Thursday, July 29, 2010

Zog: Hounds Annihilate Sporting Wood

The regular season finale brought us to DeWitt Clinton Field in Hell's Kitchen on a warm Summer night. It was a rematch with Sporting Wood, a team we had already dominated earlier in the season. We were primed and pumped to close out the season strongly and head into the playoffs on a high note. We also had playoff positioning at stake, with a victory clinching the top spot in the division and homefield advantage throughout. Sporting Wood is quite frankly, a team that can't hit, run, throw, field or pitch. To top it off they came to the game short-handed, only being able to field a team of eight players. After a brief negotiation, we decided that we would not lend them a player due to the importance of the game for our side. Finally, it was time to play ball.

As the away team, we came to bat first. Sporting Wood's pitcher was not able to find the strike zone, and when he did, he got pounded. Iain, Dave, Mega and Wink all went yard in the first, and we put 10 on the board in that opening frame. The game was pretty much over at that point, as starting pitcher Juiena had given up 10 runs in a game only once this season. She pitched a scoreless first, and in the 2nd we scored another 12 runs to really put the result beyond question. The highlight of the 2nd inning had to be Camille's monster 3-run home was a shot any of the fellas would have been happy to have. The bench went crazy and after that point our motivation became padding our stats and shooting for the Hounds all-time single-game scoring record(27). We then did offer a player to Sporting Wood to stop the bleeding a bit, but their manager stubbornly refused before his team convinced him to accept. By then though, it was too late. We pulled our offer and decided to really step on their throats.

There are too many other offensive highlights to list, but some that come to mind are Iain hitting two homers; one a grand slam, the other a 3-run shot. Dave hit for the cycle, although he could have at least fake-tripped on the turn at first to make his "single" more believable. Mega had two dingers and drove in 4, Camille drove in 5 and Amy had a hustle home run and drove in 4. The record fell in the top of the third, and who knows how much we would have scored if the game hadn't been called due to time limit. Wink came in to relieve Juiena in the 4th, and threw two shutout innings. When the game was over both teams were relieved, but for different reasons. Final Score: Hounds 33, Sporting Wood 1.

Let's give credit to Sporting Wood for mostly being good sports and taking the beating in stride. Sure, there was that one chatty fellow, but we felt too sorry for him to even reply to his banter. 

Now the playoffs are upon us. We have a first-round bye and most likely won't be playing for at least another week. Please bear in mind that playoff games could be scheduled any day in the coming few weeks, we need all hands on deck for the title push. I am very confident we can defend the crown.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Gotham City: Hounds Split

Following a strong performance in our last outing, it was time to measure ourselves against the undefeated, first-place team. The setting was the Great Lawn, and the city was embroiled in a stifling heat wave. Thankfully, a big tree provided shelter from the sun, and the field was in immaculate condition. In the opposing dugout were The Big Cocks, and by the time the day was over, they would demonstrate that they are aptly-named.

For Game 1, Margaret took to the hill and she did what she always does, pitch very well. The Cocks went out 1-2-3 in the first, then it was our turn up to bat. The Cocks made a curious choice for starting pitcher, as the lad was unable to come close to the strike zone. We gladly took the walks and sprinkled some hits in between. Iain, Jason T. & Justin each had 2 RBIs. A 6-run first inning boded well for our chances of winning this one. The Cocks would change pitcher, but by then, the damage had already been done. Meanwhile, Margaret continued to make pitches, and our defense was solid even if there were a couple of miscues. We were up big entering the top of the 5th, and Margaret closed them out to end the game on mercy rule. We realized that The Cocks did not get on base through a clean base hit, giving Margaret her first no-hitter as a Hound. Final Score: Hounds 11, Cocks 0.

For Game 2, George took the ball and pitched decently. He did have a few walks though and the Cocks were able to finally get some base hits. Early in the game, we pointed out that The Cocks' male-to-female ratio in the batting order was too high. The umpired agreed with us but unfortunately, that ruling brought out the worst in our opponents. They became very talkative and obnoxious, but they held the lead and we were unable to silence them with our play. Unbelievably, they gifted us 8 walks but somehow we were not able to fully capitalize. We hit a combined .222 in this game, which won't get us very far in any league. We also had a couple of rally-killing bonehead baserunning plays, with 2 runners getting called out for leading too early. We can't have that kind of stuff happening, guys. We did mount a rally in our last licks, but were only able to get one run on the board before the game ended on a 5-5-3 double play. There was a brief confrontation between the two teams at the end of the game before cooler heads prevailed. Final Score: Hounds 4, Cocks 6.

