Thursday, October 23, 2008

This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered-
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs'd they were not here,
and hold their manholes cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.

Monday, September 22, 2008

All stars and awards

Our trophy

On Saturday it was the annual "All Star" game for the softball league, followed by the awards ceremony. For the third year in a row, the Loan Wolves turned out in droves to be the team with most supporters. no beer prize this year, though. We watched Olivia, Michael and Gareth represent us at the Div 5/6 game, and they did us proud even if the other team did win.
afterwards, we retired to the community centre for the awards fiesta. As runners-up in our division, we now have our very own trophy. 2nd place in Division Six doesn't sound like much, but for us it's a heck of an achievement. Worth it for the respect we got from the other teams there, too. "Been a long time coming", as Darren said.
We made it a hat-trick of sorts by getting second place in the pub quiz which ex-Wolf Ben had written for the occasion, so there was even more to celebrate. Our prize was a book on softball skills, which, so many of us being librarians, we were very pleased with.
We stayed in the pub for a while, partying and dancing.

Things I learned on Sunday: don't try to play City of Heroes with a hangover.

[X-posted from my LJ]

End of an era for baseball

Nice nostalgic piece from a friend in the US about the demise of Yankee Stadium.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Wolves of the Sea

Tenuous wolf link for International Talk Like a Pirate Day.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Loan Wolves @ G & T

This was the big one. The winner of last night's game at a stormy Regents Park was assured a place in Divison 5, the loser was looking at another season in Div6.

G & T had started their season slowly and initially looked to be one of the weakest teams in the division. However, they certainly got their act together and have been clocking up the wins in the middle and latter part of the season. In contrast the Wolves started well, had a bit of a wobble in the middle, but have picked it up again for the last few games.

The skies were blue as we started out. The first few innings were very tight. Neithe team conceding much, and runs were hard to come by. As the Wolves came up to field at the bottom of the third the score was 1-1. Then, as they say, down came the rain. With the wolves fielding into torrents of rain, G&T started to pile on the pressure. Two rain (or rather lightning) breaks saw the opposition go through their batting order in one innings and put 5 runs on the board. It was starting to look like weather was going to scupper our hopes of promotion once again. 1-6 to them.

However, Wolves are wet weather animals. We may have wobbled with the wet conditions, but we took advantage when it was our turn to bat, putting on an impressive 8 runs in one innings and taking the score to 9-6. The girls consistently got on base, and they guys moved them around and brought them home. Everyone was batting to their potential and things were suddenly looking a lot brighter. G & T still had a batting turn in hand, though, so it was important to shut them out. This is just what the wolves did and repeated for the next innings whilst adding another 3 to our tally at the top of 5.

It was pretty clear that the light was only going to give us 6 innings, and so the Wolves focused on adding as many runs as possible to set G&T a decent run chase. As the opposition came up to bat the score was 15-6. The wolves knew that they had to get three outs before conceding 10 runs to win. Playing the odds we went for easy outs at first, letting a couple of runners get around in the process. As the plate umpire declared 'Ball Game' the score was 15-8 to the Wolves! Divison 5 here we come!

Fair play to G&T they made us work for it, and they were a very sporting bunch. I hope they enjoyed it as much as we did.

Thursday, August 07, 2008


As requested last night, here is the match inning by inning, X-posted from my LJ:
1st Inning
Three runs to Tribold, none to us. Not a great start, but could have been worse.
2nd Inning
Tribold made one more, but their inning didn't last long. We went round the order, getting seven on the board.
3rd Inning
Four for Tribold, two of which were directly sue to a misfield from us. But we got five round, so our lead started to creep up.
4th Inning
Sharper fielding all round here, and each team only made one more.
5th Inning
A shut out in their inning, followed by a decent start to ours saw four runners go round before the game ended. Bad light stopped it after the fifth, which leaves us only one match to play.
That match, next Tuesday, will be against G&T. They have games in hand, but a win will put us in a pretty strong position.

