Monday, September 26, 2011

YSA: Hounds Fall Again; Season on the Brink

After losing on opening night, it was time to get back on the field and get back to our winning ways. The location was DeWitt Clinton and it was a very humid night in the city. Our opponents were the cityknights, a team made up of some of the members of last season's overall league champs, the citywolves. We knew we would be in for a tough battle and that is exactly what we would get. 

As the away team, we came up to bat first. Cityknights' pitcher is a very crafty fellow, changing speeds, location, and working very quickly. We were able to scratch out a couple of runs in the top of the 1st, MikePa driving in JT with a single, and Pat driving in MikePa with a sac fly. Juiena was our starting pitcher , and she gave it her all out there. cityknights are just a good offensive team and are going to put up runs against anybody. It didn't help that our D wasn't particularly sharp. There was a mixture of nice solid plays and questionable blunders. We got into deep trouble, falling behind 8-2 and in danger of getting blown out. But we fought back gallantly, lead by Juiena, who was a Houdini in the middle innings, getting us out of jam after jam. We put up 2 in the 3rd on RBI base hits from Iain and Pat. Another 2 scored in the 4th on JT's double. Now we were down only 8-6 and finally showing signs of life.  Unfortunately, the comeback would end there. We were able to hold cityknights scoreless for a few innings, but in the bottom of the 6th they put up another 5 spot in what can only be described as a debacle of an inning. We turned a bloop RBI single from one of their bottom of the order hitters into a 3-run home run with our defensive butchery. It was ugly out there, there is no need to sugarcoat it. In the top of the 7th we went out 1-2-3. Final Score: Hounds 6, cityknights 13.

Our record now stands at 0-2 and I think it's time for all of us to ask ourselves some questions. Are we going to continue to play like this? Are we willing to do what it takes to improve? Do we want to come to the ballfield for shits and giggles or do we want to actually win some games? There are some clear remedies from the outset. On the defensive side, we need to be a lot more communicative, and we also have to be smarter out there. There were many throws that should have never been made last night. We really need to think about risk/reward before making some of these throws. We need to accept that these are all good offenses and they are going to put up runs regardless. I know people are just trying to make a play, but sometimes, putting the ball in your pocket IS the best play to make. I am confident that with some adjustments, we can turn around the defense. More troubling is what is happening on the offensive side. We are making it too easy for the opposing defenses. There were two 1-2-3 innings and 2 innings were only 4 batters came to bat this last game. Too many pop ups and easy outs. We have to face the fact that the umpires are allowing these fast pitches and we have to adjust. The only way to improve our hitting right now is to get our timing down, and the only way do that is to go to the batting cages. We have almost two weeks until our next game. I am going to organize something in the Bronx during this break, most likely on Saturday, October 1 late morning/early afternoon. Be there, or go to the cages on your own. We all owe it to ourselves to do this.

Friday, September 16, 2011

YSA: Hounds Lose on Opening Night

WIth the summer firmly in the rear-view mirror, an autumn chill blanketed the city on this Opening Night of the Yorkville Fall Season. Sheets of drizzly rain were intermittently falling throughout the day. The turf fields of DeWitt Clinton were the location, so we knew that the game would not be called unless the rain became torrential. It never did, so we showed up to the field ready to start the new season. As fate would have it, our opponents were the folks from Amalgamated Bank, who we swept in the summer on our way to the title. We knew they would be eager to beat us, and sure enough, they have re-tooled from last season and have brought in some new blood. After the pleasantries were exchanged between the two managers, it was time to play ball.

As the away team, we came up to bat first, and were able to scratch out a run, Mike driving in JT with an RBI double. That was all we would get though, and Amalgamated put a 4-spot up in the bottom of the frame. It did not help that we gave them some extra outs to play with, yours truly being at the forefront of that. However, we battled back with 4 runs of our own in the top of the 2nd. The bottom of the order came up big, with Karim, Amy, and Margaret all getting RBIs. Mano also had an sac fly in the inning. Now we were up 5-4, but we were never able to take control of the game. Pat and JT each had solo home runs in the middle innings, but that was all the scoring we would get. Our bats struggled to put together rallies, and let's give credit to Amalgamated for making most of the plays they needed to make. Meanwhile, they did big damage to us with a couple of 3-run home runs, both of which were legit shots that you can only tip your cap to. We also made some nice defensive plays to keep us close– Mike with a nice assist to first base, and Amy with a heads-up catch behind home plate. Amalgamated had an 8-7 lead heading into the bottom of the 6th, and they were able to pad their lead with two big insurance runs. In our last licks, we were only able to muster a single before we were closed out to end the game. Final Score: Hounds 7, Amalgamated 10.

It's been a long time since any Hounds team has been 0-1. In fact, it's never happened. But, there is a first time for everything, and there is no reason to get hung up on trivial matters. It won't matter that we started 0-1 if we go on to win the championship. But, we are going to have to improve our play if we are to be contenders. Right now, I see our biggest deficiency as being on the offensive side. We are in a bit of a hitting slump as a team. Maybe it's time to hit up the cages.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Gotham City: Hounds Fall in the Chip

After dominating in the regular season and the first round of the playoffs, it was time for the Hounds to take the field in pursuit of undefeated perfection. The setting was the gorgeous fields of Heckscher, and the weather could not have been more ideal for softball. The commissioner himself was in attendance, trophy in tow. The format was a 6- team double-elimination tournament, and we knew a long, grueling day was at hand. Just how long and grueling nobody could have anticipated.

For Game 1, we took the field behind our ace Margaret, who we pretty much knew would be out there for the whole tournament. Our opponents were The Swingers, who we had swept in our regular season encounter. After holding them scoreless in the top of the first, we came out guns blazing with 6 runs in the bottom of the frame, Iain leading the charge with a 3-RBI triple. Now we were in firm control and the game would never be closer. Our defense was stellar and Margaret was magnificent. The Swingers had no answers for her and even though we failed to score in the middle innings, we took a 7-1 lead into the bottom of the 5th. We then added 4 runs in the inning to knock The Swingers out by mercy rule, Cindy's RBI single being the game-ending hit. Final Score: Hounds 11, Swingers 1.

