By Dan Levitz
We’re still alive! It was an arduous and hard fought battle to get to this place but certainly worth the blood & sweat. No tears to report…this time. We came together, as a unit, in the face of adversity to confront our contentious foes. With a win, we survive. A loss? Oblivion. Yes, this round of the New Castle B League Softball Play-offs would see our team emerge victorious and eligible for the next round of this year’s Championship Double Elimination Tournament! The wings and beer at Quaker Pub, that joyful Tuesday night, were seasoned with victory!
I’m purposely writing this as our team still buzzes from a sweet comeback victory against a fine and honorable team loaded with grizzled softball veterans (I call them Softball Creatures). This type of player knows how to win and in a big spot usually produces. Luckily, we have a few of these types ourselves and this time ours beat theirs, barely. If I were to write this following next Saturday, this story might (if the softball Gods are singing) be punctuated with glory. However, as we are one loss away from interminable elimination (new season begins April, 2014) it seems prudent to write positively while there is still hope and a semi-realistic chance of The Championship.
When I joined the team in 2004, we had the unfortunate moniker of “The Dream Team.” I guess we were named in the spirit of irony but it was such a disparate and intense collection of ball-players that I never felt comfortable enough to actually ask anyone why the name. This team was talented and played angry. I laid low and did my time as catcher and as the amenable new guy who would do what was asked of him to help the team win. Just as I was finding my groove on this squad, it seemed to disintegrate from within. There was a talented outfielder that was very hard on himself and others with angry demonstrative reactions to errors that scared certain teammates down to the C league or an early retirement. There was another fellow who insisted on playing every game in too tight black bicycle shorts which aesthetically, to put it gently, was unfortunate. More players bailed.
The next incarnation of the team was “The Replacements,” a name I never quite understood but there were more pressing concerns. At this point, I felt truly part of the team–only negative being that we were just terrible. The next several years, included another name change (“The Gems”) for a jersey buying sponsor but we were all very focused mainly on staying out of last place and a forced demotion to the dreaded (sorry guys,) C league. Winning it all and moving up to the glorious A league (much respect fellas!) seemed a pipe dream in these dark and trying softball days.
One note about local, older man softball (don’t get me started on the Greeley grad 20 year olds who come in and dominate after school lets out…that is another column). This game is truly a great equalizer. On our team we have lawyers, finance guys, software execs, an art dealer, an assistant principal, an AC/plumbing specialist, a CPA, a teacher and a fiery MD/second baseman. On the field, all of these varied perspectives fade away into the fun of competing on a team playing the same game we loved as children. It’s not all joyful. There’s anger, frustration, sportsmanship good & bad and the kind of pressure to succeed that can, somehow, comfortingly distract one from the real pressures of life for about an hour and fifteen minutes every Tuesday weather permitting.
Back to the team. As I progressed to playing third base and a spot in upper management we adopted “The Dirty Mac” as our latest and finest name. We’ve slowly built the team into a contender. We’ve underachieved at times but in the playoffs anything can happen. One year we had literally one win all season and took down the team with the best record in the league in the playoffs. So now that we’re actually a pretty talented group I know that four more wins and The Championship are certainly a possibility. It’s ours for the taking and the winter will sweep over us gently if we can hoist that trophy (if there actually is a trophy….I’m not really sure).
So, as I write this all is right with the world in the little universe of competitive New Castle B League Softball. There’s nothing wrong with being alive and chasing the dream! Oh, and with all the splendor and glory of a potential championship before us I’d be remiss not to say thanks to our wives for letting us play on the tournament on Saturday even though it may take a long time.
Dan is a veteran third baseman (and art/antique dealer) who has lived in Chappaqua for 10 years with his wife Laurie and kids Charlie & Bella. He has predicted a huge 2014 for The Dirty Mac!