Friday, August 16, 2013

YSA Playoffs: Hounds Fall Gallantly vs Chico's

On a crisp August evening, it was time for the Hounds to take the field at DeWitt Clinton for our first playoff game in Division 1. The opponents were Chico's, a team we have had trouble figuring out. We came into the game feeling good about our chances though and excited about the opportunity. With our ace pitcher Iain on the mound, we felt we could keep the game close and maybe even pull off the upset.

We came to bat first as the away team and were able to get some hits in the first inning, but were not able to put up any runs on the board. Chico's came to bat and promptly put up 2 runs in the bottom of the 1st. We would finally get on the board in the top of the 3rd on an RBI single from Iain, but the difficulty we were having just to get that one run did not bode well for the future. Sure enough, Chico's pitcher kept our hitters off balance the whole game and we were unable to muster any significant rallies against him. Meanwhile, their offense continued to put up runs here and there, aided by some Hounds miscues. We kept the faith though, believing we could turn it around right up until the last inning, but it was not meant to be. A simple 1-3 comebacker ended the game and our season. Final Score: Hounds 1, Chico's 6.

Before anything else, we must tip our cap to Chico's. They are a really solid ballclub, they have a very good pitcher, and they made some really nice plays defensively to keep us off the board. They are also not as obnoxious as some of our other opponents in this league, and I find myself almost rooting for them to win the whole thing. We must also acknowledge the work of our pitcher, Iain. He did very well to keep this potent Chico's offense at bay, and really, only about 2 of the 6 runs that scored off him were actually earned runs. He kept us in the game, but we were just not able to muster enough to get him the win. To top it off, he went 3 for 3 and had our lone RBI in the game. He deserves special recognition for his contributions. Props, kid.

Our season is now over and the long off-season is now underway. It has become pretty clear that as presently constituted, pulling off a championship in this D1 is going to be a very tall order for us. Perhaps the answer is to drop down a division, perhaps the answer is to re-tool and get back at it. There is plenty of time to reflect on this, but one thing I know for sure is that the Hounds will rise again.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

YSA: Final Player Stats

The final stats are featuring 2 out RBIs and BA with RISP.

Sam is the Hounds batting champ for 2013...the kid from Bahston held off MikePa (sorry Kaiser...not enough GP) for the crown. A very solid .682 average as well as 2nd in the team in RBIs mean Sam's had his best season yet as a Hound. MikePa led in most other important categories like home runs, RBIs, RS, OBP, OPS, JFK, GNC, OPP...those last few are jokes. 

Among the ladies, C-Rod(.391) takes the batting title, holding off a brave challenge from Margaret(.462) who also was just a couple games shy of the 8 game limit.

As we enter the playoffs, it's fun to look over the stats and what not, but we must now forget about all this as these numbers count for nothing now. The only thing that matters is what we do with the opportunity we have now. Let's take it one at bat at a time.

(click to enlarge)

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

YSA: Hounds Clinch

After a rough loss in our last outing, it was time to renew pleasantries with Stumble Inn. This was a continuation of a game a few weeks ago that took a turn for the worst with a bench-clearing brawl. We came into it knowing that it could once again get heated with so much on the line. But give a lot of credit to the opposing manager, he came over to the dugout before the game and apologized to us for what happened in the past. It takes a big person to apologize and you could tell the guy was sincere. We were able to move forward and finish the game without further incident.

The scenario was simple. Top of the 8th inning, 1 out, Hounds leading 11-10 with runners on 2nd & 3rd. A win and we continue the season in the playoffs, a loss, and the season is over. Iain was due up and they don't call him Mr. Clutch for nothing. He promptly stroked a clean base hit right up the middle to plate the two that were on base. Another RBI by Mano made it 14-10 and we had to feel good about our chances going into the bottom of the 8th. Iain came on to get the save for the pitcher of record, who was Margaret. He closed out Stumble 1-2-3 with some solid defense at short from Andy. The final play was a 6-3 ground out, and as the ball landed in Mano's glove over at first, we knew we were moving on to the 2nd season. We had a muted celebration as we knew that although we accomplished a big goal, we have our sights set on bigger things. Final Score: Hounds 14, Stumble Inn 10.

