Friday, December 22, 2006

Merry Christmas to all Wolves!!!!

Well someone had to be the first to say it! I hope everyone has a lovely break and comes back refreshed for a New Year of Softball. I'm sure you will as some of you are already off work and back home relaxing, you lucky things.

Hopefully I will some of those of you who are still left in the pub for a joint Vic and Alison birthday/christmas/leaving do drink this afternoon.

PS - Jane has arrived back safe and well in New Zealand and only had to wait one day for her bags to catch her up.

Friday, December 01, 2006

And it's Goodbye from Jane... :(

Hi everyone

Just wanted to drop you all a line and say thanks for the fun day on Saturday and the card and present. I'm in iPod heaven!

Never mind that I managed to maintain my personal softball losing streak by being on *both* losing teams on Saturday - I had a great time! And then a six hour session in a Finsbury pub - wonderful! And the other drinkers in the pub enjoyed our singing and being taught coin tricks I'm sure....

One of the highlights of my last year in England has most definitely been the Loan Wolves and I'm proud to have been a founding member. Ooh, that sounds cool. Anyway, all the best of luck for next season - I shall be following progress via the blog and Manjiv's peppy late night e-mails (although it will be morning in NZ). Paul the Gobfather now has the team bat (unless he lost it on the way home having drunk more than most). I am happy to be your hosts in Auckland for the Loan Wolves World Tour.


Tuesday, November 28, 2006

It wasn't all mud and sogginess...

Finsbury Park 11am on a rainy Saturday morning... :)

Monday, November 27, 2006

November in the Rain - Practice 25/11/06

A day for die hard enthusiasts only - Julian, Alex, Paul, Manjiv, Vic, Kate
Amid the rain wind and mud we managed some pitching and batting and throwing, and Tim from the Devil Strays showed up as well.

The batting practice was particularly useful thanks to Paul. I can now concentrate on hitting as I step forward - when the weight has transferred from back to front foot.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Loan Wolves - The Movie

I thought I'd add the movie link to the Blog.

Okay so it's not quite a "Field of Dreams" epic but we're not movie stars (or professional softballers) I used nearly all the footage we shot on the day (all 8 minutes of it!) so apologies to anyone who didn't appear often or at all.

Loan Wolves - Live on YouTube

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Gudbye t'Jane

The Loan Wolves had a game yesterday to say farewell to stalwart player Jane (JC), who's going to be returning to her native New Zealand soon.
Finsbury Park was as gloriously muddy as only Finsbury Park gets. We enjoyed our Northern Caribou v Southern Dingoes match (the North won, due to having almost all the team's heavy hitters, and both sides laying with a reduced outfield). Everyone pitched (including me, dazzling the batters with a bewildering range of deliveries - i.e. "pitching wildly, with no control or direction").
Afterwards, we retired to the Old Dairy, for many beers, food (I had a yummy steak burger and "fat chips"), and a small presentation of iPod radio tuner and leaving card to JC. We'll miss her when she's gone back to NZ. She promised to raise a "Loan Kiwis" team over there, and we speculated about playing a real North v South friendly some time.
Good fun chatting and talking rubbish in the pub, as always. Somehow a discussion of the Lord of the Rings films led to the idea of "hobbit-farming" as New Zealand's major industry. The reviews of the Old Dairy I've looked at all pick up on something we noticed - somewhat surly bar staff. Service was fine, but one barmaid in particular had a real "here's your lasagne - I hope it chokes you!" attitude to delivering our meals.

[X-posted from my LJ]

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Monday, October 30, 2006

Practice with the Devil Strays 28/10/06

Alex, Vic, Richard, Tiggs, Peter, Kate and Julian turned out for the first winter practice of 2006/07. Some of us arrived early and got in some throwing and batting practice. Tiggs and I went for a run round the pitch. I didnt find this too bad and will definitely do some more running to improve fitness.
Duncan and some of the Strays arrived and we did some throwing drills and then played some games with 7 a side.
Tom from the Strays showed how effective you can be with long distance accurate throws to first base.
Kate was very quick to spot a ten pound note of mine which had blown out of my carrier bag.

Afterwards we went to the pub and played pool which I hadnt had a go at for years.

It was a very good day and exceptionally mild for late October.

Practice and lots of pool!

A small but perfectly formed bunch of wolves met on Saturday for a practice session at Finsbury park. I thought it worked really well to get there at 10am for some wolves only practice and then have some strays join us from 11am. It meant we could practice on some skills that we wanted to focus on (pitching and batting) and then also have enough people later on to get a game going.

Low point of the morning for me was taking a powerful line drive from Richard right on the arm - my whole arm went dead for a good 5 minutes and I now have a very impressive bruise to show for it! High point was the fact that the morning led into the afternoon.

We all decamped to the Finsbury for 'just a quick one', at around 1.30ish...Well, what can I say, famous last words indeed - many rounds and a considerable number of games of pool ensued... and suddenly it was 9pm. Alex demonstrated his ample ability at potting balls and much hilarity ensued as myself and Manjiv chased balls around the table.

I feel slightly guilty that we spent longer playing pool than we did playing softball, but we once again proved that the Loan Wolves will be the last men and women standing (albeit slightly wobbily) in the pub!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

LW Update

I'm afraid the Loan Wolves are still recovering from the heavy softball weekend of a week ago....I'll try my best to keep quiet and not annoy the LW's too much... shhhhh...

p.s. plus Gobby is away in Sri wonder it's quiet :-)

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Low Point - High Point of Tournament

To continue the Wolves tradition, I thought that I'd start the final Low Point/High Point of the season:

Low Point- Watching a line drive speed impressively off my bat, right into the glove of the great shortstop on the Development team in the second match, for an easy out.

High Point- Hitting the ball exactly where I was aiming it (a real first for me), resulting in a morale boosting home run.

Monday, October 09, 2006

What a Team!

Weekend of Wolves

[X Posted from my LJ]

