Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Picking up strangers in the park...

[From my LJ]

Russell Investment Group v Loan Wolves

Russell Investment Group do not play in our division. Or even our league. So, how did we come to be playing them?
Well, there's this team called triBold... [snipped text explaining the sorry saga of yesterday's "postponed" game]
Anyway, we were up for playing last night. triBold had booked a pitch, and it seemed a shame to waste it. so we turned up in Regents Park this evening. Where we met the aforementioned Russell Investment Group team, who it turns out had also been stood up by their scheduled opponents, in a banking league. So we got the beers in and had a friendly with our new friends.
It was a really good match. We turned out to be pretty closely matched, and we had a great time playing on a well-kept field in the evening sunshine. Lions (we think they were lions) were roaring in London Zoo nearby, and long shadows fell over the pitch as the game went on. Atmosphere was good, and we had fun - both sides probably played better knowing that nothing depended on the result. We weren't really keeping score properly, but after a 1-1 first inning the Wolves broke away then had our lead clawed back in one inning due to a second-out rally (which was aided by Paul's sportsmanlike gesture in refusing to accept their third Out), finally going into the last inning a few runs up. The final result was somewhat uncertain, but definitely close. I made the last play of the game with an out at Home.
Afterwards, we joined a few of their team for a couple of drinks at the Edinboro Castle. An all-round successful and convivial evening.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Final hand-in of the year on Thursday. So the library was busy all day, until the deadline, after which it was dead quiet.
I was working till the deadline at six to provide extra cover. Actually there till about a quarter past. Then I had to leave and rush over to Regent's Park to umpire a softball match.
I was delayed by Tube hell, and arrived to find Tigger and the two teams waiting expectantly for me. No pressure, then.
It was easier than the first time - posssibly because I'd just come from a library full of stressed-out law students, so twenty keyed-up softball players seemed much less frightening. I still made errors as plate umpire, and wrong calls, but the teams accepted them and the match played out (it was decided by one run, in the very last inning), and we left the field without being lynched by the losing side. I managed to project a confident demeanour, according to Tigger. She did sterling work as base umpire.
Wolves met for drinks last night at the Cittie of Yorke. Paul's back from his travels.

Friday, May 25, 2007


I was hoping for a more mental reply than the one I got, but Silvia's surname made me laugh:

From: AOSHUK [] Sent: 24 May 2007 20:34To: Waller, MatthewSubject: RE: Scientology Question

Dear Matthew,
Hi, my name is Silvia. I am writting in response to your e-mail you sent a few days ago.
You are absolutely right, Scientology can most definitly help on the things you mentioned about your team so you can really take off!
First of all I need to know where you are based so we can work out what would be the easiest for you to find out how Scientology can help.
Please contact me on 0800 587 5277 to arrange so.
All the best,

Silvia Fani

Saint Hill Foundation
Saint Hill Road, East Grinstead,
West Sussex, RH194JY

-----Original Message-----From: Waller, Matthew []Sent: 22 May 2007 11:57To: aoshuk@scientology.netSubject: Scientology Question
I play for a softball team and I wondered if Scientology could benefit us both individually and collectively.
In competitive matches there are always one or two innings when doubts set in, we lose focus and undo all the good work we’ve achieved in the game so far. What we really need is consistency.
Some of my team are thinking of turning to sports psychologists and self-help manuals, but I thought that Scientology may provide better answers. After all, you’ve helped Tom Cruise become a major star despite his diminutive stature, and pulled John Travolta out of troughs (Look Who’s Talking, Look Who’s Talking Too and Look Who’s Talking Now spring to mind) that threatened to destroy his career. Perhaps Scientology could stop the troughs in my team’s games.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Best wishes

Smug bastards

Discovered this linked to the results on the league site:

The entire Devil Strays squad showed up to take part in the first win of the season, a comprehensive victory against the Loan Wolves on May 21st.The sky over Finsbury Park may have been grey, but the Strays’ mood was sunny and team spirit was high, with seventeen keen players present and hungry for victory.The Strays got off to a fantastic first innings, keeping the Wolves down to one run while scoring 12 runs themselves. The batting highlights, to list but a few, included a zinger to centre right by Jen, a shell-it-outta-the park smasher by Dan and a disrespectfully cheeky infield hit by Kim.After this imposing start, the Wolves were unable to get back into the game, being shut out in the next innings by staunch Strays defending, with outstanding performances from outfielder Mike, shortstop Dan and first basewoman Rebecca, not to mention fantastic pitching from Seth, who struck out several anguished Wolves. Sharon made a crucial catch at home plate to stop the runner on third scoring and Paul made an instinctive and impressive catch at second base.The Wolves only managed to score a further four runs during the game, while the Strays scored another eight to make the final score 20-5. All the official Strays present played at some point during the game and each and every one of them made a positive contribution to the final result. Paul and Dan were joint MVP winners for their outstanding performances on the field.

