Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Four Dodgeballers of the Apocalypse (Or, Winning Hearts and Minds)

Went to a dodgeball tourney yesterday. Garry had found out about it at fairly short notice. We nominally had a team of seven or eight up to Friday, when it began to dwindle alarmingly. We picked up Julian as a replacement for some of the people who couldn't make it, but I arrived at the venue yesterday to find that Libs wasn't well and we were going to be down to four players for the day. Now a dodgeball team usually consists of six people, so we were going to be a bit short-handed. The surprised refrain: "are there really only four of you?" greeted us at the start of practically every match. Luckily, it isn't as much of a disadvantage as it would have been in most sports - fewer of you on the court means more dodging room for each of you.
It was a "fun" Christmas tournament, with fancy dress expected. Most teams had turned out in an impressive array of costumes. F*ckin Chuck Norris were in T shirts with Chuck on the front and a different CN fact on the back of each one. The Santa Claus-es-es-es were all in Santa suits, except for their Elf girl in pixie hat and curly-toed slippers. there was a big crowd for their festive match vs the Penguins, an almost all-girl side in matching black costumes with penguin-beak baseball hats and little gold bow-ties. One side were in dinner suits (I heard one of them ask his mate before their first game: "don't you think it might be a good idea to take the jackets off when we're actually playing?"). The best fancy dress prize deservedly went to the team who came as KISS, in full war paint and silver cloaks. Our team were meant to be 80s-themed, but Julian had had no time to get a costume together. He was wearing a Handel T shirt, though, so there was a 1680s, if not 1980s, connection. Kevin had a mullet wig and Frankie Says T shirt, and Garry was in full Hulk Hogan regalia - blond wig, padded muscle shirt and all. I went as John McClane from Die Hard. Was sad enough to draw Bruce Willis's tattoo on my arm in Sharpie, along with his tally of terrorists despatched. I had a cardboard cut-out gun taped to my back, and wrote "now I have a dodgeball - ho ho ho" on the front of my vest.
We set out our stall early, winning the first two group matches. Then we had a long gap between games, and came back to lose the next. The last match was against Team Oval Exiles, who'd won all their first three games. We rallied, kept our heads, and our tactical sense such as it was got us through.
I think it was just afetr the group stage that Matt came along - still not allowed to play till his injury heals, but a most welcome (and enthusiastic) supporter.
Our quarter-final drew us against a friendly bunch who'd come over to have their pictures taken with us earlier. We won the first set, lost the second, and had to play a decider. Garry chose this moment to Hulk up. The crowd went wild as he tore his T shirt off to reveal his fake muscles. We were inspired, and pulled out a victory to take us to the semis. Where F*ckin Chuck Norris put paid to our progress. We bowed out gracefully, watched the final and went to the pub with many of the other teams.
It was a good day. We'd more than punched above our weight, with Julian peforming brilliantly in his first outing, and could hold our heads up high. And we made some friends too. A lot of people from other teams congratulated us on our plucky outnumbered and outgunned performance. "You won our hearts!" one girl said,which was nice of her.

Christmas party

Friday was the Loan Wolves' Christmas party. We met up at the New Rose, and after a few drinks headed to a Brazilian restaurant. All-you-can-eat buffet, and waiters bringing joints of hjgh-quality meat products to serve at your plate. I fear the vegetarians among us didn't get to enjoy the experience to the full. We had the usual tongue-in-cheek end-of-year awards - mine was for the time I absent-mindedly went to the wrong park for the Tecumsehs match. As we left the restaurant, we discovered that Tzippy had somehow acquired a souvenir from the buffet cart...

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Baseball movies

After a conversation with Blasey at rthe pub last night, I looked for a "definitive" list of baseball or softball movies.
This one's pretty good - how many have you seen?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Dodgeball update: "I'm gonna take that dodgeball and..."

After a shaky start last week, where despite winning three of the seven games we ended up 19 - 7 down in points to Who Let the Dodge Out at the end of the match, we picked ourselves up ready for the Dodgeball Furies.
Gabs was a welcome addition to the side, giving a much-needed option to rotate female players and also her lethal throwing arm. We had enough men to rotate complete half-teams of three, with Kevin and Gary as strikers in each. We managed to win most of the games, and even when we were on the losing end we held onto a couple of points thanks to a heroic display of dodging by Olivia and Tzippy.
Here is the last game, where we cemented our first dodgeball victory:

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Dodge, duck, dip, dive - and DODGE!