Loan Wolves vs Tribold: Highs/Lows

Low: still can't explain what I thought I was doing when I messed up in the outfield. It cost us two runs which I had to earn back......

High: two home runs. Both looked catchable once I hit them, especially the second. That was a lead off home run, but I think the first brought two runners home.

Lesson learned: good, aggressive base running works, and not just for their captain!

Friday, August 01, 2008

Chevy Chasers 1 - 32 Loan Wolves

Last day of financial year at work, followed by leaving drinks for Simon and Thomas. I had to leave early and hotfoot it over to Hampstead for the softball, though, as I'd learned late in the afternoon that we had no male subs.
I arrived to find the game in progress. The Chasers had asked to postpone the game earlier, but had managed to cobble together a team of sorts - for which, fair play to them. They came and gave us a game when they must have realised the odds were against them with inexperienced players and missing their starting pitcher.
As it was, we played well and made some extra runs by intelligent base running. Pitching and fielding were strong, too. The Chevies did hit a consolation home run in their last inning, but soon after that the game was called by the "mercy rule" due to the lead we'd built up. first time we've been on the winning side of that rule, though we lost by it a fair few times when we were starting out.
It was a strong performance, but the nature of the win left a slightly flat feeling - for me, at least, there wasn't the buzz that we've taken away from our wins in close matches.
One sour note on the evening was that Kate was practising pitching before the match and had been hit by a ball smashed into her hand. She'd been taken to A&E, but returned to the pub after the match having been treated for a finger broken in two places. She was really brave about it, but once again our season features a hospitalised Wolf.

[X-posted to my LJ]

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Wolves v G & T 23rd July

High points: 2 Home runs, 2 hits to 3rd base and informing the umpire of the guy leaving base early

Low point: Running past Manjiv at 3rd whilst running home and being given out.

Points leaned: Ignore negative comments before a game if you don't want your confidence knocked.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Softball tournament on Saturday. Advertising industry league, but they were short of teams so we got to play. Early morning in order to get to Barnes Bridge for nine. I had my new pull-along bag, a bargain at £12.00 from Sainsbury's. And when I scraped a hole in it the first time I lugged it down some stairs I realised why it was so cheap. But it did a good job otherwise of carting bat, glove, chair, rug, food and all the other necessities of a day spent in an exposed field in unpredictable weather. Once again, our team for the day was short a few Wolves so bolstered by Meteors. Who brought their own bats, which meant a fair number of bats between us. Averaged to one bat for every second player. The other ones were given some ammunition and told to pick up bats when they could from their fallen comrades...
We won our first game, lost the next three, and ended up in a play-off vs Comer's Homers. We didn't manage to beat them, so our tournament ended there. We stayed to watch Kevin play for the Digitas Devils who were a man short vs the Homers in their final

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Loan Wolves versus Fat Cats July 2nd Finsbury Park

Low Point: Missing a tag out at 4th (Home) base. Think I dropped it

High Point: Getting an out at 3rd

Lessons Learned: Keep running as fast as possible to 1st - the umpire told me I might have made it on one occasion if I hadnt slowed up. Also put on my insect repellent - dont forget!!!

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

National Loan Wolves Day

[ X-posted from my LJ]

Last year on July 9th, we achieved our first ever victory in a softball league game. At some point in the pub afterwards, we decided that 9th July would forever be National Loan Wolves Day in celebration of this glorious turning point in our sporting history. All Wolves are to wear their team shirts that day, whether we're playing or not. All friends and fans (do we actually have fans?) of the Wolves are likewise invited to wear orange that day, in honour of the team's past (and future) success.
So, if you count yourselves among our fanbase, wear your orange with pride next Wednesday!
(And wish us luck against the Fat Cats tonight, too...)

Monday, June 30, 2008

Raiders Invitational Part Deux

Sunshine, friendly people and softball - what more could you ask for on a Sunday afternoon?

Ten wolves made their (sometimes meandering) way to Wandsworth Common for the second of the mini-tournaments organised by the Raiders. This time the Raiders had put together two teams (Tea and Coffee) and invited along the Meteors as well, so it was three games each on two pitches.

