Quimby Read

Greasepaint and Pancake Mitts

(My Dad catching when he was 17, in 1948)

As a child, two objects in our storage closet fascinated me: my grandfather’s catcher’s mitt, and my dad’s clown makeup kit. My grandfather’s mitt was the old pancake style mitt common in the 1920s, thickly padded with no flex or even a pocket. You needed two hands to catch the ball. My Dad was career military, but started a clown act on the side to perform at events around the Air Force base. His clowning partner was a teenager named Lefty, the son of the base commander. Lefty grew up to be a fighter pilot and was shot down and killed over Vietnam. When my Dad dreamed about him, Lefty was always in clown makeup, doing cartwheels.

(My Dad doing his clown act.)

My grandfather taught my Dad to catch. Back in the 40s in the Pacific Northwest, baseball wasn’t something you watched, it was something you did. There were hundreds of unaffiliated minor league and semi-pro teams scattered across the county. Indian Reservations had their own leagues, and so did prison systems. The semi-pro team in my Dad’s town (Tigard, Oregon) was sponsored by the local paper mill. They needed a catcher, and he was the catcher on his high school team, so he got paid to play baseball at age sixteen. What could be better than that?

When I started my youth baseball career, I was a second baseman. By my third year, my Dad converted me into a catcher. He geared me up, and took a wooden bat and rapped me on the helmet, and smacked my shin guards and poked me in the chest protector to prove that I was safely armored. (Not entirely true, as any catcher will tell you. Nothing’s quite as unpleasant as taking a foul tip in the bicep.)

I didn’t have a great arm, but it was accurate and I had a quick release, and even though my league allowed leads and stealing on the pitcher I gunned most base runners down. My throw was always knee high, and on the first base side of the bag. I had good hands, and loved a play at the plate. My league didn’t require that the runner slide into home, and they often tried to take me out. But I had all the gear on, and became adept at applying a tag between their legs. At which point their forward motion came to a complete halt. I don’t know if that was entirely fair, but a catcher’s got to learn to protect himself and the plate.

The Christmas before my son Emmett’s AA season he received a box from my Dad. He opened the box to find a fine catcher’s mitt, a helmet, shin guards and a chest protector. Emmett played a lot of positions through AA and AAA, but as his manager I discovered that other teams scored less when Emmett was behind the plate. His manager on the all-star team, Marcelo, seemed to come to the same conclusion. When the Albany 11 year old all-stars went on their title run last season to capture the Northern California State Championship, Emmett caught 69 out 72 innings. When he was younger and people asked him what position he played, he’d rattle them off: shortstop, pitcher, centerfield, catcher. But now when people ask him what he plays, he tells them he’s a catcher.

(Emmett catching.)

Like most baseball fans, I don’t mark the arrival of spring by the appearance of daffodils, or robins, or the Easter Bunny. Spring comes with Opening Day. But for both the Albany Little League and the Major Leagues, there was a pall over the new season. As much as I was looking forward to managing this year, I felt a deep pang knowing I wouldn’t be seeing Fred Oyle out on the fields. The first weeks of the Major League season seemed shadowed by death: the promising young pitcher for the Angels, Nick Adenhart, was killed in a car accident mere hours after I’d watched him shut down the A’s; the great, goofy rookie sensation of 1976, Mark Fidrych died at age 54; and longtime announcer for the Phillies, Harry Kalas, died preparing for a game. Maybe I felt the sting a little more acutely than most; my father died on April 2nd.

I wonder if the clown in my father had wanted to go on April 1st, and the parent in him overruled that. Maybe April Fool’s Day wouldn’t be the best day for your children to get that call. I had talked to him two days before he died, telling him that Emmett was umpiring games this year. My Dad had umpired hundreds of games when I was growing up, and I knew he’d be pleased to hear that Emmett was following in his path.