Went along to the inaugural session for the Softballers' Dodgeball League last night. The Tecumsehs had decided to start an off-season event, and picked a game which could be played indoors and where everyone would be a novice. They picked dodgeball.
The venue was a church hall, so we had all been warned not to blaspheme or anything. I kept thinking of the phrase: "holy ground, highlander!".
There was a rules explanation, a couple of demonstration/test games, then we started playing to get the hang of it. It was interesting to see how quickly people picked it up. Dodging tends to come easier than throwing, especially as the balls are football-sized solid foam things quite unlike softballs. Which is as well if you get hit by them. Doesn't really hurt, and most hits tended to be scored on the legs or when someone failed a catch. Matches are made up of seven three-minute games, and you get a bit of a workout in that three minutes of running, throwing and dodging.
We had a mini-tournament, in which the Loan Wolves came fourth out of six. The game's fun to watch as well as play - lots of manic action, turnaround plays, close escapes and exciting finishes. Afterwards we went to the pub wher the draw for the tournament proper was held.
Oh, and of course, everyone there last night had seen the film...

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Raiders Green v Loan Wolves - Highs and Lows

Inspired by Gabby's emails I am going to kick off the highs and lows of the last game of the season. Remember, finish on the high point!

Low Point - A classic ground ball fumble from me which, if taken well, could have been an easy out at first and prevented quite so many runs getting round on the next big hit. It also really hurt my thumb :(

High Point - Despite striking myself out it was my best batting performance ever with two sweet hits to right field, one of which certainly alarmed the Raider's first base. Onwards and upwards I hope.

Lesson Learnt - warm up with the heavy bat.

Raiders Green 12 - 11 Loan Wolves

Our last match of the 2009 season was the rescheduled game against Raiders Green. Sadly, we weren't able to maintain the initiative from that abandoned match, where we were seven up after our first inning. This was a close match, with neither side managing to dominate with their batting but errors in the field keeping the scores ticking round. Kate pitched well, and we had some great base hitting from Julian and Vic (hitting to right field to avoid the strong fielding at Third and Short Stop). We'd managed to post a three-run lead by the bottom of the seventh, but the Raiders had home team advantage and managed to get runners on bases without losing any outs then made the runs they needed to take the game.
This leaves us on the same points as the Tornadoes, but they played fourteen games and we played fifteen, and if I understand the cobbled-together league rules for this season properly we are going to have a 14/15ths multiplier imposed on our final points. This would leave us in the bottom three of eleven by .8 of a point, so if there's a Division Six next year we'd be relegated to it. Well, technically, it would be Division Three due to the planned splitting of the league into two.
It hasn't been as successful a season as we'd all have liked. There are areas where we have all improved, but game after game could have gone our way and didn't. Sometimes umpiring decisions went against us - this time, Matt ran into First, was called safe by the field umpire, who was then overruled by the plate umpire on their judgment call. Sometimes we had personal matters intrude into our softball - three of the Original Wolves, including one of our starting pitchers, going through redundancy through the season, for example (well, that's my excuse for turning up at the wrong park the other week). The heavens themselves intervened when we were on our best form all year in the match that was rained off. Still, though, we have to look at ourselves and how we could have done better. Batting overall is coming along well, but we need to make more of it and build the big innings that bring wins. We need to be able to have confidence in each other in our proper fielding positions, and to keep cool heads to make the right tactical choices quickly and decisively. As Michael says, when we play to our ability and work together as a team we can be a force to be reckoned with. We have the Winter ahead of us, with bi-weekly indoor training lined up. We are going to practice, to build up on what we've already achieved, and take it further. This was the toast at the pub after the game: "next year, whatever decision we end up in, they are not going to know what hit them - HERE'S TO NEXT SEASON!"

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Loan Wolves 4 - 9 Meteors

Sociable softball
The Mets are a team we've known and liked since we started playing softball. Tonight's game was hard-fought, but entirely good-natured. Determined, effective fielding from both sides kept the score low, and for three innings it stood at three all. Then the Mets nosed ahead by one, and in their sixth at-bat they managed to increase the lead to five. We still didn't waver, though, and refused to let it turn into a rout. Sadly, we didn't manage to pull that lead back, and the match ended as it grew dark. Considering our relative places in the table, though, we can be proud of our performance.
The Mets had advised us beforehand to bring food, and as the match ended they fired up the barbecue. A picnic table was soon groaning under the weight of food, and the satisfying smell of burgers, sausages, chicken and salmon being cooked over coals filled the air. Wolves and Meteors gathered together to break bread and toast each other, and the sound of laughter and friendship rose into the summer night. The Meteors were celebrating the eighteenth birthday of one of their number, and bidding farewell to Di, stalwart of their team and a credit to the sport, who's off overseas for a while. It was a lovely occasion, following a great game. And somewhere above our heads, hidden by the cloud cover, our friends' Perseid namesakes were streaking through the heavens...

