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.