Spaceballs to Warlocks: “You Shall Not Pass!”

Perennial MA Patriot giants Gone To Plaid and Blue Steel (this year masquerading as Big Blue WINNING! MaSheen) took the field on Thursday, and as they did the tremors could be felt as far away as the Sheraton Commander. The rivalry between these teams is as deep as any in kickball, going back almost four years in a history that is both storied and legendary.

It was Blue Steel that Gone to Plaid (then the Green Team) had to triumph over in an epic overtime-into-the dark match to achieve their first league Championship. Their games, as captains for both squads have said, are never blow-outs. They’re always close as both teams bring out the best in their opponents. Thursday’s match was no different.

It had the makings of a pitchers’ duel as both hurlers appeared to be dialed in at the start. The only run for the first half of the game came in the first off an RBI single by Big with bases loaded.

After that, scoring ground to a halt as the defenses for both squads turned in sparkling performances. Nick, moving across the diamond from his normal position, had a stellar performance at first, earning him the season’s first defensive-based Game MVP award.

“With our star first basemen out of the lineup, I knew there was a big challenge ahead of me and I put Operation Vacu-Suck into action,” said Nick. “Megamaid was huge, but we would be nothing without my fellow Assholes. It was truly an honor to don the helmet!”

In the end, it took heads-up and aggressive baserunning from FBJ and Matty to give the Spaceballs a pair of insurance runs in the top of the fourth. Both managed to scoot home when the MaSheen’s infielders paid a little too much attention to other runners, including Asian who made yet another diving play on the basepaths.

“I knew our opponents were top notch and that we'd need every run we could get,” said Matty when. “You can't be Prince Valium out there on the bases, you have to be on your toes. I saw that they let their guard down for a moment and knew I had my chance. I took only what I needed to survive.

In the end, those bare three runs turned out to be enough as Gone To Plaid’s defense managed to prevent the potent Blue Steel offense from getting a rally going.

Veteran fielder Rob “R-Squared” Rogers said, “That was probably one of the better games I've played in a while because we basically were evenly matched, it was like a chess match. Leading 1-0 we couldn't figure out what to do in order to score more points. But we as team strategized and took the other team out of their element! That was an intense game...and next week will only be that more intense!”

Gone To Plaid’s official boosters club enjoyed the nail biter. “It was better than going to a Red Sox game,” said Mari Frey.

The WINNING MaSheen weren’t about to let the Assholes off the hook that easily, however. Challenging the Plaid at the bar, Big Blue were a force to be reckoned with at the flip cup table, probably winning the majority of the races. However, the Spaceballs came up big in the final race which, Big points out, the Blues, themselves, announced was the “winner take all” contest. Maybe next time, friends.

The Spaceballs are now looking to next week when they’ll match up against league leaders, Pitch Intense, with former Munt & Flip-er: Captain Phil Monkeybutt.

Photos courtesy of Matty Stevenson

Where do we go from here?

WARNING: The following ideas, thoughts, and statements are solely those of the author and do not represent the thoughts of feelings of the team, the team captains, the Patriot League 2011, or league management. Readers should recall this was written by an asshole and all statements should be taken with a grain of salt.

So far, this season has been a good one for the team. Our first week out we shutout what might be our arch-rivals, we stick it out through our second, rain-soaked week and we even made it to the bar. People seem to be getting along and so far theres been no injuries.

But the seasons Volta leaves no time for waste, week 3 stands to be a complete sea-change. According to reports our Week 3 opponents were beaten by our Week 4 opponents 7-1. That sounds like we’re in for an easy week on the 26th but last nights score masks the reality of the situation. Pitchin’ Tents (Week 4) was a team farmed from last years teams, a VIP collection of occasionally good-natured, but none-the-less ruthless players who were upset they didn’t shutout Big Blue WINNING! MaSheen (Week 3). If that sounds like a dick statement on their part, it is. But that’s mostly irrelevant. After the game they’re actually pretty nice people, but they came into this season with a plan that did not include mercy.

