Monday, August 30, 2010

Gotham City: Playoff Stats

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Gotham City: Hounds Win the Whole Damn Thing

Having been tested to our very limit in the double elimination tournament of the previous weekend, it was finally time for the championship finale. A best of three series to determine who is the best co-ed team in Central Park. The weather was ideal for softball and the stands were packed with spectators. The grass was thick and very wet and there were two good defensive teams squaring off. We knew home runs would be at a minimum. We came into this series off a 12 and 2 regular season record and as top overall seed, but we knew records were meaningless coming into this one. Besides, the team we were up against– Grass Stains, had already beaten us pretty soundly to put us on the brink of elimination last week. Their regular season record was 9 and 5 but they had knocked out some good teams on their way to this World Series. We came in expecting a close series and we were very eager to redeem ourselves after the heartbreak of last season. There was a bit of pre-game controversy before the series started as to who had home field advantage, but fortunately Hounds management was prepared with all the necessary documentation and Grass Stains' feeble attempt at gamesmanship was quickly squelched. After the lineups were exchanged, it was time to play ball.

For Game 1 we gave our ace pitcher Margaret the ball and boy, did she deliver. We noticed Grass Stains' lineup was different and frankly, a bit weaker than in our last encounter, and we quickly closed them out with 1-2-3 first. Now it was our turn to bat and we put together a nice 2-out rally to put two runs on the board. Iain, Pat and Dave had three consecutive hits. Margaret continued to put zeroes on the board as she masterfully got out of a couple of jams. Our defense and concentration were in full championship mode, while our opponents didn't seem quite as locked in to the moment. We would add three in the 2nd behind a 2-run blast from Jason T, and another four in the 3rd, Wink with a 2-run triple. We were now up 9-0 and the game was quickly getting out of reach for Grass Stains. The threat of a victory by mercy loomed and the Hounds went after it like bloodthirsty sharks. In the bottom of the 4th, the top of the order was up and Jason T, Amy, Iain, and Dave strung together some hits to put another two on the board and the mercy threshold had been reached. The umps gave Grass Stains the dignity of playing out the inning. Final Score: Hounds 11, Grass Stains 0.

For Game 2, Margaret once again got the ball and continued to dominate Grass Stains' hitters. They were only able to get one extra base hit all game. Our defense was spectacular, with Pat and Iain making a number of solid plays. The outfield was also very strong, with Cardillo, Jason T, Cindy, and Wink shutting down anything hit their way. Meanwhile, the offense continued to put runs on the board. In the top of the 2nd the bottom of the order sparked a 4-run rally. George, Wink, Cardillo, and Margaret got consecutive hits and Iain had a sac fly. We were up 5-0 and the game became a defensive battle for the next few innings, although we did manage to score a run in the 5th and the 6th. We could feel we were getting closer to the promised land but we kept our composure and the dugout atmosphere was very encouraging. Margaret continued to close down Grass Stains and there were many innings in which she couldn't have thrown more than 5-6 pitches. Soon it was the top of the 7th and we entered up 7-0. Again the mercy rule loomed, and we would put up 2 runs to make it a distinct possibility. Karim was the winning run at 2nd, and Jason T stroked a single. With two outs and such a big lead, there was no thought of holding Karim as he made the turn at third base. This would be the most exciting play of the game, and would provide the only drama of the series. Would Karim score? Unfortunately, Grass Stains made a nice relay throw and gunned out Karim at the plate to maintain their dignity. However, they came up in their last licks and were quickly down to their last out. The final play was a 6-3 from Iain to Dave and it was finally time to celebrate. Final Score: Hounds 9, Grass Stains 0.

