Sunday, August 30, 2009

Blues: 9, IBI Destroyers: 8

Four double plays. After a hard-fought season that very well could've ended in a playoff berth, the Blues finished with a win. And yes, four double plays.

Matched against a team with a better record, the Blues looked strong as they took the field, in spite of the fact that they would be closing out 2009 at a place that had thwarted their aspirations on past occasions. Fortunately, it was a different story on the 18th of August this year. Three innings of solid hitting and smart baserunning were complemented by excellent defense that held the Destroyers née Swingers scoreless during their final at bat.

Ned at shortstop, Joe C. at third, and Robert on the mound kept their heads in the game, each contributing to the aforementioned double plays at first. Meanwhile, Brian, Andy, as well as Ozzi made some big catches in left, while Rachael, Ninell, Martin, and Joe J. quickly got the ball from right field to Michelle at second, keeping their opponents to singles. Inspired by a man with "the least marketable skill in America," Oxford also looked good at the plate, scoring five runs in the third to establish a lead they wouldn't give up.

Although KT missed the chance to celebrate with his former teammates at the Bull Moose Saloon that night, he would do them proud three days later by ordering a gin and tonic at approximately 3am. Details from that outing including pictures, awards, and some final thoughts on statistics will appear in this space very soon. In the meantime, ponder the coincidence of this tag, spotted by Tanya in Midtown Manhattan on a rainy summer evening.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

All Stars: 1, Blues: 21

It almost happened too fast to appreciate. And yet, after three innings, the final score told a succinct, if somewhat implausible story: the Blues had trounced their opponents in a landslide victory on Central Park's Heckscher Field #1. Naturally, their excitement was difficult to contain, even though they themselves have been on the other end of the mercy rule this season.

The two teams seemed well-matched early on, with the All Stars only down 2-1
after the first inning. But when the Blues started swinging again at the top of the second, they took a huge lead and never looked back. Their offense was certainly helped by uneven pitching from the All Stars, but dual home runs from Ned and no less than a grand slam to right from Joe C were evidence of a strong desire to finish 2009 with some wins.

Ripping a line drive into left, Ozzi contributed to the effort as well, but the umpire was not amused by his attempt to carry Tanya the final few feet to home plate and kept Oxford from adding more than four runs in the third. The infield defense held strong however, and the athletes in blue and gray threw in the proverbial towel before the game was technically over. With daylight left and energy to spare, the Blues played a quick game of seven on seven by recruiting fans "Barefoot" Ashley Wells and Abigail "Yellow Pants" Rothberg who had braved the humidity along with Tim, Julia, and Carolyn.

An hour of free draft beer and well drinks paired quite nicely with the night's historic outcome, and Andy and Ned decided to prove that they weren't done winning by controlling one of the beer pong tables at Jake's for a solid four hour stretch. Once again, Rae documented it all in photographs, using the camera that she has avoided losing for almost the entire summer now.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Blues: 7, Doft Punk: 11

Chasing a dream, the Blues stumbled on their way to an improved record in their tenth game of the season, ultimately falling to Doft Punk after seven innings. At times Oxford did show some real tenacity on the North Meadow, but three scoreless turns at the plate kept them from catching up with their opponents, who quickly took the lead with nine runs in the first two innings.

To make matters worse, Jake's was closed for renovations, forcing the Blues to shake off their loss with beer pong and wings at the nearby Gin Mill. A couple of rainouts have extended the season until the week of the banquet, but will they be able to dust themselves off and finish 2009 on a high note? Ponder this while perusing Rae's photos from that night in mid-July.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Bombers: 11, Blues: 11

The face says it all: a cross between fatigue and perhaps, a faint trace of disbelief. Could the Blues really end up with their first tie? Joe C wouldn't learn the outcome until well after the final out, but following seven long innings, Oxford successfully avoided losing their ninth game of the season.

Offensively and defensively the Blues kept their collective head in the game, and a sympathetic umpire even allowed it to continue past the usual seven o'clock finish. Iain pulled off a big catch in right center, Ned scooped up almost everything at shortstop and contributed a home run, while Ninell scored her first run since joining the team. The lead see-sawed back and forth between the two opponents until the sixth, when some heads up base-running inspired by "Crazy Legs" Taylor evened the score at eleven.

