Tuesday, May 01, 2007

An Epistolary Solution

So, I've received some mail saying I should worry a lot less about what I'm writing here. I'm assuming there is a subtext in there of "...and start focusing on the quality, immediately..."

This will not answer the subtextual concerns, but since I spent all my free time for writing this evening on an email to my softball team before our first game tomorrow night, I really have no choice but to enter it into the record or wander off to the kitchen...

Subject: Game Tomorrow Night!

There is supposed to be clouds in the morning and sun in the afternoon, so the weather looks like it will cooperate, now if the Parks Department will get on board, maybe we can get a game or two in. We will play the Indians, who play tonight as well, so they'll be warmed up, but tired. I'm thinking this will mean they'll hit well and be a step slower in the outfield.

I'll be on a job site tomorrow, (Wednesday) so I may not be able to check my email between 7:30 am and 5:30 pm. Call or text me at XXX-XXX-XXXX if you need a ride. Rides leave again from the Brooklyn Ale House, and I'd really like to leave as close to 7 as we can.

The last car will Absolutely leave by 7:15. I want to get to the field and do immediate BP for anyone who wants it. When the other team shows up we'll give them the chance to BP and we'll do our throwing, etc. This way they don't see who on our team hits what where, and we can watch where their big hitters hit it, since the big hitters ALWAYS want to do some showing off in BP.

There are some rule changes to be aware of, mostly the new rule about the count. It will be a 0-0 count when you step in, with a Three Swing rule, so that last foul is an out. This shouldn't be a big deal, but I do want the Left Fielder and Right Fielder to remember this when there are men on base, since they can tag and go once you've caught it. Basically, we should not be catching foul balls with men on base and less than 2 outs. You will probably see me fuck this up, now that I've said it.

A couple of things to think about:

ALWAYS talk to each other, especially in the infield. The four or five self-appointed field generals are gone this year, but lets not replace their shrill hectoring with silence. If the ball is hit left side, who's doing what? If the ball is hit right side, who's doing what? Nobody has played together, so OVER communicate until we get it down.

ALWAYS back each other up. If the above is the cardinal rule for the infield, this is the cardinal rule for the outfield. Each ball hit to the outfield should have two guys running for it. As the ball comes in to the infield, the outfield needs to close in to back up errant throws to the bases. Why is backing everyone up important?

Because, repeat after me...


It will suck, but it will almost certainly happen. Nobody on this team had to check for schedule conflicts with their minor league club. If we all do our very best, we'll make only a few boneheaded plays apiece this season. Don't sweat it. Nobody will feel worse than the guy who did it, so lets just be ready for it, move on, and get the next out. If guys back each other up, those bad plays will mean an extra base instead of two.

Another rule change this year gives two bases on an overthrow. That means a panicked throw to third to get the lead runner can put him AND the guy on second across the plate. We've got some good third basemen this year, lets not force them to be all-stars.

As far as offense goes, expect to face some pretty good pitchers. We faced one guy last year who was nearly unhittable, just slow rollers every time. Be patient and make them throw strikes. We've got some good hitters on board this year, I'm not too worried about it. It will be a few games before I know who should be hitting where, and I'm going to try and mix it up a bit, but there will be a top half of the order and a bottom half of the order and it will be determined by stats, not alphabetical order or how long I've known you or how many blackmail photos you have of me... everybody's got those now...

The lead-off rule is the same. No leads, but once the pitcher releases the ball, you can take off towards the next base. If the ball isn't put in play and the catcher throws behind you, ALL HE NEEDS TO DO IS BEAT YOU TO THE BAG WITH THE BALL. There is no tag. Now, this means the catcher has to throw the ball accurately and the first or third baseman needs to catch it, before you get back. Early in the games, with zero or 1 out I want to press this hard. I don't mind a guy getting picked off if thats what it takes to make them believe we'll do it. Once they want to pick you off, the infielder cheats way over to the bag and opens up a big hole for the guy at the plate. A few extra steps can also keep you out of a double play on those slow dribblers or at least put that pressure on that makes guys bobble and throw it into the outfield.

