Tag Archives: sports

Thunderdogs in Believeland

I raised a beer mug to toast to Cleveland “being this unusual town where music and sports are held in the highest regard.” I was a guest of Warren’s at a dinner populated with members of the Long Live Rock donor group, at the Rock Hall. People were checking their phones while the game that would decide the ALDS was being played in Toronto. The main course had been served, but the tenderloins just sat there until a guy at the end of the table turned out to have the phone with the least delay. As he turned to the group we instantly understood the last out had been recorded. Uproar of positivity!

Tonight the Cleveland Cavaliers inaugurate their defense of their NBA world championship, the first for the city since 1964. At the same time, the Cleveland Indians, initiate a world Series against a loaded Chicago Cubs team and hope to reel in a baseball crown, and bring home a title that has eluded our baseball team since 1948.

Two confluences have never happened until this year: two Cleveland teams have never played for a major world championship in the same year, and, following from this, nor has a Cleveland team played to earn the city a second major sports championship in the same year. The first has happened, and the second may well happen.

Cleveland put together a safe RNC Convention, the Cavs won a historic come-from-behind victory over the Warriors, and now the Tribe sets its sights on vanquishing a Cubs team that won 103 games in the regular season.

My mantra as a sports fan is: you have to actually play the games. In believeland, the goal is turn anything is possible into four wins in a seven game matchup.

Underdogs, thunderdogs! Play ball!

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The Biggest Goal Is to Be Yourself


It would be somewhat illogical to make the Tribe the underdogs, but if it must be so!

After years of pain, Cleveland is four wins from being America’s sports town
We’ve seen teams go from worst-to-first in a single year before, but never an entire sports town. It’s unprecedented. And win or lose the World Series, there’s no reason Cleveland’s stay at the top – or at least near the top – of the sports world won’t continue. LeBron and 24-year old Kyrie Irving aren’t going anywhere and the Indians have their own franchise cornerstones in Kluber, the 22-year old Lindor and manager Terry Francona, who has proven he can win with any team, any payroll, anywhere.

My mom would have got a super kick out of this.

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This Too Will Not Pass Soon


In December 1964, I was ten years old. We lived at 2705 East Overlook Road in Cleveland Heights. It was a big Georgian house with a library room with built-in oak shelves. In the corner sat our big black and white TV. Because of what happened next, we would soon get a short-lived first color TV–destroyed when our siamese cat Cleo pissed into it–that would be replaced immediately.

What happened next was that the underdog Cleveland Browns won the NFL championship, their first since 1955, against the Johnny Unitas-led Baltimore Colts 27-0. Frank Ryan hit Gary Collins with three second half TD passes, and Lou the Toe Groza added two field goals. Good times.

Early the next year, my parents decided that our family would watch heartbreak in color.

The cataloging of close, but no dice, big games had come to plague Cleveland. Such moments are in the context of much more broadly deleterious losses due to Reaganomics, the inevitability of the economic process of catching up, and, the somewhat sclerotic “anti-visions” of civic leaders over decades.

But, there was always hope that a Cleveland major league sports team might someday succeed.

Hieronymus_Bosch_Ascent of the Blessed

Yesterday was just such a day. join the party: Cavstheblog.

Time hath, my lord, a wallet at his back,
Wherein he puts alms for oblivion,
A great-sized monster of ingratitudes:
Those scraps are good deeds past; which are devour’d
As fast as they are made, forgot as soon
As done: perseverance, dear my lord,
Keeps honour bright: to have done is to hang
Quite out of fashion, like a rusty mail
In monumental mockery. Take the instant way;
For honour travels in a strait so narrow,
Where one but goes abreast: keep then the path;
For emulation hath a thousand sons
That one by one pursue: if you give way,
Or hedge aside from the direct forthright,
Like to an enter’d tide, they all rush by
And leave you hindmost;
Or like a gallant horse fall’n in first rank,
Lie there for pavement to the abject rear,
O’er-run and trampled on: then what they do in present,
Though less than yours in past, must o’ertop yours;
For time is like a fashionable host
That slightly shakes his parting guest by the hand,
And with his arms outstretch’d, as he would fly,
Grasps in the comer: welcome ever smiles,
And farewell goes out sighing. O, let not
virtue seek
Remuneration for the thing it was;
For beauty, wit,
High birth, vigour of bone, desert in service,
Love, friendship, charity, are subjects all
To envious and calumniating time.
One touch of nature makes the whole world kin,
That all with one consent praise new-born gawds,
Though they are made and moulded of things past,
And give to dust that is a little gilt
More laud than gilt o’er-dusted.
The present eye praises the present object.
Then marvel not, thou great and complete man,
That all the NBA begin to worship Curry;
Since things in motion sooner catch the eye
Than what not stirs. The cry went once on thee,
And still it might, and yet it may again,
If thou wouldst not entomb thyself alive
And case thy reputation in thy tent;
Whose glorious deeds, but in these fields of late,
Made emulous missions ‘mongst the gods themselves
And drave great Mars to faction.