As a writer and a baseball fan, I have strong opinions about baseball writing, and it is my strongly held opinion that Roger Angell’s essay “The Web of the Game” is the greatest piece ever written about the game. It’s a story that unfolds slowly, as Angell sits in the stands next to the Yale pitching coach before an NCAA regional championship pitting Yale against St. John’s. Angell masterfully parcels out the details, and you’re surprised and pleased to find out that Yale’s starting pitcher is the young Ron Darling, who would go on to pitch for the Mets in the 1986 World Series. And the starter for St. John’s was the young Frank Viola, who would go on to become the best left-handed pitcher of the 80s, and the ace of the 1987 Champion Twins. I won’t spoil the narrative for you, but the game that unfolds is widely considered to be the greatest college baseball game ever played, and the 90 year old pitching coach for Yale is none other than the legendary Smokey Joe Wood, who pitched for the championship Boston Red Sox at the turn of century.

That essay has been on my mind since my father died. It’s about how the game gets passed down through the years, from generation to generation. How you can know the past and see the future through the game. Baseball is, in every real sense, the legacy that I have handed from my father to my son. What Fred Oyle gave to his son, Alex. The future that we could see for Nick Adenhart; the memories we had of Mark Fidrych.

(My Dad and Emmett a couple years ago.)

I haven’t dreamed about my father since he died. I don’t know if he’ll come to me in dreams wearing clown makeup, doing flips on the trampoline. But when I think of him, I think of playing catch with him in the back yard – that simplest pleasure of the ball going back and forth, the ritual and rhythm of it. My two and a half year old daughter, Matilda, loves baseball, loves seeing the games and Emmett’s teammates (“It’s Arlo! Jack is my friend!”), and we’ve already started with a Nerf ball and bat. But baseball’s not her first love. On Saturdays she goes to the circus school on our street in San Francisco. She’s learning the trapeze.

(Matilda on the trapeze. Emmett's in the background wearing the Venture Brothers shirt.)
  • Current Mood
    pensive pensive
Quimby Read

Birth stories & baby pics

JZ and Matilda. Babygirl's all squished and smushed and bruised and squinty as she's only about an hour and a half old there.

xpost from Bitches

Two last birth stories.

We got to the pushing stage. Dr. Shoo is with us. She's late thirties, asian woman, very no-nonsense. Delivered a lot of babies. She gives me my instructions. "I want you to count to ten slowly as the contraction peaks. She'll push on your count. Then take a breath and do another ten count. We'll do sets of three. Okay?"

Okay, I say, I'm ready!

We all stare expectantly at the contraction numbers on the monitor. One starts to build.

Dr. Shoo: Now.
Me: I'm going to count backwards. 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-5-6-7-8...

At this point Dr. Shoo gives me a look. This is what the look says. "You fucking idiot. Your wife is giving birth to your child. She's been in labor for more than a day. She's in pain and exhausted. You have only one task at this point. Count. To. Ten. Something you knew how to do in kindergarten. Get your shit together, jackhole."

JZ was more verbal. "We're not counting in crazy melty land!"

After my fiasco in counting, though, my coaching was pretty good.

The other story is when JZ was getting her epidural. She's very needlephobic and the way she deals with it is by talking her way through it. So it usually sounds like, "Okay, and now they're putting the needle in. And I'm NOT running away. I am staying still. And...OW! Fuck that hurts. Fucking fuck fuck fuck! Motherfucking fuckheads!"

So, I try to warn the doctor beforehand. "Don't take it personally." But the doctor was cool and snarky, and talked right back to her and kept her distracted. Except she's very flinchy about the whole thing. And flinched when she got the preliminary lidocaine shot.

Me: It's very important that you're still when you get the epidural. You have to be completely still when he starts it. You can't pull away or jerk. You have to be calm.
JZ: Okay. He's starting the epidural now. And I'm just going to talk. I'm going to be a little chatter monkey. And chatter monkeys live in Indonesia and they have long silky purple fur. And... [her body is tensing up and I'm afraid she's going to jerk away again]
Me: Jacqueline! You have to focus. You have to be very still.
JZ: [glaring at me] ...and chatter monkeys will BITE the fingers off people who are too bossy. They will bite them right off.
Quimby Read

Matilda Azalea Smay, born 9/26/06

Just a quick note for those following along in LiveJournal.

JZ had our baby girl yesterday morning. Fourteen hours of labor, 2 and half hours of pushing, 3 vacuum extraction attempts and we wound up having a C-section.

She's four weeks early. 6 lbs, 5.2 oz. 19 inches long.