Next up were The Chopheads, a team we hadn't faced at all in the season, and whom we knew very little about, other than they had a good record. We knew winning this game would give us a big advantage in the tournament, and we came out focused and determined to get the result. Turns out, The Chopheads are a damn good team and gave us a heck of a battle. It would not be Gotham City League without some controversy, and sure enough, some issues came up that were handled with the usual confusion and ambiguity. The game was closely contested  from start to finish, and it was clear that these were the best two teams in the league. We scratched out 6 runs, with Pat hitting a 2-run homer in the 2nd, part of a 3-3, 4 RBI performance from The Bopper. Cardillo and Dave also had RBIs, and our defense held The Chopheads' potent offense down. After it was over, we had a strong feeling we would be facing Chopheads again in short order. Final Score: Hounds 6, Chopheads 4.

We then waited for Chopheads and last years' finalists Grass Stains to duke it out for the right to face us in the Final. We took the time to re-fuel and get some rest. Chopheads beat Grass Stains easily, so now the stage was set for the Championship. We held the critical advantage of home field for the first game and knowing we only needed to win once, while Chopheads would have to beat us twice to take the title. After the pleasantries were exchanged between the two managers, it was time to play ball.

Once again, we took the field behind Margaret, who continued to put us in a position to win the game. We exploded for 5 runs in the bottom of the first, Dave with a monster shot to left that would have been a home run against any other team. The Chopheads have some elite defensive players though and were able to hold the Big Fella to a 2-RBI triple. JT, Iain, and Cardillo also had RBIs in the frame. We held a 6-2 lead going into the 5th inning and had to like our chances of repeating as champs. However, there were warning signs afoot, as we hadn't been able to score more than one run since the 1st, while The Chopheads offense seemed to get stronger as the game progressed. They rallied to tie the game at 6 in the 6th inning. While we didn't make any major gaffes in the field, we did have some slip ups and give The Chopheads credit for being aggressive, alert, and capitalizing on our mistakes. After we failed to score in the bottom of the 6th, our opponents seized control of the game with 3 runs in the top of the 7th. We were now down to our last licks and chasing a three-run deficit. Unfortunately, we were unable to muster anything other than a meaningless single. Final Score: Hounds 6, Chopheads 9.

Now it was down to one final game, winner take all. A coin toss determined home team, and the flip didn't go our way. We came out swinging in the top of the 1st, scoring two runs on RBI base hits from Cardillo and Pat. However, Chopheads answered with 4 runs of their own in the bottom of the inning. We have to give them a lot of credit, because they continued to rake, spraying hard hit balls all over the field. We had no answer to stop them, an unusual position for us Hounds to be in. Meanwhile, our offense fell silent after the 1st, as we began to show some signs of fatigue. By the time the final inning rolled around, there was little doubt who would prevail. We went out quietly 1-2-3 to end the game and our season. Final Score: Hounds 2, Chopheads 9.

Congratulations on a great season, team! Although we fell short of our ultimate goal, we played hard and gave it all we had. We should be proud of the fact that in the 3 seasons we have participated in this league, we have been in the final every year. We just lost to a better team today, it's as simple as that. Although they were certainly frustrating, the controversial decisions made by the league officials had no bearing on the outcome. We have not had to deal with a lot of failure these past two years, so perhaps it is a good thing that we were humbled in defeat. Maybe we bought too much into our own hype and weren't hungry enough this time around. We had not lost by 7 runs since back in Early 2009, when we were a very different team. So we tip our caps to The Chopheads and congratulate them on a thoroughly well-deserved victory. Meanwhile, we Hounds will re-group, re-tool, and re-dedicate ourselves to getting back to the top of the mountain. I thank you all for being a part of it and hope we get a chance to together, fight another day.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Gotham City: Hounds Advance

After an undefeated regular season, it was time for the Gotham City Hounds to do battle in the playoffs. The first round was a best-of-three series between the top-seeded Hounds and the bottom-seeded Thuggz & Juggz team, whom we had disposed of pretty easily last week. Conditions were ideal, with the temperature only in the mid 70s at game time. The commissioner was in attendance, no doubt to take a look at the best team in his league. He would not leave disappointed. 

courtesy Gotham City Sports
For Game 1, we were the home team and took the field behind Margaret, who was masterful on the hill today. T & J were forced to swing, and our defense continued to put in stellar work. JT got us on the board in the bottom of the 1st with a solo home run, and Alan had an RBI single in the frame as well. We tacked on 1 in the 2nd on a double by JT, and 2 in the 3rd on a 2-RBI single by Dave. We were now up 5-0 and T & J showed little sign of being able to score. They did not have a baserunner advance past 2nd base the entire game. Let's give ourselves a lot of credit for that, because they are actually a pretty good-hitting team. We just did a great job of being in the right position to make a play and we did not give them many extra outs.

After a yet another RBI hit from JT in the 4th, we put the game beyond reach in the 5th. We did a great job of hustling, and when some bloopers fell in for us, we took full advantage. Amy and Jay B. each had RBI hits in the inning. Margaret closed them out 1-2-3 in the last inning. Final Score: Hounds 9, T & J 0.

courtesy Gotham City Sports

courtesy Gotham City Sports
For Game 2, little changed except now we were the away team. We came up to bat first and got two quick runs through a 2-run home run from Iain. Margaret came back out to the mound and we continued to impose our will on the ballgame. T & J were finally able to scratch a couple of runs across, but after we had a big 5-run inning in the 2nd, with RBIs from Pat, Jay B, Mike, & JT(2), we knew there would be no Game 3. The inning was marred by an unfortunate injury to our Bopper, Pat. He had to come out of the game and along with Wink is listed as day-to-day with a sprained ankle. We added 3 in the 3rd on RBIs from Karim and Margaret, who aided her own cause with a 2-RBI single. Meanwhile, we flashed the leather all across the diamond, and there were signs that T & J were ready to submit. They began to discuss their plans for the bar and that was the final nail in the coffin. Another 5-run inning in the 4th made victory by mercy rule inevitable. A solo jack from Cap, a 3-RBI triple from Iain, and an RBI single from Dave did the damage. T & J were faced with the prospect of having to score 2 in the bottom of the 4th to avoid the mercy rule, but they were able to muster nothing and went out in 1-2-3 fashion. Final Score: Hounds 15, T & J 2.

