Game 10: It’s Called Non-Competitive Softball
“I was once football hooligan” - Aleksey
printer friendly
Game date: Aug 20, 2008

Score Box
  1 2 3 4 5 6 7   R H HR
Thermo Fisher
1 0 3 5 11 0 4   24 X 3
0 0 2 0 11 0 0   3 14 0

Colby displays the company motto as she rounds second  (Moffitt)

At the start of the season, A-WOL informed me that we would be covering a team in a non-competitive, self-pitch, co-ed softball league. The first thought that came to my mind was “Self-pitch? That’s just a notch above tee-ball.”

But seriously, I also knew that if a league branded itself as “non-competitive”, it implied that the games would focus more on the fun elements of the game, like hitting and fielding, and less on the least desirables such as strike-zones and nit-picky rules. And in being “non-competitive”, it would also mean that A-WOL should not have any ”in-game incidents” involving overly zealous players.

Now fast forward to Game 10. For the most part, expectations have lived up to reality. True, there have been a few bad apples, such as the guy who knocked down Kim in game 6, or the batter whose homerun struck a bald eagle’s nest. But even then, these instances were dismissed for what they were: “accidents”.

However, Game 10 featured one bad apple that left even the seasoned players shaking their heads.

Pre-Game News

Before the game, it was announced that A-WOL applied for Jamaican citizenship and had changed his name to “Andy Bolt”. (“A-BOLT”). This move comes from A-BOLT’s ability to dash across the baselines and outrun throws to first like the gold medal Olympian Usain Bolt. (Just not quite as fast as the Olympian ... and with a bad Jamaican accent.)

In addition, it was announced that the team would be without power hitters Don Muldoon, Ryan Grimard and Darrell Teague. The team will need to adapt if they are to succeed in the regular season finale against Thermo Fisher (TF).

Game Summary

The game began with a little juggling act by Aleksey. Top of one, a TF batter hits a ground ball to Aleksey. Though he was able to field the ball, he could not control the ball as it spun around and eventually squirted out of this glove. So Aleksey, what happened?

Kelly Allen mid-swing before hitting an infield single  (Moffitt)

“When I get the ball, it kept spinning in my hand… like a top. I could not handle the ball so it fall out of glove.”

Thermo Fisher would take a 1-0 lead after one.

Second inning, the first TF batter hits a long fly ball to Elliott in left field. The hit must have been interesting because the field was eerily silent until Elliott made the catch. He would make one more dazzling catch in left field to keep TF scoreless.

A-BOLT, eh, A-WOL gets the bottom half of the inning with an infield single. He would advance to second on a Ron Smith sacrifice. Kelly Allen comes to the plate and hits a ground ball between second and third. With A-WOL running on the play, the TF third baseman fielded the ball and attempted to apply the tag. A-WOL was able to avoid the tag, thus putting runners on the corners. Liz could not cash-in as she popped-out to end the inning.

The Dramatic Duo of Delhi

Thermo Fisher would score 3 runs to take a 4-0 lead. But the Dramatic Duo of Delhi would not take this sitting idly by. Bottom of the third inning, Ajeet gets things going with an infield hit. Ajeet manages to stretch the hit into a double by advancing to second on the overthrow to first.

The catcher chases down the ball after Ajeet forgets to touch home plate  (Moffitt)

Next up is Dharmender, who is thrown-out at first on a ground ball. With everyone paying so much attention to Dharmender, Ajeet not only manages to advance to third, but rounds the base and head home before the TF infield notices anything. As the ball is thrown to home, Ajeet forgets to touch home plate and runs past it to the right. With the ball in the catcher’s hands and Ajeet 7 feet away from home plate, A-WOL made a frantic plea to Ajeet to touch home plate. This might have confused the TF catchers as the two made a dash to touch home plate. Though the catcher won the draw, Ajeet was declared safe because it was NOT a force out situation. Thus, The Dramatic Duo of Delhi gets Verdasys on the board with a “screwy” sacrifice RBI by Dharmender.

Elliott and Colby would follow the duo with singles on their own. This would put runners on first and second for Mike O. who would connect with a RBI ground ball base hit through short, his twentieth of the season. Elliot would round third and score, but just barely before Colby gets tagged out trying to advance to third. 4-2 TF after three.

Thermo Fisher would exploit weakness in the Verdasys outfield unit to net 5 runs in the fourth. This was accomplished by scattering base-hits throughout the outfield, giving grief to Elliott and the rest of the outfield unit. TF would then break the game wide open in the fifth by scoring 11 runs to take a commanding 20-2 lead after 4 and a half innings.

The Home Plate Incident

The bottom half of the fifth inning produced a play that left some people shaking their heads.

A-WOL gets the inning started with a one-out infield single. After Ron flies-out to shallow center field, Kelly Allen steps to the plate. With two outs and A-WOL running on contact, Kelly hits a fly-ball to center field. The fielders are unable to field the ball, so it drops for a base-hit. By the time the fielders throw the ball to the infield, A-WOL is rounding third, heading home in an attempt to score.

While this is happening, the Thermo Fisher first baseman moves to cover home plate. The fielder positions himself so that he is in the running lane from third base to home. He places his right foot on the plate and his left on the base line. In other words, the fielder is blocking the plate.