Very healthy. Very cute!

Last night she had to be taken to the NICU to have bile suctioned out of her stomach. We think she's going to be fine. Hoping to get her back today.

I'll share pictures when I've got them.

Bedrest, Baseball and The Book

Just a quick update on my world, and showing off my new icon from Steph.

JZ's been on bedrest for the last couple weeks. Back at the beginning of August she started bleeding, we rushed to the hospital, spent the weekend there and now she's hanging out at home through the end of the month. She's fine and the baby's fine, but she's bored and restless. She watched Lonesome Dove and it just about wrecked her. She's at that point in the pregnancy where she's completely flooded with hormones and extremely emotionally labile. So I'm petting her a lot and feeding her spinach dip and other Trader Joe treats.

Emmett's tournament team, The Eagles, finished up the season by winning their last two tournaments. I was there for the Alameda tournament (around the corner from Maidengurl's house, incidentally) where Emmett was in a hitting slump. The Tassajara tournament was when Jacqueline and I were at the hospital, but I kept getting updates on the phone from his Mom. Emmett wound up having a walkoff triple in the semifinal, and hit another triple in the finals to knock in the tying runs during a huge comeback.

Counting his Triple-A end of season tournament with The Mets he's won three championshps this summer. That's three more than I ever won. It's interesting, I wasn't that keen on some of the kids on the tournament team last year, but the roster has been shuffled a bit and we've added two new boys who are both extremely good players and also very nice. Also, some of the more annoying kids have grown up a bit and are much easier to be around.

I have heard through the coaching grapevine that I will probably be approached to manage a team in Triple-A next year. So far I've only been a coach. We'll see how that goes.

I was stuck on the book for much of July. I knew what I wanted to write but I couldn't find the structure for the book. I wound up having a shower epiphany and it all started falling in place. (I do my best problem solving in the shower. I used to figure out all my database problems in the shower too.) I've been in a good groove with writing since then, and the other day I was parked at a cafe in the Mission and just did a riff page. Just tried to find the tone and the language I want and was very happy with the result.

I'm feeling very ambitious about the book. Reading Joyce and Flann O'Brien for the language. That Irish mix of lyricism and earthiness. I've been tempted to write a fake set of book club questions for the end of the book just for the Nabokov of it. Still thinking about doing an appendix similar to the one Charles Finney did for The Circus of Dr. Lao.

Kim's coming up at the end of August to talk to me about doing the CrimeBus, a tour which she spun off from her 1947 Project. She's thinking about franchising it in SF. I'm meeting with her and John Marr, the famous zine writer of Murder Can Be. This is one of the things I'm exploring as an alternative to going back to a day job.
Quimby Read

This Is A Dark Ride

Anybody who watched The John Larroquette Show remembers that subject line.

I'd never really liked Night Court, but had watched it occasionally, and was familiar with Larroquette's character, Dan. It was a big surprise then to see what kind of show he'd fashion for himself.

He played a character that had bottomed out and fucked up his life and was trying to rebuild. That in itself wasn't revolutionary - even Murphy Brown started with that premise. But it was a dark show and (at least in its first season) did not simply mine the premise for jokes, but maintained a dark tone, where there weren't a lot of easy resolutions.

The show had a literary aspect, alluded to by Larroquette's character's name (Hemingway) and making a point that his favorite writer was Thomas Pynchon. How many sitcoms were making Pynchon allusions back then? Now, of course...okay, I'm kidding. They're still pretty rare. The characters were readers though. They came back to that frequently in the storylines.

One of the things I always liked about the show is that the cast was racially diverse and that was not glossed over. Daryl Mitchell's character, Dexter, in particular brought this out. They addressed the fact that when cops see a black man and a white man in a car together, they presume the point of intersection is a drug deal. It was honest about race in a way you didn't see that often. They didn't gloss over it, and drew the comedy from those tensions.

(Here's a typical scene cribbed from Jump The Shark: An example is when a robber is holding a gun on Larroquette and the black food counter owner [Dexter] says to the robber, "Shoot him (pointing at Larroquette) he's white." Larroquette responds "No. Shoot him (pointing at the [Dexter]). You'll do less time." That is truly pointed, funny and revealing of character.)