On Saturday, the Loan Wolves turned out, braving the sunny but chilly Autumn afternoon to cheer on SuperBen and Jane A, our representatives in the North v South all-star game. Tremendous performances by our star Wolves accounted for five of the runs scored by their side – better than any other team. Sadly, they were subbed out to let other players have a go, and the North promptly lost the game. However, we Wolves won the wholly appropriate prize of a crate of beer for bringing the most supporters to the all-star match! We may not win games, but we can at least win something. We celebrated this great achievement in the pub, leaving our prize beer in the clubhouse till Sunday, the day of the end-of-year tournament.
The tournament should have been held two weeks ago, but local authority people decided not to play ball, as it were, and it had to be rescheduled. Sadly, the other teams from the bottom of the division couldn’t make the new date so we were mostly facing stronger opposition. Always outnumbered, always outgunned. At least we were lucky in getting a sunny, relatively warm, day for it.
Early start for all of us – in my case, earlier than a weekday – to get to Finsbury Park on time. Laden down with bat, kit, folding chair, food, drinks, picnic blanket etc, I got to the venue by 8.45. We did some stretches, and got ready for first game vs Glove Me Tender. We played well, really, but were just warming up, and were sadly defeated 15 -1. I think Paul got that 1, with a home run.
Somewhere in the first game, Frodo turned up. She had decided to go on from te pub on Saturday to a house party nearby. Where she had stayed up till 6 am, apparently. She turned up from her friends’ place clutching a pottery mug which we assumed held strong back coffee. No. It was vodka. Other stimulants of choice for the Wolves during the day included fruit, cocktail sausages, jelly babies, the few pieces of maple candy I’d scrounged from the meet-up with Emperor Fool, and that crate of beer from the all-star game.
On to a game vs this year’s development squad, which contained several baseball players who could hit the ball for miles, and had Kim from BSUK on First catching anything thrown within twenty feet of her. Lost, 13 – 9.
Third up were Oblivion. The Bolivians (as I’m sure I heard one confused Wolf call them) were pretty useful, and two outs at First spoiled my batting stats (otherwise batted .1000 for the day). This was in spite of Ben’s dad offering me the incentive of a Fry’s Chocolate Cream bar if I made it to base that game. I did suggest to him that if I ate fewer chocolate bars, I might have been able to run fast enough to beat the throws to First. Another loss, though I can’t recall the score.
Lunch interval of half an hour followed. Just about long enough to polish off our sandwiches, crisps, fruit and what seemed to be the contents of Ben’s family’s kitchen cupboard.
First afternoon game was vs Italian Suede. I managed to stop a fast-moving grounder to Right Field, throwing it in to hold the batter at First. We lost that match, by the way. Just in case you wondered. But I did get a Fry’s Chocolate Cream, so that was all right.
Then we played our arch-rivals, the Devil Strays. And, um, lost. Despite a great performance from the Wolves. Reinforcements arrived at this point – the rest of Ben’s family, and also Kate. She had a pretty good excuse for turning up late – she’d completed the Nike 10K that morning. Time of 1 hr 2’18”.
Having lost all our games, we were in the bottom-place play-off. Vs the Dev side again. This was a tense match. I was sitting it out, scoring, calling out batting order, and doing lots of shouting. We had a slim lead, but one big hit from one of the bad guys reversed that. The game ended 8 – 7 to them.
So we ended the day with our record unbroken. We won some new match balls, in an “everyone gets a prize” sort of way, and baffled everybody with our cheerfulness in the face of losing. Also escaped major injuries, which was a bonus for us.
On to the pub, where we celebrated our achievements. It was turning chilly, and we were defiantly the last team to go indoors. Another Loan Wolves Little Victory™. Inside, we found a cosy corner under a TV projector screen. Rather than MTV, this was showing, sound off, a wildlife documentary about wolves. Kind of appropriate. We watched our namesakes hunt down and devour their prey savagely, wondering perhaps why we never manage to do that.
Duncan of the Devil Strays came over to tell us, apropos of nothing, that he thought; “you guys rock!”. He promised to buy our whole team a drink when we eventually win a game. We intend to hold him to that. Coach Darren despaired at our laid-back attitude to failing to achieve victory. But then he is American.
OK, so we didn’t win. But the difference between the clueless, confused bunch of no hopers we were last year and the focused, skilful, committed team we’ve become was really marked (even if we still can’t win a raffle). We’ve survived our first season, we haven’t given up, and if the other sides have yet to fear the Wolves, I think we have at least earned their respect.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Went for a softball practice after work last night.
Five Wolves including three of our pitchers were there.  We got some practice in ahead of Sunday's tournament.  Didn't have a long practice, on account of it getting dark.  Really, really quickly.  But it was good fun. The pitchers pitched. Peter fielded brilliantly.  I made one good hit that I'd love to reproduce on Sunday, and plenty of OK contacts with the ball.  We ended with catches in the outfield, and stopped after all four fielders in turn held onto their catches - and before bad light led to someone (and let's be honest, it would have been me) being hit in the head.
My favourite moment was actually in the throwing and catching practice at the start.  A toddler, out for a walk with his dad, saw us and shouted in excitement.  His father stood and let him watch for a few minutes.  And those few minutes, with the little kid watching as Ben and I threw high balls for each other to dive in or leap up for, taking catches and making high throws, were a lot of fun.

End of Season Awards - wrap up

The “Chatterbox” Award for most chatting while on base ....Jane “JC” Clark

The “Bravery” Award for the most daring quick change behind a bush in a park ....Jane Ackroyd

The “Botham” Award for the wolf who hasn't quite realised we're not playing Cricket...Peter “PW” Williams

The “Weebles Wobble but don’t fall” Award for the wolf with the most grass stains...Olivia "Foxy" Fox

The “rackinfrackinvarmint” Award for most impressive swearing on the pitch...Richard Hornshaw

The “Four Cheers” Award for numeracy ...Ben “SuperBen” Woods

The “gloves are for wimps”” Award for most attempts at fielding barehanded...Julian “The Machine” Allen

The “Fanclub” Award for 'The President: Loan Wolves Supporters’ Club (Dublin chapter)...Tony McMahon

The “appreciation” Award for being the most dedicated Loan Wolves supporter and provider of chocolate..John Woods

The “Starlight Express” Award for wearing the most visible shinpads...Kate “Rabbit” Scott

The “I make this look good” Award for best use of a crutch as a fashion accessory Alison “Fordo” Ford

The “Psychedelic Chameleon” Award for most frequently changing hair colour...Alex Allen

The “Social” Award for most dedication shown to Loan Wolves related social events and stuff...Karen “Social”Wolf “ Shackleford

The “Do as I say and not as I do” Award for most valuable coaching tips...Paul “Gobby” Duncan

The “Full Contact” Award for most impressive collisions with base runners...Vic “The Target” Eves

The “Florence Nightingale” award for thewolf with the best first aid kit....
…who coincidentally also needed the most treatment...Andy “Cooler King” Horton

The "Red Bull" Hyperactivity award for the most leaping and yelping during a game...Manjiv "Tiggs" Dhaliwal

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

More Partying Wolves

For those who missed the email there's more Party Photos on Flickr

Thanks for my awards :-)

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Party [X-posted from my LJ]

Loan Wolves end-of-season party last night.
The Wolves had put on our posh frocks for the occasion.  We assembled for drinks at Bar Soho.  I was first Wolf there, so was our leadoff drinker for the night.  After a couple of beers we went to Bistro1 for a good value meal and several glasses of wine.  I had the spicy sausage salad starter, followed by the Cumberland sausage and mash.  I like sausages.
After dinner, we had the awards ceremony.  Everyone got a joke award (complete with certificate) for something.  I was the recipient of the "Florence Nightingale" award for player with the best first aid kit - and most need of it.  Most Valuable Wolf was a deserved joint award, to Paul and Ben.
We then went on to O'Neill's in Wardour Street.  first we were up on the top floor, which was a bit too noisy for most of us (and the playlist was aimed at people with the musical attention span of a goldfish - the DJ considered "Seven nation army" to be "an old classic").  On the first floor, though, we found a table by the window, with a brilliant view out over Chinatown.
Lots of laughs, dancing, drinks, with a fun bunch of good people.
Sadly, I forgot one of the golden rules on my way home.  Never fall asleep on the night bus.  'Cos some chav nicks your mobile phone if you do that.  Arranged a new one from Vodaphone, but I'm going to have to get everyone's numbers again.

End of Season Party- Low Point, High Point

Low Point - getting home. I wandered around for a while and my beer compass eventually got be back to ICSL. Then a hours nightbus trip around the whole of North London got me into bed just after 3am!

High Point - What can I say - all that dancing! We may not be all that coordinated on the field, but we sure can move! Love Shack, baby love shack!

Photos now on Flickr:

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Hope we have a practice next Saturday

I hope we can have a practice next Saturday as I may very well be around for that one

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Go on then... Low Point, High Point

I can't believe no one won. I can't believe we managed to miss that rain! Special mention should go to all those in the bar who suggested the name Target for me. I'm sorry I can't remember who said it first, it may have been Richard. I like it. I feel that it sums up my cunning ability to be hit by both balls and runners (but only when they are going at full speed) and also the fact that everyone kept hitting the ball straight to me last night - more of that below.
Anyway, shall I get the ball rolling?

