Saturday, August 2, 2008

KM1 settles for consolation runner-up after falling to Old Man's Team in final game

Game Recap: Old Man's Team 15....KM1 not for the good part :)

As most of you know, I am slightly competitive.....that said, even though we only won 3 games, I had the ABSOLUTE BEST SEASON EVER! Our team is AWESOME!! How can you be awesome & win only 3 games?? There are many reasons, but in classic David Letterman style, here's the Top 10:

10. Reuniting the "grizzly vets" from years past (Bill, Steve Cairns, John, Steve Korb, Jo, Bo & Tina) resulted in great initial chemistry on & off the field.

9. The not so grizzly members like JJ, Viggy & Eric offered their easy-going personalities & added greatly to the team concept.

8. Sprinkling in fun-loving newcomers Todd & Niki Weber, Jill Bracken & Jen Yoder finished the "special brew" to concoct the GREATEST TEAM EVER!

7. EFFORT was tremendous week in & week out....not ONCE did I see someone not run out a ground ball, even if they KNEW they were going to be out.

6. We had a variety of talents on the field & we all had plays we wish we would have made, but EVERYONE contributed in some fashion during the season.

5. More importantly, NOT ONCE did someone complain about playing time or what position I asked them to play. As your coach, I can't possibly explain how SPECIAL you all have been!

4. Everyone on the team was the team concept....attendance was spectacular & communication was even better when someone couldn't make it. Again, as your coach, that made my job much easier...thank you all!

3. Even though none of us are spectacular athletes, there were times when we looked like it .....see Jill & Tina's running outfield catches, T-O-Double D's herculean performance against KM2, Jo flashing the leather at 3rd, Bill's shutdown pitching, JJ's solid glove at 2nd, Steve Korb's highlight outfield catches, Niki digging balls out at 1st, John legging out infield base hits with lightning speed, Jen's powerful bat, Eric's "steady eddie" play all season, Steve Cairns getting hit after hit & Viggy's multiple homers during the season.

2. As much fun as we had on the field (FUN on 3!), it paled in comparison to the great times before & after our games. See "Bloody Mary" (no, not the drink), pre-game "warm-ups" & Jen & Brandon's pool parties!

1. The fun led to many incredible friendships made this season will definitely be lasting ones!! I am so pumped for the MSU-Purdue game in November....GO GREEN!!

As I step down from coaching, I know I am passing the ceremonial baton to a great leader in Niki Weber. This is truly a special group of people. I was honored to be your coach. Thanks everyone for making my last coaching season my best...for all the right reasons! I love you guys!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

KM-2: Team takes third place in consolation round with 10-4 victory

Maybe they saved the best for last. Know Mercy 2 earned an impressive 10-4 victory over Johnston Home Lawncare in its final game to take third place in the consolation round, good for a fine plaque.

Aaron Dunham pitched a beautiful game, notching at least five strikeouts – we stopped counting to be polite – and reached base twice in two at-bats.

Sidekick Casey Munger went 4-for-5 with three runs scored, benefitting from the slugging of Dave Fox, batting behind her and going 3-for-3.

Other offensive highlights were Dan Eby launching an epic blast that somehow stayed in the park but landed him on third base, and Steve Kutz ripping two line drive hits and scoring twice.

Amy Fox, manning third, flashed some fine leather by scooping an ankle-high screamer.

KM-2 finished with a 6-6 record, and those losses include two one-run games against very good teams, including the epic two-part battle with the vile O’Brien’s Market.

The winning side of the ledger shows two dramatic come-from-behind victories, a mercy win and a hard-fought game with friendly rivals Know Mercy 1.

The team gets a plaque that might get displayed in the church -- when the coach is done showing it off – but everybody gets some hardware:

Most Valuable Ram: Marvelous Casey Munger led team in hits and tapped her Rolodex to recruit subs when needed. Throws lavish parties. Has a goldfish named in her honor.

Best Streak Award: Jamie Norris reached base in eight straight at-bats, an awesome run he takes into next season. Visits China in the off-season.

Multiple Streaks Award: First-sacker Rob Mirque had a five at-bat streak and a three at-bat streak, played one game in extreme back pain to give us enough guys. Knows how to make exotic drinks.

Yes We Can Award: Amy Fox reached base five times in the mercy win against CTL-ALT-DEL. Can honestly say Barack Obama kept her from playing in one game.

You Drove From WHERE? Award: Spectacular shortstop Dan Eby routinely raced from Traverse City to get to Ada by game time. Hit monster blast in final game.

Fashion Sense Award: Jim Boles wore real stirrup socks – not the sewed-in kind – started making sweet basket catches like Wllie Mays when he started wearing San Francisco Giants cap. Certain to get two hits in every game.

