the proletariat and stop stretching dropped infield pop-ups into three-baggers with a 10-run lead. And I got compliance, indeed. Mike grounded into a double play that very inning, mitigating his stellar play at short and other hits. Jason looked at a called strike three the next inning, proving his humanity. Steve, after a flawless game at first, lost a pop purposely "in the lights," in the last frame. Jimmy saved his tape-measure shot over the fence for pre-game batting practice, and limited himself to three singles in the game. Fred, too, was cooperative and only went 3-5. And I truly led the way by hitting anemic shots all night, although they were routinely botched by the opposition's fielders. If fact, although I was called out on an infield fly, both runners advanced. I'll try to do worse next time. Pete would not cooperate, however. He set LaManda's up by not-snaring a line drive early in the game, then made a grab of a hot shot to his right and doubled the runner off first to end the game. And the book tells me he went 4 for 4.
Who Will Comfort Me?
So I step on the plate while swinging for an automatic out to lead off the sixth, then bounce to short with the bases loaded (and the go-ahead run on first) to put the kibosh on our budding rally and end the game. One for all and all for one and all that, so I know the answer to the question, but enjoy the question:
There were some highlights in our 6-4 loss to Mac II. We turned three neat double plays with Steve at the pivot, and there were some other flashes of glove around the horn and out in the hustings. Timely hits by Jason, Bob and Pete. The Pyrrhic comfort that we were getting neither the bounces nor the calls this evening. And. as Jason put it, "the drinking water was just the right temperature."
Our next game is Monday at 9 against LaManda's. I know Arch will be nursing his hamstring and Lary and Bob will be away. Others, please let me know ASAP in the event that we need to call in the cavalry.
I returned home last night facing two daunting and inherently frustrating tasks: get the Airport Express in the family room streaming iTunes again and write up last night's game. I choose to watch Stewart and Colbert instead. So here we are. The morning after. Looking for good things to say.
It didn't rain. After giving up 7 runs in the first, we only lost 11-8. No one was injured. My orthotics allowed me to run again. Somebody out there probably got lucky.
And now that I've had time to let the disappointments dissipate, there are memories that will forever be seared into the section of the brain that stores great baseball moments, at least until the Yankees take another World Championship, or our next victory, whichever comes first.
Jimmy and Jason both gave the ball a ride at some point, and Gallupin' Ed Lopez took good advantage of the right fielder for a (nearly) four bagger. Rick turned a nice 4 - 3 DP. Several of our big guys hit the ball too hard on occasion, not giving their fielders time to botch the play — Mike, Pete and Arch come to mind. Lary, on the other hand, exploited that soft underbelly with two exquisitely placed bloopers they had too much time to react to. Mark was .500 for the night and scored from first on Rick's equally exploitative, two-RBI double. Fred came though with a clutch RBI, as he seems to do frequently, and Kevin deftly handled several chances in two positions. I, as I mentioned, also ran.
I just saw Mariano Rivera leap from the mound like a bobcat, take a high chopper over his shoulder and throw out the Cleveland runner at first to seal the Yankee's victory. The first thought that came to my mind was that "no other pitcher can make a play like that." The second thought was: "Well, except for Jason Roif."
The Big Guy does it all. He pitches like Tom Seaver. He hits like Rusty Staub. He fields like ... Mariano Rivera (if you'll pardon me, Jay, for throwing a Yankee into the mix). Speaking of (wannabe) Yankees, he makes guacamole, as he demonstrated tonight, like Martha Stewart. And he's an all-round good guy, like Marv Thronberry. It has also occurred to me, from time to time over the years, that he also runs the bases like Marvelous Marv. (Only joshing, Jay Man.)
Nail-biting observers who were not at the game tonight may have surmised that the Reachers failed to win. They would be correct. While there were few blown opportunities and a miscue here and there, it was, overall, a fun game to play. We came back in the top of the seventh with three runs to take a 5 to 4 lead. Steve Tilley hit a two-run single and Fred Wertz doubled him home with a towering drive that hit the fence and missed being a three-run homer by inches. Steve, by the way, earlier drove in a third run with a sac fly. I will take credit here for advancing all three of those runners into scoring position with bloopers down the right-field line, a rather dubious talent I seemed to have developed.
that the Chemka Pool opens this weekend. The Memorial Day Parade kicks off at Washington and Warburton at 2 p.m. Sunday; let's hope the rain heads elsewhere. And don't forget that garbage normally picked on Monday will he hauled away on Tuesday. Speaking of forget, I know I wanted to say something, but I can't for the life of me remember what what it was. Incipient dementia, no doubt. Anyway, we've got a game coming up on June 1. Mike Flaherty is out; who else?