Monday, August 10, 2009


On saturday, the Loan Wolves entered the Lastball tournament. Which, for some reason, is nowhere near the last tournament of the year. Lovely sunny day in Richmond Old Deer Park. By the time our first match, against the "Werewolves", a new development side, was due to start, we only had seven players. Most of the others were still on their way in Michael's car. So we were taking our time at bat, letting strikes get past us to give ourselves more time, and praying for rescue. We had just run out of batters when we spied the others, running across the field to our rescue like the Seventh cavalry in Stagecoach. Despite the chaotic,. unprepared start, we won the game comfortably. Next up were Comer's Homers, who defeated us solidly. Then the Thundercats. The Sword of Omens must have been working overtime, as we started with our worst ever fielding inning in a tournament game. Although we got our act together by the end, we were never in contention. Only a sterling base hit by Donnacha prevented their pitcher from achieving a perfect game. We were wilting in the sun by that stage, but we still should have done better.
As there was a plate as well as cup competition, every team was assured of a semi-final. We found ourselves playing a mixed Meteors and Marauders team, and though we started better this time we couldn't quite force the win. We then had a warm-down practice among ourselves and including ex-Wolf Ben, while a couple of our women players filled in for the Mob who were short of girls for their final. It was a fun end to the day, and I noticed we were the only team not in the finals to have stayed around en masse. Which was good, because Ben had set another quiz - this one much harder than the last - and we had won once again. As we had a tournament victory of sorts, we went to The Sun to celebrate. Nice place, but a bit pricey.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Tecumsehs 19 - 5 Loan Wolves

I was a bit distracted last week at work. Came late from the library to the game, having calculated that I'd be there for ten to seven. Which I was, only to instantly remember that we wer not playing at finsbury Park and I should have turned right rather than left from the Tube station to go to Clissold Park. Oops. I hurried to the correct venue, but the game had already started when I arrived at five past seven. We were fielding, which meant we must have already batted and got out. I hunkered down at Catcher in my jeans (had only had time to change my top before setting off) for a match with Duncan Devil Stray at umpire, giving his usual running commentary on the game in progress. We were unable to repeat our early season win vs the Tecumsehs, I'm afraid. Some great plays by our outfield were let down by us not keeping a tight enough control in the field overall and not having the batting strength to keep ourselves in contention. After the match we went to the Brownswood, a pub I'd never been to before, for a beer.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Loan Wolves 6 - 17 Finsbury Dazzlers

You've come a long way, baby...
Our first ever league match, in May 2006, was against the Dazzlers. We lost 25-1 in four innings, and had a player taken to A&E afterwards. This time, though that final scoreline doesn' reflect it, things were very different. We were 4-2 down after one inning, but took the lead and were 6-5 up at the top of the fifth. Sadly, their strong batting brought them enough runs to regain the lead and put the game out of our reach at the end.
so we lost. But looking at us as a team, you can see the difference those four seasons have made. Our offense still isn't what it could be, but everyone's batting's so much stronger than when we started, our judgment of what to swing at and how to time our hitting has come on so much. Birthday girl Kate was pitching excellently, and we were fielding well to make the outs we needed. We didn't make every play, but we weren't making silly mistakes and our tactical sense was fantastic. we were putting one of the strongest sides in the division under real pressure, and for a time it looked as if the game was going to go our way.
The Dazzlers beat us again, but this time they weren't playing novices, tharn like rabbits trapped in headlights. They'd had a fight against a pack of WOLVES! And they knew it.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Fat Cats 21 - 15 Loan Wolves

I'm still in the team. The softball team at least, if not the library team...
Was glad to have something to do this evening. A match with the Fat Cats, who were promoted as Div 6 champions last year, with us on their coat tails. A warm evening with plenty of sun, in the really rather splendid setting of Finsbury Park softball fields. Don't know if I've ever mentioned how nice it is in Summer. A quiet green oasis in North London, with tall trees swaying in the breeze. We had spectators, for once - Val who used to play for us turned up to watch a last game before she moves out of London, and some friends from other teams showed up to cheer us on.
The game started well enough, with runs on the board in our first inning and two quick outs to us at the start of theirs, but the Cats rallied on the second and took a significant lead. The chase was on. We started to make some progress, never quite shutting them down as they had some good batting that kept the runs coming, but steadily narrowing that lead until by the bottom of the sixth we were only three behind. We restricted them to two from their inning, and set out to bat ourselves into contention. Perhaps we were too aggressive, too eager to take the fight to them, perhaps just unlucky, but the outs came before the runs we needed to make them bat again. Still, it was a good game with some great moments in the field and with the bat, and we were always in it. I was happy to be out in the fresh air, hitting things with sticks.
Afterwards we went to the Finsbury to drown our various sorrows.