Lightening Legs Award. The Amazing Venta Norris is so fast, she doesn’t even need to hit the ball far to get on first. Reached base three times in four at-bats in playoff game. Discovered she works with a teammate.

Rookie of the Year: Cindy Saum played softball for the first time and performed admirably behind the plate, notched her first hit and scored her second run in the big playoff game against the landscapers. Keeps Masons’ house in order.

Most Improved Hitter: Anne Marie Bessette turned heads in practice by ramping up her offense and never looked back. Was clutch in first game against rival Know Mercy 1 with two doubles. Speaks at least two languages and understands city bureaucrats.

Most Improved Player: Steve Kutz struggled at first to translate his rugby skills to softball, but at the end of the season was solid and consistent at the plate and ran back to snag a deep fly against O’Brien’s. Has massive dog. At least I think it’s a dog. It’s really big.

Bronx Bomber Award. New Yorker Dave Fox went 4 for 5 in glorious come-from-behind win over Norman Family Dentistry. Played four positions. Knows tall people. Has famous wife.

Long Distance Operator Award: Aaron Dunham hit an over-the-fence grand slam, but one foul ball went deep into the Ada 2 parking lot. Kept pitching prowess a secret until last game. Has cool cars and huge white cooler.

Super Sub Award: Angie Bond-Patton launched a two-run walk-off homer for big victory over Norman Family Dentistry, a very tough team. Two-sport athlete.

Pretty in Pink Award: Stacie Rylance was running down flies and scoring runs for KM2 before being lured to the hooligan-infested world of soccer, where she was attacked by a malicious goaltender resulting in an injury prompting biggest cast ever. Looks just like Natalie Portman.

Abracadabra Award: Mike Gillis joined team in mid-season, unleashed his bag of tricks on mound, really pissed off O’Brien’s goons. Last seen sporting a brace that’s nearly as big as Stacie’s cast.

Send Him to Wrigley Award: Cub fan Rob Ferguson went 3-for-3 with three runs scored in C-A-D rout. Partially responsible for wife Nikki being on disabled list. Designs green buildings.

Put Him on Second, Nail Him at the Plate Award: The Chipper Skipper led the team in walks with five — and was tagged out at the plate a team-high three times, too. A little too fond of his bat. Buys chocolate chips in bulk.

Darn, That Hurt Award: Mary Kovac subbed in what was known as “Greatest Game Ever,” took a throw to the head that allowed important run to score. Looking for Sunday School teachers.

See What You Missed Award: Nikki Weber was traded to KM1 before first game, came back in final game and got two big hits and shined at second. Likes Spartans.

One and Done Award: Eric Larson reached base in his first base in his first KM2 game, then was drafted by KM1, leaving with perfect 1.000 on-base percentage.

International Women of Mystery Award: Player X. Saved the day then disappeared. Nothing is known about her. Looks just like Tina Schmitz.

Know Mercy 1 and 2 were not the only folks sporting sweet hardware. Alumni Brian Cunningham came to the final night to show off his medal earned in the Iron Man competition in Lake Placid.

Here's a closer look at the fruit of Brian's labor. Biking, running and swimming are good skills for softball. Maybe we can coax Brian back next season.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

KM1 beats KM2 in tough playoff action (Version 1)

Posted by Brian Vigna:

I'm still blown away by what we accomplished yesterday. Unbelievable team effort. We could have easily folded the tent against such a good team.

When I got home last night it was time to tuck the kids in bed--and their bed time story went a little something like this:

Once about a time, at a far away softball field in a small little town played a group of boys and irls who always gave there best, but often times throughout their season came up a little short.

But something was different about this day--for on most game days it would rain, but not this day. The faith of this team was never lost, but had been rattled over the course of a long and grueling season.

Like the little steam engine that could -- so did they.

The game was played without their fearless leader Bo who was kidnapped by the evil powers that be--as too was another player by the name of Eric. The boys and girls didn't know where to play in the field but calmly got things figured out before the mighty umpires started to unleash their power.

As the game began, the boys and girls found themselves down by 4 runs in the first inning, and that's when something magical happened. One of the boys named T.O.Double D decided to sacrifice his body for the ball to make diving play after diving play.

Fearless Bill the Pitcher glided strike after strike to the opponents with only one walk throughout the game.

Nothing got by Jo, Niki or JJ , and as their opponent continually worked left field, one of the boys by the name of Korb always found himself in the right place to make play after play.

As the game wore on power hitting became the catalist--not only from the boys BUT FROM THE GIRLS. Jen, Jill, Tina, Niki, JJ and Jo all hit the ball HARD (with a chip on their shoulders) to find the base path.