Written by Devil Strays captain F Herdman-Smith, 24th May 2007

Tuesday, May 22, 2007


Low: My hitting.

High: Obstructing their first-baser.

Devil Strays 20 - 5 Loan Wolves

We played our traditional rivals last night. Scheduled on Monday so as not to clash with the football tonight.
Went into the game with captain Michael just back from a knee operation, and needing a runner. Also, Matt's hand is still stitched from cutting it open on a smashed rice jar. And Olivia has her broken finger splinted up, so she was scoring rather than playing.
The Strays have acquired some good new players to replace their losses, but then so have we. Sadly, this game went their way.
We had a poor first inning, in the course of which I tangled with Kevin running for a catch, and twisted my ankle. After that we got a lot sharper, but still couldn't pull the lead back.
Tigger was hit repeatedly by thrown balls. she also pitched to a guy who shot a rocket-like line drive towards her head. she almost caught it, but it smacked into her pitching hand instead of her glove. She still gritted her teeth and pitched the game out though.
Gareth pulled a quadricep running. Dunno how many other people took minor knocks, but after the game Michael looked around us and asked; "is there anyone here who isn't injured?".
We limped off to the pub for a healing beer or two.

[X posted to my LJ]

Thursday, May 17, 2007

high point - low point of last night's game?

In my case, high point was that dodge past the tag out.
Low point was then getting out for not tagging up.

Loan Wolves 10 - 23 Raiders Red

This week’s game was against Raiders Red. They’re a big club, with three teams, two of which are in our division. This time we were playing Little Billy Goat Gruff.
Rain and drizzle had restored Finsbury Park to its usual state of muddiness. We were short of spare players, but managed to field a full team and thankfully didn’t need to make any substitutions. I was catching, so spent much of the match squelching around in the afore-mentioned mud. Also called a few plays.
The Raiders didn’t make life easy for our pitchers, looking for walks rather than chances to swing. A strong first inning for them gave them a lead we couldn’t overhaul, but our performance with bat and in the field was highly creditable. Plenty of runs, two innings in which the opposition failed to trouble the scorers, and some fine individual performances. Alison’s fielding on third, and Kevin’s diving catch stood out for me, along with Mavy at bat ducking under an errant pitch. Some fine batting and base-running from everyone. I took part in the double play that never was – batter hit the ball short, pitcher Tigger got to the ball, threw it straight to Peter on First who made the out then threw it lightning fast straight to my glove, I pivoted, tagged the runner out coming into Home. However, as the out on First had been the third of the inning anyway, our stunning teamwork was irrelevant.
I took the team’s first walk of the season (which gives an idea of how sharp the pitching we’ve been facing has been), and got a real kick from base-running. At one point I dodged a tag-out between Second and Third, then dived headlong (into that mud again) to reach base safely.
Duncan DS was umpiring, and I’ve never heard a more talkative blue. Running commentary on every pitch, every play. We play the Strays next week.
After the game, we retired to the pub in the hope we could catch the West Br*m – Wolves match. Sadly, there was some unimportant European game on, with three Spanish blokes watching, and the bar staff wouldn’t change channels for us. Maybe it was as well to be spared the sight of my side losing, but it would have been nice to watch the game with all the Wolves cheering for their namesakes.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Vic's moonlighting for another team...

This week I will mainly be spending my evenings in a dark, hot, stuffy theatre helping Geiods put on their musical 'Calamity Jane'. Geiods are a musical theatre group, well that's a sort of team. Fortunately for the Wolves, these shows only come around twice a year, once in May, once at Christmas, and fortunately for me too: it's exhausting rigging up a theatre!

I spent most of Sunday lugging heavy lights up and down staircases and playing with lighting desks and walkie-talkies... that is until the batteries died on walkie talkies and we had to resort to shouting.

I was a proper 'techie' armed with electrical tape, string and an adjustable spanner. This piece of kit was essential as I'm such a girl that I couldn't unscrew the light clamps without resorting to using the spanner. They are screwed tight for obvious reasons... they are big and heavy and high up and would certainly give someone a good clonk on the head if they fell.