Troilus and Cressida Act 3, Scene 3
William Shakespeare

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Free Play Puddle League

Pete Swings

Pete “the body” lines up the pill. Pete, incidentally, is a lock for comeback player of this Free Play season, seeing as he’s recently acquired two bionic hips. Sunday was likely the latest we’ve ever enjoyed our first full complement of players. ighteen eventually rolled in and the contest ended up a roller coaster ride. We’re quite resourceful, and have been especially so in a season in which we’ve played four times with anywhere from ten to last week’s eighteen players, amidst four rain outs. Although players get to bat a bunch in five-on-five games, the sixth players adds the first baseman, and, the seventh adds a right fielder. So far one constant is the soggy field peppered with puddles.

Free Play Squad - May 28, 2011

Free Play Squad - May 28, 2011

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A Manny We Can Believe In

Manny Acta

This post is going to be a: figure it out on your own terms kind-of-post.

Cleveland Indians – The Glory Years, and, 2007

1994 2nd 66 47 .584
1995 1st 100 44 .694
1996 1st 99 62 .615
1997 1st 86 75 .534
1998 1st 89 73 .549
1999 1st 97 65 .599
2000 2nd 90 72 .556
2001 1st 91 71 .562
(5 seasons out of it)
2007 1st 96 66 .593
(3 seasons out of it)

2007 Cleveland Indians – starters

C Victor Martinez
1B Ryan Garko
2B Josh Barfield
SS Jhonny Peralta
3B Casey Blake
LF Jason Michaels
CF Grady Sizemore
8 Franklin Gutierrez
DH Travis Hafner

also on team
Shin-Soo Choo
Astrubal Cabrera

pitching staff-2007
Fausto Carmona
Cliff Lee
Jason Stanford
CC Sabathia
Jake Westbrook
Paul Byrd
Jeremy Sowers
Rafael Betancourt
Joe Borowski
Aaron Fultz
Aaron Laffey
Edward Mujica
Matt Miller
Rafael Perez
Mike Koplove
Jason Davis
Juan Lara
Fernando Cabrera
Tom Mastny
Roberto Hernandez
Jensen Lewis

Sox See What May have Been (Boston herald, Tuesday, May 24)

CLEVELAND — When last night’s game finally got started, it was hard not to notice who was there.

And who wasn’t.

Justin Masterson was highly visible, throwing the first pitch for the Indians to his former teammates.

Victor Martinez, the player responsible for Masterson’s presence, was 169 miles away serving as the Detroit Tigers designated hitter.

The story of how Masterson became a reliable, effective starter for the major leagues’ best and most surprising team began July 31, 2009. That’s when he was traded by the Sox, along with left-hander Nick Hagadone (who recently was promoted to Triple A after posting excellent relief numbers in Double A) and right-hander Bryan Price, to the Indians for Martinez, who still had an affordable 2010 option on his deal before becoming eligible for free agency.

The Red Sox [team stats] never were willing to ink Martinez to the four-year deal he wanted, opting to use some of the dollars they saved on him and Adrian Beltre for even bigger contracts for Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez. Considering the Sox also will have the 19th pick in the first round of next month’s draft, and a supplemental pick, as compensation from the Tigers, it’s not fair to say they got nothing out of the Martinez deal. Don’t forget, Martinez hit .313 with a .865 OPS, 28 home runs and 120 RBI in 183 games with the Sox.

Still, last night the Sox came face to face with Masterson, who is 5-2 with a 2.50 ERA after tossing 72?3 strong innings in the Tribe’s 3-2 win. Martinez, with his .303 average, four homers and 25 RBI, was nowhere to be found.