We're off to a great start in this 2nd season. League sources have confirmed that next week will be a grueling 6-team double-elimination tournament for all the marbles. It will be a long day of softball but we come into the day with some critical advantages, namely home field for our first game, our depth as a team, and the fact that there are some teams out there that have never seen us. The way we are playing right now, we are a very difficult opponent to beat. It is imperative that we go out and win that first game. Actually, according to my calculations, if we win the first two games we automatically advance to the final with our opponent needing to beat us twice to win, while we would only need to win once. This is ours for the taking, Hounds... 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Hounds All-Star Voting

Hounds All-Stars (Vote for at least one male and one female)
Jay B.
Jason C.
Jason T.
Wink free polls

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Gotham City Final Player Stats

The Final regular season stats have been compiled. Congrats to Iain who had another monster season, leading the team in RBIs, setting a new Hounds mark for ribeyes. Pat took the batting title, just barely having enough at-bats to qualify. Dave took home the home run title, while JT, Cardillo, and Alan also had very productive seasons. Props to Amy who had the highest batting average among the ladies, and rookie Marguerite, who got on base over 60% of the time. Of course, we can't forget to mention Margaret and her mind-blowing pitching stats.
(click to enlarge)

Gotham CIty: Hounds Sweep Twin Bill

Iain flashes the leather
The final week of the Gotham City regular season brought us to Heckscher Field for a grueling 4-game double bill. Fortunately it was not too hot and a bit overcast in the city, so the heat was not really a factor. We were up against two good, playoff-contending outfits. After the usual delays, it was time to play ball.

Schlink Went Yard X 2
For Game 1 of the two-game set vs I'd Hit That, we were the away team and came to bat first. We scored 2 quick runs in the 1st, Wink and Jane each had RBI singles. But IHT would counter with 2 runs of their own in the bottom of the frame. We then put up 3 in the top of the 2nd. This time it was Margaret, Iain, and Dave with RBI singles. IHT scored one in the bottom of the 2nd, and now we were up 5-3 and took complete control of the game. Our defense was solid across the board, and IHT would only score one more run the whole game. Meanwhile, we poured it on with Dave going yard twice, both majestic 3-run bombs. The game ended on a razzle-dazzle 6-4-3 double play. Final Score: Hounds 12, I'd Hit That 4.

Game 2 was a much tighter affair. Cap saw no need to change the formula, and Margaret got the call again. With the long day ahead of us, it made the most sense to leave our efficient ace out there for the whole afternoon. She rewarded his faith in her by getting us out of innings having thrown 5 pitches or less. Our defense continued to put on a clinic as we frustrated the heck out of IHT's batters. Let's give them credit too though, for they pretty much shut down the potent Hounds offense as well. RBIs from Push, Wink, and Alex is all we would get as the game was tied 3-3 entering the top of the final inning. IHT mustered a threat that was quickly squelched by a 5-5-3 double play. We had the top of the order coming up in the bottom of the inning, and felt very good that this one wouldn't be going to extras. After a pop out, JT came up to bat and smoked a single to left. Another fly out made it two outs and JT still on 1st. Then IHT's pitcher made a very curious decision. With Iain on deck, he decided to issue an intentional walk to Dave. This is not a knock against the big fella at all, but why put the winning run in scoring position so that now a single can beat you? It didn't make a lot of sense. I guess they were too traumatized by the damage Dave had done in the 1st game. But let's give credit to Dave for recognizing the situation and checking his usual desire to go up there and hack. Sure enough, Iain then came up and stroked a single to right-center. The outfielder fielded the ball cleanly and came up throwing. JT's all-out hustle as he rounded 3rd base made what could have been a close play into a non-issue as he touched home plate way before the throw arrived. The dugout exploded in celebration. Final Score: Hounds 4, I'd Hit That 3. 

No Fly Ball was safe from JT

Jay B's bat was on fire

Game 3 was actually the continuation of our interrupted game from last week against Thuggz & Juggz. We entered play down by two runs but with plenty of confidence that we could overcome the deficit. T & J was held scoreless by Margaret in the 1st, and we stormed ahead with 4 runs in the 1st– Cap, Iain, Dave, and Cindy with RBIs. We were now up by 2, but T & J grabbed the lead back with 3 runs in the 3rd, a clean home run doing the big damage. It was a hard fought encounter and as they did last week, things began to get testy. I feel bad for T & J's manager, because he is a decent guy, but he was having a hard time controlling some of his players' behavior as their unsportsmanlike tendencies began to rise to the surface. In the bottom of the 4th, we took the lead back on RBI's from Jay B. and C-Rod. Margaret was masterful and T & J would only score one more run against her. Let's give them credit for having some good hitters, even all of their females were making solid contact. But we continued to put on a defensive show, as we seemed to get more and more in the zone as the afternoon progressed. Meanwhile, we added 4 insurance runs on RBIs from Cap, Iain(2), and Jay B. Margaret closed them out with an easy top of the 6th. Final Score: Hounds 23, T & J  19.

Margaret was dominant
Game 4 was the culmination of many different factors: Our desire to get off the field to get on with our day and avoid the showers that were now threatening the park, our annoyance with some of their players for displaying unsportsmanlike behavior at our females no less, and the complete meltdown of their starting pitcher. He issued us walk after walk to start the game, and we were more than happy to take them. Truthfully, we mostly scored on double walks, sac flies, and fielder's choice, although Jay B did get yet another 2-RBI hit. Margaret and our defense were dominant, and as cocky as it sounds, we were focused like a laser beam on two things: win by mercy rule and a shutout for Margaret. T & J changed their pitcher but by that time it was way past too late. Things got a little ugly and there was a lot of yapping on both sides, but fortunately the umpiring crew took control of the situation and warnings were issued. In the end we were able to achieve both of our goals and it felt so sinfully good. Final Score: Hounds 11, T & J 0 (mercy).

