September 1, 2011

Comeback of the MotherF#&king Year. Or, I am on a drinking team with a softball problem.


I am pretty much drunk. For good reason. But we should just establish that right off the bat. Oh please. I am not wasted at 9:00 a.m., or whenever this will be posted (probably just hungover).  I debated whether I should write this at all, since it is not exactly “professional” to be intoxicated and simultaneously want your blog to be taken somewhat seriously; however, tonight was simply too epic to not write about, at this very moment, right this second, whether under the influence or not.  Strangely, I already had a post all ready to go. It was funny, too.  BUT TONIGHT WAS EPIC.  And we simply must recap it right now. 

It is approximately 1:10 a.m.  I just got home from Blondie’s, our “softball bar” on the upper West Side, after a $24.00 cab ride. I have no fucking idea why it cost so much, nor do I really care at the moment.  I am rocking out to Rihanna’s “S&M” like I am auditioning for American Idol, and I give myself about seven minutes before one of my neighbors complains about this incredible, albeit impromptu, concert.  We will also pretend, for the moment, that the Yankees did not just lose to the Red Sox.  (Fuck Josh Beckett and Jonathan Papelbon, both of whom I detest more than anyone else in baseball, as well as Big Papi, who has gotten surprisingly skinny, and 87-year-old Jason Varitek.  Thank god he wears that “C” because I wouldn’t be able to pick him out on the field without his walker. Nope, not bitter at all). 

Seriously and shockingly, I am not bitter at all. I don’t even care that real baseball took place tonight or that the Yankees lost. Why is that? Only because I played in one of the greatest softball games of my entire life tonight.  I mean, we have been over this many times and I have said this before.  But I am not just saying it now because I am drunk – this was one of the greatest games that I have ever been part of, and I am still reeling from it.  Obviously, fueled by pitchers of Coors Light and a few ill-advised kamikaze shots (because I am lame and cannot handle real shots) at the end of the night.  My team, the Wolfpack, of previous come-from-behind infamy, was in the…well, I guess it would be the semi-finals, the final four, the game before the championship, whatever the hell you’d like to call it.  Because of our second-place regular season finish, we had a buy in the first round of the playoffs, and we hadn’t played together in weeks.  Tonight, it showed.  The game see-sawed in a tantalizing and completely frustrating manner.  To be totally honest here, I was not in the mood to play; I had a crazy day at work, I wanted to watch the Yankees and then the Pretty Little Liars finale (yes, important stuff), I was starving (and still haven’t eaten), I am in the middle of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (the last book of my HP 2-Week Re-Reading Marathon), and I…just wanted to lay on my couch and do absolutely nothing. 

And then I became pissed off before the game even started.  I got to the field early, while another game was still being played, and I was sitting on a tree stump behind the backstop, hidden amongst trees and a swarm of gnats.  I was secretly smoking a cigarette (you can totally judge me, I know I need to quit immediately; it is an awful and unhealthy habit and I never should have started in college), even though smoking has been outlawed in Central Park.  I am a (stupid) badass, I know. All of a sudden, as I am rocking out to some pre-game Britney and checking baseball scores on my Blackberry, I hear something like, “You better put that out or I will give you a ticket.”  I look up and it is…an umpire; one who looks like he takes himself much too seriously, mustached, bald and glaring, kind of jacked with a too-tight uniform, his hands on his hips.  I responded, something along the lines of, “with all due respect, I will put it out in two seconds, if you don’t mind, when I am done with it.”  He turns his back, and I keep smoking.  I look up again, and he is two steps closer and growls, “You will put that cigarette out right now.”  Call it the snarky lawyer in me, but at this point I was thinking, “Ummmm, who the fuck do you think you are? And when did Bloomberg deputize intramural softball umpires?”  I wanted to be like, “By all means, please write me a ticket and I will pay it immediately, Officer…oh, I’m sorry, I can’t read your badge, assclown.” But I did not.  I did not know if he would later be my umpire and I did not want to play with fire.  I bit my tongue and begrudgingly put it out.
(I should probably ask before posting this, so if you guy wants me to remove it, I totally will.)
Yup, Officer Baldy was totally my umpire.  Figures, right?  So in the bottom of the first inning, I was on first after I grounded into a thrilling fielder’s choice.  Our three-spot hitter, we will call him Hollywood because he is a fucking stud with flowing locks, drove a ball to right.  (He is hilarious, a super PR exec, and one of the coolest people I have ever met). I held up, waiting to see if the tiny elf-bitch in the outfield would catch it; that was probably a mistake, because elf-bitch was not going to catch the ball, even if it was soft-tossed to her from three-feet away.  I turned it up a notch, expecting to be held at third, only to find myself being waved around.  A few feet from home, I did not see or sense the ball in any regard – again, a mistake.  I slid directly into the plate, rather than to the side…and directly into (what I most definitely thought was UNDER) the pitcher’s glove, which was, of course, holding the damn ball.  I popped up, signaling safe like an asshole, because I genuinely believed I was safe.  And Officer Baldy emphatically called me out. Like with gusto and verve and passion and emotion. And I was LIVID. Livid, I tell you.  I stormed back to the dugout and muttered, “You must be kidding me, I was totally under that tag.”  And Officer Baldy responded! He. Fucking. Responded. He retorted, “If by under, you mean right into it, sure.”  Which prompted me to sneer back, “Thanks for the commentary! Really appreciated. And totally unnecessary.”  And that is when he threatened to eject me. And I shut my big mouth. 