“At this juncture in time, it looks as if the trade accomplished what we wanted to accomplish, but examining a trade at any static moment is difficult to really do,” said Mark Shapiro, currently the president of the Indians who dealt with Sox general manager Theo Epstein in the Martinez deal. “In the end, one thing we accomplished with that trade is that you want trades to be a win-win because you want them to be a platform for the next trade. So, Victor did exactly what we told Theo he would do. And, Masterson is developing into the pitcher that we hoped he could develop into. There was some uncertainty there. And Hagadone looks to be the guy we thought he would be.”

If the Masterson-Martinez trade stood out like a sore thumb to Sox followers last night, imagine how the game must have appeared to Seattle fans. The Mariners likely do not feel as if they are in a win-win situation after dealing with the Indians, who sent Ben Broussard and cash to Seattle for outfielder Shin-Soo Choo in one deal and Eduardo Perez for shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera in another in the span of a month in the summer of 2006.

The small-market Indians and Shapiro have had to make other deals, of course: Bartolo Colon had to go, which brought in Grady Sizemore, Cliff Lee and Brandon Phillips. CC Sabathia was dealt for first baseman Matt LaPorta and center fielder Michael Brantley, Casey Blake for catcher Carlos Santana and Mark DeRosa for closer Chris Perez.

11-2 against Seattle and Kansas City, the Tribe is 19-13 against everybody else so far.

Baseball is my first sportsbo passion, ever since I was a kid. I could go into this but suffice to say it has a pace like that of my personality, and, similarly, weird and wonderful stuff happens in baseball on a regular basis.

By opening day, I had put in the hour of talent analysis, and, figuring Sizemore and Hafner were unlikely to have a career year ever again, and figuring the bullpen was mostly an X factor, and writing Fausto Carmona down for no more than ten wins, and, ignoring spring training, I came up with an “informed” estimate of the team’s potential: 65-75 wins.

I’m not sticking to this estimate anymore; 80-90 wins.

It’s been amusing to hear the homers call into the post game radio sports shows to highlight the spooky accuracy of their pre-season prognostications.

I told my freeplay pal and baseball elder Tom that there was one factor above all the rest I was most blown away with, in the revitalization of the Cleveland Indians. Manny Acta. He agreed. I highly recommend fans visit his Wikipedia page for the background.

Baseball, globally speaking, seems to be trending to 1968, with the advantage tipped toward the throwers. This is dandy as far as I am concerned. This also meshes with the Tribe’s main strength, pitching on both the major league roster and throughout the minor league system.

The Indians are really fun to watch. More fun than the 2007 team that scored a lot of runs, almost got back to the world series, and featured musical chairs in the bullpen. They are embarking on a very challenging part of the schedule without Sizemore and Haffner, so, even with another win against the Bosox in the pockets, the next three weeks will really show us what this team is made of.

Acta Predicted Indians Success in the Spring

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Spring Training Is Over

Matt batting at the end of last season.

[flashvideo file=http://squareone-learning.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/Freeplay-Jedimaster-Matt.flv /]

Matt speaking before the start of this season.

Freeplay Softball League and experiment

Sundays, 9:30am, Forest Hills Park, Cleveland Heights

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When Horrible Is Charitable

The cartoonish mascots or characters or whatever, waddling across the court at Quicken Loans Arena was the most amusing moment on Sunday, on Kid’s Day, as the Cleveland Cavaliers were humiliated by the Oklahoma City Thunder. The game was not as close as the 95-75 score, and, the Thunder didn’t need their “A” game to dispose of the Cavs.

It was hard to watch. The high point for the Cavs was 30 seconds of Boobie Gibson playing his offensive game, and a block and an outlet score on the other end by Gee. Otherwise, the Cavs couldn’t have beaten the Washington Generals with their poor impersonation of an NBA team.

I realized TV doesn’t do the dreadfulness of our basketball team justice. Time and time again the Cavs would somehow get the ball in the paint with almost no velocity, coordination, or ability to protect the ball. Then bad things would happen, very bad things.

The Cavs may constitute the most inept collection of millionaires ever assembled. Why isn’t Ryan Hollins playing beach volleyball?

Hat tip this season to John Krolik and Colin McGowan for documenting this travesty at Cavs The Blog. They write so I, usually, don’t have to watch.

