Tag Archives: Freeplay Softball

Speed Factors and Bell Curves

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They, the Free Play assembly, refers to me as ‘Cap’ or Commish, and, it was Kolb who dubbed me the ‘handicapper.’ I’ve been making the Sunday morning line-up out since the season of 2004. As I have had occasion to remind people, the handicapping task goes along with a leadership task I obtained in 2004 by also taking over the on and off season care of the equipment.

For my own part, I consider myself additionally to be the one who fulfills the roles, variously and often situationally deployed, of peacemaker, group therapist, herald, dictator, pastoral counselor, and parent.

Most of the players take me completely for granted. This is okay simply because I am also in the role of researcher, and this is best done under the radar. This season I have asked for help and so Free Play Softball has implemented a council of elders.

Last Sunday I became upset. It happens. Sometimes handicapper is confused with the projection of being a fixer or the softball equal of a button man. In truth, I attempt to forge a close game, and better than half the time I am successful. Other times what I term principal dynamic factors have their negative way, and these help make the outliers of the Bell Curve. These factors reflect one well known truism and another statistical nuance. The truism is that the team that fields the ball better gains a substantial advantage. Almost all the runs in our games are unearned. Players tend to overrate their fielding ability, yet, as handicapper, almost everybody is inconsistent, and is rated as such.

The other factor is that the better hitters regress to the mean more dynamically than the mediocre hitters. The hitter who hits three out of four with power falls farther on a hitless day than a hitter who hits 2 out of 4 and rarely hits for an extra base. This is to state a nuance of performance that cannot be anticipated before it happens: the handful of excellent hitters are sometimes inconsistent, and when a good hitter has a bad day, this regression hurts the team’s chances more than the milder regression of the more often encountered underperformance of the mediocre hitter.

My handicapping theory is to spread out the fielding and the good hitters. This is my theory of equity–as a handicapper.

Oh yeah I became upset when one of my elder colleagues suggested I had favored my team with faster players. This perception was incorrect, but, when the criticism was accompanied by the player’s sense that I had concocted a probable rout, I became sharply angry for a moment. Tell me what you do not like about my line-up making, but don’t imply I am purposely undermining equity. The games are decided on the field.

Anyway, the purportedly slower team won in a rout driven by, yup, several great hitter’s off day at the plate on the losing team. I have made out the line-up for over 300 games. Roughly 70% have been decided by 4 runs or less.

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Free Play Futility and the solidarity of variability

Free Play May14

Free Play Softball League, a confrere open to anyone 16-96 who has the chops to enjoin a game that references an ethic, that a game may be literally played as an experiment in learning how to play the game itself, and, additionally, references the variability of human nature.

The affectual ecology of the latter comes to fault the enjoining ethic. That this ethic is referenced, rather than it is something to anchor to, was obvious in our third week of the new season.

A group of five elders, including myself, came to be convened prior to the second game so that we could figure out between ourselves how to dial back several behaviors that have become too woven into the game. The motivation to do this was to reset the game’s overly competitive mood for the sake of making the game more inviting for new players.

We established a protocol for transforming the way the game processes controversies. Such controversies are one of three grounds for negative behavior. (The other two are: disparaging other player’s actions, and, rooting against the opposing team.) Last Sunday the protocol, centered on eliminating arguing by situating the decision in only the judgment of the two team captains, got completely ignored in the one instance it was called for.

Actually, what happened was worse than this summary, although the argument itself was not terribly intense.

Transformation is difficult.

I violated the prohibition against disparagement when I became impatient at the plate, and beseeched the opposing pitcher.

patience, n. A minor form of despair, disguised as a virtue. (Ambrose Bierce)

Transformation is difficult.

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Opening Day, Free Play Softball League 2017

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Opening Day, Free Play Softball League 2017, first game in the age of Trumpism. It was a closely contested game if you forget the results of the first and last inning.

This season we’re hoping to attract new players to our league that is ideally described by elder Tom: “It’s a game that people of any skill level can come and play in and learn how to play.”

I convened some of our elders to find out if it growing the game was doable. Oh, and I suggested we’d have to dial back the game’s sometimes fractious, and, at times overly competitive atmosphere. We devised a series of guidances, responses, and contingent interventions, for the sake of recovering the founding ethos of our pick-up game, a game that aspired to be inviting to any gender, and any age between 16 and 96.

Caption, Please?

Think of a good caption —

What Gurdjieff calls ‘Objective science’ uses the musical analogy to depict a universe composed of a chain of energies that stretches from the lowest octave to the highest: each energy is transformed as it rises and falls, taking on a coarser or finer nature according to its place in the scale. At each specific level, an energy corresponds to a degree of intelligence, and it is consciousness itself, fluctuating within a wide range of vibrations, that determines human experience. (Peter Brook, in notes to his play, Gurdjieff)

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Free Play Softball Mercurious

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Did Cap intentionally allow a ball to pass between his legs in the penultimate inning so as to guide the game’s score closer to the promised land of a one-run game?