For the first time in Hounds history, we have finished the Gotham City regular season undefeated. That is quite an accomplishment when you consider that many of us were in and out all summer, and we had a different cast of characters out there every weekend. It just goes to show that we have tremendous depth on this team. We have to be one of the top one or two teams in the standings, but I am not sure if there will be a bye this season. It has been a season full of surprises so we should expect the unexpected. Updates as soon as they are available.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

YSA: Hounds Achieve Perfection

 After an undefeated regular season, it was time for the Hounds to take the field and claim their destiny as the best team in this Yorkville League. The setting was DeWitt Clinton Park on a warm and beautiful New York evening. The stage was set with an intense atmosphere as both teams had their own sets of supporters to cheer them on. We were facing the team from Amalgamated Bank, who we had dispatched pretty easily in the regular season. However, we knew that result would have little to do with the game at hand. After the pleasantries were exchanged between the two managers, it was time to play ball.

As the home team, we took to the field first behind our ace Juiena. In typical Hounds fashion, we had a rough first inning, surrendering a two-run home run on what should have been a single at best. We got out of the inning only down 2-0, and now it was time to for us to bat. MikePa and JT proceeded to get us started with back-to-back extra base hits. Iain drove JT in with a sac fly and just like that the score was tied. Over the next couple of innings both teams exchanged blows, and heading into the bottom of the 4th we were down 4-3. We never felt the game was beyond our each, and sure enough, in that 4th inning, we imposed our will. RBIs from Cap, Wink(2), and Mano, put us up 7-4 and we would never look back. Our defense settled down tremendously in the later innings and along with Juiena's masterful pitching, it was a deadly combination for Amalgamated. They showed no signs of being able to score while we added 2 in the 5th, Iain driving in MikePa with a double, and Dave driving in JT with a single. We were now in the driver's seat and with Juice in complete control, Amalgamated went out feebly in their last licks. Final Score: Hounds 9, Amalgamated 4.

WIth our place in the final sewn up, we waited for the other semi-final to wrap-up, and in an upset, the Bombers defeated Bloomberg to set up this final confrontation for all the marbles. Once again, we were the home team, an important advantage we had sewn up by virtue of having the best regular season record. Juiena of course got the start and this time, we had a much better 1st inning defensively, holding the Bombers scoreless. We then jumped to a 1-0 lead, with MikePa making an outstanding baserunning play, scoring from 2nd base on Iain's sac fly. The Bombers have some good hitters and they also employed the strategy of using some diminutive batters to make the strike zone tiny, but Juiena dealt with them well. We put on a defensive clinic, with JT, Mike, Wink, and Mano making all the plays and then some in the outfield, and the infield of Cap, Iain, C-Rod & Dave was sharp as well. We hardly made any mistakes, but our bats were quiet and we entered the bottom of the 4th down 3-1. 

Then we put together a small-ball rally in the 4th. JT, Dave, & Cindy all came through with doubles, and Pat hit an RBI single to put us ahead 4-3. The Bombers made a couple of critical errors and we took full advantage by being alert and ready to capitalize. By the later innings, the Bombers showed little threat to score, while we tacked on some huge insurance runs in the bottom of the 6th. Mike and JT led off with doubles, and were driven in on RBI hits from Iain and Dave. Now we were up by 3 entering the Bombers' last chance. Juiena got the first two batters easily, and when the last batter hit a fly ball in JT's direction, we knew victory was at hand. The ball landed in his glove like it always belonged there and a wild celebration ensued. The dream of the perfect season has become a reality. Final Score: Hounds 6, Bombers 3.

Congratulations to all of us on a great season! Our team showed tremendous heart all season, and we won the final with sheer grit and determination. We didn't hit any home runs in the playoffs, but we were able to get it done with small-ball, really heads-up baserunning, and outstanding defense. A perfect 14-0 record is something to be proud of, especially given that we really had to earn that flawless record. Savor this moment, Hounds...

Scoresheet(After the Jump)

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Gotham City: Perfect Storm Leaves Hounds Reeling

It seemed like everything had been going our way thus far in the Gotham City season. We have a record of 10-0, and we have already shown no deficit is too small for us to overcome. We entered play this weekend full of confidence. The setting was perfect and the best ump in the game was assigned to the series. We were looking forward to a fun & victorious day. Our opponents in the other dugout were the Thuggz n Juggz team, who have also been around for a couple of seasons.

For Game 1, George took to the mound hoping to erase the memories of his last outing, in which his control was off. For the first few innings, he was effective, holding T&J to 2 runs over 3. Meanwhile, T&J made a costly error in the 1st inning. A routine fly ball to left which should have been the third out with no damage done, turned into a 6-run inning for the Hounds. We did a great job of staying disciplined and capitalizing on the mistake. We had another big inning in the 2nd, scoring 7 runs. With a lead of 13-2, it was looking like a laugher, but then this game became an example of why no lead is ever safe in softball. George imploded in the top of the 4th, issuing walk after walk, and T&J also got some extra outs handed to them. It was a miserable inning, probably our worst of the season. The encounter became testy as one of T&J's players was a little out of order on several occasions in the inning, as if he was looking for trouble. Amy came on in relief and was able to get us out of the inning finally, but not before we had surrendered our big lead. To make matters worse, Dave and Amy got banged up, something we don't need as we enter the home stretch.

We got in the dugout ready to make our comeback in the bottom of the 4th, but the game and the series were abruptly halted due to a problem with the field permits. It was a frustrating moment, as we were all very confident we could turn the tide on this one. I'm proud to say that we all held our composure despite the aggravation of not getting our chance right then & there. We'll get our shot another day. Bottom 4, Score: Hounds 13, T&J 15. To Be Continued...

