Category Archives: play

Free Play Fan of the Year

David A. Kolb founder of Free Play Softball league

The votes are in: Dave’s mom wins the Free Play Softball League’s Fan of the Year Award for the first year in a row.

She is coming out to Field #11 late in the season to see us bolt together games with nine to twelve players. With the reduced forces, we play what we term ‘half field.’ Everybody gets a lot of plate appearances. Dave’s mom has seen it all by now. I wonder what she thinks?

The Free Play Softball League has been greatly advantaged by the new diamond and the fact that the conversion of the main Forest Hills open field to four diamonds has kept the pee wee footballers and soccer players off the turf. The weather has been great too: two rainouts, 27 games played, and only the specter of snow next Sunday threatening to keep Dave’s mom cozy in her home.

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Free Play Spears

Can Free Play Softball League outlast The World Series?

Can Free Play Softball League outlast The World Series?

But full of fire and greedy hardiment,
The youthfull knight could not for ought be staide,
But forth unto the darksome hole he went,
And looked in: his glistring armor made
A litle glooming light, much like a shade,
By which he saw the ugly monster plaine,
Halfe like a serpent horribly displaide,
But th’other halfe did womans shape retaine,
Most lothsom, filthie, foule, and full of vile disdaine.

excerpt, Spenser. The Faerie Queene Book 1

Larry, 78, brought (I think) his grandson, eight grader Spencer to join us today.

He flailed away in batting practice and in his first at bat. I suppose he discovered his hardball game didn’t automatically translate to our more mild field.

But when she saw the knight his speare advaunce, 120
She soone left off her mirth and wanton play,
And bade her knight addresse him to the fray:
His foe was nigh at hand.

Then he kept his head down, held his spear more lightly, and slew a bunch of dragons.

It still turned into another, yawn, one run game 13-12 for one of the teams, or the other team. Somebody won.

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Free Play Cluster


WIll in the middle, showcasing the glow of a good game.


Sunday’s game featured a double strike out, an interference ‘collective call’ when a slow rolling grounder seemed to roll up a player’s leg, and, the piece d’ resistance, an eager runner moving to the passing lane between second and third, and passing the base runner ahead of him.

Another one run game was the result of these outliers and lots of excellent play.

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Free Play Follow Through


The Free Play Softball League‘s man-boys of autumn Sunday games will parallel the big league’s playoffs, and, then, those playoffs are concluded by the World Series, whereas the Free Players keep playing! Our extended season is both test and testament. During my fourteen year tenure, we once played in December, and have taken the season past October a number of times!

This week the pick-up squads collaborated on one of the best played games of the season. It was a real gem highlighted by two double plays, both of which I (sadly) initiated from the batter’s box with grounders to the infield. There were stellar defensive plays, and these supported a tense, low scoring one run game.


With the fall sun shining in the batter’s eyes, hitting becomes more challenging.


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See the Ball, Hit the Ball


Wait for the low pitch, keep watching, try not to maim the pitcher. (I handed Andre my camera and he managed to capture a sequence of ol’ Cap himself plotting and releasing a single up the middle.) I have been a singles hitter since my first serious softball game in the spring of 1970. Because I am probably at least half as fast as I was when I was 15, I have to be twice as crafty.


We followed a 22-21 nailbiter 9/13 with a 19-19 tie this week. Kiss your sister, lads.


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Free Play Omar Not


When I returned to the softball diamond at the age of 48 in 2002, I claimed left field as if it had been left to me in a will or by contract. I had my old Wilson glove from 1968, a mitt so large it could envelope most of my head, and I figured–like riding a bike–my ability to judge a fly ball, let alone a dipping line drive, would instantly return.

It did. All those years covering the left field for the Abernathy Special Collections challenge team on the makeshift diamond behind Middlebury College’s field house turned out not to be wasted, even after 18 years had gone by.

Then came my nose’s $6,000 dollar encounter with a falling line drive in October 2005. I got over it soon enough, but I never regained my sense that I could trot out to left field and own it.

Then, my speed slowly disappeared. This left me with right field. This season I have also played first base, a position I am configured to perform very well at, but first is also the position where less versatile players gravitate to.

With a slim turn out this week, I threw caution to the wind and did so also hoping I wouldn’t throw the ball over the first baseman’s head. I ambled out to short stop for, I guess, the fourth time in my long ‘career.’ I thought to myself that my arm was strong and might turn out to be accurate too. I zinged every warm up grounder into the frist baseman’s mitt. I figured I had a chance to not make a fool of myself.

What did worry me was the fast grass surface, and, how bumpy the infield had become by September.

What happened is I threw two runners out at third, one runner at second, held up two throws to first against fast hitters, made an error on a bad bounce, and, successfully semi-dove (!) for a looping infield fly, and caught a gimme infield fly to end the game.