First off, MaSheen is not nearly as bad as their name or that score from last night implies. They themselves are a team comprised of two previously competitive teams who did all right on their own. Rain can throw a lot of teams for a loop, and when you play against Tents, you’re going to need to be on you’re a-game. Its evident from watching them that they’ve got some big guns and they aren’t always pop-flies. Teams who’s outfielders don’t back one another up often end up chasing balls into adjacent games. According to the Standings, they won their previous game 7-1.

Tents is a different ball game all together. Unlike regular teams where you hope to outplay them, Tents as a team (in this league) is impossible to outplay. There will be no weak portion of their line-up, there won’t be sloppy errors or players who grab the ball and don’t know where it’s supposed to be thrown, or where the smartest play is. I think its reasonable to expect them to hold runners back, rather than go for outs, and just pick off much easier players via fly balls. Double-plays are not an impossibility here.

But Tents is, after all, mortal and there are going to be exploits we should work. I’d remind folks that they aren’t going to give quarter here, so its best to force them to try for things they aren’t good at. The major weakness of teams like this: Tents, C.L.I.T., the Cider of old, or any other team who might be found to be too serious is the thought that they might lose. If you come out of the second inning beating them and getting them frustrated about their winning potential, the wheels tend to come off. Smart opposition will often dash this with some indirect, arrogant chatter to get under their skin. All-star teams do exist, but if you force them to beat themselves, your chances improve ten-fold.

The reality of the situation is anything could happen, and while the next two weeks are going to be a test of will, they shouldn’t hamper the season. Lets just say, for the sake of strategic advancement, that we lose the next two weeks. The chances are good that well finish the season 6-2 in that unfortunate situation leaving us mid-pack for the playoffs. I haven’t looked at how they intend to deal with the 2 extra teams (likely a bye round). But Mid-pack is a great place for us to be. A lot of math is done during the season to establish X,Y, & Z but the truth is regular season stats don’t matter much in the playoffs, and a team with momentum is often tough to beat. The Volta’s here, the cake-walk won’t be back until Mid-June, but if nothing else the next two weeks will tell us who we are as a team, and more importantly where we can improve. Knowing this before the playoffs might be the best thing we could have on our side.

Aside from a radio this season, a backstop on the grass fields, a booze cooler, and a bigger bar. But hey, who’s complaining?

Spaceballs Shelve Dewey Decimators

It was a damp field that Gone to Plaid stepped onto on Thursday for the second game of the fledgling 2011 MA Patriot season. Spirits were high coming off a decisive victory over Gettin' Cider the previous week and the red-hot Assholes offense was eager to get their kick on, no matter what Mother Nature threw at them.

A slow start saw the Decimators take an early lead in the first with effective bunting and heads up baserunning.

However, the Spaceballs broke through in the second, plating three off of a sac fly by Asian and an impressive two RBI single by game MVP Tristan.

Tristan wasn’t able to hang around to celebrate his career day at the plate, but when reached for comment he said: “It was wet (like your mom). It was slippery (like your mom). But we were raring to go (like your mom). And we scored over and over again (like your mom).”

Gone to Plaid then broke it open with a nine run fourth inning with RBIs by Josh, Nancy, (the recently betrothed and pictured) Kevin, Seamus and Brennan. Captain Big brought home three with his first homerun of the season.

The Decimators would bring in three in the bottom of the inning, but the Spaceballs were able to rely on some uncommon teamwork in the field that helped ensure victory.

First, the recently engaged Kevin and Catie paired up for a catch in shallow left center when Kevin reached up for a pop-up and couldn’t find a grip. Catie, backing up her partner, was able to pluck the falling ball out of the air before it hit the ground to make the out.

“It was wet out there, which is how I like it,” said the blushing bride-to-be. “I was just glad I could get behind my fiancĂ© and catch his slippery ball! Feeling great now that I have a Schwartz all my own!”

The defensive adventures continued in the next inning when Kevin was able to help out teammate Kate in right center. As the ball floated, threatening to land behind her, Kate was able to tip the ball right into Kevin’s arms.