Fat Cats vs Loan Wolves - Highs/Lows/Lessons Learned

Lows: not all my throws from SS made their target, certainly one hit I should have dived for - it ultimately went between Matt and Claudia and for a home run.

Highs: home run first time round, bit fortuitous (think I scored another....), an ultimately pointless dive into 2nd behind the SS back, but it looked nice and hurt for a while. Took the force off too but unfortunately Claudia was just out at 1st next play.

Lessons Learned: base running was better but still moments where runners were not pushed on when they could have been. Base coaches be alert! If a throw goes home and you have someone safe on first, they have to go! When there's two on base, always shimmy and look to move. Make them think. Make them work. If we can sneak a few bases per innings, it's easy runs overall.

PS. We batted a lot better than we've done for a long'll be enough to beat most teams at our level if we field well.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

It's International Loan Wolves Day tomorrow!

Don't forget to wear your colours in celebration of the anniversary of our first ever league win!

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Intellect 12 - 8 Loan Wolves

Umpire of the Senseless

We were up on the hated high, sloped, exposed Pitch Five on Primrose Hill. Visibility was actually a little better than in the last game we were there, but it was sunny and pretty scorching for most of the evening.
With Gabs still injured from the weekend, we didn't have any spare women players.
I led off, but failed to convert a walk into a run. Our opposition did better than us in the first few innings, and we just couldn't get back into the game with the bat. The umpiring calls were really not helping us. Still not sure about that strike zone. I struck out looking, on three balls, when two flat pitches went past me and I confidently left them. Both were called strikes. Among other incidents, there was a rather confused play where the umpire changed his call repeatedly then made the point be replayed. Didn't do our cause any favours, it's true, but ultimately we still didn't manage to bat ourselves back into contention, even though we rallied somewhat as the sun went behind the clouds and made it easier to pick out the ball in flight.
Second quarter of the season hasn't gone as well as the first, but there's a long way to go yet.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

By Invitation Only

In what has now become an annual event, the Raiders held an invitational tournament for D comp teams, as an opportunity for the less experienced or talented among us to get vital match-play practice and sharpen our skills against sides of our own level. It's an extremely friendly, relaxed affair, but it's still a proper competitive day of playing. They field several sides of their own, and invite entries from the more clubbable lower division teams. Such as the Loan Wolves. This time it was being held as a fund-raiser for the GB Women's softball team ahead of the European Championships. So our entry fees went to this good cause, there was a raffle, and they had T shirts for sale. I can't resist a good T shirt, so am now the proud owner of a Great Britain Softball shirt.
The tournament takes place at Wandsworth Common. Each team had four games, which for us fell as two set of back-to-back matches with a break. Rules were slightly more relaxed than in the league, and there was the quirky "buy back" rule in effect. Each team gets one opportunity per game to buy the umpire a beer in exchange for rewinding and undoing a play which has just happened - a catch isn't dropped, a batter hasn't struck out or whatever after all. But the player who's got the reprieve does have to wear comedy bunny ears for the rest of the inning...
We were a bit short-handed, but we had Mark from the Homers joining us for the day plus a stray female player from one of the other teams each game. First up we took on the Meteors (heavily fortified with spare Raiders), and won. Then we came up against one of the Raiders sides and didn't do so well. After our hour off, we faced another Raiders team. This time we came up with the goods, even with a lot of us playing in unfamiliar positions. This was the game where Gabi got hit by a nasty one to the knee. She was moved to Catcher, to give her a chance to recover out of the line of fire, but was almost immediately hit in the face by a ricochet off the bat.
The final game was against the Tornadoes. The game went our way, as we batted ourselves into a strong position. The final inning saw them with three minutes to overturn a sixteen-point lead, and as a heavy shower started to fall the game came to an end.
We headed over the road to Dexter's, where negotiating the service and getting our two-for-one deal vouchers honoured was a bit of a trial, but we tucked in to our pub food and bottled beer happily as we discussed the day's play. We fielded and pitched well, but more importantly our batting was consistent throughout the team all day - that was probably the heart of our success.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Loan Wolves 11 - 36 Base Jumpers

A couple of plays missed by the umpires maybe did us no favours last night, but I think Kevin was right when he said we were mainly undone by not having played a game in three weeks. We didn't manage to capitalise enough on a sterling pitching performace from Kate, Wolf batting wasn't strong enough overall to keep us in contention, and the Jumpers' lead crept up inning by inning. By the time the seventh inning came around, and the Finsbury Park mosquitoes came out to feast on us in the twilight, it was too late for us to rally.
Still, we aren't even halfway through the season and we can take what we've learned from this to help ourselves prepare for the games to come. There's a Raiders' Invitational tourney on sunday, which should be a good opportunity to clean the rust off and take a whetstone to our competitive edge. There's a lot of the summer ahead of us, and a a lot more games to look forward to, before season's end.