Another excellent, typifying line: ""Alcoholics don't have relationships, they take hostages."

The set was great - a big, old, rundown, but beautifully designed Art Deco bus depot.

Gigi Rice played the love interest, Carly. A prostitute. That got glossed over that a little bit. Still, it was one of the elements the networks objected to.

After the first season, the networks made changes. Alison Laplaca was brought on as the love interest. I always liked her and she did good work, but the show really lost its distinctively dark feel and became a more conventional (and succesful) sitcom.
Quimby Read

Little League Final, Game 1

So over the last two days there was a furious volley of emails between the Mets coaches, myself, Chris and Elliot, about how to play this game. We had to take into account: (1) inning restrictions on certain pitchers (primarily Reed - who had pitched the most for us); (2) whether Eian and Jallah would be available on Friday night (No on Jallah, Probably on Eian); (4) catching corps; and (3) defensive assignments. To reiterate, we were 3-0 and had two chances to win the final. But after much palaver it was clear that we really needed to play to win tonight.

We decided to go 3 innings with Reed pitching, then stretch Jallah as long as possible. If we had the lead, we'd go to Eian to close, but if we were behind, we'd save him to pitch in Friday's game with Emmett. I argued to put Liam in the outfield where he's been very succesful catching fly balls for us, and away from his recent assignment at second where he had contracted a bad case of ball-avoidance in the last couple games. I also argued for Emmett behind the plate as much as possible because he's the best at stopping the low pitches from skipping away from him, and when they do, he's very quick to get the ball. Nobody had scored from third on Emmett on a passed ball in 8 games. Eian's an excellent receiver, but when the ball gets by him, he's so slow to get it that it's an automatic advance for the baserunners.

Emmett's also been locked in at the plate. He hadn't struck out in about five games and had been pounding the ball and making regular contact.

Home team is determined by seeding, and since we're 3-0 and the White Sox are 2-1, we're home team. We get last ups.

We start with Reed on the mound, Eian catching, Nathan at first, Emmett at second, Jallah at short, Joaquin at third, Liam in center, Tony in left and Dario in right.

Now the White Sox have some good hitters, but they don't go as deep as our hitters. That is, they're very dangerous 1-4, but we can hit 1-7, and our other guys can all come up with the occasional big hit.

White Sox lead off with Matthew (Emmett's teammate from the tournament team, and son of the tournament team coach, Marcelo). He leads off with a clean single, advances on a passed ball, and the next batter walks. Two on, no outs. Doesn't look good. And indeed, their best player, Noah comes up and drills a double into right field gap, scoring two. Their cleanup slugger Sammy also gets a hit to move Noah up. Noah scores on a passed ball that, bangs off the backboard and rolls way up the line. Reed starts to lose it on the mound a bit, and Chris (his Dad) calls a timeout to go out and calm him down. Strikeout, pop-up, strikeout and we're off the field. Our ace has pitched and we're down 3-0 already. Strong hitting by the White Sox and passed balls killing us.

Our whole team is down in the mouth. We leadoff with our speedster, Nathan, who's been slumping at the plate. Getting a lot of walks and using his speed to score, but late with his swings. Nathan strikes out. Jallah comes up and hits a hard shot to shortstop, deep in the hole. Their shortstop makes an excellent play and throws him out with a long, strong throw. Reed comes up. He's our best player by far, but he's only had one big hit during the whole playoffs. Getting a lot of walks and an occasional strikeout from being over-eager. Jallah and Joaquin and Emmett have been our best hitters recently. Reed's usually ahead of the pitches and has a hard time slowing his swing down. But he makes good contact, hitting a hard shot to third base. Against most teams that's an automatic infield hit, but Sammy fields it for the White Sox and throws a rocket across the field. Reed beats it by half a step. Eian - like Reed - one of our best hitters, has also had only one big hit over the playoffs (admittedly it was the go-ahead double that won against the Rockies). Eian drills a hard shot to shortstop, and again their shortstop makes a pretty play to throw him out.

The White Sox are an excellent defensive team.