Congratulations team for making the playoffs in this grueling Division 1. The competition is stiff in this league, and we should give ourselves a lot of credit for persevering amidst a lot of adversity. Thanks also to Amy once again and JT for coming out and helping us when we were in a pinch. Now we must set a higher goal– a goal which is attainable! All records are out the window and we have as good a shot as anybody. 

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

YSA: Hounds Fall to Wolves

On a picturesque July evening, it was time for the Hounds to take the field at DeWitt. The opponents were perennial powerhouse Citywolves, a team we have never beaten. We came into the game knowing a win would get us in to the playoffs. Cap was out serving the final game of his 2 game suspension and Mike was once again at the helm. 

As the away team, we came up to bat first and were unable to muster anything against the Wolves' pitcher. Margaret was our starting pitcher and she got touched up for 7 runs in the bottom of the 1st. Let's tip our caps to Citywolves, they have some tremendous hitters and were able to spray the ball all over the field with authority. They put on a hitting clinic, and there was little we could do to stop it. In the 2nd inning, we were held scoreless while Wolves put up another 2. We were held scoreless again in the 3rd and Iain came on to pitch the bottom of the frame. The Tailor would fare no better and the Wolves continued to rake. They took advantage of relatively minor Hounds mistakes to blow the game open. 6 runs in the 3rd and 5 runs in the 4th and the scoreline was now an embarrassing 20-0. We put up 3 consolation runs in the top of the 5th, but it was not enough to keep the game going. The first mercy-rule loss in Hounds history was complete. Final Score: Hounds 3, Citywolves 20.

I know it's tough to take a loss like this. I know I saw a lot of shell-shocked faces after this one. But the bottom line is this... we are still alive! A win in our next game gets us in to the playoffs. After that, all records and what happened in the regular season counts for absolutely zero. Anything can happen. OK, we were not the better team tonight but I'm telling you guys, no way CityWolves are 17 runs better than us. We just have to pick ourselves up here, believe in each other, and we can turn this thing around.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Story Behind the Hounds

*This is the first in a series of special Hounds 5 year anniversary articles

I get asked frequently, "What is the story behind the Hounds? Why Hounds? And what's with the orange socks?" These are all good questions, and now is a good time to answer them once and for all. 

It was late summer 2008. Myself, Amy, Wink, and Pat were on another team that frustrated the heck out of us that summer. The manager was spineless and the ballclub was in disarray. We decided to form a breakaway team for the Fall 2008 season (Pat took some convincing and did not join until the following year). Yours truly would be at the helm of this new team, and we needed a new identity. 

The colors were chosen fairly easily: Orange from one of the colors of our original team (also conveniently a color of the New York Mets), and navy blue picked from a color of that other New York baseball team. This way all NY baseball fans would be represented. The team name would be more difficult, as many ideas both silly and not were bandied about. Finally, one night while hanging out at home with Clara, she said, "What about The Unleashed?" I nodded in approval as that was the first name that really called to me. It needed some tweaking though, it sounded incomplete. "The Unleashed what", I thought to myself. Then it came to me– memories of hearing Mr. Burns shout "release the hounds!" on The Simpsons jumped into my mind. It was perfect– and came to personify the relentless type of ballclub that we would turn out to be. Now a logo was needed, as I knew no team is complete without their symbol to rally around. A rough sketch was rendered, and from there it was modified to its final version. The logo was an instant success and it was now time to select a uniform.

The Hounds logo was originally thought of as too intricate to be put on the team jersey, so management decided to go with something simpler for the uniform. Simple wordmarks were considered, but the final choice was an interlocking "UH" logo borrowed and tweaked from an old University of Houston logo. The design was rendered in many different colors, until the final navy blue version was finally approved. The design was striking and that, combined with the stellar play of the team, made those navy blue jerseys iconic and representative of a special time.

In 2009, a new Hounds jersey was needed for the weekend version of the team. This time management had a different, lighter look in mind. The plan was to go with a drawing of a hound underneath the Hounds wordmark, but at the last moment, right before the shirts went into production, D.Lo caught a glimpse of the mock-ups and stated that she thought the Mr. Burns logo had to be on the shirt. Management rendered a new mock-up and the end result was indeed superior. Special permission was then obtained from Matt Groening and Fox Television for the printing of these shirts, which have since become collector's items.

