Friday, May 20, 2005


The Next Step up (or maybe over) from Moneyball...

It's less about finding new and innovative ways to use limited fiscal resources, but rather more about finding acceptable ways to use limited physical resources without humiliating one's self.

It's about all those kids who were picked last in gym class moving to the front of the line...because there is no better choice.

It's physicists playing softball.

10 players on the field. One 14 inch softball. Winner takes all ("all" being beer, in this case).

The mood on the field is grim, grim like the grey, cloud-filled skies above. A few, stray raindrops dot the ground, like the tears of vanquished softballers past. Our heroes, the d0nuts (seriously), drink in the atmosphere as they size up their worthy adversaries.

The d0nuts are to bat first. I am to hit third in an attempt to take advantage of my natural opposite-field stroke (read: slow bat). It is an important position in the lineup, and I search my heart, attempting to find my inner clutch-god (my inner Derrek Lee, if you will). Once play begins, an out is followed by a hit, which brings me to bat with a man on.

I gaze out coolly towards the pitcher, sensing his fear. My icy stare pierces through to his very soul, reducing him to a quivering mass of Shawn Estes. I take one pitch, but on the next offerring I make contact, riping a line drive into left (or at least, that is what it reads in the boxscore. It actually dribbled about 10 feet and I reached first by virtue of my panther-like speed). And with that, I was on base.

The next batter drives the ball into deep left and I'm off, expertly cutting the bases (not unlike Sid Bream in the '92 NLCS), coming in to score right on the heals of my teammate. Pride washes over me as I know that I have done my job, and I take a cool drink of water. It tastes sweet, sweet like the very essence of glory.

The bottom of the inning sees the d0nuts take the field. I pull on my mit slowly and respectfully, knowing that I must honor it so that it will serve me well at third. Trepidation fills my heart. This is unfamiliar territory, but I know I will prevail. The whole team is counting on me, and I am a clutch god. The first baseman doles out practice grounders like a charity worker at the Salvation Army, one for each position around the horn. After I deftly field my slow grounder and rifle it back to the first baseman, it is balls in and time to flash some leather.

I crouch down into my defensive stance, silently willing the ball to come to me. The desire to prove my defensive worth fills my very soul. And what's this? My eyes light up as the first batter hits a grounder right to me! I charge the ball, fielding it cleanly. I am infused with triumph. I am Brooks Robinson! I am Mike Schmidt! I am a defensive wizard. I go to transfer the ball to my throwing hand, but wait. I can't get a clean grip. It as if my glove doesn't want to part with its new-found companion. I double, then triple clutch and finally I wrap my hand around the ball and fire it to first. But the throw is a bit high, and it glances off the first baseman's glove, rolling out towards the parked cars.

My heart sinks as I watch the runner trot into second. I have let my team down. I have failed.

But I must rally, and rally I do. Because this is life. Fermiball.

And so the game continued. I had one more dribbler to third for a hit and a Corey Patterson-esque strikeout (oh the shame) before I managed to calm myself and reclaim the stroke that made me a batting practice all-star. With my fourth at bat, I managed to drive the ball over the first baseman's head for a triple, driving in a run.

My defense inproved slightly, although my highlights included one more wild throw over the first baseman's head and another bobble. But I also managed to record a couple outs at third. I'm looking forward to the first time I successfully field the ball and throw a runner out at first.

The Wife is our favorite sort of player around the CBA. After a rough first at bat, she attained a zen-like patience, and proceeded to take walks in both of her next two at bats. Her final at bat yielded a hit, although I shouldn't have bought her the "Moises Alou Guide to Baserunning" for Christmas, as she was unfortuantely doubled off of first on a line drive.

The final tally? I'm sorry to report that we lost 15-10. However, this team is brimming with potential and will notch a few wins before the season is out.

The stats? I finished 3-5, 3 runs, 1 RBI, 1 Triple, 82 errrors. The Wife finished 1-2, 2 walks, and 2 nice defensive plays.

Stay tuned for the next exciting installment of Fermiball when we see how the d0nuts fair without their team captain and shortstop, against the evil Springfield Isotopes of CFD. Be assured, the drama will be intense, the competition fierce.

Nicely played. I am so jealous I could, as my mother said, spit.
Let me know if you ever need a sub. (Especially a poor-fielding shortstop with little range and no arm who is ALSO a weak hitter and high strikeout risk at the plate. Who doesn't need one of those? I think I might be the Neifi! of beer-league softball.)
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