The Wolves started off with a good strong win against Raiders Tea before deciding to mix up positions and try a few things out in the second match against the Meteors. Before we knew it we were 10-0 down! Much as we like to practise and experiment, we also like to win (now that we've got a taste for it) and it was back to our normal fielding positions for the rest of the match. From then on we started to field much better, and some great hits particularly from the lads notched us up a few runs. Olivia's fantastic catch in the outfield has to get a mention - even though they 'bought it back'. We took advantage of the very same 'buy-back' rule to make Alison bat again in red devil horns, and before we knew it, it was 'tied ball game'. Up we went to bat, and I was very exicted to find myself on base and in the position of being the 'winning run'. Despite Matt's comments that I 'run in slow motion', I made it around and victory was ours for the second time that day.

Off we trudged to the other diamond for the last proper match of the day. Another closely run game sadly slipped away from us and when time ran out we were down two runs. However, it was certainly worth it to see Kevin batting in bunny ears after we bought back this strike out.

As we all know, you can never have enough softball and so on we played - this time Raiders against the rest of the world. I'm not sure anyone was scoring all that closely by this stage, but I think it's safe to say that the Raiders won. Loads of people had a go at pitching and even with a ridiculously long batting line-up it was great to have a few more swings.

A hugely fun afternoon, topped off with the traditional trip to the pub - just for old times sake.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

High Point - Low Point (Fair and Squares)

Ok guys let's do it. Remember the format - low point first, finish on the high point. One thing for each and it must be personal. You cannot say that your high point was watching Kevin slide into home and take out 3 of their players - unless you are Kevin! (I know that didn't really happen, but it's only a matter of time!)

I'll start:

Low Point: Striking out with two swings. I haven't struck out all season!

High Point: Getting three strike outs in one innings.

Lessons Learned? If the fielder is standing aimless on your running line, make them get out of your way, or shout 'obstruction'. I ran around him, and then was out on the force at 2...only just!

Squares 18 - 15 Loan Wolves

I left my joggers at home yesterday morning, so had to wear the trousers I had on at work to play in.
We were away to the Squares, a team of Americans. At Hyde Park - I didn't know there were softball pitches there. Not the best of venues - very crowded (sharing the outfield with other games, from a charities/museums league, though these games all finished early), and with an incredibly uneven and pitted surface.
It wasn't a good game for us. We didn't play as well as we know we can, and somehow let ourselves get too down about it. We missed outs we should have made, and our batting, despite some good hits, wasn't up to snuff. I was appalling - felt as if my batting standard had slipped back to where I started three years ago. I managed to take an easy catch (as Catcher). Kate, who pitched an excellent game, had told me before the match that I had to catch one off her pitching. Next time, please also tell me to hit a home run, Kate.
We're halfway through the season now, played six, won four. We're just in second place. Not a bad position, really, though it might have been better if we'd played to our full potential last night. In my case, I know I should have played much less badly than I did. I'm blaming my trousers.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Fat Cats 11 - 14 Loan Wolves

Fat Cats are a re-formed team - the "Black Cats" of a few years ago, a very capable side. When they re-entered the league they had to start in our division. They'd played five and won five - easily - before tonight. Our run of wins had been ended last week, as you may remember. Could we pick ourselves up again and give a decent account of ourselves against the strongest team in the division?
We were playing at Finsbury Park again, so didn't have the wonky pitch from last week to contend with at least. A dark rain cloud hovered overhead, launching showers on us, but there were blue skies and ice-cream white clouds visible beyond it. At one point, looking out from Catcher's position, I saw a vision of luminous green grass, long shadows, raindrops like diamonds in the late evening sun and even a rainbow, which would surely have won us an Oscar for cinematography had it been a movie. But it wasn't a movie. It was a ball game.
The opposition were strong, but we were not weak. Excellent pitching from Kate gave us the framework we needed. Our batting was solid. I batted 1.000, with no walks all night, and made one hit fine inside the Third Base line out of the infield which I was quite pleased with. We ran extra bases where they were to be found without taking stupid risks. Our fielding was sharp. We kept them from getting easy runs and ended their innings quickly, which gave us a lead. Then they rallied and nosed ahead. But we reversed that, and went into the bottom of the final innings defending a five point lead. A couple of outs, a couple of runs to the opposition. Then Vic intercepted a hit to right field and tagged out the runner trying for second. And it was over. The Cats' five game winning streak was ended.
Over to you, Mr Kipling:
"For the strength of the Pack is the Wolf
And the strength of the Wolf is the Pack"

