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!