Base Jumpers 36 vs Loan Wolves 11 - Highs/Lows/Lessons Learned

While we wait for Andy's match report....

Low Point: Loads of big high hits in right field which went way over my head. Not much I could do about those, except run faster to get to the ball.It was that one line drive that went past Donnacha that I'm really gutted about though. Clearly in the right position and right place....but it dribbled between my feet. Pooh!

High Point: Managing to get to base on every hit (Kate pointed this one out to me whilst in the pub, thanks Katie). Also my line drive which went somewhere towards 3rd base...obviously I wasn't looking ;)

Lessons Learned: Back up, back up, back up!!!!!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Training day

We had a really good training session last night. It's a week with no match for us, so we got together with some friends from the Meteors, and Mark and Paul of the Homers, for a training session. Excellent coaching from Ian and Dan of the Meteors' highest level team, and a good atmosphere as we spent several hours throwing, catching, batting and doing lots of running round. Which, obviously, raised a bit of a thirst. So we went to the pub for a cold beer or two afterwards. I found myself talking wiith tigger and Julian about the restructuring at work. It's ironic that the only remaining Wolves in the library are at risk in this restructuring when the team's done more than any management initiative to foster inter-site communication and staff team bonding.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Raiders Red 26 Loan Wolves 2 - Highs/Lows/Lessons Learned

Raiders Red are a good side, as they ought to be when they're top of the table with six straight wins. Their infield is very tight but we never got to see how the outfield played and I think their hitting was smart and consistent rather than big. Still....they'll beat every other team they play, some by a greater margin than last night.

Lows: not a great game at SS. If throws aren't caught, it's probably my fault.
Highs: an outfield catch, realising the hit was too shallow to be taken by Joel/Libs.
Lessons Learned: my batting has been atrocious since the Tecumshes match. An obsession with RF perhaps? How many foul hits have I done in the last few weeks? I need to take my batting back to basics and start from scratch.

Monday, June 01, 2009

St Urbain's Horsemen 11 - 7 Loan Wolves

Blinded by the light

Last week's match was a bright and sunny occasion. No, literally. The sun defined how this game went. We were on that dreaded Primrose Hill pitch again, and the clear, hot evening meant that the setting sun was right in our faces all night.
the Horsemen played their home advantage wisely, setting an unorthodox outfield to intercept runaway downhill hits, and a couple of Wolf slips in the field let them build a small lead in the first inning. We tightened our grip in the field, but we kept finding ourselves undone at bat by the ball falling unseen out of a blinding red sun. Anythign you could hit, you couldn't see. anything you could see, you couldn't hit. We made runs somehow, including Kevin riding his luck around the bases on a series of overthrows, but couldn't quite score enough to get ahead.
Still, it was no doubt a character-building experience, and we're all looking forward to the rematch at Finsbury.

[Sorry I didn't post this earlier - was away from a computer till today][

Friday, May 29, 2009

St Urbain's Horseman 11 Loan Wolves 7 - Lessons Learned

Whilst we're waiting for Andy's match report......

Lows: the female shortstop dinked a hit high, to the side, which maybe I should have dived for, just in case any amateur photographers were around. If I'd missed it, and I probably would've done, it would have been a home run hit.

Highs: bit embarrassed about the home run, I assumed I was only getting 2nd from a dead ball. But they threw it and the gloves were off so to speak. Couple of reasonable outfield catches.

Lessons learned: we'll beat these guys at Finsbury easily, if we'd fielded as we could have all game, it'd have been hard for them to have scored all game. It's not sour grapes either, but something has to be done on that pitch when the sun's up - can't they switch it round and have a makeshift diamond?

