Monday, August 18, 2008

Oh What a Night...

The 4th Annual 2008 Oxford Blues Coed Slow-Pitch Softball Banquet is in the books. It was a classic evening, following in the tradition of past banquets. As usual, a storm was brewing on the horizon while we traveled to Queens. Tanya and Catherine were the early heroes though and arrived in time to snatch up some dry tables.

We drank countless pitchers of Staropramen and munched on European grill fare until it was time for the awards. For those of you that missed it, here is the complete list of awards for this season. If you haven't received your award yet, I'll be dropping it off soon.

Kate "Chaw Time" Brown - Position Player Award
Joe "The Gator" Cognard - Comeback Player of the Year
Martin "M-Cole" Coleman - Al Cascio Memorial Award
Andrew "Flowing Locks" Fargnoli - Slide of the Year Award
Iain "Rounders" Finlayson - True Blue Award
Brian "Prison Break"Hurley - Gold Glove Award
Joe "Uh Oh" Jackson - Best Dressed Award
Ben "Banned from Bar" Keene - Most Improved Player Award
Tanya "Cakes" Laplante - Step Into the Spotlight Award
Michelle "Chelly Chell" Lipinski - Rookie of the Year Award
Dan "The Intimidator" Ozzi - Mr. Hustle Award
Catherine "What Should I Do?" Rae - Team Player of the Year Award
Robert "The Rocket" Repino - Cy Young Award
Ebin "Voice From Heaven" Sandler - Utility Player of the Year Award
Ned "St. Louis Slugger" Sears - Home Run Crown Award
Ninell "Silver Mountain in German is called…" Silberberg - Eagle Eye Award
Kyle "Hawaii Five-0" Taylor - Web Gem Award

Elyse "Turr-minator" Turr - On Base Award
Rachael "Did you know Bob Dylan's real last name is..." Zimmerman - Bench Player of the Year Award
Jared "Closing Time" Wright - Most Improved post-game Player Award

Although Andy was out of the state, he collaborated with Ben Keene to create an acceptance speech and Mr. Keene delivered it on his behalf. It was the funniest acceptance speech ever written and nearly killed Dan Ozzi. At the end of the awards, I was presented with a large frame of some lovely Blues photos from the past four seasons and autographs of actual Blues players (past and present). It was a great gift and I'd like to thank everyone that contributed to it.

After the awards ceremony, things went up a notch. There were loud Swingers quotes, wet shirts, the leaning tower of Ben Keene, dancing, and the epic trial of the People vs. Catherine Rae, who was indicted with soliciting relationship advice from a homeless man. She would later be acquitted of the charges as the jury found insufficient evidence that the man was homeless. For my emphatic feelings on the verdict, be sure to check out the video in Jared's photos.

Michelle also ended up with a fun batch of pictures. Ben claims to have some good photos but four days after the event they are still not available. It was a great night.

As for the future, there are rumors of another chance to play ARTstor next week in a post-season exhibition game. I'm flying out that day so I won't be able to attend. Although I won't be at the helm I'm compelled to leave you with a few last bits of advice in my final blog post for next week and beyond; run hard to first base, call out the pop flys, have fun, listen to Tanya, and raise a glass to toast the team whenever possible. Go Blues!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Coach: 10, Oxford Blues 8

The Oxford Softball Blues finished their last game of the year on Monday evening with a close loss to Coach. The team started out strong by giving up only one hit in the first inning and putting the pressure on Coach right away. The Blues suffered a few errors and base running mistakes in the middle innings but were able to work around them. Overall, the defensive effort had a much crisper feel than games of the past. Relays from the outfield were on target and infield throws to first were sharp and confident.

The Oxford offense kept their bats level and racked up their hits with proper placement. In the bottom of the seventh inning they cut the Coach lead down to two runs and loaded the bases to give the team something to cheer for. The Blues also riled up Coach's comically intense captain we will refer to as Mr. "Two Dead!". The rally fell a little short but it was an exciting and tense end to the season.

Looking back, the game sort of served as a microcosm of the entire season. It started a little sloppy, we got it together and played tough after we settled down, there were a couple of heartbreaking moments, but in the end even though we lost we went out on a high note.

The Blues went to Jake's after the game to complete their perfect 12-0 season record of going out after every game this year. It's a record that the entire team and fan base should be proud of. Although the official record of 1-11 isn't that impressive, it should be noted that the team lost five of the eleven games by 3 runs or less.