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Snowy Daze

Free Play Team Oct 31

Mellowing after wild ending

A pic taken after our October 31, Free Play Softball League game. It was quite a game, another one run affair, and capped off by a game winning hit that fell in a grey area. What’s a grey area on a softball field. Well, it’s about three feet to the foul side of a foul line marker (1), but also in the fair territory as defined by a straight line drawn through the points of home plate and third base. I was the left fielder who deferred from making a total heroic effort on a catch-able ball. I couldn’t believe what happened and trotted in and was obnoxious for a brief moment. Yet, as the winning team’s wave of positive affect rolled over me, I submitted to the Free Play game’s Hermes.


The next week, on November 7, was another unique, and, one run game, ended by a monster base-clearing strike by Kurt. Here he is putting bats away.

Because I usually am holding the camera, I’m not in most team shots. Frances, thinking of my fragile ego no doubt, asked for the camera, took this shot, and told me to put a caption to it. Which I have.

Let me explain: at 10:05, five minutes after the game usually starts, my cell phone rings. I’m absorbed twiddling knobs in the studio and begin to ignore it, when, suddenly I realize something.

taken about 100 yards from launch pad, same day as above photo

It may be snowy eight miles south of Forest Hills Park, but, kid, your mates have arrived at the non-snowy field ready to play, while you’re sitting at home with your car–full of the entire inventory of essential equipment–sitting in your driveway.

(1) One perk to riding the equipment camel is I sometimes get to layout the foul markers.

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All All There

[flashvideo file=http://www.squareone-learning.com/video/FreePlay.flv /]

Dave says to me after the game,

It was all there. What a great game.

I affirm this,


Actually, whatever “it” is, my guess “it” is all there every weekend, in the Free Play softball game. Except, to say this is just to flash the glib idea that the necessary social, affectual, situational, structural, phenomenal elements are always placed, found in their place, in every outing.

No, as much as this is true, what really is the case is that we together build something on the order of a ‘production,’ every week. Like a musical or dramatic production, our production every week is utterly distinct, unique. Some of our softball symphonies are truly evocative and moving, while other times the production is much less so. Hey, from my odd perspective, our games are never lame, and are always interesting.

(What’s lame? My deteriorating skills!)

The relationship between common and necessary global features with the never predictable or necessary local elements is what frames a view of: the complexity-of-enactment elicited by the simplicity-of-genre. (I just cracked myself up.) It’s very creative, when you come down to differentiating the structure from the how-and-happenstance, and, by definition, its integrity within the complex humanity of the players.

Hey, kind o’ like music.

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Hammer Time

Pete the hammer.

New gear, celebrating next year’s 20th anniversary of Free Play softball.

The Free Play Softball League convenes its open system every Sunday at 10am, at Forest Hills Park-Cleveland Heights, on field #8. If you need to loosen up, or take a few batting practice swings, 9:45am is a good time to show up.

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Prima LaBrona

Mozart’s body of work has endured for three centuries and counting. Say what you will about forlorn Cleveland sports fans, the city’s orchestra plays this body of work and those of other all-time musical all-stars better than anybody else. So, if you’re into unadulterated-by-callowness virtuosity, Cleveland is a good place to be–is a second-to-none place to be.

Meanwhile, after weeks of reading on hoops blogs about backwater Cleveland, and hearing its basketball team’s supporting cast get trashed, I am actually sanguine about getting back to basics without any royalty around. The fact is seemingly this, starting in game three of the Celtics series, the self-acclaimed Great One got distracted by his grandiose dream and has since managed to ride the absurd philosophy of ‘winning is everything’ into ignominy. Now, he could have announced his decision in a much more empathetic, inspired, and grown-up way. Yet, it seems absolutely grooved that LeBron unconsciously played out–innocently–the Shakespearean arc, in which he gets what he wants and looses the worthy heart, tosses away the depth that is the fundamental chord of any decent victory.

No big news bulletin: yup, a twenty-something celebrity sports star happens also to be ignorant and unworldly and unwise. LeBrons’ ESPN special was the worst off ‘field’ move since Tiger’s harem was outed, and will soon enough be followed by some other kid’s version of more of the same.

Consider the obvious: there won’t any sports star from any sport celebrated for his or her body of work three hundred years from this same talent (or team’s) last comet-like show. Luckily, here in Cleveland, one can set aside–if need be–the cathexis of fandom’s perennial local misery to sit in Severance Hall enraptured, and hear profoundly all-time greats get the royal treatment at a level available nowhere else,one, two, three, four, or five hundred years after these stars “played.” Bach, Gershwin, et al? …a different league.