Suddenly short a third baseman, the final inning began somewhat tensely with the Bombers at bat, but Robert maintained his steely resolve on the mound and Andy subbed in for Joe C, who snuck off the field to catch a train. Down a player and out of time, the Blues held off the Bombers nonetheless, and headed to 81st and Amsterdam with pride intact. Jared tried dodge photo duty by "forgetting" his camera, but luckily, I brought mine for him.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Blues Improve Record, Locate Bluesmoblie

Locating it took much longer than expected, but after weeks of searching in earnest, the vehicle that could become the Bluesmobile was spotted on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. It will likely take a fair amount of work to convert the "Jingle Benz" into a suitable team shuttle, but with a list price of $1,500 (including a free pizza), even slumping ticket sales at the North Meadow ballpark shouldn't deter management from making the right call.

In other news, the Blues were handed their second victory of the 2009 season when the CP Lions forfeited at the last minute on the first of the month. Never a team to rest on their laurels, the Blues decided to make the most of the weather and an available field, beginning with batting practice, and later, a full-team scrimmage. Unfortunately, the Evil Blues prevailed.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Telerep: 16, Blues: 4

A shutout it wasn't. But with last-minute substitutions, a swampy outfield, and Telerep's merciless offense aligned against them, the Blues struggled in Central Park and finally had to admit defeat after four frustrating innings.

Their opponents came out swinging from the top of the first, quickly putting six points on the board. The Blues weren't able to answer until the bottom of the second inning when a few solid hits from Andy and Ebin brought in enough runs to keep things interesting. Telerep wasn't content to simply maintain a lead however, and set about proving how well they could bat by sending the game ball on repeated trips deep into right. Things got ugly. On the plus side, Jared, who continues to shoot better and better photographs was there to offer encouragement and document much of the action.

Dejected and perhaps longing to change into dry socks, most of the team headed back to their respective apartments much earlier than usual. In spite of the loss, four Blues and one dedicated fan made it to Jake's where they discussed, among other things, the intro songs they'd like to hear during the walk from the dugout to home plate. Guess who picked "Tubthumping."

Monday, June 22, 2009

Pirates: 7, Blues: 3

Fortunately for the Blues, June's wet weather finally took a night off last Tuesday. Unfortunately, the Pirates came to play, defeating an Oxford team that fought hard, but ultimately lost after seven innings on North Meadow's Field Seven. Both sides scored one run in the first inning, but the team in gray slowly pulled away by adding more points in the third, fourth, and fifth.

On the heels of an extremely tough loss the week before, the Blues showed real signs of improvement on defense, and yet their bats never quite came alive. Once again, Elyse demonstrated her speed and agility in right center, while both Ozzi and Andy made big catches deep in left field, preventing the Pirates from doing more damage than they surely wanted to at the plate.

After their defeat, the Blues passed on the chance for a scuffle, heading instead to Jake's to celebrate a birthday and replenish lost calories. In a nod to tradition, they indulged in Buck Hunter, multiple beer pong matches, at least three orders of wings, and two rounds of shots for a coach who hadn't planned to begin celebrating so early in the week. Photo evidence of the evening's highlights both on and off the field can be viewed here.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Diller's Killers: 22, Blues: 0

In June of 1874, the Brooklyn Mutuals, one of eight original teams in the National League, defeated the Chicago White Stockings 38-1. Chicago managed to accumulate 2 hits and 36 errors before the game ended.

Last Thursday night, in a manner not unlike that of the nineteenth century White Stockings, the Blues fell to Diller's Killers on the new, "state-of-the-art" DeWitt Clinton ballfield. Mercifully, the rain that had threatened all afternoon held off for four innings—just long enough for IAC to mercy Oxford.

Three weeks off and wet conditions did not help the Blues, who had hoped to improve their record against an old rival. They struggled on the synthetic turf, allowing the Killers to punch holes in their defense while failing to score once, in spite of putting up 19 runs against the Kings in late May. Highlights were unfortunately few, but Joe C. played like a MVP at third, and Elyse, hot off the bench, made a remarkable catch on the run in right center.