Low Point: Not winning :-(

High Point: Generally having a cracking time at second base. Due to Paul's misguided tactics (as if every ball would get pass me and Andy!) loads of the balls came my way allowing me to make some nice outs with some dodgy throws to first. Particularly pleasing was still managing to get Paul out when I missed the tag by gently throwing the ball over to Darren who had run over to second. Sweet!

Over to you...

Northern Caribou 3 - 3 Southern Dingoes

[X posted from my LJ]
Last night the Loan wolves played an end-of-season friendly, against ourselves. The team was split according to which side of the river we live. So, as southernmost-dwelling Wolf, I was a Dingo. If you see what I mean. "SuperBen" captained the Dingoes, and Paul "the Gobfather" was leading the Caribou. We've been working on our nicknames, as we're finally about to be getting the shirts printed.
I brought my Grolsch beer tube, and my Stella coolbag, and there were plenty of cans in evidence. Everyone was gung-ho for it, but it was a pretty friendly affair. Dingoes in red, Caribou in black or white (somehow, their plan to wear white in the field and black at bat got confused, and half the team turned out in each colour). Teams proved pretty well balanced - we were lucky that coach Darren had been persuaded to turn out for the Dingoes, being as how he lives in Clapham.
We wanted to get an early start, but the kids' baseball team were on the field, being shouted at by some angry sadist (e.g., to a kid of perhaps six who'd dared to open his mouth; "SHUT UP! I SAID SHUT UP!"). So it was nearly seven when we took to the field, and the game was curtailed by bad light.
Great fielding, dynamite pitching, and some poor batting (from me, in our case) kept the game tight and the scores low. I enjoyed being more active at Right Field, sprinting in to back up First, and on one occasion accidentally (honest) booting a ball into dead territory and preventing a home run from Paul. Ben got the only home run of the day with a cracking hit. The Dingoes lost a 2 run lead to end with a tied game, thus confirming our spiritual affinity with the other Wolves, who've beeen snatching high-score draws from the jaws of victory since my grandad's day.
At end of a softball game, the convention is that the teams get into huddles and give a rousing three cheers for the opposition. So we did, with Ben leading the Dingoes:
Ben: Hip Hip...
Dingoes: HUURAH!
Ben: Hip Hip...
Dingoes: HUURAH!
Ben: Hip Hip...
Dingoes: HUURAH!
Ben: Hip Hip...
Dingoes: bemused looks, as we'd mostly expected to stop at three...

With honours even, and light going (I couldn't find my beer where I'd left it in the outfield), we headed to the pub to unwind. Pub was crowded but Darren knew about a quiet (almost deserted) place round the corner, some sort of social club (anti-social club?), and we piled in there. Had a few beers and a natter, and we considered arbitrary grounds for deciding teams next year (glasses v no glasses, cat people v dog people, innies v outies?).
Good evening, but the theory that after this game at least half the Wolves would have known the taste of victory came to naught. Even against ourselves, we still can't win. Well, the end-of-year tournament's on the 23rd - let's change that statistic then.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Evening Practice at Clapham

7 dedicated Wolves (Manjiv, Alison, Vic, Paul, Julian, Peter and I) turned up for practice last night at our normal southern training base, or so we thought. It turned out that not only was there a GLSML Div. 4 match going on, on the pitch itself, but there was also a Nike Run London event/promotion, so we had to play across the road this time. It wasn't a bad pitch, (thanks to Paul for bringing some throwdown bases) and in stark contrast to the proper pitch, it actually had grass on the field.

After the normal Wolves warmup and throwing and catching practice, we carried out a drill that I had devised earlier in the day. Basically, we had a full infield, pitcher and a right fielder, plus the batter. As the ball was pitched, the batter had to hit the ball, and run to first base, whilst the infield worked together to field the ball and attempted to throw the batter/runner out. The purpose of the right fielder being involved was for them to run in and back up first base (unless of course the ball was hit directly to them :-) ). As we each switched it around to give everyone a go at batting, it was interesting for everyone to play in positions that they had perhaps never played in before. Special mentions go to Manjiv for making some great catches at first base, and Julian for making a nice back up play behind first base to stop the overthrow (and ducking well to give the third base person a chance to see the first base person when doing that tricky, long diagonal throw) . Also, Vic did very well with her throws, getting more power on them than before, by using a run up few steps, something that perhaps other Wolves can learn from. I felt that everyone was consistently hitting the ball harder than usual, which was good to see, and people were definitely thinking about what direction they were hitting to. On Paul's suggestion, we kept the same drill as above, but started making double and triple plays. Hopefully we can get some double plays in the upcoming tournament, as we were looking pretty slick at times last night. Now we just need to do it in the games.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Saturday, September 02, 2006

And here's me...

Creating a southpark character for your profile

There are four stages:
  1. Create character at South Park Studio
  2. Grabbing image and saving on computer
  3. Uploading image as part of a post
  4. Adding uploaded image to your profile
Stage 1 use instructions at website

Stage 2: Grabbing image

After you have created your character take a printscreen of the page.
Open Microsoft Photoeditor (Should be in Office Tools menu)
In Photoeditor select Edit / Paste as New Image
Use Select Tool (Icon looks like dashed rectangle) and click and drag to select your picture.
Choose Image/Crop from menu. Then do OK. You should now have just your character.
Save image (Menu item: Image/Save)
Choose a filename and a filetype (jpeg) in the save options dialogue. Save your file.

Stage 3: Uploading image.

Create a post in the the City Uni Softball Blog. Use the add image icon. In the resulting pop-up browse to where you have saved your image and then upload your image. Post your new post and view it.

Stage 4: Adding image to profile.

Right click on the image in your post and choose the following option: Copy Shortcut. (If you are using Firefox choose option: Copy Image Location).
Now open your profile.
Edit profile.
Paste the shortcut into Photo URL
Save profile.

That's all!

Thursday, August 31, 2006

More photos from our tourney last year

Hi Wolves,
Just found some more photos from last year's tourney, courtesy of Brendan Casey...thought I would post them here so we can start building up the excitement for the next one!

Although not quite a wolf..a contender for team mascot?

Alison shows us how its done...for Oblivion!

Remember our original first baseman? She'll be back...

This one's been the background on my office PC since last favourite

That's the Captain alright..

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Low Point High Point (Raiders B)- one last time, with feeling.

Low Point - Letting a couple of low fast ground balls get by me and make it out into the field.

High Point - Running over home plate twice in one game - and both of the runs counted and everything!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Swinging in the Rain

As Kate said it was wet and as Boni Jovi added it's "Slippery When Wet". To slippery for running round bases so my successful hours of thought into how to play a game of Softball with 9 people were wasted (until next time!) It was great to see Alison playing again although we should have pointed out it’s Softball not mud wrestling.

Thanks everyone, I really enjoyed myself although I should have stood up to Manjiv and gone home instead of being lured into the pub… she’s evil I tell you!

p.s. Kate I would have posted a comment but then I couldn’t have added the picture of a lone wolf in the tumble drier :-)

Softballing in the Rain - aka When Wolves get Soggy.

Eight brave (or is that foolish?) wolves braved the inclement weather in Finsbury Park last night for a practice session. When we started it was dry, then it rained, then it stopped, then it rained again. It got to the point where we were so wet that it didn't matter anymore, and we ploughed on through as the rain came and went, came and went.

With the size of the group it wasn't practical to get a game going, so we concentrated on pitching, batting and fielding practice. Each person got a decent go with the bat and both myself and Manjiv had a good stints pitching. Towards the end out competitive streaks came out as we had a 'relay throwing' race - 2 teams of 4 seeing who could relay balls up and down the line the quickest. As Paul said. 'it's all about accuracy!'