The lighting desk was particularly exciting to have a go with as no one knew how to drive it. The instruction book ran to about 50 pages and once we did finally manage to save a light setting, we couldn't work out how to make come back on cue. I had never even seen a lighting desk until yesterday and so it was slightly alarming when it kept beeping at us. It was quite fun playing with all the buttons and sliders though. I'm usually only allowed to point spot lights and carry chairs on to the stage!

So I won't be able to join you for the game this week, but I will be thinking of you and I sing along to the show and point my lights.

High Point - eating many sweets and biscuits and finally getting the lighting desk to do something that we wanted it to do.

Low point - having my foot run over by a stage block (it's OK, I survived) and nearly dropping a big light off the balcony.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

The Loan Wolf Blues

Our first compulsory umpiring duty.
Richard and I were the umpires (or “blues”). I was to be plate umpire – the guy who calls balls and strikes. Our teams were Meteors 3 (you may remember them from last week) and the Barracudas (those with long memories may remember them from last Summer).
On my way to the match, I did what I’d done before the first University Challenge match – I took a moment for myself, to be well and truly terrified, and thus got it all out of the way. Well, mostly.
We began with the traditional talk with the captains, during which we defined ground rules (this became important later) and freely acknowledged that this was our first time umpiring (subtext: “please be gentle with us”). I’d forgotten to bring my clicker, but Kevin of Meteors 3 always has a spare, so I borrowed that. Didn’t show any favouritism for it, though.
The cliché is that you just have to be confident, and “call them as you see them”. To an extent this is true. I know I screwed up call after call, and that we must have missed some of the plays. But still, there was a huge store of goodwill, tolerance and understanding from even seasoned players towards their newbie blues.
But still – it was a bit scary. I realised that the blues don’t get the break that players do every half inning. They have to stand there. Alert and ready to make call after call after call. By the end I was praying for either the pitcher to fling the ball short into the mud or the batter to tonk it cleanly to the outfield so I wouldn’t have to make a close call. I also found myself reducing it to the pure mechanics, ignoring the personalities, the teams, the state of the game.
Richard was a great co-umpire. He looked the part making his calls in the outfield, and wants to have a crack at the plate next time.
In the end, Meteors were ahead and due to bat at the bottom of the fifth when bad light and appalling wet conditions made it wise to call the game. So I shouted “ballgame!”, and that was that.
My best call was probably when a ball hit the old clubhouse – thanks to defining ground rules, I knew that unless the ball ended up in the house it was still live, and called it accordingly.
Afterwards I had a beer with Richard, my fellow umpire, and Duncan Devil Stray. He’d turned up to watch us umpire and lend moral support – and also to pick up hints as to how we were going to umpire the Dev Strays’ game next week of course, competitive so-and-so that he is. He was full of praise – said we’d done a “storming” job. So he can’t complain if we call him struck out next game then, right?
I made some woeful calls, but at least they were consistently woeful. And the sides accepted the result without protest, and that’s the main thing. My only worry now is that “be gentle with us – this is only our second game” may not wash as well…

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Mascot enquiry

Personally I find stuffed animals rather sinister and seedy...

From: Robert Sinclair [] Sent: 09 May 2007 16:04To: Waller, MatthewSubject: Re: Wolf Inquiry

Wolves cost £9500 plus VAT each. We can prepare one in any position. Robert Sinclair Get Stuffed

----- Original Message -----
From: Waller, Matthew
Sent: Wednesday, May 09, 2007 10:30 AM
Subject: Wolf Inquiry

I play for a softball team called the Loan Wolves and we’ve been looking for a mascot for some time. Whilst walking past your wonderful shop I noticed two particularly fearsome and impressive examples of canis lupus. May I inquire if they’re for sale, and if so how much you would want for them?

All the animals you have on display are mounted in extremely realistic poses. Would it be possible to mount a wolf in a classic softball stance – on its hind-legs, wielding a bat, just about to strike a home run?

If this is indeed possible, could you provide a similar service for other animals? What price a cricket playing hippopotamus?

