Softball Game 3: Two in a row

Another softball game tonight. Another solid win.

We scored eight runs in the second inning, and continued adding insurance runs throughout the game that helped us win in 18-13.

I walked and scored from my first two trips to the plate. During my third at-bat I hit a line drive over the shortstop for a nice single and later scored. … Unfortunately, I ended our team’s night on offense when I popped a foul ball behind the plate that landed in the catcher’s glove for the third out of the inning. The pitch came in fat and I was thinking about poking it into the gap in left field before I started my swing rather than keeping my eyes on the ball and making solid contact.

In the field, I got a lot of action at third base. The first batted ball of the night came my way and I gloved it to throw the runner out at first base. Soon after, I lost track of the number of balls that came to me and the shortstop. The other team’s batters were pulling nearly every pitch, and they certainly made it fun for me to play defense tonight.

Alone with my sports

Kates packed up a few suitcases, loaded the girls in the car and took off this morning to The Farm. Which means I've got a few days on my own, to catch up on some work and enjoy some time rare time to myself.

Not to mention owning the TV to watch all of the sports I can handle.

Here are a few things that won the Internet for me today.

The Brewers' Khris Davis nearly lost a homer for missing plate yesterday. The video with this story is worth watching not only for Davis home run trot and the ensuing appeals but for the calls by some legendary broadcast teams that include Bob Uecker and Jon Miller.

Look who's on the cover of Sports Illustrated this week. Here's hoping the SI cover jinx doesn't knock down the Royals -- who tonight suffered their third consecutive loss for the first time this season, one day after an ugly 14-1 loss at Yankee Stadium. Hold on to your hats, Royals fans.

Also from Twitter ...

And finally, this ... Beautiful.


Softball Game 2: Three and out

It appeared as though our team was in for a long night when we showed up at the ballpark tonight.

The game being played before ours was running 40 minutes behind. Our guys warmed up, stretched and were still sitting behind the dugout when the teams scheduled to play the game after ours began arriving. On top of that, after weeks of temperatures squarely in the 70s, we’ve reverted to late fall-like temperatures this week and were in the 50s tonight. It was cold waiting on that sideline.

We finally took the field 45 minutes after our game was supposed to start. But we made quick work of it.

We scored 11 in the first and went quietly in the second inning after giving up three runs on defense. But then we dispelled any fears of being a one-inning offense (see: Game 1 of the season) and put up seven more runs in the third inning. The margin was 18-3, and the rules say that after three innings of play that qualifies as a win. Game over.

I played another good game at third base, which included snatching up grounders and getting assists on the last two outs of the game.

I was more proud of my hitting tonight – a 2-for-3 night at the plate. My first at-bat ended with me slapping a hard grounder through the hole on the left side. When the next batter hit a ball to a gap in the outfield, I sprinted from first to home, sliding in just under the catcher’s attempt to tag me. It was classic.

But it seems I pull the ball 99 percent of the time I make contact, and the shortstop knew better. So when I stepped to the plate for my second at-bat, he plugged the hole. Sure enough, I slapped the first good pitch right to him and he threw me out.

I got smart on my third at-bat, though. The shortstop parked himself in the hole again, but I managed to shoot a pitch back over his head and got a clean double out of it when the ball rolled into the outfield gap. I scored again, too.

Good game, good game.


Back in the softball life again

It’s a new season and I’m playing for a different team, but I’ve still got some softball left in me.

Last season was a blur. And it shows in the fact my last post about last season was last May. As the season continued, it was apparent our team was in its twilight as we struggled to stay competitive, let alone keep the team together because a lot of our guys were bailing – admirably so – to coach their kids’ T-ball teams. A couple of our key guys also changed jobs and moved away midseason. 

The last game of which I have any recollection was a mid-June game that didn’t even go in the books. A storm of Armageddon-like predictions had been brewing that afternoon, but we all headed to the ballpark anyway, hoping to squeeze in that night’s game. We got the game started, and our team was spraying balls all over the field, piling on runs in the process. We thought our offense was finally waking up from its early season slumber. I was on-deck when a lightning bolt struck in the distance, and that was all we played that night. The rest of the season – though fun – was a disappointment in the win column and we didn't come close to matching our championship level of the previous seasons.

So, as this spring approached, I was prepared for playing with a different kind of team than we’d had during previous years, but I figured we’d keep some of our core guys and been just fine. I also had hoped, like some of my teammates, that I might be coaching Phoebe, too, but she had no interest in playing organized ball this year. … And then, after a racquetball game with Coach in early April, I asked when our season was starting and received the bad news. We didn’t have enough guys to field a team this summer. The team was officially disbanding.

So I was a free agent. Which lasted no more than a few days. The leader of my-now-former-team’s arch-rival in the league – the team we battled on multiple occasions, including intense playoff games in two consecutive years, one of which should have ended with an amazing triple play – 
heard of our team’s break-up. He reached out to me and another one of my former teammates – a great player, by the way, who would be the first player I’d pick off my old team if I was starting a new one – to let us know he had a couple roster spots open for us if we wanted them.

Both of us accepted and we were on the field with our new team tonight. 

I got the started at third base and, of course, got the first ball hit my way. It was a hot shot a couple steps to my left. I got to it and stabbed it, but the runner was far enough down the line that it wasn’t worth attempting the throw to first. … We got that runner later when we caught him in a rundown between third and home plate, and I got the assist on the out.

I also should note that a funny thing happened as we were starting the game. The lights covering the left side of the field went out, so we played the first inning with the field only partially lit, including a mostly dark left field. As the left fielder noted, it was a good thing we were playing with a yellow ball.

In the bottom of the first inning, our bats got rolling. I batted in the seventh spot and got to the plate with a couple runners on and one out. The first pitch I saw was right in my wheelhouse, I swung and smacked it for a line drive single through the hole on the left side. … The next batter hit a ball into the outfield that allowed me to go from first to home, sliding in just ahead of a tag at the plate. It was awesome.

To start the second inning, the first batted ball – a hard bouncer – came to me again. I gloved it cleanly and threw from my knees, a couple steps off the third base line, to get the runner at first base. Another pretty awesome turn, I must say.

And that was pretty much the end of the highlight reel.

By then the ballpark lights had returned to normal. And all the balls coming off our opponent’s bats seemed to find holes in the field. I muffed a couple ground balls, too.

In my second trip to the plate, I took a two-out walk. The next batter hit a hard ground ball to the left side, and I took off on contact. As I was rounding second, the throw to first got past the baseman, and I rolled to home and scored standing up. … In my third and last at-bat, I hit a soft grounder down the third base line and was thrown out.  

We lost the game 20-11. … But it sure was fun to be playing again.


Harry Truman’s Extreme Home Makeover

Of all the museum exhibits I've visited through the years, taking in a photographic exhibit of Harry Truman's White House renovation at the Truman Library years ago stands as my favorite -- and the most fascinating. 

I had no idea of the project at the time and have hardly seen anything of it since.

So it was neat to find this feature in The New York Times this morning.

It's worth the read. And then check out these websites with photos of the Truman reconstruction and the Kennedy renovation.


Big Bird's story will bring you to tears

Something compelled me to click on this story today. I'm glad I did.

Ernie always was my favorite. But Big Bird is a close second.