A-WOL scores on a controversial play at home  (Moffitt)

As A-WOL comes in to score, a throw is made to the plate. The ball is thrown to the TF first baseman covering home about head high. A-WOL determines that the ball will come in high by reading the fielder’s gestures. To avoid getting hit while scoring, A-BOLT makes a ducking stomp-like slide at the plate. His left foot lands in the dead center of the plate. This happens to also be where the TF fielder has positioned his foot. Thus, as A-BOLT crosses the plate, his right foot steps on the TF fielder’s right foot after which the fielder applies the tag.

After the play, both sides dispute whether a run had scored. The Thermo Fisher first baseman argued that A-BOLT was out because he stepped on his foot, not home plate. A-WOL argued that it didn’t matter, because the fielder committed a no-no in non-competitive softball, and that was blocking home plate.

“At first, I thought the fielder was angry that I had stepped on his foot” commented A-WOL. “After all, I had stepped on his foot with my entire body weight behind me, while wearing cleats. But to my surprise, he was more concerned about denying us a run in a game that was pretty much decided.”

Unwilling to continue arguing a meaningless run, A-WOL let the fielder have his call and walked off the field into the team’s dugout. What happened later is unclear. Eyewitness accounts report that as A-WOL was walking away, the TF first baseman made an angry toss of the ball into the ground. The ball’s trajectory was in the direction of where A-WOL was walking. While it is not uncommon for a fielder to toss the ball at the pitching mound after the third out has been made, this did not appear to be the case. (Form your own conclusion.)

Continuing Action

With the team down by more than 15 runs after 5 innings of play, the mercy rule now comes into effect. The losing team has the option of quitting or continuing play. Aleksey, unease with what just happened, suggested that the team use this opportunity to walk off the field in protest. Elliott and Bergstein convinced everyone with a separate rallying call: “Let’s make them play the entire game.”

And with that, the game continued, but not without a second confrontation. Apparently, a player from the TF bench was not happy with Aleksey’s rallying call and began a verbal confrontation. It got so bad that the Putin and the Russian military had drafted plans to invade Waltham and seize control of “Middlebrook Field” in defense of Aleksey. Jerry, Nicole and several other plays from the Verdasys bench managed to step in and end the discussion before it escalated.

Continued Non-Forfeiting Action
The TF runners retreats backs to second as Cornwall catches an infield line drive  (Moffitt)

Both teams played a defense-led 6th inning as both teams were shutout in the sixth. TF would score 4 runs in the top of the seventh to extend their lead to 24-3. In the final half inning of play, Verdasys would make things interesting.

Johnna got the final half inning going with an infield single. Next up is Colby who… where did she go? Well, anyways, next up is Mike O who hits into a fielder’s choice. Alex follows suit with an FC own his own, which is then followed by Jerry who connects with an outfield single. So, with two down and runners on first and second, Bergstein comes to the plate and make contact. However he flies out to center field to end the game.

So in a game that could have ended early in an ugly scene, the Verdasys softball team hangs in there to force seven innings of play.

Postgame Show

In attendance at the “Hammer and Sickle Post-Game Show” was pretty much the entire team from Game 10, including Aleksey Kireyev. As always, A-WOL continued right into his post-game evaluation.

“Undoubtedly, this was the most uncomfortable game we have played all season. I feel our guys handed themselves well. Perhaps a few got a little overboard, but they were kept in check. The team is looking past this game and onto the playoffs. ”

A-WOL then opened the floor to a Q&A session

Q. There is word that A-WOL was injured on that play at home plate. Is this true?

"That is correct. He injured his right foot. He says his foot is sore and is unable to run. The team physical therapist says his foot will be fine, but does not expect the soreness to go away for several weeks."

Would the outcome of the game be different had Smith started in center field?  (Elimov)

Q. Why was Ron in the outfield instead of third base and why did he and A-WOL switch positions later in the game?

"Before the game, Ron mentioned that his quads were sore and that he would be unable to play at any positions requiring quick reaction times. IE, the infield. That is why he was placed as a free outfielder. However, he did not seem comfortable in that position."

As for A-WOL, he seemed lost in center field for whatever reason and missed several played. In fact, the only out he made was when he came in and caught an infield fly ball. So with that, I had them swap positions. Ron quickly made two plays in center field after the move.

In hind sight, I should have considered putting A-WOL in the field.

Q. “What are your thoughts on the coverage of home plate during that controversial play?”

“For a guy that was complaining on the side-lines about how some of our hitters were not playing the game correctly, he should know better than to block home plate. That rule is in place for a reason and that is so people don’t get hurt.”

Q. “Hey Andy, why was that guy so angry about our team scoring a single point when there were up by a couple dozen points?” - Alex

“Perhaps no one told him this was a non-competitive, slow pitch, co-ed softball league. Perhaps this player gets a kick out of stomping on a 1-5 team. Whatever the reason, if your team has pretty much sealed the game, the right thing to do is to let the other team have some fun by toning it down. After all, it’s call ‘non-competitive’ softball for a reason.”

After the press conference, the team reflected on the season that had past and turned their focus onto the post-season. Mike OConnor was given a standing ovation for being the only member of the team to collect 20 or more hits in the regular season. “That’s an average of three hits per game” reminded Mike O.

Web Gems

  • Jerry Buote: running catch of a short infield pop-fly. (5th)
  • Johnna: catch of a short pop-up at home plate. (5th)

  • Big Bats

  • Mike O: 2 for 3 with an RBI. First on team to hit 20 base hits in a season.
  • Kelly Allen: 2 for 2 with an RBI.
  • Dharmender: 1 for 1 with a sac RBI.

  • 1 = Run was awarded to Verdasys following the game.

    Game Photos | Stats from the Game | Scorebook