I managed to take another ball to my ankle bone - the previous bruise had just about faded - now it is nice and green again.

Despite the sogginess of the evening, I hope everyone would agree that it was good wolfish fun.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

LW Schedule of Events

Hi Wolves,
Thought I would post our upcoming schedule of events here too...just in case you accidentally deleted my email ;-)

Hopefully we can add a proper link to the blog sometime soon...

LOAN WOLVES Schedule of Events





Wednesday 23rd August


Finsbury Pitch 2

Clapham is too busy

Tuesday 29th August

Loan Wolves vs Raiders B

Finsbury Park

Friday 1st September

LW Peter is celebrating – he’s finally finished his Masters degree in Ethnomusicology and can now focus on the Loan Wolves J


Wednesday 6th September


Lead up to the Tourney

Wednesday 13th September


Lead up to the Tourney

Wednesday 20th September


Lead up to the Tourney

Saturday 23rd September

Division 4 End of Season/Development tournament

Northwick Park (TBC)

Friday 29th September

Loan Wolves end of season/anniversary event

Cafe Espana (Tapas, wine, and dancing)

O’Neils (more drinking – open to 3am apparently)

Saturday 7th October

GLSML All-Star Game/End of Season Party/Awards Ceremony

Finsbury Park or Regents Park

Sometime in October

1st game of the World Series


Game normally starts about midnight (I think)and finishes about 3am. So Loan Wolves get to stay out all night!

Winter practices



To be held every weekend – alternating venues, for whoever can make it.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Beer-fuelled softball insanity!

(Well, not really...)
Yesterday was "Beerball", a drinking-and-softball day at Finsbury Park.
The day was organised by Jackie of the Devil Strays. Most of the Wolves couldn't make it, but Ben was playing for his mate Seth's team, the Tecumsehs (named after this cool guy, I presume), and invited any other spare Wolves to come along. Now Ben's an all-star player, and I'm, well, more sort of not. Still, Seth and his side were very welcoming and supportive. I got to play in all four of our matches, in a range of positions, and got a lot of invaluable experience of playing with a high-standard side against some very strong teams, including one made up of Div 1 players.
I think more Wolves might have been keener to come along had the event not been billed as a slightly scary loose rules compulsory-drinking booze-fest. In fact, aside from "if you hit a home run, you - or your side's 'designated drinker' - must drink a beer", it was a proper, standard rules, tournament. Good atmosphere, anyway.
At one point, Ben and I found ourselves playing against Paul (playing on a put-together side called the Riff-raff or something). Inter-wolf rivalry! A close game ended 10-9 to the Tecumsehs. Sadly, that was our only victory of the day.
We retired to the pub afterwards (not having drunk nearly enough throughout the day...), and had a good natter with people. At one point, Duncan of the Devil Strays, who'd umpired one of our matches, came up to me apropos of nothing to tell me he'd been really impressed with my batting and base-running during the day. Which was nice of him, I guess.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Meet Jack latest sidekick this is not a softball related email, however this is for everyone who has had to put up with me and my recent bike related tragedies :-(

I finally went out and got me a new bike....and here he is! Isn't he a beaut? :-)

I'll be bringing him along for "show and tell" in the near future.....

Friday, August 18, 2006

Softball Lesson #14

So okay it's not the Rolling Stones but the Beatles sang "It's getting better, A little better all the time" and indeed it is!

14.1 Out Front and the Pressure's On
At the top of the 5th we had our noses in front and could smell the sweet fragrance of victory, although it could have been my insect repellent. We couldn't hang on to lead so obviously we need to practice being ahead in matches much more often :-)

14.2 The Running Kings and Queens
An absolutely excellent job of base running. Our score wouldn't have been as high without the hard work everyone put in getting that extra base. Towards the end of the match we seemed to lose concentration a bit and often forgot to run when forced. We'll need more chocolate and bananas to keep those energy levels up.

14.3 Working in a Chain Gang
Great job in from all our 'Out Field Dynamos' who covered and got the ball back to the infield in record time. When chaining the ball home, one thing to remember is to throw it to the strongest fielder, rather than throw it as far as you can. It’s a shame to hurl a mighty throw for it to end up at Vic on second base expecting her to launch a blistering torpedo to home plate. Oh aren't I picky today :-)

14.4 4-4 5-5 6-6
Any formation where there are even numbers of gendered people means there are no automatic outs.

14.5 Julian’s Got a Rival
Manjiv's pitching was marvellous, walking only one person in 5 innings. Yet we can still get better! Where the ball is pitched strongly correlates to where the ball is hit. The male Hookers took good advantage of balls outside of the plate driving the ball out to Right Field, good solid base hits with little chance of an out. Keeping the ball towards the inside of the plate tends to keep the hits to the left field. (Blimey how technical are we getting now!)

14.6 The Chaos of the Catch.
Well I hope we all know the rules after the fun and frolics of Wednesday. If the ball is caught, as a runner you must ('forced' even) touch your original base. Once you have done that, all 'forces' are off and you can run to the next base and need to be tagged to be out. Indeed on a big monster hit to the outfield. You can stay on your base poised like Linford Christie waiting for the starting pistol, as soon as that ball is caught sprint to the next base (but leave your lunch packs at home).
The nightmare scenario. You are forced to run and the ball is popped up along your path. If it is dropped you must then get passed the fielder and the ball to the next bass, so you're looking to steal as many inches as you can. If it's caught you need to head back so you need to be close to your base as you can… yes it's Catch 22!!
I guess the only thing we can do is play safe and stop them getting two 'outs'. Of course from now on as batters we'll try not to put our team mates into such a position!

14.7 Touching Second Base
Rolling around in the grass on top of some strapping rugby hunk, doesn’t count as getting to second base! Unless you enjoy that kind of thing (Vic?) remember to ensure you out of the runner's path and possible slide. We really should try and finish the season without any more injuries!

14.8 Next Season it will be Different
We've had close games against the 4 teams above us (currently above us i should say). Next season we'll get to play thema ll twice. That will be at least 8 games where we'll be in the running and it will be even more fun, that's if it's actually possible to have more fun! Go Wolves Go

Well played... and we're getting close to a win!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

RFU Hookers - High Point - Low Point

Low Point - Missing a tag on 3rd base by a millisecond. It didn't change the course of the game or anything, but after succesfully catching the ball whilst on base, and having the runner over run the base, it would have been a huge glory moment if I'd been a little quicker and got that out!

High Point - What can I say - my catch, of course! My first ever in a league game and for some reason all the sweeter because the ball was heading foul anyway.

