Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Adventures of the Noreasters:
Softball Spud and the Vow of Silence

The long, humid afternoon is over and a group of tired Noreasters are kicking back a few frozen margaritas at Arriba, Arriba. It doesn’t take many drinks before the conversation turns to making fun of my buddy Chris. He took his verbal bashing graciously, but we decided that he hadn’t taken enough abuse. As a public service (and under orders from my manager Trish), I am devoting this Sunday’s blog to the colorful highlight reel he has blessed us with the last three weeks. For all of you with children participating in sports, this is your warning to make sure your son or daughter doesn’t turn out like Softball Spud.



Saturday, July 11th

Game One: Noreasters 7, Fusion 14
Game Two: Noreasters 11, Fusion 23

After getting rained out pretty much every weekend in June, we finally took the field at Roosevelt Island against the best team in the league. For Chris, it got ugly early. In the first inning, he popped up weakly to the infield. Running out to the outfield, he asked me if he had dipped his shoulder.

“You just hit the ball like shit,” I replied.

“Well, did I…” he started to ask again.

“You just hit the ball like shit,” I said cutting him off.

“Yeah, you’re right. Okay.”

I may come off as sounding mean, but if you indulge him by answering his questions about his form, then he just thinks about it the rest of the game and ends up popping everything up to the pitcher. It’s better to say just enough to shut him up and answer his question at the same time. I have perfected the art, but it took several years and heavy dependence on alcohol.

While the first game was still close, I went from first base to third on a base hit. Let’s just say that I’m not….ahem….quick. However, after starting to run regularly during the week, I’ve gained a few MPHs around the base paths. Chris was nice enough to notice.

“Hey, you finally got the piano of your back!” he said excitedly.

“Thanks man, I’ve been running a lot.” I said.

“See, I can be a good teammate.”

Those were probably the last words anyone heard out of Chris that afternoon. After we lost the first game by a respectable seven runs, things got out of hand in Game Two. This was in large part to the stellar outfield play of Softball Spud. It seemed like every ground ball hit to him went past him and started on an unending roll. Even when he tried to get his body in front of the ball (that maybe only happened once), it always seemed to find a way past him. I knew it was getting out of control when my teammates started to come up to me and tell me to have a talk with Chris about what he was doing wrong. It’s not a good sign when I’m the only person that can approach him without him exploding into a rage of defense and self pity. My girlfriend, who had stuck around despite the hellish disaster that was our commute to the island, even got into the act by telling me he was letting groundballs go by him like it was his job. I decided to give him one more inning before I said anything.

That was a mistake. A fly ball was hit to right field and Chris (playing left center), decided it would be a good idea to drift over about 100 yards, cut off our right center fielder (who was too surprised to call him off) and then drop the ball that would have easily been caught by someone other than him. He followed this up by letting 90-100 more hits go by him.

“I hate the outfield! I’m horrible out here! I shouldn’t be in the outfield!” I heard him screaming to himself. It would have been funny if he hadn’t sounded like he was going to cry. Because of that it was HILARIOUS.

The line of the day went to Trish at the end of a particularly bloody inning. “We gave up nine runs with two outs in that inning,” she said matter of fact. It sounded like she wanted to add something else, but she ended up just sighing and slouching on the bench.

Needless to say, I never had my chat with Chris and we lost by double digits. In fact, no one else had a conversation with him. Toward the end of the game, he took a vow of silence. We found him at the end laying down in the grass slamming his cell phone into the ground. He looked like someone had killed his dog right in front of him. I asked him if he was taking the F train and he nodded sadly. On our walk to the train, he disappeared into what I’m assuming was a giant black rain cloud of depression.

(Note: Chris’ fiancĂ© called him a baby and told him to go whine someplace else after he came home trying to find some sympathy. Just throwing that in there to further prove I’m not making any of this up.)



Saturday, July 18th

Game One: Noreasters 5 (5!), Ball Breakers 20
Game Two: Noreasters 14, Ball Breakers 10

I waited until Tuesday after the Roosevelt Island Massacre to text Chris and see if it had been a decent interval so that I could start making fun of him. Okay, I didn’t ask it that nicely. My exact words were “when can I start making fun of you for making Bill Buckner look good?” He said he was open to all jokes. Here are some of the highlights:

“You’re E.R.A. as an outfielder is higher than Chien Ming Wang’s. Against the Fusion, your E.R.A. is the infinity sign.”

“Dan (our right center fielder) said he’s suing you for stealing his fly ball. He’s also suing you for dropping it.”

His response to that: “I really thought it was my ball. When I saw it drop, I wanted to run away.”

My response to his response: “You mean run after all the balls that went by you?”

We put all that behind us when we stepped unto the field against the second place team in our division. Chris got his wish and was not playing in the outfield. He was playing shortstop, a position where he once maimed a female softball player during a scrimmage thanks to an errant throw. We put the proper medical authorities on standby and hoped for the best.

Softball Spud did not disappoint. He indeed let a few balls go by him and his first several throws to first base took routes not seen since the times of Ferdinand Magellan. I can’t quite describe his throwing motion. I admit that I don’t have a release point or a strong arm, but at least my motion doesn’t resemble a cartoon character (well, anymore). Imagine a bear fielding a ground ball down on one knee (pretty much every time for reasons he can’t even explain), taking a few baby steps forward to get some momentum and throwing the ball side arm toward first with both legs in the air pointed straight out in front of him. Then picture the ball flying over the first baseman’s head and then that bear start to swear profusely, hit himself viciously in the hip and tug his hat over his eyes. Let’s just say this guy has better mechanics than Chris:


To his credit, he eventually straightened out his throws and played a very serviceable shortstop. After suffering another disaster in the first game, we played well enough to earn our first win in months in the second. Chris even hit a legit home run over the rocks that he had no trouble bragging about.