In 2010, it was decided that we would invest in higher-quality, pro-style jerseys. We were sad to say goodbye to our navy blues, but we knew they had to be updated to be more durable and functional. This time, a timeless look was chosen– gray jerseys with the lettering and numbers rendered in the Tiffany font. We went with sleeveless jerseys which provide added comfort in the sticky summer months, while also being adaptable for the colder conditions. Countless hours of research were devoted to finding the right material, until finally a hi-tech, breathable and light fabric woven from thousands of recycled water bottles was chosen. The final touches were a small orange number on the front in a subtle nod to the classic uniform of the Dodgers, and an American flag patch on the back. The new jerseys were an instant hit and proved to even be popular with our opponents. They would come to be known as the ultimate Hounds jerseys.

In 2011, management considered changing the Hounds logo. It was thought that a logo change might boost merchandise sales. A few strong designs were considered, but ultimately, management decided to just update the old Mr. Burns logo. The wordmark was updated to be consistent with the wordmark on the team jerseys. It was around this time that the old school Houston Astros "H in a star" logo was incorporated into the team's visual identity.

As for the orange socks, yours truly has always been a fan of flair, and the orange socks really pop. It became a tradition for the whole team to wear them in the playoffs, and they have been a good luck charm for us ever since. 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

YSA: Hounds Walk Over Bloomberg

The Tailor is now 4-1 with a team-leading 6.59 ERA

Sam had another big day at the plate with 3 RBIs

A-Town bustin it all the way

Mike's W-L % as manager is 100%

C-Rod makes the play

In the midst of a historic heatwave gripping the city, it was time once again for the Hounds to take the field. The opponents were our old friends the Bloomberg Bombers. Their roster seemed to have been almost completely turned over though, and there was none of the old testiness of other encounters. We came into the game facing plenty of adversity...a loss in our last official game, the game after that up in the air, an almost month long layoff, Cap suspended, questionable rulings by league officials, and to top it off, almost half of our roster unavailable for this game. Luckily we were blessed to be able to get original Hound Amy and new recruit Libby to fill in and help us round out our lineup. MikePa took command of the troops in Cap's absence.

Iain took the mound in the top of the 1st, and he battled out of a bit of trouble to get through the inning scoreless. Then, our offense struck in the bottom of the 1st on RBIs from C-Rod, Mike(2) and Sam. Staked with an early lead, Iain was masterful and in full control of the strike zone the whole game, and if Bloomberg did score, it was due to some questionable D. He also hit a solo home run. Bloomberg would get through the 2nd with no damage, but then in the 3rd we exploded for 6 runs, and it seemed like we were on our way. Iain locked it down, and Bloomberg was only able to muster some insignificant runs. They were ready to say goodnight by the time the 7th rolled around and we gently rocked them to bed. Final Score: Hounds 12, Bloomberg Bombers 4. 

Mano held it down at 3rd for Cap admirably

Amy made her return to the Hounds

MikePa played at a speed Bloomberg was not ready for

This was an important win, and the bottom line is the result, but we need to step up our game for our next match up against perpetual contenders Citywolves. After the 3rd inning, we played pretty much even up with Bloomberg, as there was a bit of playing down to the competition on our part. In the end, I think it's beneficial in a way to have not let it get to mercy rule, as we got a couple extra innings of reps, but let's not make a habit out of this, because a storm is coming. A win in our next game clinches a playoff spot, but it will be a hard win to get. Citywolves would love nothing more than to put a damper on our playoff hopes.

On a side note, a big thanks to Amy & Libby for filling in for us on such short notice and helping us get this win. There is no way we could have done it without you.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

All-Star Baseball Cards

An Update on the Stumble Inn Game

Regarding our game against Stumble Inn that descended into madness, here is the latest:

  • The league has ruled that the game will be continued ONLY if the result has any bearing on the playoff standings. Right now, that is very much looking like the case.
  • I chatted with the umpire of the game, Mike, at the All-Star game. Unfortunately, his recollection of events does not fully coincide with reality. For starters, he did not remember that a run had already scored when I came across the plate. Also, he ruled that my run does not count because I acted with "malicious intent" when I collided with Stumble's guy. I can live with that ruling, but it stinks that he did not give us that run that scored before. So, bottom line, according to the ump's report, the score is 10-10 with runners on 2nd & 3rd with no outs. I of course will fight to the end to make sure that run gets credited to us, and I also hope that Mike's recollection was off and the actual report he handed in to the league the day of the incident more accurately reflects the scoreline.
  • I have been suspended for our remaining two regular season games as well as being ejected for the Stumble game. Mike intimated to me at the ASG that Stumble's guy is also ejected and suspended, but I did not ask how long he was suspended for. I am a big believer in picking and choosing your battles, and I won't press on that issue when there are other things that are more important.

