photo(1)Suadade. It’s a Brazilian word which roughly translated means: a profound melancholy mixed with a deep euphoria. Ever since the last out on Sunday that’s exactly how I’ve been feeling. Yes, the object of this is to win, but it’s really too feel the joy of life, the misery of life, to be out on a hot summer day and commune with men. To play. & I’ve been playing organized all since I was eight years old. That’s 50 years. This was one of my most satisfying you seasons. To come from where we started and win eight games in a row, in all kinds of ways, with defense, with baserunning, with pitching, with hitting, it was a fantastic ride, and before I go any further I would like to thank all you men who made it possible. It has been an honor and a privilege willto go to battle with you rogues and gentlemen. Now let’s get down to particulars. One of the strangest things about Sunday’s game, to me, was the fact that we played with such relentless shittiness, and only lost by two runs. Through five completed innings we had five hits. No matter how you do the math that’s one hit per inning. In slow pitch softball against a pitcher who, although he appears to be a very nice fellow, let’s face it, he’s more belly-itcher than Clayton Kershaw. Through five innings we scored 3 runs. Even as I write this it seems impossible with the talent that we have in this team that we could only score 3 runs through five innings. In slow pitch fucking softball! Granted, we did hit some balls at their guys, but we also popped up miserably and grounded out weekly with shocking regularity. & to be fair, we must give the devil his due, they made some plays. And they had some balls. By the way, their big bruiser lashed a line drive down the right field line, and I don’t know you guys could see it, but the chalk flew like LeBron was doing his pregame ritual, it literally could not have been more obvious. At that point I thought, Well, this is destiny, where the chosen team, this is a portend, a symbol of our rise to the top of the mountain, we will soon be champions. The best laid plans of mice and men. And then when you factor in how much difficulty we were having catching and throwing the ball, well, that’s a potent cocktail guaranteed to make one drunk with failure. But there were rays of sunshine in the dark storm of helpless hitlessness. Barry was 3-3, with a huge hit in the sixth inning that knocked in two runs. Peter was, what else, 3-3 while looking like he was in his jammies and hadn’t had his morning cup of coffee. And the old pro Steve Mish Masher was 4-4 just raked the ball all day. He also demonstrated incredible acumen, skill, and hustle, as he always does, just when we needed it most. Through sheer will, he turned a routine single into a double by taking an extra base, and when he did they threw the ball away and he got all the way to third. It was just the sort of wake-up call that the moribund zombie-like Craters needed. And for as badly as we played in the field, apart from two innings we only allowed four runs. Against a bunch of mashers like they have, that’s great. Naturally I keep going over in my head all the different things I could’ve done that would’ve won us the game. One of their Big Hitters whacked a hot shot right up the middle, I swear it’s like the ball went right through me, and yet I couldn’t get a glove on it. I always make that play. On Sunday I didn’t. If I make that play 2 runs don’t score. Then we end up tied after seven innings. And a play that for me was a symbol of our day. Hard hit grounder up the middle. I leapt like an old gray cat instinctively rolling and diving, my wife said it looked like I was 57 again, I was ready to throw the guy out at first and be a hero. One problem. The ball trickled off the end of my glove. If I’d just left the ball alone Jason could’ve fielded the ball quite easily. If we just gotten one more timely hit. & on & on & on. My mother, who was an immigrant from the old country, had a great expression: If ifs & ands were pots & pans, beggars would be kings. Marinate on that. But one of the things I love about this team that we never threw in the towel, bloodied and beaten as we were. There was always a feeling that we could get the thing going again. I love that. I’ve played on so many teams that would fall behind and just kind of give up, consciously or unconsciously. Sure enough, in the last inning things got very interesting, they started throwing the ball around, we started hitting, and I was thinking, if we could just get one more guy on base, that would bring Joey Bag O Hits to the plate, and the way this season was going, he’ll hit a grand slam and we’ll win, because we are the team of destiny. Needless to say, it was not to be. After Grink put himself out of his misery and ended the game, Joey turned to me and said he had been imagining that exact scenario, he come to bat with the bases loaded grand slam, walk-off. Idiots think alike. And by the way, Jason, we love you, and we will always love you. It’s amazing to think that we mercied the Maniacs, who look like the best team in the league. We beat the Overlookers twice I believe. I really like how evenly matched all these teams are. On Any Given Sunday, right? Parity has finally hit Montclair ball!

As I look back on this season I see Gelman smoking ball after ball after ball, it would be monotonous if it wasn’t so wonderful. I see Meranus raging in from deep in the outfield like a Jewish Dick Butkus and laying out to make yet another bullish yet balletic diving catch. I see Rob Davis grinding out ABs, playing all over the field, and wiggling his butt, sometimes in my dreams, which, I’ll be honest is more than a little disturbing. I see Glenn gritting his teeth in utter agony and still making a spectacular play at second base when we really needed it: Fuck you Pain, I will not be your bitch! I see Barry playing second base shortstop third-base, & yakking a grass cutter down the third base line in the playoffs with the game on the line, balling-up big time. I see Ryan launching not one but two balls into the pool Splish Splash! & I hear him racing in from the outfield, heaving a world-class grunt as he snags another ball and breaks another heart. I see Dave striking out, getting a ticket, and then hitting a Titanic shot into the stratosphere while his kids reminded him of just how much he sucks. I see Mish with that whole surreal almost Dada-esque pre-AB Ritual, pumping the bat, lifting the leg up and smashing it back down, hoisting the hands up by his head high, coiled like a cobra about to strike, taking a couple of little quick Joe Namath stuttersteps and then BAM! the little yellow ball is punished. I see sleepy-eyed Peter raking all day every day, ho-hum I am just rip another shot over the shortstop’s head and trot on down to first base, that I think I’ll have a little nap. I see Jason reaching out like Mister Fantastic, Reed Richards, the scientific genius who can stretch himself indefinitely, snag a hotshot liner & nab the guy at second, a spectacular double play that changes the entire game in an instant. I see Hip hip Jorge! racing like a runaway train around third-base and throwing himself face first across home with absolutely no regard for his body, or what’s left of it anyway. I see Tim channeling his inner Mark McGuire and launching a missile, throwing out a guy at second base from the outfield, giving out tremendous amounts of shit, and taking tremendous amounts of shit like a real man. I see Mike Madman Buchanan fire his cannon of a right arm, unleash his sweet The Natural swing, and take off from first base on a suicide mission that left him looking like an extra on The Walking Dead. I see CJ teaching his children how to hold their nose in the international symbol for: STINK! after Ryan popped out to third: so very important to teach the children how to express their disdain & disgust, they are, after all, our future. I see Phil filling in at shortstop and pulling the old Phantom tag play on some unsuspecting shnook of a mook of a jamoke. I see Junior smacking a walk-off dinger, and racing around the bases like his hair and his house were both on fire, getting pummeled with congratulations and looking like he just won the lottery. I see Raj stroking balls all over the diamond, everywhere they ain’t, like a very dark Wee Willy Keeler. I see myself being a raging dickhead only a few times, instead of a few times every game, which I consider a major triumph. I see Joey getting another Bag O Hits, when he’s not being my mate in battery, my better half, keeping me calm, pumping me up, making me better. And that, as they say is that. Another season has come, and it is gone, and I am so very alive even as I am one step closer to death. Suadade.