Torrid hitting continued tonight. Fifteen of the little suckers, mostly in bunches. Throw in a few timely walks, a few costly errors on Moretrench's part, stellar defense (particularly in the infield), and a parsimonious outing by the Jay Man and it all adds up to a 13 - 4 victory.
Rick, Arch and Mike were 3 for 4. The No. 2 hole was also 3 for 4 with Fred going 2 for 3 and my adding a pinch - hit single in the fifth. Jimmy was on base twice, Pete added a single to a couple of sizzling plays in the field, Steve patrolled left with aplomb and went to right (albeit unsuccessfully, but savvy softball men took notice) with a runner on first, Lary felt no pain behind the plate and banged out a single, Kevin led off the key five-run third with a classic opposite-field single and Robert and Mark nailed down right and had a bit of bad luck at the plate (Robert's shot to left was right at 'em and Mark's knee disserved him on his way to beating out an infield hit [hey, that's the way I saw it].) Ed once again proved his mettle as the best bench coach in the league as he nursed his quad.
By Mark "Salt and Pepper" Smith
Special Correspondent and Studly Right Fielder
Though it isn’t my strong suit, I am going to try and be brief – for two reasons:
1) I am typing this with one finger (right pinky) because it is the only part of my body that either doesn’t hurt or isn’t numb –
2) I want to finish up quickly so I can go watch the late-night rerun of Baseball Tonight and see my catch on Web Gems again.
But I digress. Again… To be brief…
(Note: As the honorary substitute recapper for our fearless leader, I will do all I can to emulate his customary compassion, generosity, and positive outlook – and those who know me will understand that, being the spiritual progeny of Darth Vader and always feeling the tug of the dark side, it will be no easy task for me. But I shall try and look away and walk toward the light.)
We really hit the ol’ cowhide casaba tonight, didn’t we? Really smacked the hell out of the honeydew, huh? And how about them runs? 14 sets of cleats clomping down on the magic pentagram that isn't where home plate is supposed to be but is, as we used to say in the 60’s, close enough for the blues.
As of 2 p.m., tonight's game against the Greenwich Greys at 9 p.m. is still on. If I hear otherwise before 6:30, I'll send out an email. After that, or anytime you want to check on the status of the field during the year, you can get the information directly from the Greenburgh Sports Info Line:
Regarding tonight, we've got a few holes. Here's a status report:
Put Me In, Skip: Bohm, Dawkins, Flaherty, Gold, Linkowski, Tilly, Wertz
Holding Out: Bearnot, Pezzuto, Roif, Smith
Iffy, Depending On How I Feel: Lopez, Greiner
15-day DL: Forbes (cortisone shot in foot but threw out back compensating for knee out of whack because of foot).
Extended Spring Training: Puritz
I knew the Reachers' season was officially under way when I overheard Fred Wertz, who was gazing out at the Greenwich Greys tattooing the ball in the game before ours, quote Kierkegaard on the human condition.
But there was no angst among the Reachers tonight. Despite trailing by five runs by the bottom of the third, we remained existentially upbeat, egged on by bench coach Lary Griener (on injured reserve) and a desire to win one for the missing GM, Robert "Solid" Gold, who is on a scouting trip northwards.
We rallied for four runs in that frame, capped by Jim Pezzuto's majestic three-run blast over the left-field fence, and never looked back. In the fourth, we scored two to take the lead over Mac II, with Fred Wertz poking a double off the fence to drive in Jason Roif, who had himself doubled en route to a three-for-three night. Kevin Dawkins (2 for 3) then sliced a line drive to right to bring Fred home. Bob Bearnot, who would later make a key catch of a liner to right with nobody out and two men on, followed with a single.