C-Rod & Justin Represent the Hounds at the ASG

Over at DeWitt Clinton Park, it was time for the annual Yorkville All-Star Game. Cindy "C-Rod" Rodriguez and Justin "Kaiser" Hoyt were sent to represent the Hounds.
Unfortunately, victory was not to be for the Hounds team, but a fun time was had by all, and the Hounds distinguished themselves with some solid play in the field. C-Rod had one at-bat and took a walk, while Justin went 1 for 2 with a run scored. Well played, Hounds!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

YSA: Hounds Involved in a Wild One; Benches Clear

A quick turnaround meant we played our next game in Central Park only 3 days after our last. We were looking to get back on the winning track, knowing that we can't afford too many more losses if we want to make it to the 2nd season. The opponents were the team from Stumble Inn, who were barely able to beat a short-handed Hounds squad last season. We were looking to avenge that loss, but more so trying to finish the season strong. 

As the road team, we came to bat first, and we were able to put 3 on the board on a 2 RBI double from MIke and an RBI single from Sam. Our starting pitcher was Margaret, and she was as usual, solid and in command of the strike zone. We gave up 4 in the bottom of the 1st, and that first inning was a harbinger of the wild game that was to come. It was a back and forth affair, we seized the lead in the 3rd at 8-3, only to have Stumble come back in the bottom of the frame and close it to 8-6. We can't talk about our offense today without talking about MikePa and Sam. The 4-5 hitters dominated Stumble's pitcher, MikePa going 4-4 with a walk, 3 RBIs and 4 runs scored, and Sam going 4-4 with a SAC and an astonishing and team season-high 6 RBIs. Teresa also did work, going 3-4 with an RBI. Margaret continued to deal and had 2 RBIs of her own, but Stumble grabbed the lead back in the 5th and were now up 10-9. MikePa was clutch and again manufactured a run for us to tie it in the 6th, stretching what would have been a single for some people into a triple and then scoring on Sam's clutch, 2-out RBI single. The game was tied and was now played on a razor's edge. Tensions were high as both managers had been warned in the middle of the game relating to an incident in which Stumble attempted the hidden ball trick after time had been called by the ump.

We held Stumble scoreless for the rest of the game, but they held us scoreless as well, so it was on to extra innings. We started out the top of the 8th in tremendous fashion, 3 singles in a row from Andy, Cap, and Wink plus a walk to MikePa meant we were back up again 11-10 and threatening to have a huge inning. Now Sam was up and just as he was every other at bat, he was clutch and hit a sac fly to fairly deep right. Cap was on third and tagged up, barreling home to score easily. For some inexplicable reason, Stumble's pitcher/manager ran over from the mound to the 3rd base line about 5 feet up from home plate, completely blocking Cap's path to home even though there was no play at the plate whatsoever. Cap did what any other hard nosed ball player would do– braced for impact, and there was a collision. Stumble's pitcher came out on the wrong side of the collision and fell to the dirt in a heap. Cap scored, Wink to 3rd and Mike to 2nd. But as Stumble's pitcher got up, he complained bitterly about being knocked over. As the umpire was explaining to him that he was obstructing in the base line and that Cap did nothing wrong, he took a cheap shot and punched Cap. Cap responded by punching back, and all hell broke loose. Benches cleared, and mayhem ensued. Being that Stumble's guys outweighed the Hounds guys by an average of about 75 pounds, the Hounds were wise to not let the brawl escalate. Cooler heads prevailed and no further punches were thrown, although a couple Hounds fell victim to some MMA grapple moves. Unfortunately, the umpire saw no option but to call the game right there, and so we now await a ruling from the league office. Final Score: Hounds 12, Stumble Inn 10. (to be continued?)