RFU Hookers 19 - 13 Loan Wolves

Opening for the Stones.
The RFU Hookers are employees of, and sponsored by, English Rugby Union. Which means they play at Twickenham rugby ground (well, within its shadow, rather than on the actual pitch). The Rolling Stones are playing there this weekend, so I guess we're their warm-up act. Really bizarre going through the gates at Twickenham, and having the security bod say; "playing softball this evening?", and checking our names against a list of players. Like we were real sportspeople or something. Actually, I'd had a similar experience earlier, when I'd gone into an offy to buy a bottle of water and the guy recognised the team shirt and asked' "playing baseball tonight, eh?  More of your team were here before".
It was a close game, with the Wolves taking a lead into the fifth inning - at which point the Hookers got ahead, and they kept their lead from then on. Great performances from everyone, but luck just wasn't with us when we needed it.
Had the usual fun conversation after the game.  There was talk of a North London Wolves v South London Wolves friendly at some point.
I had a new toy to play with. David had been on holiday to the US (coming back with the requisite plastic bag with passport in it - though passengers are now being allowed one book each, too), He had kindly offered to bring back sports stuff for us, as the mark-up on imported softball kit is huge, so I asked him to get me a new glove. Spent post-game pub session (at the Cabbage Patch) playing with it - it's a nice piece of kit. Also got an umpire's clicker, to record number of balls and strikes etc. Kate and I are interviewing for part-time posts at work tomorrow.  I'm tempted to use the clicker in the interviews - a bad answer from the candidate and it's "STRIKE ONE!" *click*...
One achievement worth mentioning is that despite the game being out in the sticks, we still stayed in the pub longer than the home team. Another one for the Loan Wolves' roster of Little Victories.
[X-posted from my LJ]

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Development Session at Clapham Common

Peter, Andy and I headed off to Clapham Common on Monday 14th August to get in some much needed practice before our "last chance of a win game" against the RFU Hookers. There was quite a good turnout, about 12 people showed up altogether. I was glad to see we were not the only League players to show up as several members of GMT were also present.

Two lessons learnt:

Lesson 1: How to put the speed in your throw
Did you know that a ball which is thrown straight has more speed than one which arches high into the air? I'm sure this is something we were taught in last years development sessions, as well as during the winter practice sessions with Darren. But, obviously I wasn't paying attention. Oh, this drill also invoked memories of the famous plastic bag incident from last year as we started the drill knealing on the ground (Sorry Ben). I put this drill into practice yesterday when I ran out for a quickie practice, and was quite surprised by the noticeable improvement.

Lesson 2: 3 stage process to calling the play
We were split into two groups, one group to practice infield drills and one group to practice outfield drills. Although, normally an outfielder I managed to find myself practicing infield drills.
Basically there are three things to remember for each play

1. Before the ball is pitched - ask yourself where is the play and what will I do if the ball comes to me?
2. During the play - where will I throw the ball after I make the catch?
3. After the play - where else can I be useful?

Oops..I may have messed this one up slightly!

Anyway, after the session it didn't take much to persuade us to head down to the pub for a quick one.
We had a very deep and interesting conversation on topics such as the team constitution, the Loan Wolves Mafia, end of season party, marketing merchandise for our fan base (grand total of 2 so far!), theme songs for individual wolves...and the "late night peppy email" tradition which I have to uphold, unfortunately things become a bit hazy just about here........

Monday, August 14, 2006

Chillin' with the Kamikazes

Andy and I headed out to watch some fascinating softball being played at Riverside Gardens on Saturday 12th August. And chilly it certainly was – at one point I was wearing my scarf, gloves and four layers of clothing. The only way I could get warm was by lying on my tummy close to the ground, eating chocolate.…oh, and playing some catch with Andy helped too… Anyway, softball tournament…right.

Ben had originally suggested that I may like to come along and watch the division 1 and 2 teams play softball. As he put it “it would be nice if you saw some softball as a spectator. It normally is a bit higher standard than GLSML Div. 4, so you might pick up something that you can use when you play for the Wolves” – and he was so right. Thanks Ben.

Ben was playing for the Kamikazes, a 3rd division team who I think held up really well against some of the Division 1 and 2 teams they played against. What was also impressive was watching them play two games, have a two hour break, and then play a further five games in a row! Now, I wonder if the Wolves would be up for a challenge like this next year. I certainly hope so.

I won’t pretend to be knowledgeable about the technical plays etc. – as you know I’m not a details person. I like to keep my eye on the bigger picture.

However, I will briefly mention that:

We need to play more tournaments next year.
We need to play more tournaments next year.
Oh, did I mention we need to play more tournaments next year? Ok, just shoot me now…you know you want to.

My point is that you cannot compare the experience you get from playing one game a week, with the experience you get from playing 6-7 games in a single day. Plus, it’s all good fun.

Thursday, August 10, 2006


As our game for last night was postponed, and we had the pitch booked anyway, we had a practice session. And very good it was, too.
We assembled a pack of fifteen Wolves, laid out the bases, warmed up and doused ourselves liberally with insect repellent. Then Paul took us through base-running (taking the pressure off other runners by "looking for" the next base, and sneaking extra bases when you get a chance), base-fielding, and the art of advancing threateningly on a runner with the ball in your hand, to keep them honest and on their base. Then we played a practice game to concentrate on hitting, running and fielding issues. A lot of fun, and productive too. Then we went to the pub.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

It's that time again - Low point, high Point

Right, time to reflect on last night. I'll get the ball rolling -

Low Point - Striking out. Darn it, when I finally decided to swing I made the decision too late and missed the ball!

High Point - My 2nd swing of bat and first hit - which batted a runner home and got me to second - I'm very proud of stealing that extra base.

Woo hoo!

Softball Lesson #13

Number 13 unlucky for some but not for us. Another game, another weather front, another loss but another awesome amount of fun.

13.1 It’s good to have Richard back.
In at the deep end, well played and with a lovely home run (which prevents Mark from winning the prize as the only Wolf to hit a home run, good job!). And obviously someone new for me to shout at :-)

13.2 Wolf Spirit.
After a difficult first innings, not one Wolf chin hit the floor and everyone bounced back and made a game of it... fantastic.

13.3 You don’t have to play to shout
Somewhere I read that supporters aren’t allowed to coach but after a quick word with the Ump and opposing Captain, I discovered that even if not playing I can still shout enthusiastically from the touchline, Woo Hoo (although I can’t shout, score and take photos at the same time)

13.4 100 runs is on!
Last week I made a comment about us needing 32 runs from 4 games to make the magic 100. Unfortunately we got shut out making the goal unlikely. However, after the excellent batting performance, suddenly scoring 100 runs this season looks easy! Great running, batting and 'good eyeing' everyone.

13.5 Base coaches don’t care about personal safety
The base coach watches the ball, spots which fielder the ball is heading towards and remembers their throwing ability and experience level from previous innings, monitors where they are looking, listens to the play being called and waves runners on to get those vital match winning extra bases. What they don’t do is worry about if you're going to be clattered into or hit with the ball. Sorry Vic… but you got two runs in under 2 minutes!!

13.6 No Prizes for getting the ball to the Pitcher.
No runs, no prizes, no Brucey bonus and no cuddly toy either. If you’re in the infield and have the ball there is no advantage of throwing it to the pitcher quickly. Hang on to the ball looking any opposition runner in the eye let them know who’s boss until someone from your team comes over and wrestles you to the ground and takes the ball from your hand. (see 13.8)

13.7 Time Gentlemen Please
So sometimes the umpire won’t call time if you just hold the ball up. In fact sometimes the Umpire won’t call time at all but do a subtle hand gesture! (see 13.8)

13.8 The Last Piece of the Jigsaw
Everyone is easily going to pass their end of year GCSE softballing exam but before the Wolf class of 2006 can graduate, there’s one more piece of Softball knowledge to learn. Yes it’s the "dreaded unforced runner containment strategy plan 9 from outer space". But that’s one for the next practice!

13.9 It's fun to watch
After watching the Her Majesty's Baseball team, followed by the Loan Wolves, it’s fun to watch. Although far it’s more nerve racking watching than playing.

13.10 It’s good to have Manjiv back too.
We definitely lacked Tiggs over the last few games and good to see Tiggs back on top form. At one point I thought the Umpire was going to stop the game so we could mop up some of the excess pep off the pitch!