We are the champs! We were the best team in the league all season and we proved it in the playoffs. The end was a bit anticlimactic but we suffered plenty the previous weekend. That happens a lot in the bigs, where the LCS is the classic and the World Series turns out to be a sweep. To shut out an opponent twice in a championship series is quite an impressive feat. Clearly, Grass Stains might have been missing a player or two, but the truth is we were missing people too and we would have beaten any team with the way we played out there. That one loss in the playoffs was a wake-up call, and we have exorcised the demons from last season. We have a tremendously balanced squad and if we can keep the core together, we could be talking D word here. Nice season, Hounds!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Zog: Team MVPs

The voting is closed and the people have spoken. The Hounds MVPs for the Zog 2010 Spring/Summer league have been chosen. The winners are definitely worthy of the honor. So without further adieu, the winners are:

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Gotham City: Hounds Survive the Crucible

After another solid regular season, it was time for the Hounds to get back on the field and pursue the ultimate goal. Following a bye week, the playoffs were upon us and we knew we had to say goodbye to the blowout victories. All the teams remaining looked pretty solid, and the double elimination format provided for much suspense. The weather was perfect and the fields were pristine, and we showed up focused. Our plan was to sweep our first two games which would take us directly to the World Series the following weekend. After lineups were exchanged, it was time to play ball.

For Game 1, we were facing a team called America's Most Wanted. The name was fitting because a couple of their guys definitely looked like they had a conviction or two. But all in all, they were a classy and scrappy team that conducted themselves well throughout. They were away team and up to bat first. Our starting pitcher was our ace, Margaret, so we knew we would have a chance to win the game. In the top of the first, AMW put 1 run on the board assisted by a couple of Hounds errors. The inning could have been a lot worse though, so at least we contained the damage. In the bottom of the first, the top of the order got us on the board with three quick runs– Iain, Dave, and Karim with the RBIs. From there, we shut out AMW, with Margaret working out of a couple of jams. 3 runs is all we would need but we continued to pour it on offensively. Iain was again the horse, going 3 for 3 with 3 RBIs. Entering the bottom of the 5th, we were up 9-1 and were feeling very good about our chances. Jason T. and Iain singled then Dave stepped up to the plate and hit a 3-run bomb that would end the game on mercy rule. AMW looked a little shell shocked. Final Score: Hounds 12, AMW 1. 

That victory took us to Game 2 which was a showdown with the other team in the winner's bracket, Grass Stains. They were a team that we didn't get to face this season, but they beat us fair and square once last season, so we knew they must have a pretty good team. Again we were the home team, and the manager saw no need to change much from the previous game. Margaret again got the ball and in the first, Grass Stains were able to string together some hits and score some runs. Let's give them credit, they made some solid contact, nothing more to it. We entered the bottom of the first down 0-4. In the bottom of the inning, we countered with 2 runs, Schimmy and Dave driving them in. We could have scored more in the inning, but Grass Stains made some nifty defensive plays on some well-hit balls. Unfortunately, our bats went silent in this game after the 1st and we were blanked in the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, & 5th. Meanwhile, Margaret and the defense kept us in the game, making this one a very tense affair. We would tack on a run in the 6th, and we entered our last licks down 3-7. The first two hitters of the inning flew out but then Iain singled and Dave walked. We had something going, and Alan then stepped up and stroked a clutch single. Unfortunately, the Big Fella took a gamble that didn't pay off, and was called out trying to go 1st to 3rd on a single. Despite the protests from some quarters, it was the correct call and our rally and the game were both over. Now we were the ones shell-shocked and we knew next game was do-or-die. Final Score: Hounds 4, Grass Stains 7.