Later, after the one run game was over, a player remarks to Cap,

I guess this is the ideal game for you, it was decided by one run and your team won.

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Free Play Escape

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We’ve managed to put together enough free play personnel to play half field. Players who were regulars during the season lose their stones and are gone, while the hard core core remains.

It seems we’re all going to vote for Hillary–so, there’s that!

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I dislike half field, but I’ve been in the worst slump of my softball career over the last few months, and it hasn’t been because for half of those game right field has been absent as a target due to playing the half field. Meanwhile, my declining skills are so apparent as a fielder in the field that all I can do is own it. Still, the golf course, my athletic Plan B, remains far away from consideration.

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To Autumn

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap’d furrow sound asleep,
Drowsed with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cider-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings, hours by hours.

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,–
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The redbreast whistles from a garden-croft,
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

John Keats, 1795 – 1821

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When Is A Single Run Not One?

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Sunday, Free Play Soft Ball league enjoyed a funny game amidst: the mildness of early autumn, the goose shit, the late rolling ballers.

My ‘worst ever since 1970’ hitting slump continued, yet, because I can play all fielding positions in a mediocre manner, I pitched a scoreless inning. Lost a one run game–that is a win in my book.

Never will you reach that silver mountain which appears, like a cloud of joy, in the evening light.

Never can you cross that diamond of dirt which treacherously smiles at you in the morning mist.

Every step on this road takes you farther away from home plate, from flowers, from spring. Sometimes the shade of a cloud will dance on the way. Sometimes you rest in a ruined caravanserai seeking the truth from the blackish tresses of smoke

Sometimes you walk a few steps with a kindred soul only to lose him again.

You go, and go torn by the windy disputes about what actually happened, burnt by the sun, and the shepherd’s flute tells you “geese have flown”

until you laugh no more

until the puddles in the grass is only your dried-up tears which mirror the mountain of joy that is closer to you than your mitt.

apologies to Ms. Schimmel, for this version adapted from:
~Annemarie Schimmel ‘Nightingales Under the Snow’ Variations on Rumi’s Thoughts

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Most Interesting Man

Stacy

Stacy

Two notes: yesterday the game was won when a throwing error on a successful force out at home allowed three runners to score in the top of the first extra inning. This is the kind of unusual stuff that helps make Free Play Softball Great, again.

I’ve mentioned before that as far as I know, in our core group of twenty or so players, two have earned pages in Wikipedia, an astronomer, and an educator/theorist, (the “DaVinci” in his field.)

But, I will put my money on Andre being the most interesting man in our world. He is a chef, actor, director and wicked left handed pull hitter.

Andre, one of his daughters, grandkids

Andre, one of his daughters, grandkids

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The Way Nobody Looks

FreePlay

It was not a close game Sunday. …except one team won the first three innings, and the other team won the last four innings. This is what is meant by the underlying score.

Nobody keeps score this way!

A Necessary Autumn Inside Each
You and I have spoken all these words,
but as for the way we have to go,
words are no preparation.
There is no getting ready, other than grace.
My faults have stayed hidden.
One might call that a preparation!
I have one small drop of knowing in my soul.
Let it dissolve in your ocean.
There are so many threats to it.
Inside each of us, there’s continual autumn.
Our leaves fall and are blown out over the water.
A crow sits in the blackened limbs and talks about what’s gone.
Then your generosity returns: spring, moisture, intelligence,
the scent of hyacinth and rose and cypress.
Joseph is back! And if you don’t feel in yourself the freshness of
Joseph, be Jacob! Weep and then smile.
Don’t pretend to know something you haven’t experienced.
There’s a necessary dying, and then Jesus is breathing again.
Very little grows on jagged rock. Be ground.
Be crumbled, so wildflowers will come up where you are.
You’ve been stony for too many years.
Try something different. Surrender.

Rumi, source of version unknown

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Free Play At Bat

Actions have consequences. Skilful actions have beneficial consequences. Patient, enduring effort in skilfulness of body, speech and mind brings about spiritual progress. Patient, persistent effort in ethics, meditation and study brings about spiritual growth. Patience is a Perfection (paramita) because it is an aspect of Reality, an aspect of Wisdom. The Wisdom of Enlightenment is expressed in the concept of the law of conditionality. The law of conditionality states that everything arises in dependence on conditions. Spiritual progress too arises in dependence on conditions, and in the absence of those conditions it does not arise. We need to patiently and persistently create and put in place the conditions for spiritual growth to arise. This is in accordance with the law of conditionality. – Ratnaghosa

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After seven weeks that saw seven games decided by seven runs, the regression shifted. A rout was evoked. This is in accordance with the law of conditionality.

