Wednesday, December 21, 2005

A conclusion

Up the middle lies the remains of two horned and bloated goats. Visitors march by in disbelief, asking to themselves, "How did this happen? And who is to blame?"

On the far wall, dimly lit by flickering candles is the gospel, finally.

Led the league in least runs scored upon assisted in small part due to his ability to induce batters to "hit his pitch" but mainly to his All-Star middle infield and outfield. Usually stoic, if not downright blase, the robotic "Lar" underhanded a variety of lollipops, slow and high trajectory pitches with heavy backspin that curved back into the strike zone from either side or arced straight down "into the well" consistently for called strikes. Despite, or rather in spite, of his control, his inability, when the game was on the line, to "throw a 'can of corn'" when the umpire squeezed the plate in the championship game led to Simon's Tavern's big inning and eventual (and improbable) comeback in their last raps to win their fifth consecutive title as Lar simply unravelled, giving free passes and frozen ropes to a succession of opposing batters, loading the bases. Alas, the nervous fat pitch he lobbed "right down Broadway" to their weakest hitter whom he previously stuck out twice, nearly snapped his neck off, rocketing over his outstretched (more in self-defense than athleticism) hands headed toward short centerfield and forever in infamy. To compound his lack of intestinal fortitude was his inexplicable brain cramp by not sufficiently covering home plate to field a quick relay throw from his shortstop Matt that would have gunned down the winning run and thus coaxing extra innings. It was not to be as the hit so demoralized him that he simply forgot how many outs remained, rooted on the mound, flabbergasted.

Versatile to a fault. Utility fielder "Yettaanotherstar" possessed a strong throwing arm that presented a dilemma in where to play her regularly. Whether at first or third base as well as behind the plate as catcher and in short centerfield, she centerfield throughout the season. In fact, yetta played short centerfield for the first time in the championship game. Fate dealt her and the team a cruel blow. With two outs in the final inning and runners in scoring position to win the game outright, Yetta, out of position directly behind second base, moved instinctly to her left, reached up, stabbed at and deflected the infamous liner from centerfielder swooping in for what would have been the third and final out to win their first title. Instead bedlam ensued as the winning run crossed an unguarded home plate.

And a slick neon sign advertises a free prize for any returned patron interested in reliving a tragic moment anew.

Monday, December 05, 2005

The saddest of possible words...

"Tinker to Evers to Chance."

Or just as worthy, Earney to Miller to Bauling to May,
Our quadruple-powered vacuum, sucking in all debris,
Cleaning dusty pathways, forever linked,
who upon summons take a bow,

Defensive mainstay at third base, Alyson guarded the line and prevented grounders from becoming extra-base hits. She formed part of an "Iron Curtain" on the left side of the diamond as anything hit in that direction "got eaten up" for outs. Her quick reflexes and accurate arm in the "hot corner" forced many a hitter to pull the pitch foul, hard to muscle the ball by. Alyson upended by the runner representing the tying run sliding hard into third base in the final inning of the championship game. The runner was ruled safe on a controversial call as league rules dictated a runner is automatically out for not avoiding collision on a slide.

Named team MVP. "The General" showed amazing defensiverange at shortstop. Matt could "go into the hole and come up firing" or glide behind second to trigger the forceout at second base preventing baserunners from being in scoring position. His soft hands and cannon for an arm easily scooped up and threw out all batters on any type grounder. Other teammates could cheat "down the lines or into the gaps" because of Matt's ability to cover so much ground. In the final game, Matt made a crucial error in judgement as he broke the cardinal rule with two outs (when any baserunner ran with the pitch) to always make a play on the batter on a grounded ball. Instead of throwing to first base for what would have been the higher percentage third and final out to seal victory, Matt flipped the ball too late to force the runner at second.

Part of the All-Star double play tandem, second baseman Trina often covered the bag with runners bearing down on her hard, intent to break up the force out or double play. Cool under pressure, she tied for the league lead in combined putouts and assists as opposing team continued to test her defense on the right side of the infield, possessing a knack for making the crucial defensive play to "put out the fire". Trina tried in vain to reposition the out-of-position short centerfielder just before the pitch that resulted in the deflected liner that lost the championship game.

The heart and soul of R & M Trucking. Sure-handed team captain Cathy threw out a slew of baserunners "going first to third" on slow rolling ground balls and ranked highest among league leaders in fielding her position at first base. Opposing baserunners respected in fear her strong and accurate arm. The team name reflected her competitive fire and blue-collar work ethic to outplay opponents. Cathy dropped a low thrown ball for what would have been an out at first base in the bottom final inning of the championship game. This error allowed Simon's Tavern to prolong their at-bat to eventually win the title.

And with heros are their counterparts, the goats.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Notes on a hall of fame

A partition blocks the entrance into the sacred place, a memory palace long forgotten. On the opposite side is a vitrine housing a dusty satin athletic jacket whose reflective gleam shines off the bronzed bas-reliefs and glossy text covering all the walls within. Frozen in time, such a personal moment transcends historicism beyond legend yet fights together to immortalize loss and commemorate something quite mundane as a specific time gone awry. Remember that defense, not offense supposedly wins championships.

The story unfolds from left to right first, position by position as the throngs sardined around the opening passage, read to themselves the words printed below:

Literally, death to all flying things reincarnated. The best "pure" athlete on the team, leftfielder "Doctor" routinely demoralized opposing teams by casually robbing batters of seemingly easy extra-base hits on montrously-hit balls way over his head. His ability to come in or go back on a ball plus his deceptive giddyup speed enabled him to quickly make up ground to track down any batted ball for an automatic out. Opposing teams frustrated themselves trying to blast the ball past him on the fly and eventually gave up hitting anything in his direction. In the championship game, Randy raced in and watched in disbelief as the deflected liner hit ground and bounced away from him and the prone centerfielder allowing the winning run to score.

Arguably, pound for pound, the strongest man on the team. "Mo" patrolled centerfield with veteran craftiness. What he lacked in size, he more than compensated with desire and intensity. His encyclopedic knowledge of opponent batting tendencies permitted "our Itsilbitsilar friend" as he is often called, to position himeself accordingly to maximize any angle to :get on his horse" chasing down a ball hit in the gap. Ironically, it was "Mo" who dove helplessly at the deflected liner off the mispositioned short centerfielder for what should have been the final out for a championship victory.

Never say die. Stentorian six foot eight inch high rightfielder Will intimidated the opposing teams with his size and voice. An incessant chatterbox, he dared hitters to "feed me leather". Slow of foot, Will played any hitter unusally deep. His defensive strategy was to use his height and very long stride to ramble in, building enough momentum to engulf any flyball with his massive iron-grip hands. Playing the first five innings of the championship game, Will rotated out of the lineup for another teammate to play. He coached from the sidelines, screaming encouragement even when the team lost its composure in the final inning.

Visitors now stop to genuflect.