Friday, April 27, 2007

Call me Luke

It’s been awhile, thought I’d let you all catch up on my sports life.

I’ve been playing in an Over-40 pickup basketball game in town. There is only one guy who I would call a good player, about half the guys have some skills, and the rest are what you would expect from an old man pickup game in an affluent suburb. This has been a great environment for developing my game, much like summer league was back when I first started making a conscious effort to develop more throwing skills. I’m finally making some basketball moves for the first time since that one year in college where I played at lunchtime most days. I even try hard on defense, harder than on O. There are two guys who play unspiritedly. One guy is old and a bit fat and is a bad player, but he’ll take down anyone who beats him and is set for an uncontested layup attempt. He’s quite dangerous, to be honest. He’ll also yell occasionally when a player is shooting. “Very classy,” I said once, but I don’t think he heard. I can excuse his behavior a little bit, because if he didn’t cheat, his team would be at a great disadvantage because he’s so bad. The other guy is more irksome, and actually caused me to lose my cool a few weeks ago. He’s one of the guys with some skills. When he plays hard, he can get open and sometimes he’ll go on a hot streak. But most of the time he’ll just play some clutching and pushing game, usually subtle enough that you wouldn’t notice it but it is what makes it easy to get open or to get in the proper place for a rebound. I got tired of it one day and grabbed his arm as he was about to push off, then did it again the next time to make sure he knew it wasn’t an accident, then gave him a gentle shove just to make it absolutely sure. I’m come very close to making a deliberate bad makeup call, but have limited myself to making snide comments.

Softball season started last night, a thrilling 4-2 win for the Cougars. I saw five pitches in three at-bats, taking one for a strike, taking one for a ball, and putting the other three into play. All of the strikes seemed like pitches I could drive rather than strikes nibbling at the corner. First at-bat was a weak grounder to shortstop that I normally would have beaten out but my legs weren’t loose despite an adequate warmup. Second at-bat was a medium-hard liner into short right-center, an easy single from the moment it left the bat. Third at-bat came in the bottom of the sixth, two outs, runner on first, tie game. It was a hard grounder that the shortstop was able to get a glove on with a good play, but it was a hit no matter how good of a play he could have made. I had hoped/expected to hit a line drive over the left-center fielder’s head. Runners on the corner. I possibly could have made second had I been thinking of it out of the box, but I had expected it to be a clean single with no possibility of making second. The next batter hit a groundball to shortstop. The shortstop fielded it cleanly and looked to toss it to second for the inning-ending forceout, but I got a good jump and got there first. The SS’s throw to first was late and then bounced off the 1B’s glove and squirted down the line. I continued round third and headed home. The throw got there first, but I slide to the outside and swiped the plate with my hand, completely evading the tag. (Merely beating the tag isn’t enough in this league, since the umps generally call any close, cleanly- executed play an out.) This insurance run took the pressure off us in the last inning and we were able to close them out. This game was a big contrast to our previous game last year, a season-ending loss in the first round of the playoffs. That final score was 21-20, featured a ton of errors and walks and home runs, while this one was cleanly-played (we didn’t allow anyone to reach on error, although there were two errors that allowed them to take the extra base). (I really ought to move away from the paradigm of “lack of errors = good fielding”. More important than avoiding errors is making the marginal plays. Our game-winning hit was one of those plays not made. My first grounder to shortstop would have been a play not made had I run a little faster. Those type of plays are at least as frequent as the errors (and many errors happen on those marginal plays where the fielder has to zing the throw).)

I’ve only been out to the golf course once this year, but had a good time, playing 27 holes in about 4 hours. 42-39-44 on the always difficult Stow Acres North. I had a 10 hole stretch where I was only one over par. Many of my recent rounds have featured a stretch of 6-10 holes where I was almost even, so I’m optimistic about my chances of extending that stretch one day soon to a full 18 holes. I got a new 3 wood this winter, replacing a club which I hardly ever used because of a lack of confidence in it, and I am quite pleased. I hit seven fairways in a row with it, and also nailed two strong shots from the fairway over a pond onto the green, shots I knew were stupid but decided to go for anyway. Shot-by-shot available upon request. Unofficial Handicap Index stands at 9.7.

The Frisbee schedule is surprisingly full. I wouldn’t be surprised if I actually played more ultimate this year than in previous years, both in the number of tournaments and points played per tournament. Played Fools already, scheduled for WMO, Masters Easterns, and Boston Invite this spring, probably summer league tournament and Hingham, maybe another summer or fall tournament, then Sectionals (if Masters teams are still allowed to play Open), Regionals and Nationals. That’d be 10, and I’ve played 9, 12, 9, 5, and 10 the last five years.

Red Sox are doing well, Yankees less so. I don’t really get into the “Yankees Suck!” cheer (even though they do), since cheers that focus on the other team are for losers, plus the Red Sox have been the Evil Empire Lite with their big budget and gamesmanship and nearly-unmatched string of championships this century (only five other teams, none of them from NY, has as many titles as the Sox so far). I haven’t seen or even listened to more than a token amount this year, though.

No ski days this winter so far. No long cross-country runs, except for that one nice day this winter where I jogged for about 20 minutes and had to stop once for twice for sore feet.


Anonymous said...

Unmatched string of championships this century? what about the Yanks beating that other team from NY in 2000? Doesn't that count? (I hope EO sees this)

That is an impressive handicap. How is it unofficial?

parinella said...

Centuries officially begin in '01, dating back to 1 AD. But of course, the beginning of a century is arbitrary. You could say that a new century is beginning right now, which makes this the best comment of the century so far.

I keep track of my own scores. To have an official handicap, you have to belong to a club (which doesn't have to have a golf course associated with it). The only recent time I had an official handicap was prior to playing at St. Andrews when at Worlds in 1999. It's really quite simple to figure on your own. You simply calculcate the Differential Index for each round (which is your ESC (Equitable Stroke Control) score (gross score adjusted down for any really bad holes) minus the Course Rating, times 113/Slope), take the best 10 of your most recent 20, multiply by 0.96, and take the average. Last round, I had an 81, no ESC applied, Course Rating of 72.2, Slope of 129, leading to a Differential of 7.7, my sixth best since 1996, when I started keeping track (195 handicap rounds total). (I had to estimate the Slope and Course Rating since they had only one set of tees instead of the normal 3 and I generally played from 10 yards in front of those tees.)

Anonymous said...


Hi, What an Idea! Thank you for sharing this posted article for me or for every one,
you made a great job for your Blog.Keep it up the good work..
Again thank you very much.. Cheers

Best Regards,
Mara Chui
Retriever Trainer