The team took it up a notch for the season finale post game celebration. There were blue cheese shooters, beer pong battles, dancing, a boiler maker, and multiple rounds of Goldschlager.

With the 2008 regular season in the book, the Blues will now begin mental and physical preparations for the blowout that will be the 4th Annual Oxford Blues Softball Banquet at the Astoria Beer Garden on August 15th.

Michelle's pics from Jake's can be found here. Click on the photo above for a link to Jared's photos (which include a few from Friday's game).

Monday, July 21, 2008

CSTV Slammers: 13, Oxford Blues: 0

The CSTV Slammers won our 13 team division last season for a reason. Their methodical line drive base hits up the middle were unstoppable and put them out to a quick lead. On the other side, the Blues were in a funk and failed to get a runner past second base during the entire shortened five inning game.

However, the quick finish gave the Blues enough time to have a team scrimmage (Iron Unicorns vs. Evil Blues) and prepare for tonight's (Monday) final game of the season against Coach on North Meadow field #8 at 5:30. Coach is 3-7-1 on the season so they are much closer to our competition level and it should be a close game.

There aren't any pictures from the game this week, possibly a blessing, so click on the photo above for Michelle's pics from the more important part of the night.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Translate This: 17, Oxford Blues: 10

Tuesday evening's game started out well once again for the Blues. However, once Translate This got warmed up they showed why they are the fifth place team in the league by belting out Ruthian home runs. Oxford was solid, yet a little out matched, on offense and defense.

However, the Blues (motivated by Joe "What Bag?" Jackson's awesome blue kicks with blue laces) ran the bases better than their opponents. Even though we were aggressive on the base paths it was under control and I don't believe anyone was thrown out while going for an extra base. Translate This was not so much under control. They were thrown out at least twice while being greedy. Once, on the end of a double play that started with a leaping catch in center field by Kyle "KT" Taylor.

Our next two games are on back-to-back workdays, this Friday and Monday. We hope to see you all there for the furious end of the season. Thanks goes out to Michelle for taking these photos of the game.

We went down to the village after the game to enjoy some cold beers and watch mixed martial arts and the MLB All-Star game at the Slaughtered Lamb. While sitting next to this life-size rotating werewolf display, we discussed awful tooth-related stories and sleazy college friends.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Oxford Blues: 11, Telerep: 17

Jared sent around a link to his always impressive photos from Thursday's game which included a succinct recap of the game.

Game 9

Through inning 5, a win. Considering that a fair amount of our games this season were over by inning 5, that's pretty confident play. But then in the 6th, Telerep found some holes and bust the game open. Final score, 11-17. I showed up late, and it's a sore memory anyway, so I've minimized game photos and maximized Jake's photos. Typical Blues bollocks, for hours & hours.

That sums it up pretty well. We continued to hit well as a team with the bottom of the lineup extending many rallies. Our defense improved since last week and was able to convert more of the "easy outs". There is still room to improve though and it seems like some extra chatter on the field might help everyone focus so that will be the goal for this week.

Here are a few of my photos before my camera died and also a great batch from Michelle.

Game 10 is Tuesday night at Chelsea Park at 5:30pm.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Oxford Blues: 17, Pirates: 19

The Blues had their game faces on (see above photo) for Wednesday's game but the Pirates' narrowly won the shootout. They scored 19 runs, same as last year, to topple the Blues 19 to 17. The Blues were also racking up the hits and scored 10 more runs than they did last year against the Pirates. They scored in every inning but one to make it a compelling back-and-forth game.

In the top of the sixth inning the Oxford Blues scored five runs when they needed them most to tie up the game at 15 all. The Pirates went on to score four runs in the bottom half of the inning though to take the lead. The Blues threatened in the top of the seventh but only scored two runs to end the game.

The bats are hot and the Blues haven't scored that many runs since last June, 16 games ago. The fielding was a little shaky but that's easier to work on and will hopefully come together for the next game against Telerep on Thursday.

The team hit up the usual haunt and got in some good Buck Hunter/Beer Pong/Foosball action. Here are the pics with a few captions.

KT's photos

Rae Rae's photos

Michelle photos

P.S. Brian's contribution of "Chelly Chell" as a possible nickname for Michelle reminds me that we really need to work on making sure that everyone has a nickname. That could be the inspiration that pushes us back into winning territory.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Oxford Blues: 12, Scripps: 10

After enduring some close losses in the last few weeks, the Oxford Blues earned their first win of the season on Monday night in Central Park. The forecasted rain did not arrive and the Blues put together an exciting come-from-behind victory to take down Scripps (media company that includes Food Network and HGTV).

