Game 9: Regular Season Wrap-Up|
Team makes the most out of a mismatch to prepare for post-season
By Andrew Wolan / WRCS
Game date: August 18, 2009
Tuffs Health Plan Corp
One of many spectacular grabs in center field by Orlowitz. (Moffitt)
The final game of the regular season for Verdasys is a make-up game against Tufts Health Plan Corp. In 2008, Tufts went 6-1 during the regular season loosing only to fabled “Dominican All-Star Team”. They were able to rebound in the playoffs and won the Middlebrook Division Championship.
But don’t count Verdasys out just yet. Last time when these two teams met, Verdasys was able to field a strong defensive unit to keep the team in the game. However, a rough 11-run second inning made a win unreachable as they fell to Tufts 16-7.
With lessons learned from last time, Verdasys will be looking for an upset and their third win of the season. Will they succeed or will Tufts retain the status quo?
Making his triumphant return to the team is Darrell Teague. In a pre-season practice session, Darrell suffered a debilitating knee injury that landed him on IR. He was scheduled to be out for the entire season as he underwent surgery and rehab. Fortunately, Darrell’s rehab went so surprising well that he was able to return to the field before the close of the season. Coach Wolan hopes to use him on first base to fill in for the retired Jerry Buote.
Making their Verdasys Softball debut with the team today are three players: David Orlowitz, Dante Dacayanan and Jeff Woo.
David Orlowitz brings to the team many years of baseball experience, including competitive baseball at the college level. Coach hopes to use him in the outfield to fill-in for both Eno and Muldoon who are out for today’s contest. Dante Dacayanan, who in 2008 was sidelined for the season with a wrist injury, hopes to contribute to the team with his many years of cricket experience and a strong throwing arm. And finally, Jeff Woo, whose playing experience is unknown, has come down to watch the team play and perhaps fill in for a few innings.
And finally, making a special guest appearance at the game today is Ruben Echandy. After being locked away in his office for nearly two seasons, Ruben managed to break free in the fifth inning to catch the game first hand.
Hot – Hot – Hot! The region was immersed in a heat wave with temperatures reaching 90’s. The humidity was low, making the heat bearable while eliminating the threat of afternoon thunderstorms. As a precaution, the team stocked-up with a Gatorade cooler of ice water, along with plenty of iced coffee. The game is also the team’s seventh straight game without a rainout.
Before the game, a nervous player from Tufts approached the Verdasys bench. He mentioned that their previous opponent, (who was later determined to be Thermo Fisher,) was very rowdy. In addition, he reported that a female player on TF’s bench was disruptive and tried to instigate a situation. Both he and Coach Wolan agreed to keep the game clean and fun.
However, there was some disagreement regarding sliding. The unknown player mentioned that there was a “no sliding rule”, meaning any player that slides is out. Wolan disagreed with outlawing all slides, but did agree that any harsh slides should be penalized.
Inadvertently, this messenger also delivered a message that Tufts might also be bringing in some baggage from their previous game. Be on alert!
The game begins with a debatable play.
Infield Fly Incident
With the bases loaded and no one out, a Tufts batter hits an infield pop-up between third and home plate. Bergstein, who was playing third, runs in to tries and make the catch. However, he is unable to make the play, causing the base runner on third to proceed to home plate. As the base runner advances, Bergstein is able to scope-up the ball and apply the tag on the base runner for the out.
After the play, Bergstein declares that a double play had occurred. His argument is that the pop-up was an infield fly ball. With the “infield fly rule” in effect, the batter is out. He then argued that base runners are allowed to try and advance on an infield fly rule. If the ball is caught, they must tag-up before scoring. If the ball is dropped, (as was the case here,) the base runner does not have to tag-up to advance, but advancing is done at the runner’s own risk.
Since the base runner on third was a few steps off of third base, it is in Bergstein’s opinion that the base runner had intensions of advancing on that play. Since she was tagged trying to score on an infield fly ball, she is the second out, resulting in a double play.
Tufts rejected the ruling, stating that Verdasys failed to declare that the ball was an infield fly ball. Bergstein argued that it should have been implied. Obviously, the two teams were argument who was responsible for making the call. In the end, both teams agreed to that the batter was out due to the infield fly rule and that the base runner was not out on the play because she thought it was a regular grounder.
But what is the league’s official ruling on such a play?
In a normal game, the umpire is the one in charge of determining if a pop-up can be caught and is thus subject to the “infield fly rule.” But since there are no umpires in this league, the responsibility falls on the shoulders of both teams. This means that either the defense OR the offense can make the call, as long as it is deemed reasonable by both teams. If no one declares it, then it’s a regular pop-up.