[X-posted from my Livejournal]

Loan Wolves 14 - Fat Cats 11

It was feline versus lupine last night as the skies darkened above Finsbury Park.

Having umpired a couple of games against the top-of-the-table Fat Cats, we knew they could hit, and we knew they had a reasonable idea about the it was some nervous, but excited Wolves who showed up early to warm up, run practice drills and settle into the pitch.

As the away team we batted first. A string of good solid base hits got us on the scoreboard in an important innings. We then held the Cats to nothing for the next two innings.

As is the way with us Wolves, we never do things the easy way - a dip in the middle meant that the Cats put on 6 runs in 4th innings. We then knew that we needed to keep it tight.

We stepped up to the plate literally and metaphorically - got those all important runs in and held their scoring to a minimum. It got a bit heated for a while there over a few close calls. I'm thinking we probably wouldn't have made the appeals if the game hadn't been so tight, but all those hours at umpire school have got to be worth something!

Anyhow, after the full 7 innings, by hook or by crook, victory was secured for Wolf-kind!

Personally I got a particular kick out of holding them to nothing in an innings by getting three straight outs at first, but it's indisputable to say that everyone played a part tonight. Batting sensibly and consistently, holding runners, keeping the force on and getting those outs!

Three cheers for the Loan Wolves!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Mix-a-lot Tournament - Finsbury Park 14th June 2008

Some stray Wolves, a few Homers and a whole load of Meteors got together on a sunny Saturday afternoon for a mix-up mini tournament. The idea was that people get to play with and against some different people to their usual bunch. The three captains disappeared into the club house whilst we warmed up and emerged with three 'random' team line ups.

I was a lone loan wolf on the self-proclaimed 'best looking team', with the other orange shirts split between the other two teams. Each team played the other two teams in a timed match. It was great fun to play with all sort of different people and also interesting to play against our usual team-mates.

After the three matches, the sun was still shining and the beer was still flowing, so we decided to go for a 'Meteors v the rest of the world' match. I got to have a go at pitching, which was great, and I only gave away one walk - we got him at 2 anyway, so no harm done. I was particularly proud of my pitch and catch, and I have a pretty impressive bruise on my ankle from a particularly fierce line-drive. It was a close game, but the Meteors got us in the end and it was off to the pub for more beer and some table football.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Moment of the Match - Tribold

Great team patience in the 5th, 6th and 7th innings to accept walks and hit good shots to put us in the lead with a chance of winning.

Bad throw from Shortstop to First, then the throw to 2nd and Kevin tagging the guy as he went passed the base
Manjiv getting the last out in 4 of the first 5 innings
Matt wanting an extra centimetre
Kate wanting an extra inch
Kate suggesting giving a bit more arse
Blasey's home run hit
Manjiv striking out the girl who wouldn't swing
The double play at 3rd
Manjiv giving the ball to Donnacha at home to get the player out
Matt's out at 1st that wasn't given
Vic and Joel being struck out by pitches that never went over shoulder height and practically hit their ankles over the plate
The overgrown outfield where softballers go to die
The sun over the pitcher which made hitting difficult
The blue who made deciding which balls to hit difficult

Runner-up - Joel's Grand Slam that wasn't given as Vic allegedly (my arse) missed 3rd
MOTM - Matt's cheeky "Can I look at the ball" and getting the girl out for missing 1st base

Loan Wolves 25 - 26 Tribold

Low Point: Losing to Tribold!!
Not being able to pitch within the very tight strike zone set out by the umpire.