That loss took us to a re-match in Game 3 with AMW that will go down as a classic game in Hounds history. One game in which the winner advances to the championship, and the loser goes home. Both teams were feeling the effects of being out all day in the sun. We felt good coming in having mercied AMW just hours earlier. However, they were full of fighting spirit and would give us everything we could handle. Margaret again took the ball, and continued her consistent form. AMW scored 2 in the 1st off a long home run. We were quiet in the 1st and 2nd, and mustered a scoring threat that was squelched in the 3rd. Again we went out quietly in the bottom of the 4th, and in the top of the 5th, AMW would add on two runs. Now we were down 0-4, and showing no signs of life. Things began to look a little bleak. But we never got too down on ourselves and we knew all we needed was for a thing or two to go our way and we could be right back in this thing. Our fans and bench were providing raucous support, and that pulled us from of the depths of despair. In the bottom of the 5th, MikePa drove in Pat to finally put us on the board, and we could sense some momentum building. We closed out AMW 1-2-3 in the top of the 6th, and we knew we were running out of chances. Iain led off the frame with a single, and Dave followed with a walk. Jason T. then stroked a single but Iain was thrown out at the plate. Now, we had runners on 2nd and 3rd with only one out. Schimmy then followed with a single to score Dave. Pat followed up with an RBI single, and all of a sudden we were in very good shape. Then the key play might have been a walk that Wink drew which allowed Margaret to also walk and drove in 2 runs. AMW's pitcher lost his composure a bit and Mike and Cindy also got on through BBs. At the end of the inning, we were up 7-4 and had a chance to close them out in the next inning. AMW would score a meaningless run in the 7th to make it close, but a fly ball to left ended the game. We were all happy but we were also mentally and physically drained after the roller coaster ride of emotions. Final Score: Hounds 7, AMW 5.

Let's give credit to our team, we showed tons of heart in pulling this one out. Our players put egos aside and drew the important walks that gave us the grip on this ballgame. We are very much alive after being on life support for a very brief period. We have a tall order next week, but I am confident we will give it our all and I like our chances.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Zog: Vote for Team MVPs

We're still soaking up the glory of our dominating championship performance, and it's a good time to select the team MVPs. There are a lot of candidates to choose from, a testament to the balance of our squad. Here is a look at the final regular season stats if you need some help making a decision. Please vote for one male and one female Hound. And remember, this for Zog League only. Winners get a nifty piece of Hounds swag.

Team MVPs(1 Male, 1 Female)
Jason C.
Wink free polls

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Zog: Hounds Repeat

The finale of the Zog Spring/Summer 2010 season brought us to Riverbank State Park and a championship showdown with Who's On First. These were the last two division champs squaring off in what was expected to be a close game. WOF had beaten us the last two times we played them, but we knew there were circumstances which prevented us from being at our best on those occasions. Our opponents came into the game very confident, one might even say cocky. But what they didn't know is that the Hounds were confident too, it was just a quiet confidence that we exuded. The setting was Riverbank State Park, also known as Hounds Field. The weather was perfect after threats of rain. After some pre-game gamesmanship by your humble Captain, it was time to play ball.

WOF was the away team and as such were up to bat first. Our starting pitcher was Juiena, who had been rock solid for us all season long and was coming off a strong performance in the semi. In the first, we were a bit jittery and committed a couple of miscues that allowed WOF to put two runs on the board. We controlled the damage though and got out of a potentially big inning. Now it was our turn to bat and the offense got right to work. MikePa drew a walk before Iain drove him in with a triple. Dave followed with an RBI double, and just like that, the score was tied. Next, WOF gifted Mega the dreaded 4 pitch walk which allowed Juiena to also walk. The Cap then stroked a 2-RBI single before being called out on a questionable baserunning decision. Wink drove in a run too and now we were up 5-2 after the first. After an uneventful 2nd inning, we blew the game open with some fantastic hitting. We would score 11 in the 3rd, with the entire lineup getting in on the fun. Pretty much everyone had a good offensive game but some of the standouts were MikePa(2-3, 2 BB, RBI, 3 RS) Cindy(3-4, BB, RBI, 3 RS), Iain(4-5, 4 RBI, 4 RS), Dave(4-4, 5 RBI, 3 RS), Juiena(2-3, BB, 2 RBI, 3 RS), and WInk(4-4, 3 RBI, 2 RS). 