Loan Wolves 23 - 46 Oblivion

Wolf in Shadow
After the hottest July on record, the weather has decided to skip August and go straight to September. So it was windy, overcast, and downright raining on occasion.
We had a great turn-out, with Wolves to spare. Richard made a triumphant home-run hitting return to the side, and our batting performace overall was phenomenal. Lots of "good eyes" and self-restraint to take walks when available, but also some good hitting. I led off again, which was fun.
Some fine performances and a lot of bravery in field and in running - Vic heroically "took one for the team" when she ran in to Home and was hit in the back by a cannonball of a throw from First. Got her run, though.
Ben's experimental outfield, with me in "Shallow Centre Field", ended up mutating into a more standard arrangement, especially as the opposition's first inning was demoralisingly high-scoring. When Tigger took over pitching from Julian, I moved to Catcher. Which is a great position for shouting from. And also seeing the whole of the field. Which became harder as light started to fail. Oblivion play in white, and our side in bright orange, but by their last inning I was losing sight of our guys in the rain and gloom and Oblivion were like wraiths. We had one inning to bat out before the game could be called, and there was a certain thrill in batting and baserunning in the wind and rain and darkness. more so than fielding in it when you can barely see even an optic-yellow ball. I made a second run near the end of the inning.
Good natter at the Finsbury afterwards. A couple of the Oblivion people came over and had a word - they're a friendly bunch, and were very encouraging.
[X-posted from my LJ]

Loan Wolves (23) Oblivion (46)

I love the Loan Wolves - that says it all!

Monday, July 31, 2006

The luck of the Irish

Aah my first blog entry - and it's only taken me 1/2 hr to remember my username and password!

I was in Finsbury Park to witness a great Irish performance against Team GB and to think last week I didn't even know that Ireland had a National Baseball Team. I was a bit disappointed not to have won fan of the match - I thought I deserved it for wearing my green Irish National Team Baseball cap in among all the Team GB supporters. Definitely a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon and my boyf won second prize in the raffle - a Pittsburg (I think) Pirates t-shirt.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Her Majesty's Baseball Team

Despite IS Friday night drinks forcing a monstrous hangover upon me; I got to Finsbury Park to find a pack of Wolves watching the UK baseball team play a double header against the Lucky Irish. It really was great fun and we all showed great a depth of knowledge and were discussing the plays and differences (when not eating Pringles).

The US commentator was most excellent and congratulations to the big tree for winning the supporter of the series

I’ve put some photo’s up on Flickr.

GB v Ireland - Finsbury Park

A handful of Wolves made the trip to Finsbury Park on Saturday morning to watch GB take on Ireland in an international baseball match. Conditions were perfect for spectators: It was a beautiful sunny afternoon, warm but not boiling, with a cool breeze and plenty of baseball action to watch.
I had never seen a baseball match before so I wasn't entirely sure what to expect but I ended up really enjoying myself. The play was fast and furious but at times confusing as there are some major rules differences between softball and baseball. I wasn't always entirely sure what was happening and why, but I was happy to go along with the ride! I particularly enjoyed the rule on base stealing. In baseball you can begin to edge away from the base that you are on before the pitch is made, and as soon as the ball is pitched, you can make a run for the next base. However, if the pitcher see you doing this, he can throw the ball to the base you have just left. If the baseman cathes it before you get back, you are out. Cue lots of comedy creeping and wild dives into bases. GB did well to get one of the Irish runners out this way. You gotta be quick! The pitcher really did need to have eyes in the back of his head.
It was good being able to appreciate the double-plays and fantasic catches and throws. They made them look so easy. There was one home run, hit out the park, but other than that it proved difficult for either team to score runs. The fielding on both sides was strong and accurate (most of the time - it's not just wolves that wobble) and the batters struggled to find holes. There were quite a few foul balls hit. We had to keep alert as many of them got hit in our direction, but the gathered kids loved it, running after every ball. The only ones that got away were the ball that was hit out the park down a side street and the one that got stuck in the tree!
The pitchers came under lots of pressure during the match. There was several walks and pitcher substitutions, but also lots of strike outs. The speed of the pitches was amazing.
Best thing of all?... The crazy American commentator who called the names of each batter as they stepped up to the plate in the way that only Americans can. I'll demostrate the best that it can in print. Please imagine the next bit said in an American accent and with much gusto:
"and stepping up to the plate next it's Vic-tooor-eeeee-a Eeeeeee-ves"
definitely something we should have next season.

Oh yes - the result. A tie. It was a double header. GB won the first (sorry can't remember the score), Ireland won the second 6-5. I'll leave it to someone else actually talk about the match. I'm not really a sports commentator :-)

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Can anyone tame the Tiger?

This was one of the news headings displayed on my new phone today.

For all who doubted me and my commitment to the team, I am definately back to my peppy hyper self (although a limping and hobbling one) - hence the barrage of emails this afternoon.

During the past couple of weeks I have neglected my treasury duties, messed up in outfield, not been an active participant in recent games, and in general have not been my normal enthusiastic self. I blame the heatwave :)

Tonight's pub night proves that I am back, hopefully stronger than ever (please please ignore the limp) and full of ideas for the remaining season and of course - our winter training programme! Personally, I can't wait for the cold wintery sessions to begin once again - why on earth is softball not played in the autumn/winter seasons? The Wolves are well equipped for it!

My only question arising from tonight can a pack of wolves get together for over 6 hours and only talk softball (allowing 10 minutes for a Big Brother discussion of course).

p.s. this late night blogging is due to the Gobfather who claimed I was not in a position to debate on the issue of the "blog/BSUK link" debate as I had also neglected my contributory duties to the blog.

p.p.s the girls are going to watch the boys play baseball tomorrow at Finsbury, so come along Wolves!

Friday, July 28, 2006

Softball Lesson #12

Another week, another game, another defeat. But as well as remembering that softball is great fun we still learnt some new things!

12.1 We only need 9 Wolves.
the 9 WolvesThe best fielding display of the season and quite possibly the best performance of the season. We ran, we covered, we formed chains, we backed up, we caught, we were a team with a psychic connection and all this without the need for some big loud mouth know it all idiot shouting instructions at everyone :-) The fact we played the with 9 wolves seemed to help as everyone knew they had to play with 111% effort and everyone did. Go Wolves Go!

12.2 Mercy isn't always Mercy
It wasn’t mercy. They won. The rule is actually known as the 'run ahead' rule and after 5 innings they just managed to get enough runs ahead to scrape past the winning post :-)

12.3 It's tricky choosing the Most Valuable Player
Excellent to find that every player on the team was a contender for MVP. There was no clear leader until Vic shouted out and as you know if you want it, you call for it and you get it! So Vic is this weeks MVP for her usual sterling work on second plus getting to 3rd for the first time ever and for wanting it most!

12.4 We can catch in the outfield
Yes we’ve proved it, we may drop the ball but if you go for it, it will eventually stick. Well done Peter and great job Michael and Kate… "9 wolves, we only need 9 wolves"

12.5 We can hit the ball
Good hitting from everyone, forcing the fielders to make the plays which they annoyingly did 99% of the time. The team was let down by the lack of bats. In future we need to ensure the heavy and light bats are available for league games. And the keys to the club house would be handy to!

12.6 We look good in Orange
But wearing Orange in a very Irish area of London during the Marching Season did raise an eye brow or two!!

12.7 The Finsbury pub closes really late
and then they carry on serving!

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Wednesday 26th July 2006 Low point, high points!

As discussed in the pub last night, here is my 'low point, high point' entry for last night's game.
Everybody please feel free (nay, compelled!) to add yours as comments to this post. A few ground rules:
  • Each person is only allowed one low point and one high point. No more, no less. The purpose of this is to acknowledge our mistakes without dwelling on them, and force us to draw a positive from each match.
  • The low point must be covered first - we must finish on a high.
  • Each point must involve the author - i.e. you can't say, 'my high point was watching Peter take that great catch!' ... (unless you are Peter and you had some sort of out-of-body-experience.)