The game got off to an even start with both teams trading runs to keep the score tied 4-4 after three and a half innings. In the bottom of the fourth inning, good hitting by Scripps allowed them to take a 9-4 lead. With their backs against the wall, the Oxford offense focused on simple base hits and were able to string together 8 runs over the next three innings.

At the same time, the Blues buckled down on defense. They allowed just one more run in the fifth inning. Then, with all of the pressure on them in the bottom of the seventh (and final) inning, they were able to protect a two-run lead by retiring the Scripps batters in order: one, two, three.

The victory was a true team effort and after the game the team carried the celebration to Jake's Dilemma on the UWS for some libations. For pictures of the game click here or on the photo above.

Next week, the Blues take on the Pirates on Wednesday at 5:30pm in the North Meadow of Central Park. Come cheer them on to another win.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

SG Bank: 10, Oxford Blues: 2

The Blues were more successful at having a good time at Jake's Dilemma last night than they were at home plate. That's not to say that the Blues were bad. The last two games have just raised the bar of expectations so that now the team will settle for nothing less than victory.

Even though we took a loss, it was apparent just how far our team has come in the last month. It was only three games ago that we were beat 30 to 8 in three and a half innings on the same field in the North Meadow. At that point we would have loved to keep the score close for a full seven inning game. Last night, we did just that but were still dissapointed. This could mark a real turning point for the team. No longer out to just keep the score close, we want a win! Monday will be a great opportunity for that win as we square off against Scripps, a team with only two wins since the beginning of last season.

As for our hitting, it was obvious that the Blues meakness at the plate had more to do with the opposing pitcher than any team slump. Other than Dan "Wizard of" Ozzi, who had a homerun and a single, the team was kept off balance by the SG pitcher's ability to mix up the speed of his pitches. We were also missing some extra thump in the lineup usually afforded by Ned and Joe C. *Injury Update* Joe C is hoping to come off of the DL in time for our game on July 2nd.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Blues put on a good performance. Rob was able to entice a ton of fly balls from SG Bank's mammoth hitters. While Brian Hurley again played a great left field and was able to track them down.

For some great pictures from the game and post game activities, click the photo above. Blues fan Tim Sachs even makes a cameo.

Friday, June 13, 2008

IBI Swingers: 9, Oxford Blues: 7

The Oxford Blues followed up Game 4's close outcome with even more of a nailbiter on Thursday night. In fact, not only did the Blues play their first complete seven inning game of the season, but they also ended up going into their first extra innings game in franchise history. In the end, the Blues walked away with a 9-7 defeat but their heads were high due to a great performance, especially under pressure.

IBI jumped out to a three run lead in the top of the first but the Blues came right back in the bottom half of the inning to tie it up on a three run homer from Ned "The St. Louis Swatter" Sears. After that, Rob Repino (aka The Rocket aka Roba Chamberlain) took over and limited the Swingers to only six more runs over the next seven innings. His pitching mojo was getting it done and he finished with 4 (or 5) strikeouts. He also came up with two clutch RBI hits on his way to earning the honorary game ball. The Swingers scored two runs in the top of the eighth inning which proved to be the difference maker but the Blues have come a long way and are without a doubt on the verge of a victory.

As a team, the Blues played strong defense all over the field. Some memorable moments include:

Ben's catches with the sun in his eyes in right center field. He also sacrificed his knees again for the team which is becoming a motivational habit at Dewitt Clinton.

-Brian Hurley's catch on a deep fly ball to foul territory.

-Michelle's quick stops and solid glove at second base.

. . . and one of my favorites . . .

-On an errant throw to first base, the opposing runner made the turn to second to try for the extra base. Kate Brown ran to the fence to get the ball and got back to first base to tag the runner out. Heads up play and great hustle.
As if that wasn't enough, the team made their way to the Bull Moose Saloon once again for some wings and unforgettable karaoke. The medical and law marketing departments made an appearance and added to the ruckus. Also, my girlfriend's family from Germany attended to make it an international affair. Here are just a few of the hits that rang through Hell's Kitchen Thursday night. You guess the OUP performers.

ACDC - "Shook Me All Night Long"
Michael Jackson - "Billie Jean"
No Doubt - "Spiderwebs"
Gwen Stefani - "Let Me Blow Your Mind"
Neil Diamond - "Sweet Caroline"
Nena - "99 Red Balloons"
Dr. Dre - "Nuthin But a G Thang"

Finally, here are the photos:

Pictures from Steph's family

Pictures from Michelle Lipinski (and other random people who used her camera)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Dewitt Clinton game cancelled: Scrimmage, Singing ensues.