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Silver for the Black and Gold

Yesterday was the annual Superball softball tournament. Split into two parallel tourneys, for A and B competition (the top end) and C and D comp (teams like us). Early start at Richmond Old Deer Park, as the lower-grade competition starts early and is mostly over by the time the hgher division teams start. I got up early, packed my bag, dashed into Sainsbury's to buy whatever random snack food was on special offer on my way to the station and set off. Getting as far as Streatham Hill before train delays put an extra half an hour on the journey.
I got there just in time for the first game, aganst a combined Meteors team. We had a great start, and won it 11 - 4. It was fun and set us up for the day. All the teams we played were stronger than us, on paper at least. Some of them were defnitely out of our league. In both senses. But we did OK, punching at least at our own weight. The group stage is followed by a semi-final - for the Cup or the Plate, depending on if you finished in the top or bottom of the draw. We faced off against the Squares for the Plate semi, and worked together for a deserved victory. We were in our first ever final in a tournament. Vs the Mets again, as it happened. The Homers (who wear black and orange to our orange and black) were in the Cup final. Paul from the Homers said: "let's make it an orange and black clean sweep!". Which basically put the mockers on the thing, as we both lost. But still, we were in a final. Admittedly we had a couple of ringers from the Mob, playing in some games. But still, at least 80% of the team in every game was Wolf. And we were filling in the fund-raising quiz that our ex-Wolf friend Ben had put together throughout the day, which was a bit of fun. More so when we were told that we'd got 100% right and won first prize of a new softball bat. We may be D comp on the field, but we're A comp when it comes to trivia.
It was a fun day with lovely sunny weather, a beautiful setting, lots of laughs. I think we tired by the end of the day - we haven't had to reserve our strength for a final before, though. Sadly, Matt took another visit to Purple Heart Corner, needing stitches in his hand after getting hit in his ungloved hand going for an outfield catch. He made it back from A&E to cheer us on in the final, though.
Some of the team stayed around to watch the A comp final, but I made my way over to my friends' place for a meal and a DVD. A very civilised and much appreciated end to a day which made a good break after last week at work.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Team picture

After last night's game:
Loan Wolves after home game vs Intellect, 20/5/09 (2)

Loan Wolves vs Intellect; Highs, Lows, Lessons Learned

Lows: awful, awful batting. The worst I can remember. Didn't hit past the infield once, surprised I never got out more than once, though I think I got others out.

Highs: first catch of the game. It was pretty simple though. Also, anticipating a deflection from Joel to pick up an infield hit, then throw it hard to Vic. Thumping their runner going to 2nd on the head for a tag was neat too.

Lessons Learned: The positional changes worked; the infield just need to calm it down. Usually there's plenty of time to make the throw with the forced runner.

Loan Wolves 15 - 10 Intellect

At lunchtime today, one of my colleagues was going out to the shops and asked if I wanted anything from Marks and Spencer. I remembered that they do some rather nice up-market wine gums, and asked for a packet. Figured that the team would appreciate them this evening.
The Loan Wolves' relationship with wine gums goes back to our first ever league win. They've been our favourite sugar-fix pick-me-up and morale booster ever since. M&S ones are especially good as they have that extra colour, the grape flavoured white ones.
Anyway, on to the game.
Intellect, a new side, turned out to have some big hitters, and their fielding was of a very high standard for an inexperienced team. Their pitcher did them credit too. But we were able to use the three years' experience we've picked up to take the win, scoring consistently and making the outs when we needed them. We had the confidence that came from having a good pitcher - Kate did a great job.
After not the best start to a week at work, I really enjoyed being on the field in the sun and batting. And eating wine gums.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Base Jumpers versus Loan Wolves May 12 2009

Low Point: My batting - not choosing the right one to hit

High Point: Some strikeouts and throws to first

What I have learned: Try not to lose heart. Make sure I go for the pitch that is right for me

Highs/Lows/Lessons Learned - Loan Wolves vs Base Jumpers

Low: coming up to bat once, hits straight off the top of the bat. I get to 1 but Olivia's out at 2.

High: simple outfield catch, a 'cat and mouse' game with 2nd base that apparently got our runner to 1 - I don't remember the second part of this.

Lessons Learned: we need to shrug this one off, put it down as a bad day at the office. But there's plenty to improve - batting, in particular. Maybe we're not doing something right with the order, I don't know.

Base Jumpers 21 - Loan Wolves 4

Some days are better than others

We were away to the Base Jumpers, a new but not inexperienced team, at Primrose Hill. It's a pitch we've done badly on before, slanting away downhill and with the setting sun in the batters' eyes. Sunglasses don't help - they just make everything that isn't the sun look darker.
And it was a dark evening for the Wolves. We didn't manage to read the pitcher's deliveries, and time and time again we didn't manage to parlay base hits into runs. Fair play to a Jumpers fielding side which made five double plays over the course of the game, but I think we all felt we'd not done our best work last night.
There were still some positives - sterling commitment by Julian, pitching in adversity, some good hits to keep morale up and keep us in the game. And there was a nice moment when a little dog wandered up and Kevin threw a ball for it to fetch.
It's easy to blame the "unlucky" pitch, but I must admit when I saw carrion crows pecking around the outfield after the match it summed the whole thing up for me.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

More Wolves good news...