“It’s much easier to pitch a ball game when you know you’ve got fielders out there who are so willing to work together,” said Big, who would do well to follow his own advice. It was his gaff in the infield that led to a pair of opportunistic runs for the Decimators in the fourth.

The jubilant Assholes made their way to a mercifully crowded Tommy Doyle’s to raise a glass. Seamus, after raising a few glasses, said “We hope to continue to bring the spirit, and the beard, of Thomas Doyle to each and every game for the remainder of the season.”

Words to live by… I think…

Gone to Plaid will hit the field next week against long-time rivals Blue St- erm Big Blue WINNING! MaSheen.

Gone to Plaid Take off at Ludicrous Speed

With a squad bigger than Spaceball One, Gone to Plaid stepped onto the hallowed fields of Cambridge Common ready to get their kick on. And with a decisive 10-0 victory over dreaded Gettin’ Cider, they sent a message to the rest of the league: “Dreams of victory? We’re here to take the air out of those sails.”

“The Schwartz was definitely with us,” said Co-Captain and Game MVP Colin. “We beamed Gettin’ Cider 10 times last night. It was wonderful.”

In a night of too many stars, Colin was the offensive leader, getting on base twice, scoring his first run of the season and kicking in two RBIs in the fourth inning.

Seamus played his first game in the lead off spot and reached twice. “It’s amazing to see those giant calves wrapped in those twisty socks churn down that line.” said Captain Big.

The defensive play of the night went to Wayne in the hot corner, with the season’s first fabled seam from third to first, hitting Colin right in the Lobster claws. “My arm went all tingly after that throw,” said Thumper. “All of me went tingly,” replied Captain Big.

The other defensive standout of the day was behind the dish. After a season-ending dislocated shoulder last season, there was talk in the off-season of a trade or early retirement. However, The Brow shucked the doubters and took his place behind the plate and had one of his best games in recent memory. “I think I have boner for this season,” Brennan said after the win.

Veteran Angela was perfect at the plate and on the bases, beating out a perfect bunt and scoring a run from second. “When I saw my bunt go right down the first base line, I thought I was done,” said Angela. “But months of training have proven successful and I was able to outrun the throw. I'm hoping that this first game sets the tone for the rest of the season.”

Co-Captain Asian earned the season’s first band-aid, sliding not once, but twice on the bases, picking up a couple of scuffs and cuts for her troubles. “I bled for the team!,” she aid. “I bled before you did,” she accused.

Even rookie Matty is confident, (though his kicking style leaves something to be desired, according to a petulant Captain Big). “Gone to Plaid is where it's at; the team to watch out for this season.”

Fans of the club went home happy on Thursday night, happy to see their team start the season off with a bang. Everyone is now nurturing high hopes for the year as Gone to Plaid has already positioned themselves in the league as the team to beat.

~Photos courtesy of Matty Stevenson

Spaceballs: The Flow Chart

Four years ago, a ragtag group of co-workers had a friend whose boyfriend's co-workers were starting a kickball team. They all joined together and formed the Middlesex Panthers, a team which paid no mind to its inexperience on the kickball diamond, focused on its deep expertise at the bar and rode this combination to a rousingly successful second-place finish.

Every kickball season since then, members of that original team have trudged along, losing many players but gaining even more new ones along the way -- other co-workers, high school friends, college roommates, significant others and kickball castaways looking for new homes.

With this constant change, it can be difficult for even the most veteran kickballer to keep track of how everyone originally knew everyone else. And for the many newbies on Gone to Plaid, following these relationships would be downright impossible. Well, not anymore. I am proud to present "Spaceballs: The Flow Chart."

"Spaceballs: The Flow Chart," although more confusing than a Tokyo subway map, is the easiest way to show how everyone originally knew everyone else. (It does not track current connections, like the fact that Angela and Leigh are roommates now, or that Brennan and Tristan have a little fling that they think we don't know about.) Special thanks to Catie for helping me put this together and to Eric for fixing my mistakes and making it look all nice like.