Thursday's game was cancelled on site due to a couple of ponds on our infield. Since the other team, Coach, was already there we decided to have a scrimmage for a couple of innings. After they left, we had our own little practice and then headed to the Bull Moose Saloon as usual.

The bar atmosphere appeared the same but they have added a new twist to Thursday nights, Karaoke. Rob "The Rocket" started the night off with some Blues Brothers and Ebin quickly followed. We had to bring the whole team up for a group song towards the end of the night though. Luckily, Catherine was able to capture, among other great photos, a snippet of the musical magic on video. Here are some other photos of the night.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Oxford Blues: 8, Diller's Killer's: 11

(click picture for game & beer pong photos)

After two rainouts and lots of disappointed softball players, the Blues finally played a game 4. Their patience was rewarded by a brilliant sunshiny day on the Great Lawn, surrounded by sunbathers and Frisbee players the ump tried to scare away with powerful flyballs (it didn’t work). But despite the interference of the crowd, the Blues played an amazing game!

They came out strong, scoring 2 runs in the first and shutting down Diller’s Killers. It was a rough 2nd inning for the Blues, when they allowed 7 runs to score, but that would be the last of the runs until the 6th. Robert “The Rocket” Repino shut down the Diller’s Killers for 3 straight innings. He was backed by an impeccable defense, most notably Michelle who was knocked off her feet after catching a ball at second, but still managed to hold onto the ball and get the out (see Jared’s action shot of this). In the meantime, the Blues put up 6 more runs, with most of them coming from Ned’s HR’s. It came down to the top of the 6th with the Blues up by one. Unfortunately, the Diller’s Killers staged a comeback and scored 3. The ump shut the game down after the 6th to allow the next game to begin, so the Blues were denied a chance at a comeback.

But they left the field with their heads held high, knowing that they played a solid game and feeling that things were finally coming together. They moved on to Jake’s Dilemma for well-earned cold pitchers of beer and some friendly games of beer pong.

Next game is Thursday. Now that the Blues can taste a win, there’s no stopping ‘em!

--Tanya, coach for a day

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Oxford Blues: 8, EBG Bees: 30

The loud mouthed "lawyers" busted out the whooping stick yesterday. The EBG Bees were on fire and even though they only hit a few balls that went over our heads, they still pounded out 30 runs in just three innings. The Blues once again had a nice two out rally though, this time at the top of the third inning. It's become a nice trend through the first few games of the season.

After the game we went to Jake's Dilemma for drink specials, wings, fries, and onion rings. We took out our competitive frustrations with foosball games and a Buck Hunter tournament. (Note: Ned Sears wanted to point out that we actually played the updated 'Big Buck Safari' version and not the traditional 'Buck Hunter' version that he was raised on)

Thursday, April 24, 2008

2008 Schedule

Here is our remaining schedule for the season:

Oxford Blues @ EBG Bees
30 Apr 2008 (Wed) / 05:30 PM North Meadow - #8

Translate This! @ Oxford Blues
12 May 2008 (Mon) / 06:45 PM Peter's Field - #1

CSTV Slammers @ Oxford Blues
20 May 2008 (Tue) / 07:00 PM Great Lawn - #4

IAC/Diller's Killers @ Oxford Blues
30 May 2008 (Fri) / 05:30 PM Great Lawn - #2

Coach @ Oxford Blues
05 Jun 2008 (Thu) / 06:00 PM Dewitt Clinton Park - #3

IBI Swingers @ Oxford Blues
12 Jun 2008 (Thu) / 06:00 PM Dewitt Clinton Park - #2

SG Bank @ Oxford Blues
18 Jun 2008 (Wed) / 05:30 PM North Meadow - #8

Oxford Blues @ Scripps
23 Jun 2008 (Mon) / 07:00 PM North Meadow - #8

Oxford Blues @ Pirates
02 Jul 2008 (Wed) / 05:30 PM North Meadow - #7

Oxford Blues @ Telerep
10 Jul 2008 (Thu) / 05:30 PM North Meadow - #7

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Oxford Blues: 7, Richmond Events: 18

The Blues started off hot yesterday with a five run first inning but once Richmond Events removed their erratic pitcher, they settled down and quieted the Blues bats. It was an odd game and lot of the team seemed a little bit off their game.