The game went back and forth.  We were up 1-0 in the first (which, again, should have been 2-0 because, um, I WAS SAFE), but then they tied it in the second inning.  You know, now that I have referred to the other team as “they,” I should mention their name: Bonobos Blows.  We had already played them earlier this season and I had forgotten how much their name irked me. First of all, I have no idea what company “Bonobos” is.  I tried googling it and they are either related to men’s clothing or vegetarian food, neither of which is very appealing to me.  Second of all, why would you ever name your team “Blows?”  Isn’t that like naming your team “Sucks?” “New York Sucks takes on the Boston Red Sox.” “Texas Blows, huge game against the New York Yankees tonight.” I mean, what the hell is that? So, yes, Bonobos Blows tied the game. 

The third inning, however, really seemed like a turning point…at the time.  Our pitcher, an awesome guy who looks like C.C. Sabathia, led-off with a single down the third-base line. Our lead-off hitter, perhaps my favorite Mets’ fan in all the land, followed with a single. I hit a shot to left, loading the bases.  And then Hollywood, as expected, hit a towering grand slam.  5-1, Wolfpack.  We are an extremely talented team and I really, truly, completely thought that it was an insurmountable lead.  I was very, very wrong. 
In the fourth inning, we traded two runs, bringing the score to 7-3.  One of the Blows’ runs never should have happened, though.  There was a play at the plate, a close one, where our catcher, a really sweet girl, was unnecessarily taken out and the runner was called safe. As C.C., being the supportive pitcher/captain/coach that he is, argued with the umpire about the play, another run waltzed in, undetected, to score – as C.C was standing there, his back to third base, ball in glove, directly on home plate.  No tag.  He didn’t even notice the second runner, although the ball was still live.  I blew the fuck up.  Screaming from center field, like obnoxiously so.  As was my partner-in-crime, Favorite Mets’ Fan, from left-center and our third baseman, an outstanding former minor-leaguer (the best natural player I have ever played with, in my whole life).  I ranted and stomped around, basically throwing a tantrum.  You should never show up or call-out one of your teammates, and I felt really badly afterwards, but good godddddd, it was such a sloppy play.  When we finally got the third out (it was 5-3 at the time), Officer Baldy tried to say that the Blows scored three runs, instead of two.  We all argued with him, the other team told him we were right, and he agreed.  I still hated him.  We got the two runs right back, and the score heading into the fifth was 7-3, Wolfpack.  Still absolutely no worries. Still arrogantly wrong.  I really thought the game was in the bag.

Ugh, the fifth inning was super sloppy.  Some tiny girl, probably the non-catching elf-bitch from right field, hit a dribbler to third, a sure out, which was then, ludicrously, ricocheted around the infield in a series of we-are-trying-too-hard-to-force-outs-type throws, which, again ludicrously, turned into a triple.  By the time the half-inning disaster was over, the score was a very manageable 7-5, Wolfpack.  Nothing happened for us in the bottom of the fifth, but I trotted out to center in the top of the sixth fully confident that the game was over.  They tacked on another run, making it a one-run game, and we could not get any insurance runs in the bottom half.  Still? Not worried.  We are good, defensively sound, and we had our best defensive set-up, by far.  But then the seventh inning happened.

I mean, we just had to hold them.  Just three outs.  Championship game on the line.  We could SO do this. But then the Blows started the inning with a lead-off triple.  And I was like “fuuuuuuuuuuck.”  Literally, that is what I said aloud, to no one, in deep right-center. They followed with two singles; we responded with a few errors.  Players kept rounding the bases.  I was depressed, hands-on-my-hips infuriated, cursing like an angry pirate.  I now thought the game was over.  At the end of our untimely melt-down, it was 10-7 Blows.  We were shell-shocked and seething.  It was terrible.  Like just awful.  The whole season was over because of one horrendous half-inning.  I was so mad.  I love my softball team, as previously established, and I was not yet ready for the season to come to a close.  I glared from the sidelines, leaning against the dugout fence between third and home, waiting for an at-bat I did not expect to arrive.  Our six-hitter was up, a feisty chick who can really play ball, and she lined a single to start things off.  This did not instill hope in anyone.  If anything, it seemed like a big cock-tease.  One of our best hitters, hot married laid-back Mets’ fan, got under one and hit a high fly to right for the first out.  Our already-minimal hope extinguished further.  C.C. Sabathia grounded into a fielder’s choice, which left him on first, down by three runs, with two outs.  I was, again, muttering like an angry pirate and pacing near our third-base coach.  We pinch-hit for our last batter; Cee Lo Green, one of my favorite dudes, who I previously referred to as a member of Diddy’s entourage, hit a single, prolonging our agony for at least one more batter.  I was starting to get nervous at that point, because it was now the top of the order, and there was an extremely good chance I would actually get to bat.  I was right.  Favorite Mets’ Fan, a little guy with a big bat, hit a shot over third, loading the bases.  Which, obviously, brought me up to the plate.  I used to live for these moments when I was a fearless, cocky kid.  I now wanted to pee in my pants. 