This would count as my best performance ever at this demanding position. Of course ‘best’ in my case means ‘mediocre.’ The reality is, I can play all ten softball positions in a mediocre way. I’m versatile!


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Free Play Softball Slow Rolling Regression to the Mean


We haven’t enjoyed a close game in weeks. Each week’s games over the last month have reflected most of the ways unpredictable regressions in performance, especially on defense, aggregate to severely tip games toward, as it were, one side.

Last week a newcomer crushed a ball 350+ feet. Who knew? Obviously, the oddsmaker didn’t know ahead of the stirring shot.

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Enlightenment, Now and Later




From the 1960 season of Alan Watts‘ KQED television series, Eastern Wisdom & Modern Life

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Free Play Rings the Bell Curve

"Don't start singing until I raise my hands and give the signal."

“Don’t start singing until I raise my hands and give the signal.”

(Actually, Dave, back to the camera, is discussing further sales of 26th Anniversary Freeplay Softball swag.)

85 degrees at 10am. The crew could barely be moved to execute a batting practice. It was the oddest start to a game in my fourteen years.

But, what followed was a second game in a row during which both teams played each other like heavyweights, trading hard blow for hard blow, until defensive troubles keyed a last inning rout. As the handicapper, I always hope for smoothing by virtue of individual mean performances canceling one another out. However, on Sunday, once again I was reminded that of the two kinds of outlier performances, the offensive mediocre becoming godlike, and the defensive godlike becoming nightmarish, it is the latter outlier that most ably causes the train to jump its tracks.



When new players show up for the first time, the big test is in the future. Will they return? Mike, pictured above has returned, and I for one am grateful. We had a brand new player, Eddis, do a Travis Fryman impersonation at third. Butter. Wow!

And, then, at bat, Eddis finally got a hold of a ball–and we knew that was going to happen.

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Freeplay Kablooey

Freeplay Softball

This photo from the game today shows a ball driven down the left field line by a batter, Pete, who is out of the frame, the left fielder chasing the ball, the shortstop to the left of the baserunner running from second moving to take the cut-off throw, the third baseman waiting, the pitcher contemplating, a 3rd base coach advising, and, what seems to me to be a lonely bat tossed to the front of the circle at home plate.

The game was very close until it became a last inning, and decisive, rout. The home team managed to hit its way out of deficits created by outbursts of its own shoddy fielding, but in the last inning this pattern was deposed by the defense of the visitors, who had earlier come to bat in the top of the seventh and scored eight runs.

From my spot, playing right field for the visiting team, there was a lot of interesting dynamics in the final inning, and some of my reflections could be captured by the idea, “What does a player contemplate within the live flow of the game?” This is unanswerable.

Ironically, today’s game was much closer than the score but it also was the worst rout of the season. The brightest spots were all the new 25th Anniversary swag distributed by Dave Kolb, and, for me, the great play by a rapidly improving player who is playing his first season’s worth of softball in over two decades. Will – you’re the man!

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Pecking Order


I likely was around the age of ten–1964–when my friends and I started playing kick ball on the asphalt diamond at Coventry School during the summer. This gave me the opportunity to be a self-assessor, and, also to step back a bit from process of making teams, to wonder why my above average performance never was reflected in where I was chosen in the picking of players. I asked my dad. I forgot what he told me.

A few years later, and for a few years, I played baseball on the long gone diamond at Fairfax School. Because I had a good arm, I played third base. But, I was a terrible hitter. I usually was picked in the first third of picks.

Eventually, one leaves the world of pick up ball behind. I played for Roxboro Junior High’s football team. Mike Baum and myself were the blocking fullbacks, opening holes for the storied Tom Olmstead and Victor Wong. We collapsed a Wiley Jr High team’s rushers in the last series of the last quarter of the 1968 season. This helped Olmstead score the team’s first touchdown of the soon-to-be realized 0-5 season. The coaches were idiots.

In high school, I proved mediocre at: football, cross-country*, and made one appearance as a side-arming reliever on the JV baseball team in the spring of 1970:

walked the first batter
hit the second batter
walked the third batter
gave up a three run triple to the fourth batter

Infinite ERA, right? That’s something!

The next year a classmate Jonathan Bass created an intramural softball league (at Hawken School) and enlisted me to help organize it and promote it to my fellow juniors. Somehow he got the Head of the Upper School and Athletic Director to approve it as an alternative to playing a varsity sport or PE class. Participation skyrocketed diue to this late breaking development.

I played first and third base and because I was the team captain, batted myself in the top third of the order. I kept the statistics for the entire league. Somewhere is the record of my performance in every season I’ve played softball since the spring of 1971.