So, here is mine:

Low point: Fumbling my attempt to back-up an overthrow - which resulted in an extra base being stolen by a cheeky wanderer!

High point: Stopping a very fast ground ball and fielding it in to hold their captain at 1st - setting up the force so he was out at 2nd next play.

Now you all go!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Eastlea Wanderers 17 Loan Wolves 0

Although we didnt get any runs this was an encouraging performance as we fielded well to prevent a skilled opposition from running away with the game.

There was some stalwart out-field play from Kate and Michael and Peter made a superb catch. Alison played nobly at 1st base. Ben made some good catches and Paul was his usual livewire self. I think the fielding is really coming together well. We came close to getting a run when Vic was on 3rd - Julian unfortunately hit a dead ball and we were doomed to nil runs.

It was a very good effort - the Wanderers didnt give us any slack on the fielding when we were in bat

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Another FAB evening

Joined FAB (the finance department's ad hoc softball team) last night, for one of their occasional softball games in Regent's Park. A few of us Loan Wolves were there, for the game and for the start of Kate's 30th birthday weekend. We were playing TNT, a team mostly comprised of South Africans from the estates management company. Their pitcher was a girl who'd played fastpitch in the US, so her pitches were flat and quick (and would often have been illegal in the league we play in), but this did mean that the ball went quickly off the bat when you made contact. Rules were loose and fluid, and the level of competitiveness varied between the different contingents. Our side won (the scorecards got lost, so I don't know what the result was), and I enjoyed baserunning, getting a few runs. A good change of pace from the formal matches, and a lot of fun.
Regent's Park looked lovely in the evening sunshine, and our game attracted a few casual spectators. It's funny, but I think going out and running around playing sport a couple of times during this heatwave has been better than staying indoors, wilting next to an electric fan. Psychologically, at least, knowing that the heat hasn't beaten you gives you a bit of a boost.
Went on to a succession of pubs in Camden afterwards. The Edinboro Castle was too packed to get served, next place (the Camden Mixer, I think) turfed us out on the stroke of eleven, and a few of us went on somewhere for one more after that. Good bar, but I can't remember what it was called.
Paul had got Kate a birthday present T shirt, with her "real men don't walk" pitching motto on it. We discussed variations on the theme for the rest of us. My suggestion for my one was; "real women dig scars".

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Softball Lesson #11

Well we know we look good in orange but what else did we learn this week....

11.1 Wolves don't like the sun either

Anybody would think we don't like going outdoors but yesterday's blistering temperature (it must have been at least 110 in the outfield), combined with a nuclear furnace hanging low in the sky shining directly into our eyes and the rock hard lunar surface South Clapham folk call a pitch, made fielding a bit of a struggle!

11.2 Finding our legs

Just like Bambi we're getting the hang of this running malarkey.
Both Andy and Jane A impressively "stole" bases to get our two runs. (Of course none of that would have been possible without me sacrificing myself hitting the ball towards first and getting myself out creating two unforced runners :-)

11.3 Tagging and Unforced runners

A picture paints a thousand words and even drawing a thousand pictures isn't going to help us improve in this area. As Julian says a practice is needed and we'll come up with some drills.

11.4 It's a competitive League

As Jane A pointed out we're in a competitive league.
And the middle of the league where the next years split will happen is the most hotly contested area. Perhaps they were a little more competitive than the game required but we have to not let it effect our game or get us down.... then again it was nice to get the pub early :-)

Useful to remember as hopefully one day we may be the experienced team playing a new team!!

11.5 MVPe

Lots of contenders for Most Valuable Piece of Equipment.
A tasteful collection of baseball caps and straw hats kept us from frying.
Shine pads however while very useful didn't get much of look in (as Jane C pointed out the ball hit the back of her leg, quite how we'll never know)
Sun Glasses were a must but didn't actually appear to help much.

I'm going to nominate my Glove. Thanks to its years of abuse it's well worn and regularly treated with leather softener and if I can get my glove to the ball, it normally flops round the ball and sticks firm. Hopefully next season everyone’s gloves will have worn in more and I'm sure those 'oh so close' will turn into outs. If you can get some leather softener, give your gloves a helping hand.

11.6 We came second again

And there’s no shame in that.
well played everyone.... and good cheering from the sidelines Manjiv :-)

Barracudas 31 - 2 Loan Wolves

Too darn hot!
Very very hot day and evening - the two teams' home areas were on the same side of the pitch, contrary to the usual rule, as that was the only place with any shade.
We assembled, practised a bit, slapped on the insect-repellant and sunscreen. Due to the weather, the usual array of baseball hats (I found my lost BC cap again, I'm glad to say) was complemented by some natty straw stetsons and suchlike.
Clapham South - a change from the currently insect-infested Finsbury Park.
I got to be lead-off batter, getting a base hit and a run. For the second week in a row, I made it to Home just in time to avoid a tag out. From then on, though, things didn't go too well. The heat made the unforgiving discipline of pitching harder, and we couldn't stem the runs the Barracudas were making. I spent a lot of time chasing after balls in the leftfield, and the heat was really telling. Paul's view on my field placing was; "it doesn't matter where you stand - they're hitting the ball wherever you aren't". Meanwhile, their attacking field stopped us scoring further. At my only other at bat, I made it to First, then got forced out at Second.
The heat didn't suit us. We're Wolves - we belong on the Arctic steppe, or up above the timberline, not baking in this sort of temperature.
Meanwhile, the carnivorous, cold-blooded fishies were doing fine. They were very chatty with the umpire, while acting as if we were beneath their consideration - an irritation to be dealt with as quickly as possible. Sad to say, but they just weren't very nice. They also were in breach of the rules at one point, at least - they had a base coach who was calling to the batters as the ball was in the air whether they should swing or not. The ump had a word with them about that, at least. We've played other good teams who were quite friendly, respecting us for trying at least, and offering encouragement, but these guys just didn't want to know.
Ah, well. We had a good natter at the George afterwards, morale restored by a few beers and some rambling conversation - our idea for a "novelty Disney-themed softball range" would, I'm sure, be a big seller.
[X-posted from my LJ]

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Loan Wolves 2 Barracudas 31 at Clapham

We were hammered by this obviously very well organised team. They had a number of good batters both men and women. The Wolves tried hard. Paul made a very good catch and Vic tagged someone. There was some good batting from Andy and Jane C. and Jane A. was excellent at First Base. I was struck out rather ignominiously.

I think we should practice getting the ball back to home base - it would be good if we could stop a few more people from getting home after leaving 3rd. Having said that there was a good bit of fielding when Kate caught a ball on home base thrown from in-field.

Well played everybody and there is always next week

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Sun, Sand (well at homeplate anyway) & Softball

Five Loan Wolves (Peter, Olivia, Jane C, Alison and I) were at practice in Clapham common today, taking advantage of playing on the pitch we will be playing on against the Barracudas.

A new training tool was in use today, a cheap tennis racket (designed for kids- it was the best I could get at 9.30am in Clapham High Street, on a Saturday morning)! It was used to launch tennis balls high into the air so that we could practice fielding fly balls. I think it proved useful, although it certainly is different catching a (small) tennis ball versus a softball. A few times, people managed to get the ball in their glove, only for it to bounce out again! Each of us had multiple times at bat, and practiced running to first base. I think we all learnt that it is a very bad idea to hit the ball straight back to the pitcher. Next we did some throwing and catching drills basing ourselves on the marked out softball diamond. After a while it seemed to really improve both our throwing accuracy and strength, plus our ability to catch the ball whilst standing on a base.