So that's War and Peace for this week. I'd wanted to go over that stuff before the games, but it's such a clusterfuck just trying to get everything ready, there never seems to be the time.

In a nutshell.

Back each other up.
Talk to each other before every batter.
Take aggressive leads on the pitcher's release.
Remember we're not curing cancer out there, and we don't get a discount at the bar for winning, ...though the beer does taste a little sweeter...

Know right now that you will see awful, AWFUL mistakes made by your teammates this season. But know also, there will be a few times this season when you will Not..Fucking...Believe your teammate in a rec softball league made That...Motherfucking...Catch.

And there will be a game, it could happen any week, when it will get late, and everything outside that pool of arc light on the field will disappear into the black, and our pitcher will take the ball from the catcher, and the tying run will be on base and you'll pull your cap down and tighten your glove and realize nobody is saying anything because you all know what you're going to do for that last out and anyway it wouldn't matter because all you can hear is your own breathing in your head and...at...that...moment there will be no difference between you and a guy playing game seven of the World Series.

Except the bonus you're playing for.

But who knows, maybe their first round is on the manager as well...

We'll leave as soon as everyone who needs a ride is there.

And email me if you can't make it so I can prep the lineup card.

Don Wood


  1. Anonymous8:17 PM EDT

    You should involve yourself with little league teams.

    Your in-depth pep talks and insight are just what's needed for little guys(and girls).

  2. Ok, so many things to comment about.

    I think I'll go simply and just say:

    While you appear to play the part of Guy Non-chalant, Mr. Cool, Sir Laid Back...deep inside a dormant demon lies in wait...to attack and KILL the other team.

    You are a FIGHTER, Mister Don Wood. You like to kick ass and win win win. I completely did not see this side of you. It's wicked. I like it.

  3. Ummm, yeah...
    It's not a real interesting part to read about, but it's true.

    I was described last week by a guy I've played flag football, soccer and softball with for the last 7 years as "the most competitive bastard I've ever met."

  4. Anonymous10:39 AM EDT

    crap... my comment went to cyberblackhole

    I don't remember this side of you when you were 16 years old... very interesting

    ps. you forgot a VERY important rule - one we always have to tell the little guys/girls -- go pee BEFORE the game


  5. Anonymous11:19 AM EDT

    Amy...as I previously mentioned, don't you think Don's "go get em" attitude(softened, of course) would be of great use to little leaguers?

    With that fortitude, Don would be great coaching kids!


  6. You are a better actor than you give yourself credit for; you had them all fooled with that mild-manner, nice guy crap.

  7. That was informitive. I didn't understand a couple of things, but that's half the fun of watching a game - learning as I go.

    Don't we play a sport with every intention to win? No one plays to loose. da! Don competitive...Yes. A bastard...Naaaaaa.

  8. Anonymous5:51 AM EDT

    Did your team win?

    With all the running you'll be doing, are you worried about possible re-injury of your bad ankle?

  9. So? How'd it go? Was anyone left behind? Did your machinations win you the battle? Don't keep us all in suspense!

  10. I just updated with the answers to some of these, but as far as the ankle goes, it is about 85% and I think that is probably where it's going to stop. It's been about 18 months since the injury and though I didn't have the resources of modern medicine, I'm not sure they could have done anything anyway. It swells up after the games, but it returns now to almost the same size as the other one. My right calf is also starting to get closer to a matching size. For a while it looked like I had one flesh-colored peg leg after limping around for so long. I have also weaned myself off the 12 or so advil I was taking every day...not so good on the tum tum. Anyway, thanks for your concern. My biggest problems right now are a knee I banged into a rock diving for a ball and nick on my glove hand index finger and nail where I tried to pull a japanese saw through it. (Not as bad as I see it now reads...a nuisance.)