High Point: Balling the umpire who must have been confused as to whether he was umpiring baseball or slowpitch softball.

Lesson Learned: Never listen to Blasey who insisted I only have 8 pitches to warm up before the game. Next time I'll warm up my way :)

Monday, June 09, 2008

High point and Low point

High point:
Watching 4 innings where the side got the basics right and shut them out

Low point:
Being 3rd base coach and yelling at Manjiv once Gareth hit it to go home from first and revised to 3rd but she stopped at second as she was watching the ball and got out.

Yet again we made mistakes but managed to secure a win due to good teamwork.

Moment of the Match - Chevy Chasers

Andy scambling back to 3rd base after looking to go home
Manjiv staying at 2nd as Gareth caught up with her
Kate being chased down by Kevin
Shutting them out for 4 of 6 innings
Julian pitching "in the zone" says Kate
Every player getting on base
Kevin's 3 run homer
Gareth's 3 RBI hit

Matt falling on his arse in the outfield
Kate yelling at the 3rd baseman to get out of the way
Kate informing the Blue that the players had left the bases early

2nd place:
Julian stopping a smashed hit on the shin and then chasing the ball to try to get the out

Andy running after a guy and tagging him after he didn't tag up

Thursday, June 05, 2008

No Mercy

The weather has brightened up, so we had a sunny evening for the game. Too sunny, if you were an infielder, as throws from the outfield were coming straight out of the sun. Still, better than the rain. There was plenty of mud left over from this week's wet weather, though. We had a practice beforehand, playing in our designated fielding positions, which helped us in the game.
The Chevy Chasers were a player short, as one of them had been taken ill. So they had an automatic out every tenth batter, and were one short in the outfield. Which helped, but wasn't the only reason for, our win. We won because we did things right. Not always well, but mostly right. We made some errors, especially in our third and fourth innings, where we gave them easy outs due to cavalier batting. But we tightened up, and made twelve runs in the fifth, with some good hitting and hustling around the bases. Two more, and we'd have won by the "mercy rule" for the first time ever. But in the end, we kept that lead till the bottom of the sixth, at which point the game was stopped for light without us needing to bat again.
We were the more experienced side, and that made all the difference. Good captaincy from Short Stop Kevin, and steady pitching from Julian.
We celebrated in the pub, and I ended up needing buses home. Still, it was worth it.

Wolves 20 - 07 Chevy Chasers

Wolves, can we make an addition to our weekly high point/low points? I suggest we add in a "lessons learned" item. Pick one error made by yourself (if any) or one thing you wished you had done better or want to improve next time around. For example:

Low Point: Getting stupidly caught out at third base due to not listening to the third base coach.

High Point: My best hit ever, a clean line drive straight between short stop and third base (not that I was looking of course) and not making a shambles at First Base.

Lesson Learned: Never ever watch the ball, always listen or watch the base coach for instructions :)

Over to you :)

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Not so Bitchin' Pitchin'

We may occasionally have problems with our pitching (especially in high winds) but at least we are never this bad:

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Learning how not to throw like a girl

A small number of Wolves met in Regents Park for another M&M training session last night and once again we concentrated on throwing and betting techniques.

I've always felt that I throw like a girl and as a result have never felt very confident in the outfield - I was pretty sure that if I made the catch or stop that I wouldn't be able to get it back in - however after a bit of coaching I was sending it over the head of Olivia (sorry about that!).

What I need to do is:
Keep my arm high.
Flick my wrist (I haven't quite got this bit yet).
Keep my leading knee straight.

Et volia! I just have to remember all that now...

After throwing the ball for about a hour, we moved onto a bit a ground ball fielding and batting. Everyone made some good hits and benefitted from some one on one advice. I lean forward too much and must keep my weight on the back foot!!