I look forward to hearing from you.
Best wishes
Matthew Waller

Raiders Blue 21 - 6 Loan Wolves

Weather has taken a turn for the worse this week – must be the influence of the Bank holiday. Despite cold and cloud, we were spared rain. Though one unnamed Wolf didget startled by “lightning” which turned out to be the flash from Manjiv’s camera.
We had a big squad with all female Wolves except Olivia, and eight of our male players, present.
Game started quite well, and we were definitely in contact until the bottom of the fifth, where eight runs gave the team from the 83-strong Raiders club a significant lead. Some great fielding, and good batting – including what must be the most home runs for the Wolves in a single game (three). A nasty collision between Matt and the Raiders’ catcher ended up with her missing the rest of the game (and therefore an automatic out on her turn at bat). This event did probably help us stay in contention, but our performance was still commendable overall.
My only contribution to our performance was to correct the opposition’s scorer when she added 13+4+4 and made 23. At least the agreed total is an accurate reflection of another loss with honour for the Loan Wolves. I managed to get cracked in the shin during throwing and catching warm-up, and narrowly avoided getting beaned by a pop-up foul ball which seemed to be actively tracking me, like a small round guided missile, as I tried to get out of its way.
Not the best scoreline ever, but still respectable.
Tonight Richard and I have the dubious honour of being the first Loan Wolves to officially umpire a match. Wish us luck.

[X-posted from my Livejournal ]

Pics from Game 2 (Loan Wolves vs London Raiders Blue)

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

LSF Single sex tournament

On Sunday - I replaced my favourite orange t-shirt for a red one as I became a Vixen for the day. The Vixens made up the fifth team in the LSF single sex tournament which took place in Barn Elms Sports Centre (the same venue as the In2Touch tournament we took part in way back in April 2006).
The Vixens are a team formed of girls from different teams within the various divisions in the League...and needless to say, I found myself surrounded by players who were a lot more skilled and experience than I was.
The ball used in single sex games is slightly smaller than the regular softballs used for Co-ed. This actually makes it possible to bat the ball further...
The only low point of the whole day was playing in a team with players who all knew each other and being the only Loan (Lone) Wolf. However, it was a good experience overall, got some good pitching tips and a couple more tournaments should hopefully make some sort of difference to my softball ability :-)
A full write up of the day is available on the BSUK website

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Loan Wolves 3 - 30 Meteors Three

First game of the season last night. We were all keyed up for it, I think. I felt quite proud to be part of our team as I changed into the old black and orange after work.
Lovely sunny evening, not too hot. We assembled at Finsbury Park and got down to some practice ahead of the match. Ben turned up to support us, which was nice of him. He soon ended up running a beginners' clinic for our newest players. See, we even lay on higher-division coaches for our team!
Meteors 3 are from a big club, with experienced players to support their newer people. The fact that they can field three teams is a bit of a clue. They had train whistles and rattles, which seemed a bit unnecessary.
The blues (umpires) were umpiring their first game. That'll be Richard and me next week, as we now have to fulfil umpiring duties like the other established teams.
We gave away a few runs in the first two innings, but tightened up a lot towards the end of the game. Sadly, we couldn't overhaul the Meteors' lead. We did some good fielding and pitching though, and for the first time ever we made an appeal against a rules infraction (due to confusing themselves by subbing in so many players from their huge squad, the opposition put two male batters in a row).
I was Catcher, in which position I managed to find the only pebble on the entire field - by kneeling on it. Mercifully, though, that was as serious an injury as any of us received.
Good performances all round, including debuts from new Wolves Faustina, Matt, Valerie and Kevin. Good debut by co-captains Tigger and Michael, also.
We retired to the Finsbury afterwards, and talked (mostly) softball till chucking out time.
Due to not conceding as many runs as some, we aren't bottom of the division, at least. And it's good to know that we've lost none of our enthusiasm for the game and the team. Darren came for a word in the pub (his Div 1 side had been playing), and when Tigger asked if he was surprised that we were back for another season he said; "No. I figured you guys would still be together".

Team Photo May '07

my first softball game

i played my first softball game last night and it was very exciting and the rest of my team were all very friendly and very good players and when i was fielding i stopped the ball quite well but i dropped some catches and that made me sad but i moved to catcher and i got someone out and that made me happy and there was a bossy spanish girl on the other team and she had on very tight shorts that made me feel funny inside and when i batted i always hit the ball but i got confused and got out at second base two times but the third time i listened to blasey and got all the way round and that was good and then all the loan wolves went to the pub and i drank some stuff that was thick like milkshake but black and bitter and it made my head feel funny and for the game next week i think i should work on my catching and my punctuation

1st of the season - Low Point, High Point

Low Point - Fumbling some catches and missing some outs on 2nd as a result.

High Point - hitting the ball and making it to first base each time I was up! Hooray. There is hope for my batting skills yet.