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Gotham City: Hounds Crash the Swingers' Party

After 4 weeks of dominating all of our competition in the watered-down Gotham City League, the league was shuffled around to do away with all the bad teams, and what we are left in is a much stronger division comprising all of the strong teams. We welcomed the greater challenge, even if the change was a bit sudden and unexpected. With dangerously high triple digit temperatures in the forecast, we knew the task ahead would be difficult. Fortunately, there was a lot of cloud cover, which provided much needed respite from the sun. In the opposing dugout were the Swingers, an outfit that has been around for a while, and whom we dispatched pretty easily back in '09. Now is a different time though and we did not know what to expect. 

For Game 1, we were the away team and came to bat first. We scratched out a run, with Iain driving in Cardillo with a single. We would only get one though, and it was time for our ace Margaret to take the mound. She was her dominant, efficient self, but the Swingers are a much better opponent than we have been playing, and did not make many defensive errors. The game was a low-scoring affair, as our defense was also up to the task. The game was tied at 1 after the 2nd, tied at 2 after 3, and in the 4th, we grabbed a one-run lead. Swingers' pitcher made a critical walk to JT which allowed for Amy to also walk, and JT was driven in by Cardillo. We should have had more but the Swingers held strong and got out of the inning with minimal damage. In the top of the 5th, Iain and Dave led off with base hits, and were driven in on a single by Cap to make it a 5-2 Hounds lead. The Swingers fought back valiantly in the bottom of the frame and scored 2 runs of their own. Cardillo got us a vital insurance run in the top of the 6th with a solo home run, his 3rd of the season. We came out for the bottom of the 6th with a 2-run lead and three outs from victory, and with Margaret still working, we knew had a great chance to win. The Swingers again fought back and were able to get runners on 1st and 2nd with two out. However, their rally would go nowhere as Margaret induced an easy 5-5 put out to end the game. Final Score: Hounds 6, Swingers 4.

For Game 2, Cap saw no need to change the winning formula and Margaret again took to the hill. We had an ugly 1st inning and the Swingers were able to get 4 quick runs on the board. However, we have been in these situations so much by now that we knew we were hardly out of it. We proceeded to put up 4 runs of our own in the bottom of the 1st, as we patched together a magnificent small-ball rally. After Margaret held the Swingers scoreless in the 2nd, we then proceeded to show the power aspect of our game, with Dave launching a big three-run home run deep into the leftfield gap. We scored 5 in the 2nd, we were up 9-4, and here is where our superior conditioning played a major factor. The Swingers were showing signs of fatigue while we continued to play strongly. We added 1 in the 3rd and 3 in the 5th, Iain with a 2-run blast. There was little doubt victory was at hand, and Margaret closed out the Swingers with an easy top of the 6th. Final Score: Hounds 13, Swingers 4.

These were two great victories and we are now on our way in this newly re-shuffled division. There are only 2 weekends left in the regular season, and both series will be against difficult opponents. We have little room for a let down.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Yorkville: Final Regular Season Stats

The final stats have been compiled and it was another very productive season for the Hounds. The production was very much spread around, no one player dominating all the categories. Props to JT for locking down the batting title, eeking out Mike by a mere 10 points. Paterno is the home run king, with a surprisingly low 4 for the season. Iain and Pat tied for the RBI lead, while in the pitching department, Wink sneaks away with the ERA title, sporting a solid 3.94 in relief. Juiena led the team (by far) in wins with 5.

Kudos also to the new Hounds Jane and Mano who both did very well in their rookie seasons. And how can we not mention Jessie, who wasn't around for many games, but when she was around, she was a big-time run producer. 

Yorkville: Hounds Cruise into Playoffs

Wink rounds the bases on his 1st home run.

After our most exhilarating victory of the season last time out, it was a quick turnaround for our next and final game of the regular season. The city was still in the throes of a stifling heat wave, the temperature reaching 104 degrees. The location was the Great Lawn, and Central Park was understandably much less crowded than normal. We knew that regardless of the opponent, a tough game would lay ahead. In the other dugout was a team with the catchy name of WTAS. After the pleasantries were exchanged between the two managers, it was time to play ball. 

Jane up to bat.
Cap is fired up.
As the home team, we took the field first behind Amy, who was making her first start of this Yorkville season. She pitched a scoreless first and now it was our turn to bat. JT set the tone with a leadoff double, and our offense was off and running with a 7-run inning. Wink's 3-run home run to the right center gap capped the rally. Amy got into some trouble in the 2nd, surrendering 5 runs, but getting out of the inning with the Hounds still in the lead. We added 3 to our tally in the bottom of the frame, and for the top of the 3rd, Wink came on in relief. The Winkster was effective out there, working quickly and giving up only one walk in his 5 innings of work. Meanwhile, our offense continued to tack on runs– 3 in the 4th, and 3 in the 5th. The offensive standouts were JT(4-4, 3 RS), Jane(2-4, 2 RBI, RS), Pat(2-2, BB, 4 RBI, 2 RS), Karim (3-3, 2 RBI, 2 RS), and Wink, who went yard for a second time in the 5th, another 3-run job. It was a 3-3 game for him, and if you add that to his pitching, it was an MVP-type performance from Wink. Entering WTAS' last licks, they were down by 9 runs and victory wasn't in doubt. They scored two meaningless runs before Wink closed the game out, a grounder to first the final play of the game. Final Score: Hounds 16, WTAS 9. The one downer out of this one is that Pat turned his ankle on a close play at first and had to come out of the game. We hope it's not too serious and that you can get back to mashing ASAP, Pat.

We have officially closed the book on the regular season. Our undefeated record is a testament to our will to win. We won games even when we weren't at our best. We won by blowout and we won close ones. We had two walk-off wins. We should be proud of this accomplishment, but we must also remember it will all be for naught if we do not capture the ultimate prize. I am confident that we can step our game up even further in the playoffs.

