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!