Left with a sore throwing arm and a head full of tips.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Yesterday we were invited by the Raiders to play in their " round-robin" invitation only friendly mini-tournament. To let newer players and umpires get some practice in away from league game pressure, mainly.
Over at Wandsworth Common, so not too far from where I live. I took the folding bicycle to get to the pitch from the station.
We were up against the Raiders first, and I was put in at Centre Field. Only one ball came to me, which I stopped (though didn't catch). We were keeping careful track of the scores this time, and after the game was called for time and scores rolled back, we came out 10-5 ahead.
Next were Comer's Homers, who robbed us of a berth in Div 5. I'm not sure if this inspired us, or we were just sharper than them on the day in general, but we won this one too. 12-2. My batting was less wonky in this than the first game, and I played at Catcher. Kevin was pitching, and it was good practice for him.
As our two games were done, we were able to stand around and watch the final match between Raiders and Homers with beers in our hands and the Test match on the radio. Shame it wasn't very warm, though - a bit more sun would have made it a very pleasant end to the afternoon. Homers won, and Kate and Alison got some useful umpiring experience.
And as well as making us victors on the day, today's results put us on a four-game winning streak.
I bicycled off home early, as I felt I needed an early night and knew I wouldn't get one if I stayed in the pub.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Moments at Wolves v Raiders

Each league match we will contribute suggestions and money towards the Moment of the Match, below is the short-list and winner for the game on Wed 13th May

* Catch of the day went to Gareth's diving catch behind 2nd
* Kate's two outs at home plate
* Julian unforced at second getting to thirds and slipping in a sly foot to touch third, giving Mo kittens
* Kevin's winning home run, sliding in at 2nd and on his bum to home plate - bleeding for the team
* Vic and Lucy both narrowly missing catches
* Blasey hussling through the bases to get a lead-off home run
* Lucy running to 1st without hitting the ball, twice
* Alison vaulting over 1st base
* Matt's quote to Frodo "Softball is Hobbit forming"
* Blasey and Kate's collison leading to an out
* Various subs for Joel when he reached 1st base
* Kevin stealing Lucy's catch
* Alex, Andy and Matt trying to sort out the scoring with an opposition who couldn't count
* Shutting out the opposition for 3 innings

Moment of the Match:
1st - Kevin's winning home run, sliding in at 2nd and on his bum to home plate - bleeding for the team
2nd - Julian unforced at second getting to thirds and slipping in a sly foot to touch third, giving Mo kittens
3rd - Catch of the day went to Gareth's diving catch behind 2nd

Friday, May 16, 2008

I've got to post this report from the Chevy Chasers defeat by the Fat Cats last night coming after their 19-0 loss last week:

Thursday 15th May 19:00
Fat Cats 18 @ Chevy Chasers 1
Posted by Nat Coombs (Chevy Chasers)
A depleted Chevy Chasers squad gave the Fat Cats the game of their lives at a rainswept Hampstead Heath. In a nailbiting battle of wits, the Chasers took an early lead - one which they maintained for over 4 minutes. A significant amount of good luck - including powerful hitting, excellent fielding and expert leadership - enabled the Cats to claw their way back into it as they eked into a 9-1 lead after one innings. The Chasers, who've been battling disciplinary problems all season, maintained a typically low amount of professionalism - a fact borne out by top hitter Charlie Pearson failing a mandatory "beer test" shortly after the 3rd Innings collapse. Despite this, they kept in the game, and it was only after the Fat Cats declared an innings to enable the Chasers to post back to back outs for 4 innings in a row, that this game was decided. The Chasers, who hope to have starting pitcher Perkins back for their next match (subject to bail conditions), will need to pick themselves up, after losing in such cruel circumstances.

I kinda like this team. Looking forward to playing them on 4th June.


Thursday, May 15, 2008

Raiders Green @ Loan Wolves

Low Point - missing what would have been a fantastic catch and letting quite a few balls go past me.

High Point - Winning!!!

That was the best I've seen the Wolves play in a long time and most importantly of all, we held it together and didn't collapse under the pressure, in fact I would say that our performance actually got stronger. We knew that we were near victory and were determined not to lose it. After a shaky warm up first couple of innings, our fielding was amazing and we held the Raiders well. Our batting and running performances were also good and we proved what a difference a bit of hustling can do to our score line.

