July 24th, 2004

You can't guard me!

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I really do know better. I should post on weekdays, when folks who are bored at work in the middle of the afternoon are more inclined to comment. But, no, I'm actually pretty busy during the week, so I post during the weekend, even though people are too busy leading real lives to be online. <grin> So, you can expect a flurry of pent-up posts over the next day or two....One of these days I'll learn.
Relax!  Grab a Book!

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Book club met again tonight, this time to discuss Tolstoy's "The Death of Ivan Ilych." Since our last book club meeting I've travelled on planes out of the country, and the Tolstoy was just under 60 pages in length; thus, I got a lot of other reading done.

In fact, I didn't start the Tolstoy till Wednesday. For various reasons. First, it was short enough that I felt I could put it off while I read more C.S. Lewis and I, Robot. Second, I was waiting for copies of the Tolstoy from three different people who offered to loan me copies -- these loans never materialized. Third, this past week, during which I actually owned my own copy, has been exceedingly busy: only twice did I get home before midnight and at no time did I get to sleep before 2 a.m., as a couple of times I had to work on the server remotely from home.

So, I got about 5-7 pages read Wednesday night and the remaining 50+ Thursday night. I didn't think I'd make it. That amount usually takes me a few days to read, and I really had to fight to stay awake at times, so sleep deprived was I.

But it got read. And we had a fantastic discussion. And when I got home I began to read "Family Happiness," also by Tolstoy. I was well into the second lengthy paragraph of first-person narrative when it suddenly dawned on me that the narrator is a young lady. Talk about suddenly becoming aware of a bias! I haven't read too many works written from the perspective of a woman, and none done so by a man. I'm interested in seeing how convincing I find Tolstoy to be in this role.

At the end of the meeting, we discussed ideas for our next book. I brought a copy of Mary Doria Russell's The Sparrow with me, trying once again to drum up interest. bitty gave this to me over a year ago, and I've been wanting to read it for book club. I'm getting close to abandoning that idea and simply reading it on my own.

I also brought the Steinbeck King Arthur book, but that got shot down because, at 451, it was too far over our self-imposed 400-page length limit. 'Tis a pity.
You can&#39;t guard me!

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Tuesday was our last softball game of the season. Before the game, in my weekly e-mail, I broke two pieces of bad news to the team. One, I informed them that, even if we one, the best we could finish was third place and out of the playoffs. Only the top two teams advance this year. Two, I told them that this would be my last game as their captain, since I have no intention of being in the Boston area this time next year.

I probably shouldn't have said anything. A couple of people, especially Sanjay, seemed very disappointed by the news that I wouldn't be back. I was hoping that (a) knowing that we had no shot at the post-season would allow them to play loose and have fun, since they had nothing to lose, and (b) knowing that this was my last game might inspire a "let's win one for the Gipper" attitude. One out of two ain't bad. ;)

Once I saw the opposing pitcher, my hopes sank. This guy puts some funky backspin on his pitches which makes him extremely difficult to hit. And sure enough, we went hitless the first two innings, as the opponent pitched a perfect game and staked his team to a 4-run lead. Our shortstop pointed out to me after the second inning that this guy was pitching a perfect game, and I casually said, "Don't worry, we'll break it up." Little did I know I would be the one to break it up!

I led off the third inning, my first at bat. I was nervous, because I knew how bad this pitcher could make a hitter look. I let the first pitch go by. Ball one. The second pitch came. I waited. Waited. Then decided to swing. I hit the ball sharply up the middle, just over the shortstop's reach. It rolled all the way to the wall and got caught up in a tent. Groundrule double. That got our foot in the door just a bit. My teammates managed to do just enough to get me home and put us on the board.

The next at bat was uneventful. Just before our following at bat, in the bottom of the fifth inning, I announced to the team that this would be our big inning. Again, I didn't expect to be prophetic. But our first several batters reached base without making an out. And before the inning was over, we had tied the game 6 to 6.

There was no scoring in the sixth. The other team scored a run in the top of the seventh.

Before I continue the narrative, let me just state how proud I am of the way my team played. This and our playoff win last year are by far the two best games I've been involved in with this team. Everyone played with a lot of heart and contributed all they could. Sure, players made mistakes. Our regular second baseman failed to make a catch which would have ended an inning without giving up runs. I had a line drive hit me in the palm instead of the webbing of the glove and fall out, and then I tried to will the ball to third for the force play since I failed to barehand it to make the throw. There were the almost great plays. Like when our right fielder almost came up with a key catch which just glanced off her outstretched glove. And the diving tag Sanjay almost made on a runner at home. But there were so many more great plays. Like when we almost turned our third double play of the season. Or when our shortstop made a great throw to first to get a close out. Or the chopper that Keya hustled and beat out at a time when we really needed it to stay alive.

And then there's Sanjay. This is where the narrative picks up again.

Bottom of the seventh and final inning. We're down by one. Alas, slow as I am, I led off the inning again. I grounded out. The next batter made the second out. Sanjay, our pitcher in almost every game we've played in the past 4 seasons, came to the plate. "It's all up to you, Sanjay," I shouted, "you're the only one who can help your own cause now!"

Boy did he come through! He hit the ball with authority and ended up on second. The next batter hit a ground ball to third that should have ended the game. Sanjay sprinted unwisely towards third. If Sanjay had been smart, he wouldn't have done this, because if the third baseman was paying attention she would have tagged him for the final out. But the third baseman wasn't paying attention. She bobbled the ball and, just as Sanjay neared her, threw across the diamond to first. She pulled the first baseman off first, so the runner was safe. And Sanjay wasn't stopping at third. He kept charging towards home plate. The throw from first was late, and Sanjay tied the game. On to extra innings we went.

We got the first two outs right away. But then our second baseman failed to make a catch, and the next batter hit a triple. With the game in the balance, the next batter hit a sharp line drive up the middle. Right at Sanjay. Right at Sanjay's glove. And Sanjay made a phenomenal falling down catch. We were still in this game.

I liked our chances. Our best player was batting third in the inning. And the woman batting before him was one of our best women. If any of the two batters before Geoff got on base, we'd almost certainly tie the game and stood a good chance of winning. And if we ended this inning tied, we'd load the bases and bring the three batters from the previous inning to the plate. I really liked our chances.

Our first guy struck out. Our second batter hit the ball hard, but a good defensive play meant she was out at first. So it was all up to our star player to win the game.

Remember last week I talked about managerial mistakes? Well, I committed one of them. I told Geoff that it all came down to him. If I hadn't, he might have been more relaxed at the plate. He hadn't made an out since the first inning. If you didn't hit this guy's pitches just right, you'd hit pop-ups or groundballs. Geoff tried to win the game instead of relaxing and doing his thing. He pressed and got underneath the pitch. A lazy fly ball ended the game.

But it was a great, exciting game, and I was proud to have played with these guys.

Afterwards I took the team out for dinner and drinks. I showed off a few moves on the dance floor (before the music started playing), showing them how to waltz and throwing a few showchoir moves, including lifting Ellen onto my shoulders and striking a pose. When the karaoke started, I was the first to perform and brought down the house with a rousing rendition of "Mack the Knife." This was followed by food, drink, and socializing. It was a blast!

I'm going to miss these guys. It's been a lot of fun playing with and captaining these guys the past 4 years.

(no subject)

My friend Tom at work commented that the picture Tamara took of me at the airport looks like the kind of picture you'd see on an album cover, something along the lines of "passionate, soulful music" or equivalent. So I thought I would oblige and create said album cover.

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