It was very tough to split against this team, but at least we had a look at the team that was in first up to this point. It's safe to say that we do not have too much to worry about if we have to play them in the future. I am very proud that we were able to just keep playing the game and leave the talking up to them. I know we are going to rebound strongly after this loss.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Gotham City: Stats thru First Half

We're already more than halfway through our Gotham City season and it's time to take a look at the stats. Across the board, averages are lower than on our Zog team, I would chalk that up to better competition and the fact that Central Park plays more true than a lot of the Zog fields.

Props have to go to Iain and Pat, who are having monster run-producing seasons. J-Hizzle is quietly hitting .750, while Alan and Amelia have been strong in their limited opportunities. Rookies Mike and Jessie are distinguishing themselves as well.

(click to enlarge)

Gotham City: Hounds Shut Down the Mafia

Having gotten off to a flying 6-1 start, the Hounds were back at Heckscher on a steamy Saturday afternoon to keep the winning streak going. Our opponents were a team called Brooklyn Mafia, a team run by a tempestuous young fellow who was out to cut every possible corner. We had previously known this team by another name, and in the previous season we had some testy encounters with them. Thankfully, most of the other guys that had made our encounters so nasty were no longer around. After making it clear we WOULD NOT be willing to share the shaded dugout with them, it was time to play ball.

For Game 1, Margaret took to the mound and she did not back down from the challenge. Mafia had many lefties in their lineup, for some teams this might have caused some difficulty. But not for a team as well-balanced as the Hounds. We played excellent defense and Mafia played right into our hands by hitting several easy fly balls to the outfield. They did score some runs, but we were able to match them and then some. Iain was in full Eliot Ness mode, doing damage to the Mafia by hitting 2 home runs and driving in 4. Pat also had a homer, going back-to-back with Iain in the 5th. Justin(J-Hizzle) also had a nice game, going 3 for 3 with 2 RBIs. The game was tainted by Mafia's dirty tricks, which included lineup chicanery and courtesy runners for players that were not even injured. It made them look all the more stupid when their tricks didn't work. They mounted a brief threat in the last inning before Margaret closed them out. Final Score: Hounds 9, Brooklyn Mafia 4.

For Game 2, we really put them to the sword. Amy stepped up and took the ball this time around, and she pitched very well. Mafia's hitters had no answer for her stuff, and their pitcher continued to serve up meatballs. We were happy to pounce on her, and we were scoring pretty much at will. Iain had another monster game, going 3 for 3, with a homer and 6 RBIs, giving him 10 RBIs total on the day. Dave, Wink, Alan, Claudia, and J-Hizzle all batted 1.000 in this game. Amelia made her return to the lineup by going 2 for 3 with two runs scored and making 3 nifty plays in rapid succession at third base. Before we knew it, a victory by mercy-rule became a distinct and delicious possibility. All we needed was one run to do it, and Iain stepped up to the plate with no out and the bases loaded. He proceeded to hit one of his trademark shots in the rightfield gap to send all the runners home. The league's scorebook may say 11-1, but I have it as Final Score: Hounds 14, Brooklyn Mafia 1.

With this series sweep we have officially put this "rivalry" to bed. There can't be a rivalry when one team dominates the other. Let's save "rival" status for classy teams that can actually play the game, not for opponents who only know how to run their mouths. Nice work, team.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Zog: Stats at the Home Stretch

With only one game left in the regular season, I thought it would be interesting to look at the stats.

Iain has a clear lock on the batting title and home run king, but ol' Wink is blocking his path to the triple crown by one RBI. 

Among the ladies, Juiena has gone on a tear as of late to overtake Push at the top of the batting leaders.

Should be an interesting finish to the season...

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Monday, July 12, 2010

Gotham: Hounds Block Gamma Rays

Having dominated our opponents in our previous Gotham City outing, we headed over to the Great Lawn on a beautiful, hot morning to further cement our status as serious contenders for the trophy. Seems like a lot of Hounds were away this weekend, as the squad was down to only 12 players available. Fortunately, those 12 showed up ready to handle business. In the opposing dugout was Gamma Rays, an Incredible Hulk-inspired team. By the end of the series, we would have them feeling more like Bruce Banner.

For Game 1, Margaret got the call and she answered with her usual dominance. Truth be told, Gamma Rays only had 3 good players, maybe 4. But they were a scrappy if inexperienced bunch that gave us a decent fight in the first game. 