Hounds I am really disappointed in myself for not having been the bigger person and just turning the other cheek to that first punch. That would have been the right thing to do. I let my instincts get the best of me, and I can't use the fact that everything happened so quickly as an excuse. Worse still is the possibility that this could affect our playoff hopes. I wanted more than anything to lead this group into the playoffs and to know that my actions may be responsible for us missing out is tough to swallow. I am the leader of this team and I am supposed to set the example. I see no other option but to suspend myself for the next game on 7/1 pending the league's verdict, which may be harsher for me. I accept whatever penalty they give me but I hope they will not punish the rest of the team for this. I have laid out our case to the league by email and we await their response. I apologize to you all for my lack of self-control.

YSA: Hounds Fall

Coming off a three game winning streak, the Hounds went over to North Meadow for a rare Friday game. The weekend was upon us and we could not have asked for better weather to play softball in. The opponents were the crew from Chico's Bail Bonds, who put a pretty nice whipping on us when we faced them last summer. As the road team, we came up to bat first and got on the board on RBIs from Angel and C-Rod. However, we gave it right back and then some as we let Chico's score 4 in the bottom of the 1st off our starting pitcher Iain. They got some well hit balls off of him, but we also helped them a lot by misplaying balls and giving them extra outs. MikePa manufactured another run for us by scoring from 2nd on Wink's 5-3 putout in the top of the 3rd. But Chico's came right back and put up another 4 spot in the bottom of the frame. From there, our offense was non-existent, as Chico's pitcher retired the last 13 Hounds in a row. Margaret came on and pitched a couple of scoreless innings, but with our bats not working at all, we stood no chance of coming back. Final Score: Hounds 3, Chico's 8. 

 This loss is one of those you just can't analyze too much because we were so thoroughly beaten. Chico's seems to have our number, but we must look to the fact that they scored most of their runs on our defensive miscues as hope that if we play better D, we can get a different result against these guys.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Vote for your Hounds All-Stars

Hounds All-Stars (1 male, 1 female) free polls 

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Hounds at the Apollo

Supporting our fellow Hound Paige as she took the stage at one of the world's most iconic venues!

YSA: Stats Thru 8 Games

WIth three quarters of the season behind us, it's a good time to look at the stats. Memory doesn't always coincide with the cold, hard numbers. 

First and foremost, props have to go to the Iron Hounds, C-Rod and Karim, who have yet to miss a game for this ballclub. That is dedication and I thank you both.

Justin is making his mark on the stat sheet and is leading the squad in average and OPS. The kid is on fire right now and it seems like everything he's hitting is going for extra bases. MikePa continues to lead in important categories like RBIs, runs scored, and home runs. For the ladies, Juiena and Margaret are both hitting .500 but with a much larger sample size, I have to give the batting average lead to C-Rod. On the pitching side, Iain holds the team lead in wins and ERA with an impressive 6.09. 

As we enter the closing stretch, keep in mind that stats aren't everything– there are also certain intangibles that can't be measured in the stat book. So don't get caught up in the numbers, just go out there and play smart, heads-up ball and let the number take care of themselves. Most importantly, know that I am not just looking at numbers when I make out the lineup. We close with the most important stat of all, the win-loss column.

Batting Stats (click to enlarge)

Pitching Stats (click to enlarge)

Standings (as of 6/13)

YSA: Hounds Outlast the Weisers

After a bit of a long break, it was once again time for the Hounds to take the field. The location was DeWitt Clinton Park, where we had lost our last two in a row. However, we were coming in riding a modest two game winning streak overall and with as much confidence as we have had all season. The opponents were the Weisermazers, a team with a tricky name to pronounce but a solid group of ballplayers. We eeked out a win against them last summer and we knew we had a tough game on our hands.

As the road team, we came to bat first. After a walk to Andy, Justin came through with a 2 out, 2 run home run to put us on the board. We would not score again until the 5th inning as Weisers pitcher kept us off balance. Meanwhile, Iain took the mound and was in control throughout. Our defense was solid for the most part but there were a couple of minor miscues that might have led to runs being scored. Fortunately, most of the miscues were contained to the early part of the game. MikePa continued to play like a man possessed in the outfield, with several highlight reel catches. We came into the top of the 5th trailing 2-6. We never got down however and always knew we had a shot to get back in this thing. We scored two runs in the 5th on RBIs from Juiena and Iain, but that was just a prelude of what was to come. We exploded for 7 runs in the top of the 6th, all on singles and doubles. We made solid contact up and down the line up, with 4 runs being scored with 2 outs. In fact, we scored an impressive 8 runs with 2 outs in this game. Now we were up and added some insurance in the 7th on a solo home run by Push and an RBI double by Andy. Iain closed the door in the bottom of the frame to seal our 3rd win in a row. Final Score: Hounds 13, Weisermazers 8.