Mike and I got engaged whilst we were on holiday in Spain!! Expect a very bouncy Vic at the next match.


Loan Wolves vs Tecumsehs - Highs and Lows

Can't think of another game where as a team we had so many highs. Everyone played really well, everyone contributed.

Low: attempting to beat their left-hander to first with the ball in hand; not realising he was lightning quick.

High: the winning hit. Talk about pressure! Though I have to thank Andy/Manjiv for getting on base in the first place.

Loan Wolves 15 - 13 Tecumsehs

"Winning is the most fun you can have in sports!". Kevin, after the match.

Was at a management course today. Brought my kit and bat with me, and attempted to nonchalantly stow it in a corner.
Changed into softball gear and headed to Finsbury Park afterwards for our match against the Tecumsehs. We warmed up and practised for a bit beforehand, and prepared for the game.
And it was quite a game. Close, low-scoring start, with us building a reasonable lead. Good fielding and steady, effective batting did that for us. Then the dreaded One Bad Inning saw the Tecumsehs score seven and take the lead, due in part to our fumbles. Then we had a 'mare of an inning - three up, three down, no more runs scored. Short Stop Kevin rallied us, though, and we returned the favour next inning. But we still couldn't claw the lead back from them in our turn at bat. Another tense defensive inning ensued. Another shut out. So it came to our turn at bat again. Nail-biting tension as we lost two outs. Manjiv kept her head and batted her way onto base. Then Kevin came up to bat. And did us proud with a big hit bringing two base runners home with him and ending the match.
A great team performance, with Julian's pitching at its heart. I think we all played up to our abilities and, though we sometimes fumbled, we didn't make many tactical errors. For myself, fielding at Third I didn't have an outstanding game - I let myself be wrong-footed by the shorter distance to the batter than at Second, and misjudged a couple of balls. On the other hand, I batted 1.000 and made three runs - so that went pretty well. Looking forward to tomorrow's e-access meeting at the main library - news of a Loan Wolves win always seems to spread fast...

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Moment of the Match

Kates superb pitching - 1 walk, 1 strike out
Blasey's outfield catch
Kev's home run (including 2 slip ups)

3rd - Vic's base hit
2nd - Don's throw to 2nd to get the out
Winner - Kev's Gary-esque catch

Good game but we hit too many to the pitcher, SS and 3rd causing many to get out at 1st.
Ground fielding was difficult due to the wet grass.
The look on Liz's face when she found out as Gaby was late she'd be 1st base.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

My best game so far

The training over the past few months obviously paid off, as yesterday's game was definitely my best so far. Some great catches, no strike-outs and a couple of really good hits.

Of course, this meant I was in the game a lot more and made some really stupid mistakes! Catching the ball and forgetting to step on the plate at third. Running hell for leather for second with the ball still in the air, only to see it caught and finding myself out.

And then there was the wet grass - slipping and sliding all over the place and falling sideways like a tree going for a low ball to my right (and missing it as a result).

Bring on First Ball and some more game practice I can take out on Intellect (alas, due to next week's Devo concert and a union meeting the following week, I miss the next two matches).

Raiders Red v Loan Wolves - Low Point, High Point

Time to resurrect our tradition of reflecting back on the night before with our highs and lows. Remember, finish on a high!

Low Point - missing a ground ball as it bounced past me missing the opportunity to get one of their speedier runners out. I knew it was going to come my way but I wasn't able to stop it. Oh, and getting cold and wet. This is a summer game darn it!

High Point - Getting a monster hit and finally making it to 1st after two failed attempts.

The most-impressive-dive-of-the-night award must go to Kevin for his superb catches and the grace and skill displayed when he got his home run despite falling over at 1st and having to dive head first to home.

Go Wolves!