Saturday, July 25th

Game One: Noreasters 11, Firebirds 3
Game Two: Noreasters 12, Firebirds 16

The Noreasters were back in action and Softball Spud was back at shortstop. It was a miracle he got to the game at all though. Usually, I’m the one with the worst commute, but he had me beat this time around. I was able to keep track of his progress through text messages:

“I am on a 6 train right now being pulled by lame donkeys.”

“I missed the M35 by a minute. Have to wait for the next one at 2:15 which will of course be late. I will be at the field around 4.”

“Did I mention I lost my bank card this morning? Yeah, it’s gone.”

He finally made it and it was my hope that Chris would learn by osmosis after watching me play a sparkling short during batting practice. The trick with him is to try and train him without him really knowing you’re doing it (kind of like a golden retriever or a gerbil). If a ground ball was hit his way during the game, I would shout from the outfield some of the following:

“You have time!”

“Step and throw!”

“Nice and easy!”

“Nice play! Good boy! Who’s a good boy?!”

After one of Chris’ errors, one of our outfielders turned to me after shouting encouragement and said, “Isn’t it kind of interesting that the whole team goes on “Console Spud Duty” after he screws up?”

That’s what is so great about Chris. You want to get upset at him for making a dumb play, but he beats himself up so badly that you end up pitying him and trying to cheer him up. I can’t lie; it’s a brilliant strategy by him.

In the second game, a ground ball was hit to Trish who quickly flipped the ball to Chris to get a force out at second. He turned to throw the ball to finish the double play, but the runner was practically there, so he held onto it. The umpire called time and Chris threw the ball to our pitcher Bob. Much to everyone’s surprise, he let out the loudest F-bomb we’ve ever heard walking back to his position. I immediately started laughing out loud in left field. He is the only person in the world that was angry about making an out. The best part was the umpire thought the curse had been directed at him and Chris took it upon himself to apologize at the end of the inning.

We had one calamitous inning early during the second game, so we were playing catch up the rest of the way. We finally got some runners on and Softball Spud stepped up to the plate. I was on first base. He took the first pitch for a strike and then dropped his shoulder to the point where it almost touched the ground and popped it up in foul territory near first base. Luckily, the first baseman wasn’t quite quick enough to make the catch.

Before Trish, who was coaching first base, could say anything, I screamed out, “Get out of your head! Get out of your head!” Trish simply replied, “Thank you. Thank you. Listen to Dan.”

He did, sort of. He hit a towering pop up to center that wasn’t caught because all the outfielders were playing so deep. We ended up scoring some runs that inning, but not quite enough. We ended up losing by four runs.

(Note: the real MVP of the doubleheader was Bob. In unbelievable humidity, the ageless wonder pitched every single inning. You could tell he was out of gas, but he never complained and gave us every opportunity to win the game. Cheers to you Bob!)

The comfy confines of Arriba, Arriba allowed us to unwind and gave Chris a chance to launch a defense of….well….himself.

“I can’t see the ball. I am going blind,” he told us.

He claims that his eyesight has been getting worse, so that he wasn’t seeing the ball well in the outfield, but he can see it better in the infield. Last year it had been his wrist, the year before that his ankle, so blindness was the next logical step I guess. I mentioned that it looked like he was seeing the ball going past him just fine.

Toward the end of the evening, we were watching the Mets play the Astros on the television. A player on one of the teams roped a single and raised his hands and eyes to God after reaching first base.

“Hey Chris, why don’t you do that when you get a base hit?” Dan (again, our right center fielder) said.

“It’s because he has to go back and play the infield and screw up,’ I said without missing a beat.

Softball Spud glared at me, but ended up shaking my hand, admitting that it had been a good zinger.

I doubt I’m going to get the same reaction when he reads this blog.

10 comments:

  1. Maybe what you and Chris need is a new colorful pair of knee high socks! I suggest bright blue to go with the uniform and that Astros hat you two wear :)

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  2. this helped me procrastinate five minutes of my project. so thnx XD.

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  3. Softball is a game of life for a few. It is the thing that keeps others filled up. It is a diversion wherein everyone is advancing toward achieve the top. It is truly an awesome accomplishment on the off chance that you place yourself into the spotlight of the softball world.

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  4. The primary softball game ever to be played was on Thanksgiving Day in the year 1887. After a football game amongst Yale and Harvard-particularly amid the paying of wagers a man from Yale tossed a boxing glove at the Harvard graduates, one of whom hit the glove with a sweeper handle-offering ascend to the round of softball.For the more information sport mystery

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  5. The game of softball is often confused with the game of baseball and many are often lead to believe that if one plays baseball one can play softball too. Before one discusses what softball pitching is all about it would be worth while to just have a glimpse of some of the differences.

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  6. Softball is a game of life for some. It is what keeps others fueled up. It is a game wherein everybody is making their way to reach the top. It is really a great achievement if you put yourself into the limelight of the softball world.

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  7. In the wake of getting drizzled out basically consistently in June, we at last took the field at Roosevelt Island against the best group in the association. For Chris, it got terrible early. In the principal inning, he appeared pitifully to the infield. Heading out to the outfield, he inquired as to whether he had plunged his shoulder.

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  8. After one of Chris' blunders, one of our outfielders swung to me in the wake of yelling support and said, "Would it say it isn't somewhat fascinating that the entire group goes on "Console Spud Duty" after he botches?"

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