“Thou hath the candle singed the moth.” (Portia, The Merchant of Venice)

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Don´t forget your history nor your destiny. (Bob Marley)

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Core of Play

For Love of the Game, Rick Reilly, espn.com

Great, feel good story about two softball teams–one superior, one inferior, and both willing to invoke the deeper game. Many years ago I coached for two seasons mens and womens college club volleyball teams, My division III ladies took some serious lumps against two division I opponents in a tournament. We scored something like 18 points in losing four games. Ouch. However, afterward we were invited to participate in a joint practice, a magnanimous gesture offered by the host team’s coach.

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And, so it ends, and if one is feeling not very charitable, it did so in ignominy.

There was something inexplicable in watching the Cavaliers scramble to catch up, rather than control their on-court destiny. Is it possible they underestimated the degree of difficulty?

Who’s to say, but a lot of words will start to spill. Discuss.

The Cav’s depth wasn’t an advantage. If there were too many pieces to the puzzle, we’ll have to find out later how Dan Gilbert and Danny Ferry adjust to what seemed to be a problem of too many moving parts and not enough role definition and not enough go-to plays. For this fan and viewer, the Cavs seemed to be a bundle of different experiments throughout the season. But what it looked like was a team trying to gel–but with too many unproven recipes in the mix. There can’t be many fans in Cleveland who endorse the “waiting for LeBron to create” halfcourt O.

The Cavs played only two games in the two playoff series where their effort was controlling and determined for all four quarters. Otherwise, what it looked like, if I were to boil it down, was an uncoordinated effort at high risk, high reward, possessions. The Celtics are way to good and experienced to allow such an approach to work. Much of the time the Cavs were in reaction mode. The pattern of the series was to get the score close and then turn the ball over, or rush shots, or, ignore the weak side. The hallmark of the Cav’s stressed-out mode was indelible: fumbling and mishandling the ball, or, trying to bounce or thread high-degree-of-difficulty passes through the Celtic’s wingy ‘D.’ Oh, but then there was their inability to match the Celtic’s will on the glass too… Painful.

The Cavs had more than enough talent. Until the playoffs, the ride the goosy gang provided was a lot of fun. The Cavs are in a predicament in addition to the King’s uncertain future tenure. They have a large group of young players with uncertain upsides. As for LeBron, I’m with the 2,000,000+ in the area who are holding to a certain wish and hope. Be that as it is, we’ve gone from football town to baseball town to basketball town, and, could circle back if need be. Ha! We’d have to!

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There’s a First Time for Everything

Cavs coach Mike Brown goes giddy in trying to get from reflecting on Mo William’s shocking dunk and saying something about it.

There are few pleasures more engrossing on the morning after a Cavs win, than reading the opponent’s homer blogs. (Start here on ESPN-Celtics and then you can pound the blog roll at Celtic’s Hub. They’re already, in Boston, trotting out and beta testing Lebron isn’t really injured for post-series relief.

Then there is the vaunting of the Celt’s first half sparkle, along the lines of “it was about as well as the Celtics can play.” I hope not for the sake of getting a chance to witness two A games come to engage each other. The Cavs did not show their A game in the first half. What’s with those skip passes made through Boston’s wingy front court defense? It was hard to watch.

Boston commenters and commentators were more on the mark when they pointed out that the Celtics changed their approach at the worse possible moment and then lost–this against the Cav’s A- game. For the home team’s part, the bench and Mo and a bit more bulk in the paint turned the tide. Key stats in a game where most of the numbers cancelled each other out was the Cavs advantage in turnovers and steals.

Five down, eleven to go…

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Field Eight – Opening Day

You can make out Matt’s magic bat leaning up against the back-stop to good ol’ field 8.

Opening day of Free Play Softball, April 18th, ‘the first Sunday after tax day!’

Since 1986, I vaguely recall. Have I been playing with the Free Play crew since, hmmm, 2000? If so: ten years and counting.

Alas, it was cold, it was drizzling and worse, and only five blokes showed up. And, I had to pass all the equipment on because I have a work commitment next week.

Still, we batted around a bit and it seems my undercut and uncanny ability to swing away at crappy pitches has survived the winter, intact. This, nevertheless, makes me very happy.