Even though we didn't get "mercy ruled" the game was still ended by the umpire after the fifth inning due to another game scheduled on our field just an hour after ours began. We all agreed that our comeback was inevitable if we only had a couple more innings.
We chalked the performance up to early season jitters and went down to 81st street for the pitchers and beer special at McAleer's. Since it was a Monday game, we didn't stay too late but a couple games on McAleer's new Buckhunter game did ensue.

The season schedule isn't official yet (even though we're in the second week!) but it looks our next game will be Wednesday, April 30th at 5:30pm against EBG Bees.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Blues 10, Debevoise & Plimpton 26

The Blues' bats were alive last night but unfortunately so were D&P's. The high scoring affair bared much resemblance to last year's game with the law firm. However, last year's rally inning was topped by an even more spectacular performance on Tuesday night.

After falling behind 16 to 0 after the first to innings, the Blues put together their greatest single inning rally in team history. It all started with 2 outs and no base runners. The next 12 batters (Kyle, Joe C, Kate, Ben, Martin, Joe J, Elyse, Tanya, Robert, Andy, Kyle, Joe C) all got on base to bring in 10 runs and close the lead. Hard base running was the key and it turned many would be outs into ball bobbling errors. Click on the photo above to view Jared's awesome photos and captions.

Alas, the opposing team eventually pounded out another 10 runs and the game was cut short after the fifth inning due to the 'mercy rule'. The hitting was great though and it was a fun way to start the season. There were definitely some kinks in our defense but we're all up to speed now for Monday's game against Richmond Events. They are a new team in our league so no scouting report this week.

The post game libations took place at the Blues' home away from home, The Bull Moose Saloon. After last year's D&P game, the infamous Jingle Jugs made their debut on the wall behind the bar. Coincidentally, there was a different pair on display last night that drew responses from the male and female players alike.

Friday, April 11, 2008

The Blues are Ready for Action

Our last practice of the preseason took place last night in the East Meadow of Central Park. The
temperature hit the mid 70s and we had a great turnout. Everyone seemed to have spring fever and we were eager to get in some BP (batting practice).
After practice, we caught the 6 train down to "The Back Page." It was nice to be in Manhattan again and be able to patronize a true sports bar. They were able to squeeze us into a long table at the back and although the service was a little slow, the cold beer and buffalo wings were delicious.
Our opening game will be this Tuesday, 6pm at Dewitt Clinton Park. We hope to see you all there. For directions click here.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Astoria Part II

We were back at the cages last night for practice which this time included a little fielding. They gave us one cage which had the ball machine pointed at the ground so that we could field ground balls. It wasn't the same as being outdoors but it was nice to at least use our gloves and warm up our throwing arms.

We had much more time in the batting cages since it was reserved for an hour and a half, and we weren't late. Some players even tweaked their swing by using new grips.

Many of last weeks rookies were back, which is a good sign, as well as a few more new faces. Martin Coleman made an early bid for the Most Improved Player award with tenacious hitting and fielding.

Later on we decided it would be fun, in an ironic sort of way, to have some drinks at Applebee's. The food was good and the birthday song that they sang five times was interesting, but it turned out that they didn't serve pitchers of beer and for that I cannot forgive them.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Welcome to the Astoria Sports Complex!

A group of 14 Blues maneuvered their way through a seedy parking garage last night to take some batting practice at the Astoria Sports Complex. The batting cage was great and although it liked to pitch the balls low and outside, it pitched them rapidly so everyone got a little workout. Many of the new Blues showed up and swung the bat well. Michelle Lipinksi put on a clinic and may have to be appointed to the newly created position of official team hitting coach.

After the cages we roamed the streets of Astoria, begrudgingly passing up an Applebee's, until we stumbled upon the Cup Diner and Bar. It was definitely more of a Diner than Bar but they accommodated us by serving crisp Sierra Nevada in large metal water pitchers. It was a fun time and we shared softball memories, places of birth, and favorite romantic comedy movies. Joe Jackson in particular dazzled everyone with knowledge of his hometown Austin, TX. Apparently it is where Dazed and Confused was filmed, Owen and Luke Wilson grew up, and it's a city with more culture than Dallas, San Antonio, and Houston combined. He also fiercely proclaimed his fondness for the movie Love Actually.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Spring Training has arrived

Spring training has arrived so stay tuned for team trips to the batting cages or to the East Meadow in Central Park to throw the ball around and break in some gloves.
This also marks the opening of our recruiting season so if you see a new OUPer walking around the office pull them aside and preach the beauty of the Blues.