In the disputed play between Tufts and Verdasys, the bases were loaded with no outs and a pop-up is hit near third. Since no one called “infield fly”, the base runner has to play conservatively to see if the fielder will make the catch. As a result, she is a few steps off the bag between third and home plate.
At this point, her options are simple: if the ball is dropped, she has to run to home. If it is caught then she scrambles back to third. The fielder only tagged her out because he dropped the ball; since a force out at home is in play, the base runner scrambles to home. Had “infield fly” been declared, it is unlikely that she would have tried to advance.
Remember, anyone on Tufts could have said “infield fly.” And on the flip-side, since no-one on Tufts made the call, the infielder could have intentionally chosen not to field the ball to get lead runner out at home. And maybe even get a double play of the batter at first.
Officially, the ruling is this: batter hits an infield pop-up and reaches on fielder’s choice. Lead runner is tagged out.
The Aleksey Argument
One would think that after Tufts had requested a clean and fun game that no one on their team would dare cause trouble. However, it appears that at least one player brought along some baggage from their previous “adventure” with Thermo Fisher.
Top of the second inning with two down, a Tufts’ batter swings and missed at what some believe to be the fourth pitch. By league rules, the batter is out. This leads to an exchange between Aleksey and the Tufts’ pitcher.
Aleksey: You threw four pitches, so she is out.
Pitcher: No that was three.
Aleksey: No that was fourth.
Pitcher: No, it was three. Maybe you guys need to learn how to count.
Aleksey: Maybe you should get a calculator.
Pitcher: Fuck you.
Whether or not the pitch was the third or fourth is unknown. It doesn’t matter because on the next pitch the batter ends-up hitting a line-drive to Bergstein at third to end the inning.
You would think that would be the end of the argument, but it wasn’t. As Verdasys was coming off the field, the pitcher continued to shout obscenities at Aleksey and the Verdasys bench, telling him to “fuck off”. This drew out Nicole, who reminded the pitcher that this was an “amateur, non-competitive, co-ed softball league.”
In the end, all the pitcher succeeds in doing was souring the mood for many on the Verdasys bench.
Dante and Aleskey score on Colby's flair into left field. (Moffitt)
“We want a pitcher, not a whinny bitcher.”
Through-out the game, a solid Tufts defensive unit made quick work of the Verdasys batting line-up, limiting their advance to no further than second base. However, Verdasys would break through in the fourth.
Following a Bergstein out, (not sure what he did, but whatever he did he was out), “Kung Fu” Lijun steps-up and connects for a base hit into left field. Lijun makes an interesting pitch selection by hitting a ball pitched above his head!
Next and making their Verdasys batting debut is Dante who hits into a fielder’s choice. With two down and Dante on first, Aleksey hits a grounder and manages to beat a close play at first for an infield hit. With two on, O’Connor connects with an outfield hit to load the bases. This then sets the stage of Colby, who hits a flair into right field. The hit is going enough to score Dante and Aleksey and to put Verdasys on the board. (Dante scored his first career run on the play as well.)
With O’Connor on second and Colby on first, Grimard keeps the inning alive with a base hit. O’Connor challenges the Tuft’s outfield and scores on a not-so-close play at the plate. “Alright, I get an RBI” shouted Grimard. Ivan would hit into force-out at second to end the inning. Grimard made the out look cool by doing a standing slide into second. 16-3 after four.
Verdasys would get one more run back in the sixth to make it 22-4. With Misha reaching on a fielder’s choice and later advancing to second on a Teague single, he would score on a Bergstein RBI double. This would lead to the seventh, or as A-WOL chanted it, “one more inning!”
Wolan bravely takes a Gatorade shower to mark the end of the season (Moffitt)
In the end Tufts was just too much for Verdasys as they fell 26-4. The lose is by the largest amount in team history, beating the old record of 24-3 against Thermo Fisher in 2008.
Despite the lose, the team did have something to cheer; the team ended the season with two wins, which is double the previous season’s record. The team is also in the playoffs.
To celebrate the team’s achievement in 2009, the Grimard give coach Wolan a Gatorade shower. “I just wanted a glass of cold water” said coach after the celebration.
On hand for the “Bison County End of Season Post-Game Show” were Ajeet, Grimard, O’Connor, Teague, Misha and Ivan. Making a special appearance was Bob Safner, Jeff Curless, Igor Odnovorov and Rob Reuter who requested “No photographs or autographs, please.” And of course, who can forget coach and his post-game assessment and Q&A with the press:
What can I say? We played a team that was obviously better than we were. They have an explosive offense and a well-oiled defense. If anything, you could make the argument that they belong in a more competitive league.
As for our team and how we handled the core aspects of the game, our base running was strong and capitalized on what few opportunities we had. I feel our bats were silent with few exceptions. Going up against a team with great fielding doesn’t help obviously. Defensively, I think Ryan and David did an excellent job in the outfield.