Another truth is that the book is kind of a mess from that game and I was a bit too shall-we-say hungover to remember what exactly happened to sort it all out. What we do know is that Pat & Iain(twice) both went yard, and Margaret was her usual self with both her pitching and her glove. The game was close but never really in doubt. Final Score: Hounds 9, Gamma Rays 3.

Game 2 was different in that we jumped out to a big early lead and never looked back. Margaret was once again the pitcher and Gamma Rays had no answer for her. She also came through with a 2-RBI single. Iain and Pat carried our offense, going a combined 7-8 with 8 RBIs. Jessie had a big game, going 3 for 3 with her first run scored as a Hound. Our defense was solid and the only question was would the game end by mercy rule. We had a couple of opportunities to end it early, but let's give credit to Gamma for not succumbing and keeping their honor intact. Final Score: Hounds 11, Gamma Rays 2.

We are looking good out there. We will definitely be facing tougher opponents in the coming weeks, and that will actually be a good thing. We need a challenge to build our character. Let's keep working hard, Hounds.

Zog: Hounds Batter Rams

Having already clinched a playoff spot, the Hounds headed over to idyllic Heckscher Field in Central Park to face the Rams, a Fordham alumni team that we have faced(and beaten–albeit with some controversy) before. For us, the remainder of the season is about fine tuning our ballclub and building momentum as we enter the playoffs. The Rams came in holding on to the slightest glimmer of hope to make the post-season. The conditions were perfect and the stands were packed with spectators wanting to see some good ball. We would not disappoint.

We were home team for this game, and Margaret got the ball making her 2nd consecutive start. Rams would score 2 runs in the top of the first, and we promptly answered with 3 runs of our own in the bottom of the frame. Wink was the catalyst, hitting a laser in the gap for a 3-run dinger, part of a 5-RBI day for him. The game stayed close for a few innings and we entered the bottom of the 4th with the score tied at 4-4. We thought we were in for a tough finish.

As has been our M.O. in recent games, we put the pedal to the metal in the later innings. MikePa had a 3-run homer of his own in the 4th. Dave & Iain went back-to-back in the 5th. Then in the 6th we really poured it on, scoring 6 runs to put the result beyond doubt. The ladies really stepped up at the plate, going a combined 10-15. Cindy went 2-4, Juiena went 3-4, Claudia smoked a single to left, Amy had a 2-RBI base hit, and Margaret went 3-3. Let's not forget Mr. Clutch Iain who continued his assault on the triple crown by going 4-4 and hitting 2 homers. All the while Margaret shut the opponent down aided by some bend-but-don't-break defense. Rams were demoralized by the time their last at-bat came up and went out meekly to end the game. Final Score: Hounds 17, Rams 4. Protest That!

We are on a roll and the timing could not be better. We have a bit of a long break until our next game (July 28th) and I do not want us to lose our momentum. It may be wise to have a practice soon. Stay Tuned.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Zog: Hounds Show Grit & Clinch a Playoff Spot

Our Zog season finally brought us to one of our favorite fields to play at in Central Park's Great Lawn. The grass was thick and the weather was beautiful. We were fortunate to bump into a catering truck which supplied some much-appreciated libations. After a brief delay waiting for the umpire to appear, the game was set to start. Our opponents were the Hardballers, a cellar-dwelling but scrappy team that was hungry for their first win. 

Margaret was our starting pitcher and as always, she pitched very well. She held Hardballers to 3 runs over 7 innings. Our defense gave up a bit, but mostly took away. Our opponents had a very crafty pitcher too though, and his work combined with some decent defense held us to no runs through the first 3 innings. We were down 0-3 entering our turn at-bat in the bottom of the 4th. We knew we were on the verge of turning this thing around.

The top of the order then came up in the 4th and sparked the turnaround. Alan, Cindy, and George got 3 hits in a row, then Iain stepped up and hit a 3-run home run. Just like that we had overturned the 0-3 deficit to a 4-3 lead. After that, we were off to the races. 10 Hounds had a multiple-hit game, including Murph who went 4-4 and had a ton of action at third base. We scored 9 in the 4th and 6 in the 5th to blow the game open. We continued to make the plays we needed to on defense and closed them out with a 1-2-3 7th. Final Score: Hounds 16, Harballers 3.

With this win we have clinched a playoff berth. I won't congratulate anybody because we have bigger things on our mind and making the playoffs was always a foregone conclusion, at least in my mind. We must continue to build on our momentum as we head into the 2nd season. Our final 2 opponents are in the lower half of the standings, but they both have an outside chance of making the playoffs so you know they will be playing hard. Let's be the dream-crushers.