The burger and beer special on 44th Street managed to lift spirits after a tough loss, and many of those who lingered at the Bull Moose soon began looking ahead to the next game. Others found solace cheering the Red Sox to victory over New York, playing pool, obsessing about Zach Galifianakis, or consuming copious quantities of hot wings. You know who you are.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Weather

Anxious to play after their first win of the '09 season, the Blues had to settle for an impromptu practice last Thursday and may be facing their second straight rainout tonight. If softball is in the forecast however, the Blues will face Diller's Killers at Dewitt Clinton, a field they loved to hate last year. The two games that have already been rescheduled due to weather are:
  • Oxford Blues @ IBI DESTROYERS 27 July 2009 (Mon) / 7:00 PM Queensboro Oval #1 (59th St. Field)
  • Avenue All Stars @ Oxford Blues 10 Aug. 2009 (Mon) / 7:00 PM Heckscher #1 (Central Park)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Blues: 19, Columbia Kings: 17

There were times when a win didn't look likely, but patience at bat and determination on the field ultimately propelled the Blues ahead of the Kings last Thursday night in Central Park. Much like last season's win, this victory was another team effort with steady base hits that led to 8 runs in the second inning and 10 more in the third. Ozzi's final home run kept Columbia at bay until the umpire called the game (in Oxford's favor) just before 7p.m.

Andy distinguished himself at the plate and in left field, earning the first Game Ball of 2009, but again, everyone contributed to a contest that resulted in the second highest score put up by the Blues in franchise history. Dayne, Joe J. and Elyse all did their best in spite of extremely poor visibility in right field, Joe C. argued with the ump,
making sure all of our runs were counted, and somehow, the first baseman didn't drop a pop fly that would be the game's final out. Jared (and Tessa) arrived somewhat late but snapped quite a few nice photos as did Ebin and Abigail using my camera.

Deciding to reward themselves with the hospitality of the Bull Moose Saloon, the Blues arrived to discover that karaoke has been moved to Wednesday nights. They managed to calm down with several pitchers of draft beer.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Blues: 9, Fuel: 10

Everybody likes winning streaks. Impressive to behold and quite difficult to maintain, they are something that many teams aspire to and few achieve. Last Thursday night, on Manhattan's Upper West Side... Rae and Wright added two more wins to their beer pong record and doing so, extended a streak that stretches back to last season. The Blues, alas, were toppled by Fuel at the bottom of the seventh inning after rallying to break a 6-6 tie.

The last time these two teams met—back in the spring of 2006—the Blues left the field with heads held high, but it appears as if some rebuilding and favorable draft picks produced a more competitive opponent three years down the road. Their win did not come easily however. The Blues put the first point on the board, fell behind early on, tied the game at the top of the fifth, and took a 9-6 lead in the seventh. Rob went 3 for 4 at the plate (not half bad for a pitcher), Ozzi delivered a pair of RBIs, and Brian demonstrated the fundamentals of excellent baserunning with a textbook slide into third.

In spite of a couple of missed outs, the defense did their part too, holding Fuel to two consecutive scoreless innings. Ebin snagged a shot that came screaming down the first baseline, Dayne made a tough grab at right center, and, in a moment that will surely go down in the annals of softball, Andy and Robert pulled off an exceptional double play to escape a bases-loaded, no outs jam. Certainly a much closer contest than last season's Game Three.

Jake's cheap pitchers proved once again to be the salve that mends all wounds. Click on this handy link to see Rae's photo recap of the night.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Flashbacks and Predictions

Waiting can be an agonizing activity. Often, to spare ourselves mental anguish, we use distractions to help pass the time. So, as we wait for yet another storm front to move across the New York metro area, I thought I'd post a couple of things to take our minds off of rain outs. First, a quick stroll down memory lane, all the way back to August 2008. The setting: Astoria's Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden. The occasion: A Blues Banquet. Because of a medical emergency, Andy couldn't attend last summer's celebration and the following speech had to be delivered in absentia.
Before I say anything else, I’d like to give a shout out to Brooklyn. Secondly, I hope that many good kielbasa jokes are made this evening—I’m disappointed to be missing them. To begin, I’m grateful to receive this award and the public recognition of my tremendous talent as well as the unparalleled contributions I’ve made to the team. But for the sake of next season, I had to go to Nashville for some experimental surgery on my injured wrist.

I was going to wait to tell everyone, but then I thought it was best to inform you all now: I'm getting a Terminator arm. Although the damage didn’t seem serious at first, doctors informed me that I was close to dying. Fortunately for the Blues, the prospect of playing one more season was all the hope I needed to live long enough to become part machine.