Top of the second inning, now we're into the easier part of their lineup. Reed induces a soft bloop from the first batter and Emmett comes in to make a running catch behind the pitcher's mound. One out. Next play, a hard chopped grounder that Emmett has to jump high to field. He makes the play to Nathan at first. Next batter gets a good swing on the ball and launches it high into centerfield. Liam camps under the ball and makes the out. All the defensive assignments paid off.

We do nothing in the second. Emmett strikes out for the first time in many games. He's back in his passive mode that caused his slump earlier in the season, taking the first strike. Noooo!!! We worked on this for months. He's got to be aggressive, because when he takes the first strike, he either (a) chases a bad pitch or (b) gets a bad call and he's down 0-2 and he gets frozen at the plate. Terrible time to cold at the plate.

After two innings, we're down 3-0.

Top of the third. Matthew leads off the Mets again with a sharp grounder up the middle. Reed gets a glove on it, which slows it down. Emmett picks up the ball, and has time, but his throw pulls Nathan (who isn't tall) just off the bag. Gah! Easy first out, and we can't afford to make errors. Passed ball and Matthew moves up. Clean hit by Noah and he comes around to score. Oy. They get another run before Reed gets a last strikeout. He's pitched three innings and we're down 5-0. Fuck.

Bottom of the 3rd, Matthew still pitching for the White Sox. We're down 5-0. Nathan strikes out. Jallah drills a clean single. Reed comes up. He swings through the first pitch. Jallah goes to second on a passed ball. Reed wants to win the game with one swing, but it's just not possible. He's pressing. He works the count. Fouls off a pitch. Then he gets all of a pitch, it's soaring deep into left field. I'm the third base coach. I'm wheeling Jallah in to score. The ball bounces just in front of the fence. Very nearly a home run. Reed's on second. Eian comes up and launches a ball deep into center. Reed comes around to score. We pinch-run for Eian (which doesn't take him out of the game under these playoff rules - as you can sub in and out and can pinch run twice from your bench. Odd rules, but we're taking advantage of them since Eian is so incredibly slow). Joaquin comes up and gets a hit, and the runner comes around to score. Emmett's up. He walks. They both advance on a ground out. One out, we have men on second and third. Now it's a cat and mouse game because the pitcher is throwing in the dirt and it's a case of go! stay! I'm the third base coach and I'm constantly talking to Joaquin, who's been a great player for us this year, but has been doubled off on soft liners twice this season. Two passed balls come hard off the backstop and back to the catcher. Joaquin breaks, stops, and scampers back to third. Finally a ball gets away, and he scores easily, and Emmett advances to third. He's bouncy and excited. We've scored four runs. The White Sox get a strikeout, and then throw out a baserunner at first so Emmett doesn't score.

After three innings, it's White Sox 5, Mets 4.

Top of the 4th, and Jallah is pitching. We desperately need him to have a good game. He hasn't given us two good innings in a row in many games now. We need at least two from him tonight. Emmett's catching now. Eian's at first, Reed's at short, Liam's at second. Jallah strikes out the first batter. Next is a hard chopper that goes up and over Liam's head (he's also fairly short) and clips off his glove. Runner on first. The White Sox are being fairly conservative about baserunning in this game. Ball gets away from Emmett and the runner advances. Noah rips another gorgeous liner, that scores the runner. Comebacker for an out, and then a pop-up into short center-left that Reed ranges back to get. We're out of the inning and only gave up one run.

We do nothing in the bottom of the fourth.

After four innings, it's White Sox 6, Mets 4.

Top of the fifth, Jallah is pitching, and Emmett's catching. We get a first out. Then we walk a runner. Their slugger Sammy hits a towering shot to centerfield. Nathan moves under it and makes the catch. Two outs. Runner moves up on a passed ball. Emmett's very active back there and making a lot of saves, but Jallah is in and out of the strike zone. Every at bat seems to be going to full count. Ball, ball, foul tip, ball, strike. Runner at third with two outs. Ball in the dirt squirts away, but Emmett gets it quickly, and Jallah's right at the plate to cover. They don't send the runner. We get a strikeout. No runs scored.