Hounds we are now 5-3 and this group really has me believing. It was great to see how we rallied around each other and pulled out a gutsy win against a good opponent. We must keep the momentum as we enter this final stretch of the season.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

(click to enlarge)

Thursday, May 16, 2013

YSA: Hounds Sweep Twin Bill

Coming off a two game losing streak in which we were beaten thoroughly in both games, the Hounds took the field at the North Meadow trying to get the season back on track. A doubleheader was on tap, and despite the threat of rain in the days leading up, the softball Gods were kind to us and let us get the games in on what turned out to be a beautiful if somewhat crisp Spring evening.

For Game 1, we were the home team and took the field behind Margaret, our starting pitcher. Our opponents were the team from Capco, a unit that appeared somewhat disorganized and chaotic. They did have some big dudes though yet we took care of them easily in the top of the 1st despite having only 8 fielders on the field. However, they also shut us out in the bottom of the frame. By the 2nd inning, we had our complete team ready and were poised to do some damage. We put up 5 runs in the 2nd, with the heart of the order producing 4 hits in a row. Meanwhile, Margaret was stellar. She was our rock and never let Capco into the game. WInk and Justin came up big for us, each going 2 for 2 with 2 runs scored. Unfortunately, this game was mired by some questionable play by us, especially on the bases, owing to what I like to call brain farts. This was exemplified by the bottom of the 5th, when we had 3 out of 4 batters get base hits yet we only brought 4 batters to the plate in the inning. Don't ask me how that can happen.

Fortunately, these blunders did not cost us much as our defense was actually pretty solid and Margaret continued to deal. Capco were a fun loving bunch and were ready to say goodnight peacefully as the 7th inning approached. Final Score: Hounds 8, Capco 3.

On to Game 2, and now it was Iain's turn to take the mound against a team called Blue Balls. This time we were the road team, but once again our offense was blanked in the 1st inning. Iain is like a tailor when he pitches– a little off here, a little extra over there, and he stymied Blue Balls offense, holding them to 2 runs over 7. He also got a lot of help from his defense. Dare I say our best defensive performance of the season. There were lots of solid plays and really no glaring blunders. Andy was beasting over at short, Push represented for the outfield, Alan showed some serious vertical over at 1st, and MikePa...we'll get to him in a second.

After a SAC fly by Justin got us on the board in the 2nd, our big inning was the 3rd. We put up a 3 spot on RBIs from C-Rod, MikePa, and Andy. We brought a 7-2 lead into the bottom of the 7th. After an uncharacteristic walk by Iain, Blue Balls were threatening with two outs. One of their guys who had homered earlier was up and hit an absolute rocket of a shot to the left field gap. It looked like at least a triple if not more. Then all of a sudden came one of the best plays you will ever see at any level of the sport. MikePa flew in, perpendicular to the ground and deep in left field, his feet facing home plate at a slight angle, and made a spectacular catch. All the more special that it ended the game and was his last play before his big wedding weekend. The team erupted in celebration and the sweep was complete. MikePa...the legend continues. Ben Stiller will be playing him in the movie. Final Score: Hounds 7, Blue Balls 2.

This now means we are back over .500 and back in the playoff hunt. We have 5 games remaining, and the oddsmakers have us as the favorite in three, the underdog in two. A 7-5 record might be good enough to get in, but we have to pull off an upset or two to make absolutely sure. What I saw today, especially in Game 2, makes me believe we can do this.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

YSA: Hounds Drop Another

After getting beaten badly in our previous game, the Hounds took the field at DeWitt looking to get back in the win column. The opponents were the dreaded Amalgamated team, who we have much history with. After dominating them in the early years of the rivalry, they re-tooled their team and have gotten the better of us in 3 out of the last 4 meetings coming into this one.