Once we took the big lead, WOF started to come apart at the seams. We kept our focus though and followed up with multiple runs in the 4th and the 5th, and all the while Juiena maintained dominance over the opponents' hitters. Her high-arc stuff was working really well and her command was impeccable. WOF had little answer for her but did have one nice little moment when one of their ladies hit a solo homer. But the game was well in hand at that point and it would hardly matter. We could sense that victory was imminent and our dugout became quite boisterous aided by some wonderful support from our fans. Our defensive highlights had to be Murph and Dave turning a 5-5-3 double play, MikePa making some nice grabs in the outfield, and Iain & Cindy working the solid middle infield combo. 

In the final inning, WOF was able to muster nothing as they appeared like they just wanted the game over with. And who could blame them as it was a dominating performance from start to finish from the Hounds. The game ended on a simple 5-3 putout from Iain to Dave, and for the second season in a row, we were the last team standing. Final Score: Hounds 24, Who's On First 5.

Needless to say, the victory was exhilarating and some raucous celebration ensued. More on that in a minute. But now is a good time to reflect on what we have accomplished. We have won two championships back-to-back in dominating fashion. Hard to believe it, but we were only 3-2 at one point this season. We closed the season out with a 9-game winning streak, with almost all of those victories coming by double digits. We have put yet another rivalry to bed, as there can be no rivalry with a team that one beats by 19 runs– in a championship game, no less. We faced down a pitcher who gave us trouble in the regular season only to come out and throttle him in the playoffs, a la ZooMass last season. OK, WOF made a couple of errors, but the reality is, we hit really well all night and pretty much the entire second half of the season. We should all be very proud of ourselves because Lord knows we put a lot of hard work into this. We are a formidable opponent for anybody right now and it's time to start thinking about bumping up a division. We have proven everything we can prove in Casual Division. This Fall, prepare for a new challenge.

After the game, The Hounds entourage headed over to Dinosaur BBQ for the championship celebration. The food was plenty and the beverages flowed as we enjoyed the spoils of victory. It was a memorable night for all.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Zog Semi Final: Hounds Lay Down the Gauntlet

The 2nd season has arrived and the Zog single-elimination tournament is always a gut-wrenching affair. The Hounds had finished the season in first place and we earned a bye straight into the semi-final round. Awaiting us in the opposing dugout were the Maroons, upset winners in the wild card round, but a team we have had little difficulty with in the past. The turnout was fantastic and we had nearly our entire squad present. The location was DeWitt Clinton Field, a place where we have always played well. The weather was near perfect even if the night air was a bit thick. After the two captains exchanged pre-game pleasantries, it was time to play ball.

Juiena got the ball as starting pitcher and she closed down the Maroons 1-2-3 in the top of the first. Now it was our turn to bat and we were feeling very confident. Maroons gifted a four-pitch walk to MikePa to start the inning, which allowed Cindy to also walk. Iain then followed up with a 2-RBI triple. The Cap got lucky on a fly to right and turned it into a 3-run homer. We were up 6-0 and we were off to the races. In the 3rd we would add 5 more runs to really put Maroons in a deep hole. The heart of the order came up very big in the game with Iain(2-4, HR, 3 RBI), Dave(2-4, RBI, 2 RS), Mega(3-4, HR, 2 RBI, 3 RS), Juiena(3-3, BB, 4 RS), George(3-4, HR, 5 RBI, 3 RS), Wink(2-4, HR, 6 RBI, 2 RS) and Push(2-3, RBI) all either scoring or driving in at least one run. Meanwhile, Juiena was cruising and Maroons were having much difficulty stringing together hits. In the later innings, we switched things up somewhat defensively and unfortunately, there were some miscues. That allowed Maroons to tack on some runs but the result was never really in question. Juiena closed them out in the 7th to make it yet another Hounds blowout victory. Final Score: Hounds 18, Maroons 5.

