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August 29 2005: Season’s End (Slaterettes Baseball)

My league’s season is over now, as kids go back to school and the evenings get shorter. The final two games of the season bookended my vacation, so corwin and I drove together down to Rhode Island for one game, left right from there for New York, made stops at Yankee Stadium and Citizen’s Bank Park, then hit RI on the way back home for the final Slaterettes game of the season. They were two of the best games of the year.

That first game was the first time he’s come to see me play all year, and on the drive down there I wondered if I would be nervous about it. Would I tighten up at the plate? No. I got into a nice groove this season where I felt exactly the same every time I stepped into the batter’s box. Or, jumped, as I usually had to step down into the deep hole dug by the batters before me, so I got into the habit of walking up to the edge and then kind of hopping down into the depression with both feet.

I would hop, then touch the corner of the plate with my bat, and the raise it to my shoulder — unless the pitcher didn’t look ready, in which case I’d lean it on my shoulder with my arm muscles relaxed. When she would come set, I would pick it up and get ready to swing.

One good way to avoid striking out is to swing early in the count. The umpires have no opportunity to make bad calls on you if you make early contact. I didn’t particularly like this strategy, but my philosophy after the first few weeks became: “Do not miss a hittable pitch.” I didn’t wait for the perfect pitch, just one I could hit reasonably hard. In this league, if you hit the ball, good things can happen. My average kept going up, so I think I will throw the whole “be patient” thing out the window from now on. With some pitchers you still want to wait, but I no longer wait for a walk. If I wait, it is because I am waiting for my pitch.

I got two hits in the game with corwin watching. One of them was a line drive that the pitcher almost caught, but thankfully didn’t. I talked about the result of the game in my previous entry, but if you missed it: we won. Nothing like driving off to vacation feeling completely satisfied over a job well done.

When we got back it was the last game of the year. I’d had to wash my uniform in a sink while we were traveling because I never did come across a coin-op laundry. Unfortunately for me, I only had two at bats, and I was called out on strikes both times. I won’t say it was bad umpiring — it was my fault for fouling off the two pitches I should have hit into play, and putting myself in a hole each time. They were beauties, too, belt high and on the outside half of the plate. There was one in each at bat, and I was just too stiff from being in the car all day to be loose enough to do what I wanted with them. Rats. The result is my average dropped below .500. Okay, so I guess I’m not too upset, but it would have been grand to finish the season at .500, wouldn’t it?

Instead I had to watch from the bench while my team had a thrilling come from behind victory in the final inning! Heidi, my batting pupil, was in the mix again, and that was great, too.

The win put us into second place (Carter & Carter took first). I do have to wonder if we hadn’t lost the first four games in a row, how would things have turned out? The Yankees might be wondering the same thing this year, if they miss the postseason, because although they have had the best record in the AL since June 1st, they went on a horrible slide right at the beginning. Our season was too short for us to make up the ground completely, once we began playing well. The major league season… well, we’ll see.

The Slaterettes conclude the season with an All-Star Game and awards ceremony. The All-Star Game featured not one but TWO home runs… the only two home runs I’ve ever seen at the Boathouse Field, and the team Todd and Dave coached won. The awards this year turned out to be something more useful than trophies: we each got a small duffel bag with the Slaterettes logo on it.

I had a great season and want to thank all my coaches and teammates for making it another great summer. I may be 38 but I’m having too much fun to retire. See you next year!

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