(scoresheet after the jump)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

YSA: Hounds Prevail in a Thriller

Coming into this 11th game of the regualr season, the Hounds were on a 10-game winning streak and showing no signs of slowing down in their pursuit of Yorkville glory. We showed up to Chelsea Park with the intention of keeping up the streak, even though with first place sewn up, we knew the game was essentially meaningless for us. The city was in the grips of a stifling heat wave, and the field was a pleasant surprise, the turf having been re-laid since last season to the more realistic field turf. In the opposing dugout were the the Bloomberg Bombers, and as the lineups were exchanged, their manager's exact quote to me was "We are going to kick your ass." I replied, "give it your best shot." There were some other testy words exchanged, as some of their players came to the field with a chip on their shoulder. Hey, that's fine. Whatever gets you motivated...

Our ace Juiena took the mound after a brief hiatus and she was masterful out there. Truth be told, Bloomberg would not have scored many runs off of her if not for a number of miscues, yours truly being at the forefront of that. Bloomberg scored 2 in the 1st, then 3 in the 2nd, and we were in a quick 5-0 hole. We were able to get on the board in the bottom of  the frame, Cap and Mano driving in the runs. Bloomberg would add another run in the top of the 3rd to take a 6-2 lead, but they would score no more. Juiena held them at bay, getting out of multiple jams with the finesse of Baryshnikov. JT made some tremendous catches in the outfield to rob Bloomberg of a few runs. Meanwhile, we chipped away at their lead little by little, with the bottom half of the order doing the yeoman's work. 

After the bottom of the 4th, the game was tied at 6 and the next couple of innings were played on a razor's edge. After holding Bloomberg scoreless in the top of the 7th, we came up to bat in the bottom of the frame with a chance to win it. The 1st two batters of the inning made outs however, and extra innings loomed large. Then, we proceeded to put together a clutch 2-out rally, Cindy leading the way with a clutch single up the middle. Bloomberg's pitcher issued an intentional walk to Mano which also walked Juice and set up bases loaded, 2 outs for Jessie. Jess had already gotten some key hits for us earlier in the season, but this was a big-time pressure situation. Calm as can be, she stroked a clean base hit, opposite field no less, and once it went over the first baseman's head, our dugout exploded in jubilation as Cindy scored the winning run. It was a hard fought win against probably the best team we have faced this season. The streak is intact and we head into the finale on the highest note possible. Final Score: Hounds 7, Bloomberg 6.

WOW. All I can say is Wow. What a tremendous win, team. Maybe the best Hounds win ever, strictly in terms of gameplay. We were down, but never for one second did we believe that we were out of it. Massive props to our pitcher who kept us in the game, and to our defense, which after a rough start, locked Bloomberg down. This was definitely a character-building win, and it couldn't have come at a better time.

New Feature: Scoresheet (after the jump)

Monday, July 18, 2011

Gotham City: Stats Thru 8 Games

Hard to believe, but we are more than halfway through the Gotham City regular season. Now's a good time to take a peak at the stats. Of course, the usual names are up on the leaderboard, but there are also some new names at the top as well. Props to Cardillo, Karim, and Alan for stepping up the production. And to Marguerite for being tied(with Cindy) for the team lead in walks!

(click to enlarge)

Gotham: Hounds Sweep Aside The Jerks

As we entered the 4th week of Gotham City play, we knew there were greater challenges ahead of us. We were hoping one lay in front of us in the Crosstown Jerks. We had faced the Jerks a couple of seasons ago, and we knew that they have been around for a while. Cap was caught up and unable to make it for the 1st game, so the reigns were handed over to Iain, who was making his managerial debut. It was a blistering July day but fortunately we had the early games so it wasn't peak heat time. 

We came up first as the away team for Game 1. We put 3 on the board, led by Iain and Pat's back-to-back home runs. Margaret was our starting pitcher, and although it wasn't one of her trademark lights-out performances, she was a battler out there and victory would never really be in doubt. In the 2nd inning, we blew the game open, scoring 11 runs. Iain went yard again in that inning, and Jason C had a 3-run blast of his own. It was part of a dominating afternoon for Cardillo (5-5, 2 HR, 8 RBI, 3 RS, BB). We added 6 in the 3rd and 4 in the 4th and the umpire ruled that victory by mercy rule was imminent. The Jerks then proceeded to have a big inning aided by some ugly Hounds miscues, but their rally would go no further as Margaret was able to close the door. Final Score: Hounds 23, Jerks 9.

For Game 2, George took to the mound hoping to build on his previous solid outings. Unfortunately, it was a long morning for him as the control was just not there. The double-walks killed him and the Jerks were able to get some solid hits off of him. Throw in a couple of defensive brain cramps and you have a recipe for disaster. We were down 4-2 after 1, and then 10-2 entering the bottom of the 2nd. Other teams may have been discouraged after being down by such a big deficit, but we Hounds took it as a challenge to show that we could come back. Sure enough, we proceeded to have a huge inning in the 2nd, scoring 12 runs and turning the tide. We were aided greatly by the Jerks' pitcher, who issued 5 walks in the inning. George came out for the top of the 3rd and tried to make another go of it, but a couple of walks later it was clear a change needed to be made. Margaret was called in to put out the fire, and she got the job done big-time. We got some insurance runs and took a 17-11 lead into the last inning. The Jerks were unable to muster anything against Margaret and our comeback victory was complete. Final Score: Hounds 17, Jerks 11.

It's good that we can sweep a middle of the road team even when we are not playing our best ball. It shows that winning is now built into our team's character. Coming back from 8 runs is nothing to sneeze at. However, for the first time this season, I saw some warning signs out there. There was a lot of sloppiness today. I am as much to blame as anybody else. My concentration clearly was not good enough on the mound and I am just fortunate that the Jerks' pitcher wasn't great either and that you guys were able to bail me out on the offensive end. We must perform better than this though if we are to have any kind of shot at repeating.

Friday, July 15, 2011

YSA: Hounds Win, Yet Still Get Humbled

With the home stretch of the regular season bearing down on us, it was time to head over to Central Park's Great Lawn to face the 2nd place team, Top of the Rock. We were coming in hot, on a 9-game winning streak. It was a beautiful evening for softball and the field couldn't have been in better condition. Unfortunately, our opponents must not have gotten the memo that they play in a co-ed league because only a bunch of dudes showed up wearing their colors. The game was called a forfeit, but we proceed to play anyway, Hounds straight-up against this all-male team. It was a stern test, and the result did not go our way. Fortunately, it goes in the record books as a win for us and we can turn the page knowing we have seen the best in the division, and that they are far from unbeatable. Final Score: Hounds 7, TOR 0.