I like the aggressiveness we showed today. We are playing excellent ball but we still have one more hurdle to climb. We must stay hungry and focused heading into this last game. It won't be easy but I know we can do it.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Gotham City: Final Regular Season Player Stats

The final player stats have been compiled and it was a solid all-around season for the Hounds. Iain won the batting title for the 2nd season in a row, hitting an unreal .862. He also set new Central Park Hounds records in Home Runs and RBIs to also win the triple crown. MikePa gave him a run for his money in the Batting Average department, hitting an impressive .810. Pat was having a monster season until it was derailed a bit by absence, but he still finished among the team leaders in the triple crown categories.

For the ladies, Schimmy had the highest average but did not have enough ABs to qualify. Cindy and Jessie hit over .400, but the batting average leader was Camille at .472. She also scored 8 runs and had a very solid On Base Percentage of .591. 

On the pitching side, Margaret dominated, posting an unbelievable 1.94 ERA. That's unreal for this type of softball. Whether it was starting or relieving, she was money in the bank. Amy had an impressive outing, perhaps something to watch for in the future. Pat and Wink stepped up to pitch and did admirably.

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Gotham City: Hounds Sweep Their Way to First

It was a glorious day in Central Park as the Hounds headed over to Heckscher Field to close out the regular season. The league re-arranged the schedule so that in the final week of the season, teams with similar records were facing off with one another. That was a much welcome change as we were somewhat tired of pounding our opponents into submission. In the opposing dugout was the first-place, sole undefeated team remaining in the league, I'd Hit That. 

In Game 1, Margaret took the ball and she delivered her usual ace performance. She closed down IHT in a scoreless top of the first. Next, we were up to bat, and Jason T. led off the game with a walk. Cindy followed with a single, and Iain drove them both in with a double. Dave had an RBI triple in the inning as well, and we were off to a good start. Let's give credit to IHT, they were actually a pretty solid ballclub. They fought back with two in the 2nd, then MikePa answered with a two-run homer. That made the score 5-2 and IHT would never get closer. We played brilliant defense, looking like a well-oiled machine out there. Margaret continued to throw strikes, so much so that the umpires were even singing her praises. We also exposed the weak spots in IHT's defense, and capitalized on their mistakes. They tacked on a meaningless run in the final inning before we closed the game out. Final Score: Hounds 9, I'd Hit That 4.

For Game 2, we came up to bat first. MikePa led off with a triple, and George drove him in on a 6-3. Camille then stroked a single before Iain stepped up and hit a 2-run homer. Wink took the ball looking to build on his previous outing, and he was effective, keeping the ball in the strike zone for the most part, and putting us in a position to win the game. IHT did have a big inning in the top of the first, but that was not entirely the Winkster's doing. We did have some defensive slip-ups which gave IHT extra outs and kept the inning going. We would tie the game in the 3rd, with the top of the order again doing most of the damage. After a quiet 4th, the game was tied 7-7 entering the top of the 5th. Diana led off the inning, and she calmly hit a clutch single to left. The dugout was going nuts and everyone was on the edge of their seats as we all knew how important this game was for us. MikePa followed with a single, and next the Captain drew a walk which drove in the go-ahead run. We were primed for a big inning, and that's exactly what happened. Iain, Dave, Jason C, and Push each had RBIs, with the highlight of the inning being Dave tagging up and scoring on a weak flare that was caught on the lip of the left field grass. Nice hustle, big fella. With that, we were up 12-7, and Margaret came in to relieve Wink who was in line for his 2nd victory of the season. There was little doubt that she would close the door, and for the last out, the ball fittingly passed through the Cy Young winner's(Margaret) and the MVP's(Iain) hands before settling into Dave's glove to close out the game. Final Score: Hounds 12, I'd Hit That 7.