Bottom of the fifth, Reed leading off. Reed gets behind in the count, and then hits one through the infield. Eian looks hapless in his at bat, he's quickly down 0-2. The umpire has been consistent all game, but he's been calling a strike at the ankles which is flummoxing our hitters. We're getting that same call for our pitchers but it's definitely hard to hit that pitch, and it's really too low to be a strike. Eian digs in. Fouls off a pitch. Takes a close one for a ball. Fouls off a pitch. Pitch in the dirt and Reed moves up. Count goes full. Another pitch in the dirt, and Reed moves to third, and Eian has earned a very difficult walk. I'm the first base coach in this inning. They send Eian, who moves slower than the average pensioner. Eian toddles into second uncontested. We have runners at second and third with one out. We're down two. This is our chance. Joaquin and Emmett are both excellent contact hitters. One clean single can even it up. Even a grounder will score a huge run. Joaquin is up. There's a pitch in the dirt that gets away and Reed steals home. Then Joaquin strikes out looking. Gah! So frustrating. We've got the tying run at third, and just a grounder will even things up. Emmett comes up. He takes an easy first strike right over the plate. NOOOOOO! You've got to swing at that one. Next pitch is low and away, but is called for a strike. Fuck. Emmett takes a pitch. Works the count to 2-2, and then watches strike three without a swing. FUCK!

He walks back to the dugout. "What are you doing! You have *got* to cover the plate in that situation. You cannot be taking on anything close!" He gives me a dirty look.

He's sitting on the bench looking very disgruntled, when I remind him that he needs to suit up in his catcher's gear for the last inning. White Sox get a strikeout to end the inning. We only get one run out of a second and third with nobody out situation.

After five innings, it's White Sox 6, Mets 5.

Jallah goes out to pitch the sixth inning, which is the last. We still have last ups. I walk Emmett towards the plate where he's going to catch. "You need to focus and stop every pitch in the dirt. We can't let them score this inning." He's still pissed at me and gives me a shove away without saying anything. Okay. Fair enough. The sixth is much like the fifth inning. Jallah gets an out after battling to find the strike zone. Emmett's leaping around making saves and catches. We get an out. They get a runner. The runner moves up to second. We get another out without the runner advancing.

So it's still top of the sixth, man on second, two outs. It's another long at bat. Throw in the dirt. Emmett scrambles after it. Their runner gets a late break, but the coach is yelling for him to get down to third. Emmett comes up with the ball and fires it down to third. Tony makes the catch, lays down the tag and gets the runner on the foot. Emmett shot down the runner to make the last out in the top of the sixth. He comes running off the field all smiles and jumps into my arms.

Jallah has given us three quality innings, only giving up one run. It's huge.

Bottom of the sixth, White Sox 6, Mets 5. Our last chance. Dario leads off, then it's top of the order with Nathan. They're still pitching Noah - their best player and one of the best players in our league. I'm the third base coach. Now, surprisingly, I'm not feeling all that dire at this point. Because Jallah has given us three strong innings, which means we never had to use Eian. Which means if we lose, we can come back on Friday and pitch Emmett and Eian and still have a really good chance.

Also, I know two things about this particular match-up of Noah vs. Dario. Noah has been getting a lot of low-ball called strikes, but Dario is a free-swinger who has a real talent for reaching down and hitting nine-iron shots off the top of his shoes. Dario's this gangly, freckly kid. Fast, and with good reflexes, but hasn't played a lot of organized baseball. He looked kind of helpless at the beginning of the season, but he's definitely the most improved player over the course of the season. He had a huge hit for us in our win against the Rockies. We absolutely need for him to get on base. His helmet's too big and kind of flops down over his eyes. He bats left-handed. On the third pitch he shoots a hard shot right over the third base bag - it's fair! It should be extra bases! I look down the first baseline and Dario is jogging slowly to first, very content with his single. Go, go go! We're yelling. He looks up, surprised, as he rounds first, and trots rather slowly a third of the way to second. GO!!!!!! He turns it on just as their left fielder (who overran the ball) picks it up. But the leftfielder throws to the cut-off man, instead of to second base, and Dario does (barely) make it into second. Phew.