I will be donating my award to charity to contribute to this extremely important cause because with enough awards like this one, we'll be able to see an end to broken wrists within our lifetimes. Imagine a world where your grandchild says, “Pop-pop, what's a broken wrist?” and you reply, “What the deuce?!?! No, wait… sorry, that's history.”

Remember, TIME magazine called softball injuries this millennium's bubonic plague; I’m proud to be a spokesperson in the battle against this scourge. And sure, I’m fighting the good fight one-handed at the moment, but I still think that together we can win handily. Also without getting too partisan, everyone should know that if elected to office, John McCain plans on cutting all funding for broken-wrist research. What a bastard. Finally, I’d like to thank myself for my exceptional athleticism. I’d also like to thank my parents for giving me shoddy genes and God, for making my bones so very, very brittle. Oh, and if it weren’t for Ben, I wouldn’t have broken anything in the first place.
Shifting focus to the season ahead of us, I'd like to put to rest a rumor that's been overheard in the locker room on more than one occasion. In spite of any flimsy evidence to the contrary, the Blues Organization does in fact care about the well-being of its players. No, we don't have a team van, a trainer, or even a clubhouse, but I'm very proud to announce that we've nearly secured an official baker. She's an award-winning pastry chef and, as of Monday, the proud owner of a Cuisinart Stand Mixer, complete with 1,000 watts of mixing power! Because frankly, cupcakes (OK, OK and beer) are the only fitting way to commemorate our first win of 2009.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Blues: 5, CSTV Slammers: 13

According to my copy of the Oxford English Reference Dictionary, progress can be defined as noun that means "development towards completion, betterment, etc.; improvement." And so, while I must sadly report of their loss to the CSTV Slammers on the lush lawn of the North Meadow, the Blues nonetheless personified this word last Thursday night in Central Park.

With six players donning jerseys for their first
appearance of the 2009 season and a vacant infield position necessitating a move to shortstop for Hurley, the defense started off a bit shaky on Field #7. The top of the CSTV lineup didn't make things any easier either, rocketing Robert's pitches deep into the outfield, and in one case, clear into Field #8. The Blues weren't about to roll over and play dead however--quick reflexes from Michelle at second, and Ebin (that's his "magical glove" pictured above) in left field kept opposing batters to singles if they even reached a base at all. In fact, the Blues held the Slammers scoreless on multiple innings.

As predicted, the offense came alive in Game 2. Joe C., Michelle, and Ozzi each drove in RBIs to keep the heat on and the score close. Plus, except for an incident that may have involved some obstruction from a certain third baseman, the base coaches made sure that anyone with a chance to cross home plate knew when to run and when to wait. Unfortunately, Jared took the night off and no one in attendance had a functioning camera with them, so Ebin's photos from our last team practice will have to suffice this week.

After the game, a few new spectators joined most of the team at softball's home away from home on Amsterdam Avenue: Jake's Dilemma. The
$10 pitcher of shots was somehow avoided--this time at least--and bleu cheese shooters didn't prove nearly as alluring to the dumb and daring, but in true Blue fashion, one competitor couldn't resist a beer pong challenge from Jake's charming clientele. Finally, let the record show that Rae does not have a bacon cold, and Ninell will drink an entire beer after our next game.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Oxford Blues: 0, EBG Bees: 12

The Blues began the 2009 season on a deceptively cool Friday evening in Thomas Jefferson Park, where they faced off against one of the best batting orders in the league. A number of fans turned up to show their support, and although a victory wasn't in the offing this time, strong defense and a determination to go seven innings kept spirits high until the game's conclusion. Said resolve can be seen on the face of one Mr. Sears above, as well as the mugs of several other veterans in Jared's photo set. Afterwards, most of the team trekked down to Brady's on 82nd and Second Avenue for pizza and cheap beer.

Andy in left field, Brian in left center, and Iain in right center, valiantly held most of the Bees to singles and doubles, and in a particularly impressive team effort, the Blues handed their formidable opponents two scoreless innings. Unfortunately the field was unforgiving and their lineup was too deep to stymie completely. Joe C managed a couple of miraculous scoops nonetheless, and Robert on the mound (wearing eye black, or "mancara" I might add) wasn't about to let anyone take a base without collecting a strike or two along the way. Having tested themselves against an infield that apparently included Usain Bolt at shortstop, the Blues will look to score their first runs this week in Central Park.