Lots of good news after these games, as sweeping I'd Hit That means that we have finished the season in first place and have clinched a first round playoff bye. So no Gotham City until August 21st which will be the championship round. I am told it will be a double-elimination style tournament. We head into the playoffs playing our best ball of the season and I am confident we can progress very far. Please keep in mind that while we have been fortunate in not having any rain-outs so far, rain could still delay the August 21 championship round so please try to keep the following weekends open as well for now just in case. We are going to need our full-stregth squad to win this thing. Onward to Glory, Hounds.


It would be a long day of softball for some Hounds as Iain, Cindy, Amy, Dave and The Cap took part in the first annual Gotham City All-Star Game. Teams were split up with no particular rhyme or reason, but that hardly mattered, although there was some inevitable pre-game drama. Certain teams didn't want to be paired up with others, but after cooler heads prevailed, a fun and harmonious time was had by all. The Hounds were part of the West All-Stars and we were in full-force as Jason C, MikePa, Diana, Push, and Camille all stayed to support their teammates and provide some much-needed libations. As the refreshments were plentiful, exact details of the game are cloudy, but both 7-inning games were well-played, low scoring affairs. Amy was starting pitcher of the 2nd game, and she did quite well, holding the East All-Stars to only one run. The East and West All-Stars would split the two games, and afterwards everyone was softballed-out and ready to call it a day. 

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Gotham City: Hounds Sweep

With our playoff possibilities firmly locked up, it was time to return to Heckscher Field and return to our sweeping ways. The weather was finally something other than stifling hot, and that was a much welcome change. In the opposing dugout was a scrappy and fun-loving team called We Slap Ballz. 

In Game 1, Margaret was our starting pitcher. As the away team, we came up to bat first. MikePa, Wink, & Camille proceeded to hit back-to-back-to-back singles, and Dave followed with a 3-run home run, his first of two in the game. We would score 5 in the first, and Margaret held WSB to just one homer off a clean shot by their leadoff hitter. There is nothing you can do but tip your cap to the guy, it was a well hit ball. At least it was only a solo shot, and we still had plenty of time to impose our will. We added 1 in the second, 1 in the third, and 2 in the 4th, all the while playing magnificent defense. Cardillo and Jessie had some nice plays in the outfield, and the rest of the team looked really good too. In the 5th, we blew the game open with another big inning, Wink ending it on mercy rule with a 3-run blast. Final Score: Hounds 16, WSB 1.

For Game 2, Wink made his first start for the Hounds after some campaigning, and he backed up his self-confidence with a solid outing. This time, we were home team and we entered the bottom of the first down 0-2. The captain set the table and ledoff with a lucky shot that turned into a solo homer. We scored a quick 5 in the first and would never look back. MikePa hit a solo homer and had a spectacular catch in center, and Diana scored her first run of the season. But the game stayed close throughout, and with the score at 7-5, Margaret came in to pitch the last two innings and sew up the victory. We added to our lead in the top of the 5th, with Iain hitting a 3-run homer. Wink's first victory as a pitcher means we are 10-2 and in great shape heading into the final week of the regular season. Final Score: Hounds 10, WSB 5. Afterwards, we celebrated at our annual team bbq.

I think this was our most solid all-around performance of the season. The defense was really stellar and our hitting was also very good. We are clicking like a well-oiled machine. Let's keep the momentum going into the final week of the regular season. Reliable sources tell me we will be playing one of the top-ranked teams in the league next week.

Zog: Final Regular Season Stats

The final regular season stats have been compiled and it must be said we had a very strong offensive season. All the Hounds single-season records came crashing down. Iain took the triple crown, hitting .844 with 10 Homers and 32 RBIs. Wink set new marks in At Bats and Hits, a testament to his exemplary attendance and consistency. Juiena closed out the season as team leader in Wins, and she won the ladies batting title with a .486 average, almost .200 points higher than her average last spring/summer.

We have to put the regular season behind us now. None of what happened then will count towards what happens next. The two teams that beat us this season lay ahead of us in the playoffs. I have no doubt we are up for the challenge, but we must stay humble, hungry, and smart in order to pull it off.

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