As for the infield, I think there is room for improvement. Gregorio had a bad day playing short, giving Tufts many extra outs. Overall, I think the infield is suffering from a lack on consistency at its positions. I take blame for not identifying starting players for these positions during the season. I also think that matters have gotten worse with Jerry’s absence as he helped keep the infield together.
Overall, I do give the team much credit for hanging in there for the game. It’s no fun to play a team that is clearly out of our league but I feel we made the most of it.
Q. What are your thoughts about the player that spoke back at Aleksey?
I think what the pitcher said was stupid. Aleksey was just speaking up about something which he though was wrong. He did the right thing. Whether or not his was correct is another matter. Regardless, talking back and shouting obscenities over nothing is poor sportsmanship. All it did was ruin the mood for many. If anything, the player should have been ejected from the game per ASA Rule 10, Section 9.
Q. The lose is the worse in team history. What does this say to you?
That the game was obviously a mismatch. Personally, I have no idea why the commissioner has teams like Tufts and Thermo Fisher in our division. Don’t you think they would have more fun against teams like the one we played our exhibition game against on Thursday? (Life Plans.) That team was 4-2. You would think 6-1 Tufts would enjoy a real match-up. I think the commissioner needs to consider moving Tufts and perhaps even Thermo Fisher into a more competitive division. In addition, I think the commissioner should match new teams based on average player age.
Q. The Team appears to be hitting too many pop-flys as of late. What is your assessment on this issue?
That because we are pitching the ball too low at the plate. It needs to be higher. Ideally, the ball should be at the letters. Many players on the team seem to have success at hitting those kind of balls.
Q. Tufts mentioned an implied rule called the ”no slide rule”. What are your thought on this?
I don’t agree with a generic “no sliding or you are out” rule. Take this scenario: you are a base runner on first base and a ground ball is hit into the infield. The fielder bobbles the ball, giving you a chance to beat the play at second. Problem is how do you stop after you reach the base full throttle without sliding? You can’t! As a result, you end up stepping off the bag as you slow down, making you an easy victim of a tag out.
If you are going to have a “no slide rule” then you will need complimentary rules such as a fielder cannot be allowed to tag a runner out if he/she if off the bag after beating a play to the base. Of course, these complimentary rules only complicate matters.
In my opinion, I think sliding should be allowed as long as contact with the fielder is avoided. If a player is knocked down or cleated, then a penalty up to and including ejection should be considered.
Editor’s note: According to the commissioner, the league does not have a “no sliding rule”.
Q. Was the opponent running up the score?
Look, I have no problem with Tufts playing hard and scoring as many runs as they can. But there comes a point where you have to say to yourself “Gee, we are up 16-0. We're making base hits with easy. They can barely get on base. I think we’re a much better team then they are. Do we really need to stretch extra bases out of hits? Do we really need to go for a shut-out?"
Once your team has established that you are going to win, the right thing to do is to tone it down and let the other team have some fun. This should have been obvious in the fourth.
I understand that they did not make the schedule, but if this league is too easy for them, there are others for them to try.
After the press conference, the team held a round table discussion talking about their favorite drink. This was followed by a live demonstration on how to properly drink a “car bomb”. The show concluded with thoughts from Ivan about the game:
"I think we had more fun than other team. Our jokes were better, our water was cooler, our Russian was better, and our uniforms were better looking.”
“Exactly” said A-WOL. “I think Aleksey would feel bad if we beat this team because they had no uniforms.”
Grimard: 2 for 2 with an RBI.
Teague: 2 for 2 despite recently coming off of IR for knee surgery.
Ajeet: 2 for 2.
Colby: 1 for 3 with 2 RBIs.
Unknown female on tufts: hit a 2-run ITP HR in the 5th.
Memorable defensive plays:
David: behind the head, leaping in the air, like a dog catching a Frisbees, catch in center field. (2nd)
Bergstein: line-drive catch at third to end 2nd.
Nicole: Infield basket catch to end the 3rd inning. (Photo)
Ruben: showed-up to a game and did not ask “where’s my build?” (5th)
Dante: was observed talking on the phone while playing third base. (5th)
Colby: backhanded running catch of a chopper that cleared the infield in shallow right field to prevent an extra base hit in the 6th. (Photo)
Falls on Field:
0 for 2. Breaks 14 game hitting streak and season long hitting streak. Nearly caught a deep fly ball hit into right field: Lost the ball in the sun at the last second. (Photo) Made a 1-3 force out to Jeff Woo while playing free infielder in 5th. Certified “fall on field” while pitching to avoid a O'Connor grounder hit back to mound in the fourth. (Photo)
Game Photos |
Stats from the Game |
Absent Fan Report