Free Play Totem

Diallo's day

Here are Tom, Stacy behind Diallo, Rick, Bill, and, Dave.

As the handicapper, the guy who attempts to forge even teams by making out the line-ups for both teams, my good intentions are normally undermined by not being able to predict which players will under-perform and which will over-perform. My assemblies are supposed to regress to the mean, thus even out, yet, during a summer with lots of lopsided games, I’m reminded ‘suppose’ is related to ‘supposition.’

Inexperienced players are especially hard to evaluate because, every now and then, one will breakout and in one respect, over-perform, and, in another respect, showcase the poverty of my own sense. Such was the case with Diallo, who may be gesturing in this photo to indicate his game changing stature on this particular Sunday. He poked three hits in a row and then tattooed his performance by catching two sizzling line drives at second base to end the game, including a missile I sent his way. Earlier, he did a perfect Robbie Alomar impression, gobbling up a grounder and soft tossing an underhand throw behind his back to the short stop at second, missing the out only because the tie goes to the runner. Some perceived the outcome differently too.

If I correctly understand Diallo’s pedigree, this was the fifth or sixth time he’s played softball.

For me, it’s a pleasure of the game to observe players improve, or to observe new players with skills stick with our sometimes ramshackle game. Keep in mind, with a few exceptions, we don’t know each other much at all. So, it generally is not known whether somebody is picking up the game again after a long hiatus–measured at times in decades–or is literally a so-called newbie.

My own middling skills are rapidly diminishing after forty years. I’m having to freshen up my evaluations, (being the handicapper,) as I note, with delight, improving players passing me on the skills totem.

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