Some of the highlights (as recorded on the back of an envelope):
  • Kevin making his home runs and spilling blood for the team.
  • Julian's cool pitching and death defying base running.
  • Kate's outs at home plate.
  • Gareth's diving catch.
  • Lucy almost making the fly ball catch and missing but recovering so quickly that she got the ball to 3rd and made the out anyway.
  • Matthew's "COME ON WOLVES" from the sidelines.
  • Moe nearly choking on a cigarette with the excitement.

What other ones have I missed? There were so many!

MVP went to Kevin who was duly presented with a celebratory packet of ready salted.


Thursday, May 08, 2008

Summer Training

When I arrived in Regents Park last night for a spot of training I was slightly alarmed by the rather large Royal Navy helicopter, police cars and ambulances that were parked in the middle of the softball pitches, but they soon moved on and we managed to have a rather successful training session.

We were a little short of space but somehow found room to work on our throwing and batting actions in between the games going on around us. I was surprised at how much difference learning the proper technique had on my throwing arm. I was practising with Kate and although at first we weren't quite sure that we doing it right, once we got a little one-on-one instruction, the ball was soon flying through the air and connecting with the glove with a satisfying 'thump'.

With aching shoulders we moved on to batting. It turns out that I have been standing all wrong and holding the bat in the wrong place all along. Doh! All the girls had a chance to practice their swing using the 1-2-3 method (hips-arms-follow through). I feel more confident now and as long as I remember to 'squish the bug', I should be able to do an alright swing. The proof in the pudding will be when we actually get to hit the ball - that must be step 4. Bring on the pitchers!!

... I just hope I remember everything that I learnt - practice makes perfect I suppose.

Monday, April 28, 2008


Last year at the All Star game, a comment about how easy the Loan Wolves are to spot because of the bright orange tops led to "nobody else wears that colour". Which was followed by responses and suggestions from various people about who else wears orange...
Wolverhampton Wanderers FC (technically Old Gold)
The Dutch national football team
The Denver Broncos
Air-Sea Rescue helicopter pilots
Railway engineering workers
Buddhist monks
Guantanamo Bay detainees

Anyway, we have new shirts now. We've kept the black and orange colours, of course, but now we have the team logo on the front and our personal nicknames and squad numbers on the back.

They arrived in time for a tournament yesterday, and we had a little presentation ceremony where they were handed out. Then we had our first match in the spiffing new shirts - which we won. We actually came ninth out of twelve in the end, which wasn't bad going against teams who were often two divisions higher than us.

[X-posted from my LJ]

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Went to leaving do for Director of Information Services at City yesterday afternoon. Ended up staying till they chucked us out of the function room with Julian and Tigger (and Tamsin, who was an honorary Wolf for statistical purposes). Did think of yet another motto for us (not that we bneed another): "First in the field - last out the pub!".
"Primus in campo, ultimus ex taverna"?

Monday, April 14, 2008

Playoff Sunday - High Point / Low Point

Low Point: Ending up with my face in the mud after my slide at the plate. However, at least we know a new rule now - if the batter's on the floor it's called as a foul ball*

High Point: I need hardly say it. Taking my first big catch in the outfield and taking Paul's scalp with it!

*this is not the case if the batter fails to run due to a pitch invasion by rabid dogs!

If it weren't for bad luck...

