Victory from the Jaws of Defeat



After the jump, a recap of our last two softball games, against High Times and The Nation.


Team   |1|2|3|4|5|6|7| Total

TPR    |1|0|0|1|0|2|0| 4

HT     |5|3|2|3|3|2|x| 18

Much has been made of the High Times phenomenon. To those outside the high-pressure world of magazine-league softball coaching, their dominance of the sport seems like a punchline, something to be mentioned while scoffing “yeah right” and holding an imaginary joint to one’s lips. But among those who have given their lives over to getting ten men and women (we add an extra outfielder in short center) in fighting form and ready to take the field, it’s no laughing matter. The Bonghitters (sic) are a force to be feared, and hated.

Somewhere in the bottom of the fifth, when our team was down sixteen to two, I thought of the ending of The Bad News Bears, when the Bears go up against the league champions, the Yankees, and the moment when the coach of the Yankees smacks his young son for throwing a wild pitch. (Roger Ebert called the movie “an unblinking, scathing look at competition in American society” in his 1976 review.) The Bears see this sorry spectacle and realize that the Yankees have sold their souls in order to become a winning machine. Now, I’m not saying the players for High Times beat their children (I have no evidence of that one way or the other), but I did feel like our team reached an epiphany in defeat, one best summed up in the Wikipedia description of the closing seconds of that classic movie: “After narrowly losing the game, [coach] Buttermaker gives the team free rein of his beer cooler, and they spray it all over each other. Although they did not win the championship, they have the satisfaction of trying, knowing that winning is not so important.”


Team   |1|2|3|4|5|6|7| Total
TPR    |4|0|4|4|1|0|0| 13

NAT    |0|0|2|3|0|1|0| 6

A week later and everything had changed. The Bad News Bears seemed like so much feel-good, A-for-effort pabulum. We needed to beat The Nation, and beat them badly. We were playing for the first time this season at Murry Bergtraum Field, with views of both the Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan Bridge. Breezes off the East River brought the temperature down to a brisk 105 degrees. Being good socialists, The Nation had sent over a rule book filled with mandates. Among the restrictions: no sliding, no sunflower seeds, and two females on the field at all times. “If you don’t have two females,” saith The Nation, “we will still play the game, but we will consider it a win.” The Paris Review has many females both on the field and off, but such rigid rules of engagement seemed a little beyond the scope of a friendly softball game. Thankfully, Karen “FSG MVP” Maine and Anna “Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika” Hartford were there to complete the Paris Review side. Both outhit your humble captain. Indeed, pretty much the entire lineup got on base, by hook (a slamming triple by Jim Rutman, say) or by crook (Paul Wachter with the season’s first base on balls). The game also marked the first appearance of trusty right-hander Ashton Goggans on the mound and his brother Jack in the field, and the season debuts of Andrew “The Catch” Rice and former TPR team captain Nat Rich, who returned from his ice floe to provide us with a number of stunning snags in left field. The Parisians sealed the win with a double play to close out the final inning, and the coach gave the team free rein of his beer cooler. In the end, it would take a Nation of millions to hold us back, and they were only fielding ten.