In 1975 I played with the Wizard of Oz team in Vermont. It was the team’s inaugural season. I know I batted ninth and played short outfield, and sometimes pitched, and sometimes played catcher. I was twenty and two years away from my first really enjoyable sportsman’s experience.

Many American men have a sense of what is a pecking order. It might be interesting to ask him how early in their athletic career did this sense begin to be developed.

*My senior year, I recollect that the cross country team had a record of 14-1. I was roughly the eighth or ninth runner on the team, and injured my self in a meet at University School. This led to the single mention of my athletic performance in the yearbook: Stephen Calhoun ran well with the cross country team until he got smart and broke his ankle.

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Free Play Routski

Is the dark matter blowing in, or, out, wonders astronomer Stacy

Is the dark matter blowing in, or, out, wonders astronomer Stacy

I turned to Dave Kolb at the beginning of our at-bat in the top of the third inning, and because the score was 3-12, said to him,

“I knew the regression to the mean would come eventually.”

In response, Dave tells me,

“It depends whether or not you believe in probability!”

We tossed a few more musings back and forth.

We have a darn interesting inner free play softball game too. Anyway, I added the probability thingy to the long list of fascinating topics I’m motivated to some day, or in some lifetime, discuss.

The game ended 18-12. My wondrous handicapping streak is over. Probably it could start up again.

Al, and his kids Brandon, AJ, (and Rick)

Al in the blue shorts, and his kids Brandon, AJ, (and Dave and Rick)

The intergenerational aspect to our Free Play Softball league was evident when Al and his sons showed up. If memory serves me, Al was playing in our game the same year I started, 2002. His kids are now in their teens. Kurt wasn’t there Sunday, but his son Max plays with us. Mark’s son Vincent is normally a regular, but he was riding dune buggies somewhere on this day.


The game wasn’t as close as the final score, or, alternately, it was closer after the visitors spotted the home team a 12-3 lead. I made a rare executive inter-game trade at the end of the third inning, and, well, as the kids say these days, ‘whatever!’

The team photo reflects me telling the group to look like they had some fun. Apparently, it was a grueling game for some of the players; albeit it transpired under perfect conditions on Field #11; except for the aforementioned handicapping.

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Free Play Softball Squeezes a Game In

David A. Kolb


David A. Kolb, second from left, was the main founder of Free Play Softball, now in the middle of its 25th season. He was doing brisk business getting players to make pre-orders of 25th anniversary swag. Will, all the way to the right, hit a critical triple–with an error providing homerun-like experience–as we all collaborated on a seventh consecutive close game.

If you are ambulatory and between the ages of 12 and 112, join us Sunday mornings at 10am, Forest Hills Park, Cleveland Heights, Field #11. We have extra gloves.


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When Will the Regression Happen?

ACTION SEQUENCE:Elder Larry bats, second youngest Vincent runs--Vincent beats the throw to gain Larry a single

Elder Lartry bats, second youngest Vincent runs–Vincent beats the throw to gain Larry a single

As the so-called oddsmaker, my lineups this year have resulted in nothing but close games.

18 17
16 14
15 16
17 18*
13 14
11 12

Six games have been decided by a total of seven runs.

My goal every week is to constitute rosters that will possibly result in either team having a chance to win in the last inning.

Only one game has been decided by the last at-bat of the home team. (*)

I haven’t crunched the numbers for previous seasons, but as oddsmaker for eleven seasons I understand that the Bell Curve of results over those seasons would show one run games are not so far away from the mean result to be outliers. But, even my most successful handicapping over entire seasons has also showcased plenty of routs, so my guess is the mean result for my best season as oddsmaker is a margin much larger than a mere single run.

Alternately, we’re at the beginning of my best season. This is scary because the inevitable regression will arrive one of these Sundays. I’ll also learn if habituating players to close games comes with a psychic cost too.

June 7, 2015

June 7, 2015

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No, He Didn’t?!?

Mike the Lefty sending a message to right field

Mike the Lefty sending a message to right field

MJ'S 3 5 0 0 7 0 2 --- 17
FC'S 4 6 2 3 0 2 1 --- 18

May 24th turnout was stellar, weather: perfect

May 24th turnout was stellar, weather: perfect

Over fourteen years I’ve observed strange actions on the FreePlay Softball League diamond. The game is so interesting to me in the theoretical sense that it never occurred to me before yesterday that at the micro-level the game’s weirder actions could earn an account. This could be termed an account of decisive anomalies. Furthermore, those anomalies could be differentiated into different classes.

Two such classes came to mind yesterday: (1) unwilled decisive anomalies, (2) willful decisive anomalies. Yesterday’s game was ended by action of the second kind.