So it was the bottom of the seventh inning, the bases were loaded, we were still down by three runs, we still had two outs, and our season was on the line.  I would be lying to you if I said that my heart wasn’t thundering in my chest.  In retrospect, that seems sort of silly, considering the, you know, gigantic stakes of Central Park softball, but jesus, I was amped up.  It had been such a long time since I came up to bat with a game on the line, with the whole fucking season on the line, or simply in a game that mattered.  I went through my little routine, putting one foot in the box, taking one final practice swing while assessing the outfield, drowning out everything except the pitcher, before tapping the far corner of the plate and stepping in.  They played me in, which ticked me off.  The first pitch was a ball, but the next one was belt-high and on the outer half, right in my wheelhouse…except that I totally got on top of it and I immediately knew it.  It was a slow grounder between the pitcher and third, I knew it sucked, and I ran like my life depended on it.  And I was somehow, miraculously safe.  I felt like I was dying on first base.  Yes, another reason to quit smoking.  That said, I may now feel like I am 64-years-old, but I can still leg the hell out of an infield single.  So it was a pathetically hit and useless RBI-single, bringing the score to 10-8, Blows.  But the bases were still loaded, the game was still alive, and I thankfully had not ruined our season.  Hollywood was up again.  Mind you, he had already hit one grand slam and, all of sudden, this game seemed strangely winnable.  It seemed foretold that he would deliver in some way.  And he did, with a ginormous two-run double to deep right-center, easily scoring married Mets’ Fan and Cee Lo, and tying the game, 10-10!  Holy crap.  I, now the winning run, was huffing and puffing on third in a state of utter disbelief.  And now, LP, one of my closest friends in New York and a fellow ACC girl, was up to bat with a chance to win it for the Wolfpack, save our season, and send us to the championship on Tuesday night….  

And then on the first pitch, LP drove a no-doubt, clean line-drive to left-center field.  On third, I instantly raised my arms, bouncing home, literally jumping up and down, in Little League World Series-esque, overly dramatic, and absolutely merited exuberance. Final Score: 11-10, Wolfpack.


As soon as I stepped on home plate, everyone poured out of the dugout, ran to first base and mobbed LP, who deservingly was given the game ball later on at the bar.  In the ensuing madness, we slapped hands with the stunned Blows’ players, bidding them a fond farewell and happy off-season (but, I mean, if their team name is Blows during the actual season, I can only imagine what the rest of the year is like for them).  Like a herd of sweaty, ecstatic teenagers, we skipped out of Central Park, giddily recapping the ridiculous, unfuckingbelievable finish.  And confidently discussing how, for the third year in a row, the Wolfpack is headed to the championship.  With back-to-back titles on the line.  And Tuesday cannot come soon enough.  

You know what? Screw it, let’s just post this right now. Real-time. I’ll add pictures when I get up in approximately five hours. So enjoy it, guys. And please come back tomorrow, when I am sober will wow you with a blast-from-the-past sort of hilarious baseball post. Have a good night, a good morning, a good whatever it is right now. Pretty Little Liars and then bed, fools. 

4 comments:

  1. So, you had me on the edge of my seat with this one. I knew that you won (drunk, late night rambling is always a clue), but didn't realize that you were right in the middle of it! BTW, the image of you going toe-to-toe with an umpire, going Billy martin on him, kicking dirt mixed with cigarette butts on his worn steel toed shoes, is one that I will carry with me for quite a while. Congrats on this unbeliveable win! If you submitted it to a movie studio, they would say, nobody would buy the tale... Who will play you in the movie?
    T Fab P

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  2. Wolfpack?! At least your team isn't the Tar Heels, I guess . . .

    (congrats!)

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  3. Damn, you write well.

    What else to get jacked about than the most important at-bat of the year? Isn't this why we do it? Yeah, OK, because the "exercise" is good, the people are good people, the bar afterward is a fun unwind, yeah, yeah, sure, sure. Give me my damn bat and let me hit. Let it matter. Let this horrific scared feeling go away long enough to hold my head still and mash a pitch. It feels sooooo good.

    Kick ass Tuesday.

    - MM

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