A less than inspiring performance over a team that finished at the bottom of the standings last year with a 3-25 record—although one of their victories was against us—resulted in our second win of this young season. Wash 'N' Dry looked much improved since last year, particularly in their new shirts featuring what appeared to be the old Hartford Whalers logo, but the game never really should have been as close as it was.
A lackluster offensive showing, combined with a couple of key defensive lapses, resulted in us trailing 8-7 going into the 7th inning. But, the one area that they apparently haven't improved is on the mound, as last night's pitcher struggled mightily with his control. In this league, each batter starts with a 1-1 count, so it's certainly a little easier to issue a three-pitch, rather than a four-pitch, walk. On the other hand, all it takes is one strike to place the batter in a situation where he's protecting the plate, because there is no greater indignity than striking out looking in slow-pitch softball. Believe me, it's happened, but fortunately not to me.
In fact, that's not entirely true. I did strike out looking in an intramural softball game in college, but that was over 20 years ago. It was quite embarrassing, but it was a bad call...of course. I also struck out swinging in a co-ed game about five years ago, but now in my fifth season in this particular men's league, I have yet to have to buy the team a 30-pack...the penalty for going down on strikes.
In the top of 7th, though, without any specific direction from Fax—our fearless leader—the team decided to be extremely patient at the plate. As a result, four consecutive walks to start the inning later, I "drove" in the go-ahead run with a bases-loaded walk. Our opponents then changed pitchers, but we proceeded to score three more runs, while giving up only one in the bottom of the inning, to come away with a 12-9 victory.
When I first joined this team, I considered the idea of writing a blog chronicling the team's exploits, on and off the field. This was mostly motivated by an early incident that underscored the tendency of some of my teammates to overdo it at the bar post-game. I never followed through on that, of course, and the team—although led by a small group of serious drinkers—never quite lived up to the hype.
There was some drama last night, though. We had 15 players—not including the habitually injured Fax, who did play on Friday—available at the game. So, since we can only bat 12, that meant at least six players were not going to be in the lineup for the entire game. No one really had a problem with this, but one teammate had a problem with a comment made by Fax as he removed him from the game.
Let's just say that Fax picked the wrong person to get on the bad side of. Duff, at 6'5" and 275 lbs., and looks more like a defensive lineman than a baseball player, has hit at least five home runs per season in the three years that we've played at the fence-enclosed Faxon Park. Only one other player on the team—my fellow Yankees fan, Kevin—has hit one during that time frame. Most of the time, Duff seems like the type of big man who wouldn't hurt a fly, but when Fax made an off-handed steroids remark while taking him out of the game, it apparently struck a nerve.
Duff was still fuming while hanging at the bar post-game. I mulled the idea of pulling Fax aside and pointing out his indiscretion, but Duff beat me to it. They talked—sometimes animatedly—in the corner of the bar for at least 15-20 minutes, before Kevin and I decided it was time to leave after our one beer each. I wasn't really worried that it was going to get ugly—not that there was anything I could do about it—because John, the team's second-in-command and also the godfather of at least one of Duff's children, didn't seem to be.
We jokingly said a dramatic goodbye to Fax as we left, and asked Duff if we would see him—Fax, that is—at Thursday's game. Duff still wasn't in a joking mood, although Fax was—which probably wasn't helping his case—but I'm confident that John won't be running the team on Thursday.
Negro Leagues DB Update: 1944 NNL & NAL
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