Fortunately, I don’t do any scenario cataloging at the micro or macro level, even if I’m aware that the system of the game offers up all sorts of distinct scenarios or situations. Yet, I see this unbelievable stuff happen and imagine all sorts of fascinating research vectors.

Another way to look at it is sort of metaphysical. We’ve moved from good ol’ field #8 two seasons ago, went through the wilderness of constituting ad hoc field for the better part of two seasons. Today, due to a reconfiguration of the entire open expanse of the Forest Hills fields–into four diamonds–we’ve been delivered to our new home, Field #11.

What is the status now of actions associated with Field #8?

Wheel of Karma

Wheel of Karma

Does Field #11 have a karmic repository large enough for all the weird stuff to come in the future?

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Advances In Cat Toys


Drones In Your Living Room


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Free Play and the Warm and Fuzzily Utilitarian


Katz, the greatest junk ball hitter of all time

THE JUNIORS     3  0  4  4  2  7  0  5   x25 
THE KATZ'S      3  1  4  1  1  7  3  4   x24

The Dilemma (opening day 2015, our 25th year begins)

It is the bottom of the sixth and the home team is losing 10-20. I hit a soft grounder up the middle of the infield. Jedi Master Matt was on first base at the time so he took off for the second base. I get to first base. I hear a commotion. A lone voice from the home team plaintively asserts: “He is safe all the way.”

Whereas, from the team in the field, come eruptions disputing the soon-to-be irrelevant opinion, and these eruptions are followed by vigorously argued alternative accounts, accounts which fly up like rubber-band powered airplanes, except the rubber bands have not been wound. These accounts collide and clatter to the ground.

Walt, the first baseman, stands next to me and offers his own view. He steps away from the base path and the legion of visiting players, stuck somewhere between a Greek chorus and a forty year reunion of The Vienna Boy’s Choir, turns toward me and moans a chorus of certitudes spiced with complaint.

Walt turns toward me. “What is your call?”

To myself, briskly, I consider the possibility of the confirmation bias having infected the perceptions of the visitors. I consider the several colliding narratives. I noted for my own part, my own senses were holistically focused on reaching first base. And, anyway, Walt blocked my view.

I regarded the rare facticity of uncertainty and a Bayesian assessment unable to be—no, I didn’t do this. Rather, I appealed to a principle of ethical utility that sometimes comes into play in our free play. A rout was at hand, and yet momentum was maybe to swing for a moment in the direction of the underdogs. A window clamped down all winter could be heard ascending its rusty tracks.

I thought to myself:

It is not a sure thing, but a possible thing, that the see-saw might swing toward competitive equilibrium if I grant amidst an irresolvable conflict that a higher, and grander principle be served. Understanding a close game favors the greatest good for the greatest number, I turned my head away from the protestors and toward the Jedi Master.

“Matt, they report you never even touched the base. Are you touching the base now?”

Yes! He replies.


Then I call this man safe today!

Basis of moral judgment:
I Moral value resides in external, quasi-physical happenings, in bad acts, or in quasi-physical needs rather than in persons and standards.

Stages of Development:
1. Obedience and punishment.
2. Naively egoistic orientation

Basis of moral judgment:
II Moral value resides in performing good or right roles, in maintaining the conventional order and the expectancies of others.

Stages of Development:
3. Good-boy orientation.
4. Authority and social-order maintaining orientation 25%

Basis of moral judgment:
III Moral value resides in conformity by the self to shared standards, rights, or duties.

Stages of Development:
5. Contractual legalistic orientations
6. Conscience or principle orientation 75%

(Kakkori et al, adapted from Kohlberg, Levine, & Hewer (1981) Leena Kakkori, Rauno Huttunen, Gilligan-Kohlberg Controversy and Preliminary Conclusion)


Fortunately for me, the visitors eked out a one-run win in one extra frame.  . . .smiling faces all around.

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Energizer Drone – Keeps On Bouncing

This evoked thoughts of Buckminster Fuller.


Dymaxion Vehicle

pdf of 1972 Playboy Interview with Buckminster Fuller

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“Once is good!” Your February Rollercoaster


Context: Imagination

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As Below, So Above


My essay, Liberating the Stars From Space & Timewhen completed. will complete the narrative concerned with how I came to necessarily etch a limit to my philosophical ability, and, in doing so, squish thousands of years of astrology into tools able to exist in my flatland.

These tools do not either make predictions or anchor person and possibility to a priori requisites. On the other hand, in future experimental philosophical research, I will attempt to show to some greater degree how these flatlander’s astro-psychological tools connect up with other over-arching concerns of mine, serendipity in adult development, the praxis of polarity and paradox, and the ‘action’ pragmatics given in the third order human/social cybernetics.

Until this essay is ready-to-roll, there’s a new page here that skates over the surface of my promethean poke, Cybernetic Liberation of Astrology.


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