Okay. Man on. No outs. Top of the order coming up. Nathan up. He hasn't been hitting much lately. He's down in the count. He takes a close pitch. He makes contact and hits a grounder to short. Dario starts to run into the play, but is smart enough to hold at second base. The shortstop throws to first, but it tails away and gets past their first baseeman. I get Dario down to third, and Nathan's safe at first. It's cat and mouse time again. Jallah is up. Pitch gets away. I desperately need Dario to score to tie up the game. Look for a chance, I tell him. Don't get doubled off. Tag up on a fly ball. Blah blah blah. Dario's nodding, and his helmet's flopping down over his eyes. Nathan's at second now. Jallah strikes out, flailing at a low pitch way out of the strikezone. Two on, bottom of the sixth. One out. We're down by one run. Reed comes to the plate.

First pitch, and Reed pulls it hard, but foul. Next pitch a ball in the dirt. Go! No Stay! The ball bounces right back to the catcher. Aghhhhhh! We just need to tie it up.

I'm talking to Dario the whole time. Noah winds up, and fires a hard one, right over the plate and Reed crushes the ball. It makes a gorgeous, long arc to deep center field. I see it's going to drop. Go, go go! Dario goes in to score the tying run, and Nathan's almost to third. I look out to center and their fielder is just picking up the ball. Go, go, go! I'm windmilling my arm so hard and jumping up and down, sending Nathan in. All the parents on the Mets side are standing up and screaming. I'm hopping and hopping and hopping with my arms in the air as Nathan scores the winning run.

Pandemonium! Our whole dugout crashes out onto the field, tackling Reed and jumping all around. Emmett comes running at me and flies into my arms, and I swing him around and around and around in centerfield. Sheer jubilation. On our side. On the White Sox side - absolute devastation. We give them a quick cheer and go to shake their hands at home plate, and every single playeer on their team has tears in his eyes and they can barely stand to shake our hands. Noah's openly weeping. It's tough. They're an excellent team and played well. Interestingly, they made the finals by having two come-from-behind, last inning wins where their opponents had victory slip away at the end.

We wander around the outfield feeling dazed and drained and giddy. The parents join us and are jabbering away. It was an unbearably tense game for them to watch. Reed gets the game ball by unanimous proclamation. A spontaneous, "Dario! Dario! Dario!" cheer goes up from the team. What a fucking a game. We take a team picture in front of the outfield scoreboard with the final score, White Sox 6, Mets 7. The only time we were in the lead was when we won the game. We're the champs.
Quimby Read

Championship Game Tonight

So we're 3-0 in the playoffs now, and we play the White Sox for the championship of our Triple-A league tonight.

Since it's a double elimination tournament and they're 2-1, they have to beat us tonight and tomorrow to win the championship. We only have to win tonight to close it out.

If we don't win tonight, however, we'll be in dire shape for the Friday game since we may wind up being without both Jallah and Eian. Which combined with various pitching limits and our catching corps would have us playing not only without their bats and arms but have multiple players out of position. You really don't want somebody catching your championship game that has only caught one inning all season.

So it's kind of do or die tonight. We've beaten the White Sox twice this year - once was a serious thumping. But they've got depth (if not dominance) in their pitching, and they're well coached, and sound defensively, and they've got a few potent bats which can do damage. Anything can happen in baseball.

Wish us luck at 5:30 PST.
  • Current Music
    Tom Waits live at the Paramount 1999
Quimby Read

Little League Playoff Update

Game 2 of the Playoffs against the Twins (on Sunday):

Emmett *almost* made two great defensive plays, both while playing first base. He stretched to maximum capacity to try to get a wide throw from short by Reed but just got pulled off (Reed had made an excellent play on a ball up the middle). And Emmett came charging hard on a short pop foul with bases loaded and one out in the last inning, but just missed the ball as he slid into the fence. A for effort anyway.

Otherwise he hit pretty well, and scored two runs - the last one being a difference maker. It was a total nailbiter where Eian (the manager's son) went out to pitch the last inning with a 7-4 lead. Got one out among several walks and dinker doink hits and while we still had the lead, started to lose his shit and cry on the mound. (This is about when Emmett went into the fence to try and get the foul pop.) Then the Twins hit a fly ball into left and one of our shakier fielders, Morgan, came in and made a knee-high save for the out. It was 7-6 with the bases loaded when Eian finally struck out the last batter. So much pressure! I thought Elliott, Eian's dad, was going to have a stroke when Eian (usually our best control picture) started throwing pitches in the dirt.