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Fundamentally Temporary

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In any complex string of events in which each event unfolds with some element of uncertainty, there is a fundamental asymmetry between past and future. Leonard Mlodinow

Over the last six weeks, Free Play Softball league has shown six games decided by five runs. As the handicapper, I’m enjoying the regression to the mean. This too shall pass.

taleb

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Free Play Weird Regression

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Packing up on a very hot day, after a fourth one-run outcome in a row.

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To Run Or Not to Run

To run, or not to run: that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, ’tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish’d. To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause: there’s the respect
That makes calamity of so long life;

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Sitting isn’t the challenge.

If those committed to the quest fail, they will be forgiven. When lost, they will find another way. The moral imperative of humanism is the endeavor alone, whether successful or not, provided the effort is honorable and failure memorable.
–E. O. Wilson

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Free Play Meta Action

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“The way I look at it for the sake of giving you options is that there are rare occasions when the ethos of our free play approach trumps the scientific aesthetics of softball. Yes, technically and by one of the rules found somewhere not very near, you earned the extra base. But, I’m in general agreement with the ‘feel,’ of our group and urge you accept your best option as a solution to the ineffectiveness in this instance of the law.”

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Free Play Motley Crew

the bop

the bop

the catch

the catch

the crew

the crew


 
Like dreams, statistics are a form of wish fulfillment. Jean Baudrillard

Blue-Cap-540sm

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Finding the Middle

Baseball-Tarot

Free Play Softball League evoked my frustration and depression for a moment yesterday. It was a nice day for softball but by 9:45am only four players had arrived, increasing to seven by our start-time of 10:00am. Very disappointed, after announcing to Dave that I was going to go home, but would first have to find some volunteers to take care of the equipment, I walked back to the field. Potential equipment caretakers were ambivalent, yet as I negotiated with several, three more players arrived. So, at 10:15am I decided to stay and proceed to make up the line-ups.

The week before several players had offered constructive criticism about my so-called handicapping. One mentioned I should do a better job of spreading out the “horrible players.” Since I don’t even make such judgments, and could argue that this advice is anchored to incorrect analysis of what has driven our recent lopsided games, I, nevertheless, considered what this advice entails.

Yet, on this day, we were missing so many of our most competent players that I was compelled to go out and play shortstop for only the second time in fourteen seasons. I’m not a horrible shortstop–I would say I am consistently mediocre at all the positions except for first base.

------------1 2 3 4 5 6
DB's--------7 7 0 0 2 5 -21
DK's--------0 3 4 1 4 8 -20

Not unpossible!

First one run game of the season.

I was mediocre in the hot spot, went 0-2, then 5-5, and made out the lineup without a thought about anything other than you need two teams of six each.

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Free Play exemplar

Jim, in green

Jim, in green | “…May I follow thee so that thou mayst teach me something of thy wisdom?” (Moses to Khidr, the green man, Surat al-Kahf, Quran)

The things that, being pleasant, make for health or for good condition, he will desire moderately and as he should, and also other pleasant things if they are not hindrances to these ends, or contrary to what is noble, or beyond his means. – Aristotle

Free Play Softball League is nothing more than the sum of, and interplay betwixt, its personalities and their real time entangled experience.

Character is the interpenetration of habits. Ideals are like the stars; we steer by them, towards them. John Dewey

Jim is leaving our game after eight years. He is moving with his family to take a new job. He will be missed. He exemplified how to come out and participate and have fun without whacking the game. Not once did he indulge in negativity, take part in drama, or, do anything but play, learn, and bring his good attitude forward every week.

This week he smashed a triple in his first plate appearance. Our game’s attractions are animated by small moments, yet his hit was a big, salutary moment. He’ll be missed.

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Eternal Returns

FreePlay-April2416

(Me.) Just hit the ball to me for a change, bro, I mean hit it so I don’t have to move. Thanks, bro.

Mark Sr. showed up for the first time in several years, and in his first at-bat struck a line drive into the right center field gap, and loped around the bases for a legit home run. Welcome back.

Tom, our eldest elder, exacted a heavy price out of the left side outfielders, who had decided to cheat in a bit too much. His two run single was the hit of the game from this observer’s perspective.

Everybody worked to Make Free Softball League Great Again.

What is happiness, and how can we all get some? Biochemist turned Buddhist monk Matthieu Ricard says we can train our minds in habits of well-being, to generate a true sense of serenity and fulfillment.

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Make Free Play Great Again

FreePlay-April 17-2016

Free Play’s ethic, as I understand it since 2002, is to integrate a wide variety of motivations to participate in our ongoing experiment. This does include integrating those who are primarily concerned with winning, and concerned with their own performance, but this ethic is not congruent with imposing one’s own competitive ethic on one another. Everybody gets to play and do their own thing as long as this doesn’t poison the very ethic under which we successfully integrate this great jumble and mash-up of aspirations.

This game is in no way, primarily or secondarily, about winning/losing. Free Play Softball is about spontaneously self-organizing to provide a deeply human opportunity for PLAY and PLEASURE and big hearted, freely enjoined, FUN.

Blue-Cap-1080

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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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