…we’d have no luck at all.
Ball-game fans might remember that the Loan Wolves ended up being relegated to Division Six at the end of last season. We learned only a few days ago that two teams had dropped out of higher divisions, so there were two places in Div Five available. And three teams who were willing to play for them. We all had till Sunday to arrange to play each other for the two higher-division spots. As soon as Tigger sent a message out, all available Wolves volunteered unhesitatingly for play-off duty. Frantic organisation set up a mini-tournament yesterday at Regent’s Park.
So, as the first London marathon runners were coming in to the finish, we were heading out to decide our softballing fate.
We assembled and did some warming up and practice. Then on to our first game. Each team played each of the others, and we were drawn to play first and last of the three games. First against Comer’s Homers, then the Meteors 2. Not too bad a draw on paper.
Day not helped to a good start by Duncan Devil Stray popping his head up (he was watching a higher-level play-off) to tell us we had no chance. Thanks, DDS.
And then, as we set off for the pitch, the heavens opened with a torrential rain shower, with high winds thrown in. We’d been drawn to field first, and our poor pitchers had to contend with wind and rain and poor visibility, which let the other side take more walks than they might have been able to otherwise. And our fielders had the problem of trying to throw and catch muddy and soaking wet balls in a rainstorm, so we had a hard time of it. They made a lot of runs in that first inning.
Then, as soon as their inning ended, the sun came out. The game ended 16-11 to them. Ten of the opposition’s runs had come in the rain-drenched inning from hell.
The Mets then took the Homers apart while we watched, trying to work out what was the best result for us. We decided that things weren’t too bad – run difference would mean that a win against the Mets would get us through with the Homers dropping out.
Sadly, it was not to be. It was a close game, and we managed to get two runs ahead by the bottom of the fourth inning. But it was late in a long, tiring, gruelling day, and they got ahead again. Ten minutes till “no new innings”, and we just couldn’t get the third out to finish their inning in time to bat again.
So we came away from the day with nothing. Still, we did play well through both games, and the experience of playing for real stakes might help sharpen us up for the new season. When we’ll be looking for promotion. But we were all a bit gutted. As Kate put it, there being two places for three teams meant that instead of there being one winner, there was one loser. And that was us.
A few beers helped cheer us up a little.

[X-posted from my Livejournal]

Monday, March 31, 2008

Some pre-season revision

A refresher for most of us, but for our newbie players here is some softball vocab...and what it really means:

The Vocabulary

One of the interesting things about the game of softball is the strange things the participants say to each other. Here are some of the common ones and what they actually mean:

Good Eye
One more than either you or the umpire have, otherwise she would have called that a strike.

Wait for your pitch
Yes, you eejit, that WAS a strike. You better hope she throws another one.

Now you've seen it
That was the one you should have hit.

Gotta be good now
If it doesn't bounce before it reaches you, you had better swing

Take the walk if its going
Hope that the pitcher messes up, cause you won't get on base any other way

Good contact
You have managed the not inconsiderable achievement of hitting the ball into the 5% of the available space that has a fielder in it.

Good swing
Good god, the ball is the size of a grapefruit. How can you miss?

Pick your spot
Nothing to do with acne, this is a wish that the ball ends up somewhere useful.

Make her pitch to you
God help us if she can.

The pressure's on her
No reason why this run of good luck with the umpire’s calls can't continue.

Everything else has failed, lets just hope.

One out at a time
What has happened to all our batters. Now let’s see if we can get any of them out.

Feeling Blue

This weekend four intrepid Wolves braved the early mornings, clocks going back and tube engineering works to spend two days learning all about the noble art of softball umpiring. Tucked away in The Hub in the middle of Regents Park, Alison, Julian Matt and myself - along with a few familiar faces from Comer's Homers completed the BASU two day course.

I went on the one day introductory course two years ago but as a rookie at the time most of it went straight over my head. Things seemed to fall into place a little more this time. From judging fair and foul balls to dealing with appeals, from delayed dead balls to the infamous infield fly ball - we covered them all.

The practical drills were really useful and good fun - knowing where to position yourself seems to be half the battle and of course remembering to not only to make the right call but to do it with confidence.

The cold, wind and drizzle hampered our practice a little on the Saturday, but by Sunday afternoon the sun had come out and we all had a proper go at umpiring during a very enjoyable, albeit muddy game to finish off the weekend.

I'm quite keen to give my umpiring skills a bit of a testing out now, and I'd recommend the course for anyone - it's great for learning the rules, understanding plays and meeting new softball pals!