Our first choice bar, Ship of Fools, was lousy with Yankee fans, but Brady's across the street had affordable pitchers and Big Buck Hunter. Needless to say, happiness prevailed on what could have otherwise been a somewhat disappointing opener. The dedicated few who lingered past midnight should be sufficiently prepared for whatever Thursday night has in store. Those who turned in early had better hope Ozzi brings the Big League Chew next time.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

2009 Schedule

After months of off-season training, weeks of speculation, a few false alarms, and an entire year to prepare ourselves mentally, we finally have a schedule. But here's the real news: the wait was worth it. Our patience has been rewarded with 11 (that's right, 11) games in Central Park. Plus, while we will almost certainly have several tough contests in late April and early May, a number of teams later in our season appear to be newcomers. Which translates into opportunity. An opportunity to improve our record. Now remember, by following some simple steps, winning a softball game can actually be accomplished quite easily. Step 1. Win a softball game. There is no Step 2.

Oxford Blues @ EBG Bees 24 Apr 2009 (Fri) / 06:30 PMThomas Jefferson Park - #3

Oxford Blues @ CSTV Slammers 30 Apr 2009 (Thu) / 07:00 PMNorth Meadow - #7

Oxford Blues @ IBI DESTROYERS 04 May 2009 (Mon) / 07:00 PMNorth Meadow - #7

Oxford Blues @ Fuel 14 May 2009 (Thu) / 05:30 PMNorth Meadow - #7

Oxford Blues @ Columbia Kings 21 May 2009 (Thu) / 05:30 PMNorth Meadow - #11

Avenue All Stars @ Oxford Blues 04 Jun 2009 (Thu) / 05:30 PMNorth Meadow - #11

IAC/Diller's Killers @ Oxford Blues 11 Jun 2009 (Thu) / 05:30 PMNorth Meadow - #11

Pirates 1 @ Oxford Blues 16 Jun 2009 (Tue) / 07:00 PMNorth Meadow - #7

Telerep @ Oxford Blues 22 Jun 2009 (Mon) / 07:00 PMNorth Meadow - #7

CP Lions @ Oxford Blues 01 Jul 2009 (Wed) / 05:30 PMNorth Meadow - #7

The Bombers @ Oxford Blues 08 Jul 2009 (Wed) / 05:30 PMNorth Meadow - #7

Oxford Blues @ Doft Punk 13 Jul 2009 (Mon) / 05:30 PMNorth Meadow - #11

Monday, April 6, 2009

March Madness

In anticipation of Opening Day, the Blues made the most of early spring by visiting our preferred batting cages not once, but twice in March. We also managed to assemble a successful practice in Central Park--remembering of course, to leave ourselves enough time to sample the wings at The Kinsale Tavern (they're of the small, mild, and more than $0.25 each variety).

Besides rumors of an official scrimmage next week, there's a good chance we'll be able to test our mettle again before meeting our first opponent of the 2009 season. No word yet as to whether the official "fight song," or hip hop-style heroic poem will be completed beforehand.

Finally, for those fans and teammates who haven't been able to join us thus far, photographic evidence of our collective commitment to winning can be found here.
Dear Bull Moose Saloon: you've been warned.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Happy Blue Valentine's Day

The weeks and months have flown by since the summer's "Night of a Thousand Beers" in rainy Astoria, Queens, but at long last I'm very happy to inform you that we're officially registered for another softball season, our fifth as a team. And although the Chinese Lunar Calendar may offer evidence to the contrary, we need only look within to find what we already know to be true: 2009 will be the year of the Blue.

As the adjacent photo demonstrates, we've all used the off-season to maintain a professional level of tolerance for moonshine and merriment, but let me hit you with some knowledge: those days of carefree camaraderie are numbered. That's right, Spring Training is almost upon us. Which means it's about time to stock up on glove oil, prepare the blender for some heavy mixing, and hit the weight room. Meanwhile, watch this space for an announcement about batting practice, and start visualizing victory. I can think of at least one, or two, hell, make that three people we owe it to.

Make no mistake: hard work and dedication, washed down with a pint or seven here and there will be the keys to our success. And remember, to borrow a phrase from the great Woodie Held, "Don't forget to swing hard, in case you hit the ball."