I had been joking around that the stats would count for this one, but seeing as how we weren't playing by the official rules, let's just forget about this one.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Gotham City: Hounds Keep Rolling

The third week of the Gotham City season brought us to Heckscher Field on another gorgeous summer day in the big city. Rain the previous evening had caused the cancellation of earlier games, so we were lucky that our games did not get cancelled as well. There was a delay of about an hour as the grounds crew worked on the field, and they did a great job with the means at their disposal. Our opponents were representing the accountants of KPMG, and it seemed like they could be pretty decent as we watched them warm up. Unfortunately, that would not prove to be the case. 

For Game 1, we were the away team and came up to bat first. We put a quick 4-spot on the board, with Iain, Pat, and Amy driving in the runs. Now it was time for our ace pitcher Margaret to take the mound for the first time this season after her long rehab. She stepped in like she hadn't missed a beat, and she was her usual commanding, efficient self. The Accountants could muster nary a clean base hit off of her, and no baserunner of theirs got past 2nd base. Meanwhile, our offense continued to light up the scoreboard with 2 in the 2nd, 1 in the 3rd, and a 12-run explosion in the 4th. The production was spread around, and the Accountants certainly played their part with defensive butchery of the highest order. They made some curious decisions by not having their strongest fielders in the most critical positions, and we took full advantage of their blunders. Our opponents were shell shocked and were probably relieved when it was called after the bottom of the 4th. Final Score: Hounds 19, KPMG 0.

For Game 2, we were now the home team and George took to the mound hoping to build on his previous success this season. He did a good job out there, and with the help of the Hounds defense, was able to hold the Accountants at bay for the most part. In the bottom of the 1st, we scored 8 runs, and we were off to the races. The Accountants were able to finally score a run in the 2nd inning, and they celebrated that as if they had just won a playoff game. We could not help but find that amusing, and we let them enjoy their little moment. We did our scoring in this game in the early innings, and we built an 11-1 lead heading into the top of the 5th. Our opponents were faced with having to score a run to keep the game going, but were not able to muster anything against Cap and his back-hander. The game ended on a routine ground ball. Final Score: Hounds 11, KPMG 1. 

One thing has become clear: the competition has been watered-down in this 28 team Gotham City League. We have yet to face a real challenge, which speaks to how good we are as a team. However, we must be careful not to buy into our own hype. There are some good teams lurking out there, and they are all gunning for us. I saw some good softball being played on the other fields while our game was going on. We cannot believe that it will continue to be this easy. 

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Yorkville: Stats Thru 3/4ths of the Season

As we enter the home stretch of the regular season, it's a good time to take a look at the stats. There are some good numbers being put up across the board, as would be expected for a team doing so well. There is a three-way race for the Hounds batting title, with JT holding on to a slim lead over Iain and Mike. The home run lead is in MikePa's hands, with Dave and Iain right behind him. Iain holds the RBI lead, meaning a different Hound leads in each triple crown category. It goes to show that we have a balanced attack. Should be an interesting end to the season. 

(click to enlarge)

Yorkville: Hounds Push Streak to Nine

Sporting an undefeated record and playing with a hunger rarely seen at this level, the Hounds entered game 9 of the Yorkville season knowing a win would pretty much ensure the critical edge of having home field advantage throughout the playoffs. The setting was another gorgeous summer evening at DeWitt, and we were all recovering a bit from the July 4th weekend. However, once it was time to take the field, it was all business for the Hounds.

As the home team, we took the field first behind Pat, who was making his first start of the season for the Yorkville squad. He was solid on the hill, keeping the walks to a minimum. He gave up a couple of runs in the first, but we answered right back in the bottom of the frame. MikePa led off with a home run, and we strung together several hits to put an additional 5 runs on the board. In the 2nd, Pat got into a bases loaded, no-outs jam, and it looked like our opponents were in for a big inning. However, the Big Fella was able to nimbly escape the trouble without surrendering a single run. Props as well to the Hounds defense which continues to make all the plays.

The game got beyond our opponents' reach in the bottom of the 3rd, when we exploded for 13 runs. Sure, our opponents may have made some errors, but we have to give ourselves credit for putting on a hitting clinic out there. The stars of the game where many: Mike (3-4, HR, 2 RBI, 3 RS), JT (3-3, RBI, 2 RS), Camille (2-3, 3 RBI, RS), Iain (1-3, HR, 2 RBI, 2 RS), Pat (3-3, 3 RS), Karim (2-2, SAC, RBI, 2 RS), Jessie (3-3, 3 RBI, 3 RS), Mano (3-3, 3 RBI, 2 RS), Juiena (1-3, 2 RBI), and Wink (2-3, HR 3 RBI, 2 RS). It seems that the flat pitching is agreeing with our bats.

Meanwhile, Pat continued to cruise. With the big lead, he was able to settle down and throw strikes. Our defense continued to make nice plays, with the outfield in particular having another splendid evening. The game had to be called after the top of the fifth as the mercy rule was in effect. Final Score: Hounds 21, Nautica 7.

We are entering the final stretch of the regular season. These last few games should serve as preparation for the playoffs. We will be playing teams with winning records that will be fighting for their chance to get in. Here's hoping that we can all make these last few games so we can continue to build on each success.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

YSA: Hounds Shut Down the Bank

Our 8th game of the regular season brought us to DeWitt Clinton Park on a beautiful summer evening. We have played some of our best ball at DeWitt, and tonight would be no different. We entered this game with a record of 7-0 and showing no signs of slowing down our rampage through the Yorkville league. In the opposing dugout was a team representing a bank. After the pleasantries were exchanged between the two managers, it was time to play ball.