It wouldn't be a proper Loan Wolves practice in Clapham if a number of things didn't happen.
1. Like always, the ball managed to roll into the main road by the common a few times today. My softball got run over again (I think that it has as many lives as a cat), but at least it was only a car. Near the end of the practice, the ball rolled in the road again only for it to just miss being run over by a huge 12 wheeler truck. Even after Andy's recent comments about how tough a softball really is, I'm not so sure that it would survive being run over by such a vehicle.
2. As we haven't had huge numbers coming to practice, we usually do without a catcher. This proves problematic, especially when doing batting drills, as when the ball is missed/left it normally at the very least goes way behind the plate, or at the worst (see point 1). We have tried to stop the ball in a number of ways with bags, but it seems however they are positioned the ball always bounces over them. Today I found some spare traffice cones, and so we used those, to make what looked like a makeshift wicket behind the plate. It did actually stop a few balls, so I think that we might have found a solution.
3. Lack of Softball equipment. We had 4 gloves between 5 people today, and only 2 softballs, although we did have 2 bats. I can only stress once again how useful it is to have one's own glove. The phrase 'Beg, borrow or steal' (well maybe not the last one!) comes to mind.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Softball Lesson #10

So our 10th game and what did we learn this week.

10.1 Not a lot really

We should be pleased with our improvement. Everyone did well with good knowledge of their positions’ responsibilities and some good coverage and backing up. I’m struggling to think of many things to point out!?!

10.2 Wolves don’t like water

That nasty stuff that falls from the sky and makes the ground slippery and accelerates the ball. You have to feel sorry for the Devil Strays who have played nearly all the games in damp and wet conditions while we’ve had the pleasure of sunny dry weather.

10.3 Wolves have good eyes

Well done everyone for keeping cool heads and “good eyeing” a lot of pitches. We took a lot of walks which helped our score despite the desire to hit that pesky ball.

10.4 Tag outs

Trying to get non-forced runners out is tricky. When the Strays really went for some serious base stealing, despite a lot of close calls and good tagging attempts we only managed one tag (well done Jane C, who would also like to apologise after catching a devil stray in the chest Zidane style with the glove). We don’t really have the experience or infield speed to attempt tags as WELL as keeping the forces on. Currently it’s most important to keep the runners forced and road blocking any attempts to create holes which unfortunately means letting a few runners home. If you see someone thinking of stealing... look them in the eye and stamp your authority on the situation gggggrrrrr and move towards the next base, hold the ball up and the umpire will probably call time.

10.4 Do I need to Tag?

If you’re on a base and the play's in motion how can you remember whether you need to tag or just stand on the base? One way that might help is to remember what “the play was”. If the play was “on first” and you’re fielding second or third base, any runner coming to you must be tagged as we’ve missed the forced tag on first. Or listen to me whispering "tag tag tag"

10.6 Ready Steady Go

A few times we (which includes me) were slow off the blocks and could have made some of the outs a bit tighter and maybe caused some errors or over throws.

If you’re FORCED and;

a) the balls on the ground.... go go go.
b) it’s in the air, you have to think but you can steal a few steps in case it is dropped.
c) we're on two outs, run on any contact.

And if you’re not forced (which we had quite a few this game)

d) you don’t need to run
e) if the fielder commits a throw to first etc you can take off for the next base
f) you need to be tagged :-)

10.6 We like the Devil Strays really

Our sparring partners from last winter's snow covered practices have done well, and are a most friendly bunch. Good luck to them making the top half of the league, of course if not we'll be waiting for them next year :-)

Devil Strays 41 - 12 Loan Wolves

The big "grudge match" against the other development team from last year turned out not to be too bad. They were a better side than us - they'd been playing all last summer, while we only started in August, and they had recruited some experienced players over the Winter. They're comfortably mid-table at the moment. But it wasn't too bad a result. Their second-string pitcher walked a lot of our batters (I had four at bats, and took a walk every time), and we were, at least for the first couple of innings, in contention. Some great pitching from Julian, and good performances from our infield, kept the pressure on them, and we made, by our standards, a decent total of runs. Eventually, their big hitters started to pull the score away from us, and an eighteen run final inning led to that one-sided scoreline. But that was after a full game, without "mercy" being called.
I fielded at right outfield, and made one run. Very satisfying running in and feeling my boot contact the plate just an instant before I was tagged, then hearing the umpire shout "safe at Home!".
Many of the Strays were actually quite friendly. Unlike the footballers who started a game in our outfield, and took against the polite but clear warnings that they weren't allowed there, and that the pitch was booked for softball. Some of the Strays were a little hostile to the footballers, things grew somewhat heated, and in the end the umpire had a quiet word with our captains to suggest that we try not to antagonise them. Even though they were in the wrong, getting two dozen testosterone-fuelled teenagers angry at us might not have been wise. Though admittedly, we did have bats...
Talking of batting, a bonus Wolf Point must surely go to Paul, for hitting a big foul ball which came close to beaning the Devil Strays' macho "God's gift to Short Stop".

Loan Wolves 12 Devil Strays 39: But Still 3rd (from bottom) in Table

Loan Wolves 12 Devil Strays 39. The result sounds like an almighty beating, but the match was reasonably close until the last inning, where a tired Wolves let the Strays get 18 runs. It was good that the team avoided being mercied for the second match in a row, which was a great effort against a very strong Strays lineup.

Positives for the game.
Once again the team batted well, getting good contact on the ball, and being extremely patient, taking walks when they were available. It was great to get batters/runners walking in runs, especially with the less than ideal ground conditions. After my comedy slip on homeplate, I was pleased to not have to do much running for my two runs. Needless to say, my (studded) boots will be in my bag for the next game.
Peter did very well at First base, making some solid catches from good accurate throws from Paul and Julian, as well as preventing any overthrows. Paul and Kate covered second base well, getting some important outs there. Julian's pitched very consistently again yesterday, especially considering that the pitch wasn't exactly set up correctly (I thought that the pitching and home plates weren't in line) It was a great effort from Alison to hit it hard enough for her to get to first base. Jane C. got a nice catch in the infield. The outfield was very slippery, meaning that once any ground balls touched the grass they literally rocketed away. Also, we had new part time wolf, Katia, playing her first ever game out there too. Taking those things into account, I thought that we outfield did okay. Andy worked diligently covering the Pavilion in right field (although unfortunately it didn't go out there very often), Katia stopped the ball a couple of times, I made a catch, and Manjiv stopped a few tough ones. I hold my hands up for not covering/backing up left field well enough. I think I was preoccupied with helping Katia get through her first game.

A interesting thing happened yesterday outside of the game. A group of 30 or so youth footballers, started playing a match across the back of pitch two's outfield area. The Wolves asked them to move, the Umpires asked them to move, the Devil Strays asked them to move. The result? We managed to get them to move over a small way, but they were a bit of a menace for the whole game, with them shouting and distracting us outfielders, having some of their players walk (very slowly) across the middle of our pitch and their football came on the pitch during the game too. What with the dodgy home plate, and the litter from the previous weekend's music festival/concert strewn across the ground, it sometimes amazes me how they can charge so much for such a pitch.

Finally, a couple of things (pleasantly) surprised me during the game.
1. Julian's rocket boots that shot him to first base on a number of occasions. Good running.
2. Andy's 'fire in his belly' passion, when he forcefully exclaimed in the affirmative that he had definitely made it home after a close call.