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Z’ riffic

Z. . .what a mensch!

During the Lebron era the Cavs have most often described by courtside commentators and b-ball media as being something like the King and his sub-stellar crew. This is a way of depicting secondary cast to be nothing more than a setting for the peerless one. So, as the NBA seasons rolls toward the end games, I’d like to wonder out loud how many other NBA teams would swap two or three starters for their choice among the four off the Cavs’ bench, Z, DWest, Varejao, Boobie? The point could be that having LeBron on your team tends to lead to his surrounding crew being discounted. It’s also seemingly the case, Mike Brown’s schemes elevate tightly defined roles and dial down the potential for a player to break out career-wise.

It also seems the Cavs just wear their opponents down. I like the odds.

My suggestion for the King is simple: it’s a-okay to realize the aspiration to be the greatest athlete to ever put on Cleveland colors. It’s just you and Jim Brown and Bob Feller at this point. (Žydrunas Ilgauskas is already the greatest Lithuanian athlete to ever play in Cleveland.) Go for it, King James.

Hat tip to:

Cavs: the Blog

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Men of Fallen leaves

We’re still playing Free Play softball every Sunday at 10am. Last Sunday the overcast but mild day saw 23 players show up. This was by far the biggest November turnout I’ve observed in the nine years I’ve playing with this group.

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Practice Makes Perfect

Roger told the interviewer, ‘he did practice just such a shot, but it never was successful’ (in practice.) Then, he termed it a perfect shot.

Practice: imperfect, imperfect, imperfect, imperfect, imperfect. . .

For real: perfect!

There is something curious about an instance of psychological economy exemplified here in an investment of time during which all the trials fail. Then, when it counts: success.

Of course, one qualification of the example is familiar to many: it’s fun to practice a technique which has as its goal, in effect, doing the impossible. It’s intrinsically rewarding.

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The Kids of Summer

Thanks to Alice for snapping this shot from September 6. Age range: roughly 16 to 66.

We started our Free Play pick-up softball league in April on the first Sunday after tax day. We’ll play until it becomes too insane to play. This usually means sometime in November, several Sundays after it is merely insane to play.

In a month we’ll hit the third anniversary of the Sunday when I lost a ball in the late fall sun and caught it with my nose. This turned out to be the $6,000 catch, as far as the medical assessment went. This is meaningful this year because I found my old confidence in left field only to lose it on my worst fielding day ever a month ago. As Walt said to me, “Snake bit, eh?”

This year has been interesting for several reasons. First, from May through the end of July, as a result of an email notification experiment, the game attracted between 24 and 30 players. Everybody gets to play–as long as he or she has reached the age of 11–so, as the person who divides the mob into two, the resulting line-ups were obviously long, with eleven fielders, and as many as four people rotating in every inning.

I wondered out loud with Alice and Dave, what this meant for the ethos of the game. It was clear at the time that the game’s remarkable consensual process of accommodation was coming under some pressure from players, including myself, who weren’t 100% dedicated to an experiment morphed to include a substantial degradation in playing time and plate appearances.

Dave, on the other hand, simply told me, “Hey, after July 4th, the turn out will fall back to normal.” Well, it did, but the email announcements were halted too!

Among several developments, two more stand out. Two new players, Mark Jr. and Mark Sr. have come out and delighted the old timers with their consistent and crafty play. Mark Jr. is both a golden glover and a tricky, tactical hit-to-any field batter. He was part of a paradigmatic moment last week, when he drove a swinging bunt fifteen feet down the line and made it safely to first. Except, he was called back for crafting a “bunt-like” hit, where the rule is no bunting. But, it wasn’t a bunt.

He protested to me that “It isn’t fair to make up a new rule in the middle of a game.”

I told him, “It’s fair if you look at it a different way. But, it’s also the kind of game where an unfair rule gets conjured when it serves a bigger purpose.”

It took me a few seasons to embrace how situational rulings emerge in ‘free play!’

The other really notable development is the blossoming of Cat. He’s 16, perhaps? Wiry. He’s been playing off and on for five years. After a big growth spurt, he’s truly arrived with a beautiful swing, rapidly improving fielding instincts in left field, and, well, he’s always been quick as a cat.

It was sometime in mid May he launched a ball about 300 feet and about 100 feet behind where I was stationed in left field. (After nine years patrolling left, I’d guess it was a top five blast.) There’s no fence, so you turn and fetch the home run ball. Fluke? No, several at bats later he hit one 50 feet beyond my more prudent–but not prudent enough–position. He hit it about 275 feet.

Stand back, Cat’s at bat!

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