As the home team, we took the field first behind George, who was making his 3rd start of the season. As in his previous outing against the Misfits, his command of the strike zone was off. Many unnecessary walks were issued, but fortunately the Hounds defense was superb on the balls that were in play. Iain in particular had a flashy game with the leather, while Cindy continued to distinguish herself at 3rd base. The outfield of Wink, Mike, JT, and Push also made all the plays and frustrated the heck out of the Bank's hitters. In the 1st, George gave up one run, but the damage could have been a lot worse. Now it was our turn to bat and we promptly proceeded to put a 6-spot on the board. Dave and MikePa both went yard, each hitting a 3-run blast. George was able to hold the Bank at bay for the most part, with the Hounds defense starring front and center. Meanwhile, our offense continued to score in every inning but one. The standouts were JT (4-4, 4 RS, RBI), Cindy (3-4, RBI, RS), Iain (4-4, 2 RBI, RS), Dave (2-4, HR, 4 RBI, RS), and Mike (3-3, 6 RBI, 2 RS, 2 HR). 

We built a 14-4 lead heading into the last inning, but George got into a bit of trouble, giving up a 3-run home run and allowing some extra baserunners. With one out, the decision was made to bring Wink on in relief. The Winkster was just what the doctor ordered, as he proceeded to induce the next two batters into outs. Final Score: Hounds 14, Bank 7.

That was a good team we beat out there tonight. We are firing on all cylinders and soon our ace Juiena will be returning from her brief hiatus. We are looking very good right now but we must continue to remember that these regular season wins will count for nothing unless we win the ultimate prize.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Gotham City: Hounds Roll On; Record Now 4-0

Having dominated on Opening Day, it was time for the Hounds to test themselves against a more experienced team. Where the Pitches At is a team that has been around for 3 seasons, albeit with a mediocre record. The few days leading up to this series were sprinkled with showers, but the skies parted just in time for us to get our games in.

For Game 1, we were the road team and came up to bat first. As we did last week, we opened with a big inning, scoring 6 runs. JT had the big hit, a 3-run home run, our only dinger of the day. George took to the mound hoping to build on his previous good outing, and he was effective. The Hounds defense was also firing on all cylinders. Iain and Cindy flashed the leather on the left side of the infield, and the outfield play was solid as well. WPA did not get on base the entire game except for a couple of base on balls. Meanwhile, our offense was quiet in the 2nd and 3rd inning before exploding for another 6 runs in the 4th. The game was called early after WPA could not muster anything in the bottom of the frame. Final Score: Hounds 12, WPA 0. The one downer coming out of this one was that rookie Marguerite tweaked a thigh muscle while on the bases and had to come out of the game. Hope you feel better and can get back out there soon, Marguerite.

For Game 2, we were now the home team, and Cap put the ball in Push's hand. She was making her pitching debut, and she did a good job of keeping us in the game. This game was much closer than the first one, but we never felt like there was any danger of losing it. WPA scored 3 in the 1st, but we countered with 4 in the bottom of the inning. By the end of the 3rd, we had an 11-4 lead. The offense was led by Iain (3-3, 3 RBI, RS), Pat (3-3, RBI), Alan (3-3, RBI, 2 RS), and Mike (2-3, 2 RBI, 2 RS). However, in the later innings our offense was kind of quiet and WPA valiantly fought to make the game close. George came on in relief and he pitched a scoreless 5th before getting into serious trouble in the 6th. WPA had closed the gap to only 2 runs and they had the bases loaded with two outs. However, their rally would go no further as their hitter grounded out to Cindy who made a solid play at 3rd. Push was a winner on her debut, and we let out a big sigh of relief as this one was a bit too close for comfort. Final Score: Hounds 12, WPA 10.

We are on our way, Hounds. We are probably not going to face a top tier team until the latter stages of the season. We just have to make sure we don't get complacent and continue to get better from week to week while we beat up on these mediocre teams.

Friday, June 24, 2011

YSA: Vote for Your Hounds All-Stars

The Yorkville League All-Star Game will be taking place July 26th (make up date July 28th) at DeWitt Clinton Park. The game will be at either 6 or 7 PM. Each team will have two representatives, 1 male, 1 female. Please take a moment to vote for your Hounds All-Stars. Voting closes Friday, July 1st.

YSA: All-Star Nominees (1 male, 1 female)
Jason T.
Wink free polls

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Gotham City: Hounds Lock Up the Bandits

After months of anticipation during a long, cold winter, it was finally time for Opening Day in the Gotham City League. The weather was ideal and the field was in pristine condition. As defending champs, we arrived to the field knowing we would finally see our championship trophy. After a brief moment to enjoy the ultimate prize, we focused on the task at hand, which is repeating as champions. The first step in that mission took place on this glorious day against a gutsy yet disorganized outfit called the Bandits.

In Game 1, we were the away team and came up to bat first. We proceeded to have a huge inning, scoring 8 runs in the frame. The highlight of the inning was a monster 3-run home run by Dave. It was a statement to our opponents that we were not playing around. George took the mound and he pitched solidly, the Bandits were held at bay by some magnificent team defense. In the 2nd we tacked on another 3 runs and we knew a victory by mercy rule would be inevitable. The Bandits continued to give us extra outs and we certainly took advantage. Meanwhile, their offense remained silent. It all ended in the bottom of the 4th. Final Score: Hounds 14, Bandits 0.

For Game 2, we were now the home team and Amy took to the hill. She pitched a solid 2 innings, giving up 4 runs, but escaping out of much greater danger. She kept her team in a position to win the game. Our offense continued to grind it out, pretty much every Hound either scored or drove in a run. Pat came in and pitched two strong innings of relief. Rookie J. Black then came on to close out the game and ensure the sweep. Final Score: Hounds 14, Bandits 4.

What can I say Hounds, we were relentless out there today. Sure, the Bandits weren't very good at this early stage of the season, but we played very well ourselves both offensively and defensively. I have no doubt we are destined for big things again this season. It's going to be tougher– mainly because we have a big target on our backs. The key is whether we are hungry and humble enough to do the small things we need to do to repeat. I believe we are.