By Dan Levitz
It’s been about a year since I wrote on these pages, with some gravity, about an important component of life here in beautiful Chappaqua: Adult Men’s B League Softball. My previous missive detailed what had been a recent and glorious playoff victory for our long-suffering yet defiantly optimistic squad. I detailed a sweet path to the championship where all we needed were several, fully achievable, victories and that elusive title would have been ours, finally. Alas, best effort aside, our bats went dormant in the clutch and the long winter off-season began way too soon.
Hope most certainly does spring eternal but, as April arrived, we began the 2014 season with an ignominious six straight defeats. Long story short, softball creatures that we are, we righted the ship and won enough games not be dropped to the dreaded C league (no offense fellas). We even had a nice win in the playoffs. Now we look towards 2015 with nearly unfathomable optimism as a highly controversial “old man” softball league scenario finally begins to turn in our favor.
You see, losing the first six games was especially disastrous for us as, on average, our players are in their mid-forties. In early spring most team rosters have pretty similar demographics. However, a few weeks into May everything changes as college age players come home soon to be followed by fresh Greeley grads. So, for us, early season wins are essential because, once the warm weather comes, most of the other teams no longer look like ours does and, traditionally, we stay the same: old.
The young player issue has been a subject of great debate within our league. There’s been talk about limiting the number of young players on the field or even how many kids can be on the entire roster. However, no consensus has ever been possible as the teams with the kids playing don’t want to change a thing, while the old guard teams disagree with great fervor. The net result is the rules stay the same.
Now, I can’t bear a hypocrite as much as the next guy, but I can just feel my perspective on this controversy shifting after essentially embodying the old player point of view for years. This year my team will have at least five sons of players who will be eligible. So, as we do abide by the rules of New Castle Men’s B League Softball we will be adding some very young varsity athlete legs to our, ahem, veteran roster of players.
Along those lines, like yin/yang and to every season turn, turn, turn there will be some changes on the older end of the spectrum. We have two pending retirements and they will, no doubt, bring us sadness from a teammate point of view. In reality, a big part of being on the team is celebrating a win at Quaker Hill Tavern–or bemoaning a loss there as well. Most of the time you wouldn’t know which scenario was being enacted as, once the beer and wings start going down, it doesn’t really matter.
A quick shout out to one of our older warriors who may be hanging up his cleats. Amongst our most devoted players this teammate could always be relied upon to show up which, believe me, is no small thing. In what may have been his last game (a playoff battle) he was catching and, at an important moment, ran out to try and catch a pop up. He pulled his mask off, took one step and fell damn hard. Had he come out of the game, we’d be short a player for the game in which we already trailed. To his credit he stayed in the game and, despite the eventual loss, he put the team ahead of his own discomfort which was something to see. That he later said this was his last game made the moment even more meaningful.
I know enough about sports to understand that a team “on paper” cannot accurately be evaluated. In team sports, every squad has its own rhythms, strengths and weaknesses; none of which can be accurately predicted. I also know that just seeing how things evolve in a season is part of what makes competing in this league so much fun. In a simple kids game played by men (and very young men), there are lessons to be learned in sportsmanship, honor and friendship. We may not win this spring but we’ll battle every week and those young legs cover a lot of ground in the outfield.
Anyone interested in New Castle Adult Men’s Softball should definitely contact the recreation department at Town Hall.
Dan Levitz plays third base for The Dirty Mac and hopes to hit better in this coming 2015 season.