Low point in the game for Emmett was when he got picked off second. Sooooo embarassing. He was in denial about it ("I was on the bag!") but I was third base coach and he wasn't. He was just standing there thinking he was on the bag and it looked terrible because we had the bases loaded and were threatening. After a little cry he got over it and got his head back in the game and played pretty well. It was really the only detrimental play he's made in about ten games and he did a good job of getting back into the game and playing well for the rest. You've gotta bounce back in baseball, because there's plenty of failure.

Game 3 of the Playoffs against the Rockies (on Monday):

It was a wild, fraught, see-saw, all hitting, all weird plays, shabby pitching, clutch hitting, slug fest. Emmett went 2-2 with two walks, scoring three times. He crushed a massive double into the left field corner in his first at bat. Which we totally needed because they got 4 runs in the first.

In our first ups, our speedy leadoff player, Nathan, twisted his wrist on the first swing, and had to come out. We substituted Albert, who is a big, strong, not particularly fast kid. He hasn't had a hit in several games, but drilled a single, advanced on a ground out, stole third on a passed ball and came home on the overthrow. Pretty much what Nathan would've done.

So the score was 4-0, with them up. Reed pitched the first three innings, but they still scored 4 in the first on two walks a hit, a hit batsman and lots of passed balls while Eian was catching. Then it was 4-1 thanks to Albert. 4-2 because of Emmett's double.

Then we had the bases loaded with no outs. Our batter hit a soft liner, and their pitcher (a rather portly kid, named Bob) made a great running nab on it and doubled off our runner at third. So it looked like they were going to turn a bases loaded, no-out situation into a crushing reversal. Then Dario came up and hit a gorgeous double into the gap scoring two to tie it. It was such a huge hit.

So it was 4-4. Then we went up big, scoring 7 runs to go up 11-4. Their pitcher, Julien (on Emmett's tournament team) walked us and threw wild pitches in the dirt and we scampered around stealing bases and coming in from third. 11-5, they scratch out a run against Jallah pitching. They scored six in the top of the fifth inning to tie it up at 11 all. Half of that was on Jallah, and then Eian was on the mound and gave up the massive double (by Bob, the portly pitcher) that pulled them within one. Then, while that play was still live, Eian didn't get on the rubber and the tying run came in on a not-paying-attention steal. Eian started to meltdown, but held it together to get a strikeout and stop the bleeding. Tie game.

Bottom of the fifth, we get two men on (Jallah and Reed) and Eian blasts a shot into the gap for two RBIs. We squeeze out an extra run. We're up three.

Top of the sixth, Eian walks a batter. Then he gets a comebacker, a litle dribble hit directly to him and fails to field the ball. One of those nightmare situations where you're groping in the grass and it should be an easy out and it's NOT. Two men on with no outs. It's got all the makings of a horrible meltdown. (The Rockies are the team who beat us early in the season by scoring 17 runs in their last at bats against us to take the lead and beat us. Half the team is composed of players from Emmett's Double-A team, so I know them all well.) Eian's fighting back the tears, but he's mostly throwing strikes. Another dribbler ground ball to Nathan at first base. He gets the out. Passed ball and both runners move up. They've got men on second and third with one out. Eian gets a strikeout. Two outs. Huge! They're still threatening. Wild pitch, Jallah is catching and scrambles after the ball. Runner breaks for home, Jallah diving back and gets the game ending out. Phewwwwwww! Pandemonium!

So we're sitting in the catbird seat right now. The team we beat tonight (Rockies) is still in the tournament. Tomorrow they play the team we beat in the last regular season game (White Sox, managed incidentally by Marcelo - Emmett's Tournament team manager). The winner of that faces us on Thursday. If we win on Thursday, we're the champs. If we lose, we play again on Friday. Which is Emmett's last day of school, and we've got A's tickets. Since there are limits on how many innings a pitcher can pitch in a week, whichever team we face on Thursday will be more depleted than we are.

It was such a wild, sloppy game with coaches tearing their hair out, and scoring corrections and complaints and tension and barking and oy. It was kind of stressful. Less for me than my fellow coaches, though. Chris and Elliott were both suffering serious high blood pressure in that last inning.