Our starting pitcher was Margaret, and the veteran was on point again. We came to bat in the top of the 1st, and a baserunning blunder cost us a chance at possibly scoring in that inning. Amalgamated was now up and they put a quick 3-spot on the board. This time around our defense was not as shoddy as last game, although a couple of miscues were made. Nevertheless, it was a close 6-3 game entering the bottom of the 5th, with the Hounds trailing. A pitching change was made, with Wink coming in for Maggie Ballgame. Unfortunately, the Winkster did not have his command on this night, and was quickly replaced by Iain. Mr. Clutch got things under control, but a lot of damage had been done, with 7 runs scoring in the frame. Things were looking bleak, but again, we showed a lot of determination and fight to make the game closer. MikePa had another big day offensively, going 3 for 3 with 2 runs scored. Push was also perfect at the plate, going 2 for 2 with a run scored. Alan and WInk each had 2 RBIs. But it would not be enough as Amalgamated closed us out with a scoreless 7th. Final Score: Hounds 8, Amalgamated 14.

Another loss means we are now 2-3 and in danger of letting this season get away from us. I am sick about this loss, mainly because I just hate losing to this particular team. But I have to give them credit, they are the defending champs and in 1st place. If there is a silver lining here it's that we were in this game for most of it, and I feel like if we can improve and get a chance to face them again down the road, we can get a different result. We now enter a stretch of 3 games against some of the bottom teams in the division. We must get a winning streak going here.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

YSA: Stats thru 4 games

With a quarter of the season behind us, now is a great time to look at the stats. Memory doesn't always coincide with the cold, hard numbers. 

Well, lookie here... Sam leads the team in batting average with a .714 clip. The kid from Bahston is off to a hot start this season. MikePa is right behind him, and also leads the team in home runs, RBIs, SLG, and OPS. Among the ladies, C-Rod is tops in batting. On the pitching side, Wink is tops with a 5.25 ERA

Hitting Stats

(click to enlarge)

Pitching Stats

(click to enlarge)

YSA: Hounds Get Smoked

On a gorgeous sunny day in Central Park , the Hounds took the field looking to go for 3 in a row. The opponents were the CPAs from Citrin Cooperman, and we came to the field optimistic. That optimism proved to be misplaced...

Our starting pitcher was Margaret and she was as usual, in full command of the strike zone. She deserved a better result than her team was able to get. We came to bat in the top of the 1st  and were unable to muster anything. Cooperman was now up and they proceeded to put up a quick 6 spot on the board. Let's give this team a lot of credit, they had good hitters making solid contact all up and down their lineup. Their pitcher was also very crafty in that he had us consistently swinging at pitches high in the zone. As a result, we got under a lot of his pitches, and there were tons of harmless pop ups by our team. 

We put up 4 runs in the top of the 2nd, but after that, it was a pretty quiet day for our lineup. Meanwhile, Cooperman continued to rake and by the late innings, it was clear who was the better team at this moment. We were just fortunate not to get mercy-ed, missing that threshold by two runs. The big highlight of the day was the cooler of ice cold brewskies that awaited us after the game. Final Score: Hounds 7, Citrin Cooperman 17.

There's no need to sugar coat, we got rocked today. We took one on the chin, but there is no reason we can't bounce back. A quarter of the season is behind us but there is still the majority of the season ahead of us. We have a big game coming up next Tuesday against one of the best teams in the division. It only gets tougher from here, folks. Hit the cages people, we need to get this offense in gear.

Monday, April 22, 2013

YSA: Hounds Pull Out a Gutsy Win

Looking to build on the momentum of our previous win, the Hounds took to the field at Harlem River Park. It was a crisp day more appropriate for fall league, but the sun was out in full force. The opponents were the Furies, a classy ballclub that edged out a close one against us last fall.

As the home team, we took the field first behind Iain, our starting pitcher. Ol' Mr. Clutch was masterful, consistently staying in the zone and containing the Furies hard-hitting offense. They put a run on the board in the 1st off two clean hits. We responded though with three of our own. From there it was a closely-contested ball game, with each team taking turns with the lead. Our defense was in bend but don't break mode– we made a couple of blunders and positioning mistakes, but we made the plays we needed to and kept the game within reach. Rookie Teresa had some nice plays in the outfield and Karim was nimble over at 1st base. Mike had another big day going 3 for 3 with 2RBIs and a run scored, while Iain also went 3 for 3 including a solo homer and the tie-breaking hit in the bottom of the 6th. We took a one run lead into the top of the 7th, and were able to close out Furies with a strong 1-2-3 inning. Final Score: Hounds 8, Furies 7.