Raiders Red 19 - 3 Loan Wolves

Welcome, ballgame fans, to the first match report of the 2009 season. It's going to be a long one this year, with a whole twelve teams in Division Five scrapping for promotion or to avoid the drop.
First up for us was this away game to Raiders Red. We found ourselves facing a stronger side than we'd been expecting - Raiders are a big club (130 players now, I think one of them was saying). They picked up a lot of top-flight players over the off season with the effect of strengthening all their sides as good players get demoted to lower division teams within the club.
The weather had turned cold on the weekend, and yesterday it turned wet too. Drizzle most of the day had eased off, but as the match started a steady downpour began. This may have actually helped us - as a wise man once said, nobody's very fast when they're knee-deep in mud. Certainly, we can be proud of our performance in the first two innings, holding onto a 1-0 lead. The rain stopped though, and that's when it all went a bit askew. Sadly, our fielding was good but our batting let us down and they managed to get away from us later in the match. My hoped-for Good Season With The Bat (tm) has singularly failed to begin yet. I saw quite a bit of action at Catcher, but failed to make any outs from it. Among the high points I noticed were Kate's consistently effective pitching, good fielding at Third from Donnacha and excellent co-ordination between Kevin at Short Stop and Vic at Second. It was a friendly match and both sides had fun.
We accompanied the Raiders to the pub - the George is now the Avalon - and had a beer or two to drown our sorrows. They had Doom Bar, which was a bonus.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Back in the field

After a rainy Friday, the weather turned dry and sunny for Saturday. Which was just as well, as softball time is here again.
The Meteors, one of the bigger clubs, had invited the Loan Wolves to play a pre-season friendly tune-up game. We assembled mid-afternoon at Finsbury Park, and played them twice in a double-header. We played against sides mixed from all three Mets teams, including some really good players from Mets 1. So it's perhaps not surprising that we lost both matches - but it wasn't about the score, it was about waking up after the long winter and remembering what it feels like to play a proper match outdoors in the park in the sunshine.
I led off our batting, but was a bit too keen and struck out swinging. When my turn at bat came round again, though, I managed to get my act together and hit my way to base. Then a good clean-up hit let me get safely round, and I posted the first Wolves run of the season. It was good to be playing again, and we rounded the day off with a practice session of our own after the Mets had headed off to the pub to catch some of the Chelsea-Arsenal game.
The only football match I was interested in was the Wolverhampton Wanderers game. Three points would see us back in the Premiership next season. After the practice, Olivia kindly looked it up on her mobile phone for me, and read out the result:
"Wolverhampton Wanderers 1 - QPR............... 0".
I looked around at the other players as we set off for a well-earned beer in the evening sunshine, and smiled.
The Wolves are back.

[X posted from my Livejournal]

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Julian and I attended the league AGM last night on behalf of the Wolves. Here are my notes from the evening.

Darren’s still league director. Kim Comer’s left the committee. Ben is now Secretary. The Squares’ captain is on committee as a General Officer.

The league split (Comp/Rec) from 2010 onwards was voted on and agreed, by about 80% for, 10% against, 10% abstention. Lots of interesting points raised, including Jen from Tecumsehs asking for assurance that the “Rec” sides would still be supported.

This season, the scoring system will change. Instead of 3/2/1/0 for win/draw/lose/forfeit it will now be 3/1/0/-1. Net effect is that wins are considerably more important.

Umpiring training coming up again – April 19th-20th for 2 day BASU course, and there'll be some 1 day training. From this season, the 1 day training is sufficient to umpire Divs 3-. They want more people to do two-day and get referred to BASU for full qualification – BASU umps get paid double (half paid by league).

The Development Officer is looking for assistant coaches who want to gain coaching experience.

The “courtesy runner” rule is no longer an official rule – it’s a courtesy, at discretion of opposing captain. But then, who’d be the kind of ******* who’d refuse it? "No, let him crawl to Second! Bwahahahaha!"

There was a debate from the floor about players playing down or across teams (started by someone from a lower division who felt penalised because they'd had trouble getting a competitive team together).

Tournament costs - will probably include an “admin fee” (refundable if tourney goes ahead?) as two rained out tournaments cost the league a lot of money this season. If that happened in future, it could scupper the league’s finances.

BSF fees are fixed a bit higher for lower grade teams. Our league fees will be £285.00. Up by £10 on last year.

Date for application to play this season will be Monday 30/3/09 (teams can apply online) and fees will be due within one week of that date (6/4/09). Bit of a quick turnaround, and due quite soon.

Div 5 looks like:
Loan Wolves
St Urbain’s Horsemen
Finsbury Dazzlers
Mets 2
Raiders Red
Fat Cats

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Friday, January 02, 2009

Happy New Year - 2009

I'd like to take this opportunity to wish all current and ex-wolves a wonderful 2009 and may it be a successful and rewarding year. If we all try our best, have fun, enjoy games and training then nothing can stop us. Bring on our first challengers. Lets go Wolves!!!!