What. A. Gutsy. Win. This Furies team had some fantastic hitters and we were able to contain them. Give yourselves a lot of credit for that. We may not have been firing on all cylinders (especially offensively) in this one, but we stilled pulled out the win. Winning when you don't play your best is the hallmark of a good team. We have now won two in a row and are a danger to any team that crosses our path right now. There's no reason we can't go on one of our long winning streaks. The Hounds have been unleashed. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

YSA: Hounds Bounce Back

After a tough loss on Opening Day, the Hounds took the field looking to bounce back. The location was Riverside Park, and the opponents were the team from Paragon Sports. After the usual pleasantries were exchanged between the two managers, it was time to play ball.

 As the home team, we took the field first behind Wink, who was making his first start of the season. A nice 5-5-3 double play set the tone early that this we would be a different defensive performance than last week. Paragon was still able to score a run but that is all they would get in the top of the 1st. As we came to bat in the bottom of the frame, it was evident that Paragon was short-handed and only had 8 fielders out on the field. We were quick to capitalize, scoring 7 runs in the 1st. Mike set the tone, hitting a leadoff solo home run, part of a huge day for MIkePa (4-4, 3 HR, 4 RBI, 4 RS). Paragon eventually had some more people show up and were able to field a complete team. They scored 3 runs in the 3rd, but we also kept putting numbers on the board. We brought an 11-4 lead into the bottom of the 5th, and then we really exploded offensively to put the game to bed. 11 runs were scored in the inning. Every Hound made a contribution, but some of the standouts were Pat (3-3, RBI, RS), Paige (2-2, RBI, RS) and Sam (3-3, 3 RBI, 3 RS). Wink also helped his own cause by going 1-2 with a SAC and 3 RBIs. The umpire finally and mercifully ended the game after Iain's 2-RBI triple. Final Score: Hounds 22, Paragon 4. (mercy) 

This was a great win, Hounds. I was particularly impressed with the way we kept up the intensity even though we had a big lead throughout. There weren't very many cheap hits in that 5th inning. Our defense was also much stronger than last game, although there is always room for improvement. If we play like this all the time, we will be a difficult opponent for anybody. Keep up the good work, team.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

YSA: Hounds Fall on Opening Day

There was much excitement as the Hounds gathered at DeWitt Clinton Park for Opening Day 2013. We could not have asked for better conditions: the weather was perfect for softball, mid 70's with a late afternoon sun blanketing the field. The field itself had also clearly undergone some repair work and was in good shape. Our opponents were The Headliners, a solid yet somewhat mouthy ballclub. Their mouthiness made the end result of this game that much more difficult to swallow...

Our starting pitcher was Juiena, and as she usually does, she threw strikes and gave no one a free pass. As the home team, we took the field first, and there were some early warning signs in the top of the 1st. Headliners got 3 runs aided by some defensive miscues. We were able to get one back in the bottom of the frame on rookie Angel's RBI double. However, things got ugly in the top of the 2nd, as our defense really struggled and our opponents made us pay. They put up a 7-spot and all of a sudden we were down 10-1. Things were looking bleak, but I was encouraged by the fact that we did not give up. We battled back to get the game as close as 11-8, but that is as close as we would get. Wink came on in relief of Juice and did an admirable job of keeping us within striking distance. There were some nice moments for us, Pat hit one of his tape-measure shots for a two-run home run, Mano had a solo jack, rookie Andy went 3-3 with 2 RBIs in his Hounds debut, and Mike made some nice plays in the outfield. Unfortunately, we did not do enough on this day and our opponents were able to get the win comfortably. Final Score: Hounds 9, Headliners 16.

I said it at the field but it bears repeating: the defensive effort we put in today is not going to get it done in this division. If we continue to play like that, it will be a long and frustrating season. The team we played was good, but they have weaknesses and I still believe we are better top to bottom. We just butchered way too many routine plays. We are better than this, team. We have got to get our act together– our next game is just in a few days.