Steve, John, Bill, Todd, Korb and your Daddy provided solid play with powerful hits--netting crucial RBI.

By the games end this team found itself up by 5 runs--holding their oppenent to only 1 run over the NEXT 6 INNINGS (that's unheard of in softball).

The moral: Believe in Yourself and Never Ever Give Up!

The kids slept soundly last night -- either I bored them to sleep or they had the sweetest of dreams : )

The End.

KM1 beats KM 2 in tough playoff action (Version 2)

Posted by Nikki Webber:

Mason and I thought we would try to do the game recap of our BIG win last night, so Bo could get a feel of all the action.

They won't be as good as his, but we'll try.

After getting down early, morale was in the dumps on our team. A lot of us were thinking, "Here we go again."

At that point, we gathered around and asked ourselves, "W.W.B.D." Yes, what would Bo do. We got into a huddle and decided to go out there and have fun.

I am trying to think of what point we got started. I am going to guess the power hit by J.J. Yes, we all remember.

The hit between the catcher and the pitcher, and the pitcher wouldn't touch it because he was hoping it would roll foul. Well it didn't, and we finally got someone on base.

Even though J.J. wasn't happy with it, (possibly an un-church word or two ;) ) it was what we needed to get started.

Here are some other highlights.

Steve "The Vacuum" Korb, he sucked but in a good way. He snatched everything in the air in left field and sucked up all the grounders there limiting advancing runners. There were at least two innings that he was responsible for two outs. Great catches! Solid hitting as always, too.

Another solid hitter as always was Bill. He had great base running and great hitting. He was great on the mound too. While the other team had to switch pitchers because we were wearing them out, Bill made it through the whole game. You will be greatly missed next week!

John was our great, do anything, play anywhere guy. He even filled in at second for the team. I would say his highlight was his tag at second. We already had two outs and bases were juiced. The ball was hit to Todd, who dished to John. There was a slight bobble of the ball so to secure the out, John tagged the runner. He may not have thought it was high on style points, but saved us from them scoring.

Steve Cairns also was very consistent in the outfield. There were a lot of big hitters that we stopped because of great outfield play. He was also hitting some fast grounders and deep low flys to right field to get on base and help to advance runners.

Viggy got the "rob" of the game, or should I say two "robs." The first was when he had a great hit to right field, center right, and was running to third. He slid into third and his "iron man" body forced the pitcher who was covering to drop the ball.

Two bad things came from that. Viggy was called out! Second, the pitcher was sent packing for the rest of the game and probably season. Great effort though.

The other was when there was a grounder to third and Jo fired it over to him where he so gracefully stretched his 6'2" fame to nab the runner. Unfortunately, the ump didn't see it that way and called the runner safe.

That reminds me, I apologize to all for my dad yelling at the umps from the bench. He is more competitive than I am!

Todd "that is gonna leave a mark" had an outstanding game. Yes, I know I am biased. He even amazed the other team, though. He had a couple of leaping catches that reminded me of something from angels in the outfield. I don't know how he caught those!

And finally, the Weber duo found there bats :) After struggling all season or being inconsistent, we both finally managed to connect with the ball and have some solid hits to advance runners and score. Hopefully we can do the same next week. I know my pre-game strategy will be the same.

Jo was solid at third as usual. You are going to be greatly missed next week. Highlight of the game, or at least funniest part was when Jim was up to bat and she ordered him to drill it to her, and he did!

She responded with the quick scoop and fast throw to Viggy, but blurry vision of a certain ump hindered that play. She also added with great hitting and solid base running.

Jen was also a hitting machine. I think we are on to something for our pre-game warm ups ;) The stress wasn't there and she connected to advance runners and get on base. Great work behind the plate too. Luckily, we didn't have too many plays there because of awesome D all the way around.

Jill had a very good night at the plate. She used her great eye to get on with a walk then followed that up with what would arguably be her best hit of the season to shallow outfield between first and second. Unfortunately the second baseman nabbed it, but I call for a steroid test! No hits to right field this game, but she was ready.

Tina was ready to win it. She had great speed as always on both offense and defense. She closed down the outfield by not letting any balls get passed her. Well, maybe one that went over not only our fence, but the other fence too. I don't think you could've gotten that even if you climbed the fence and reached for it. Great job!

J.J. as highlighted earlier with her early rally to start getting our players on base. J.J. was typical J.J. Always consistent and solid on both O and D. She had good hits, base running, and great defense to lock down the infield.

Not sure if I missed any highlights, but it was a great game.

I hope everyone had as much fun as we did. Also, Todd and I are going to practice at E.K. high school on either Monday or Tuesday, probably around 6:30. I need to practice pitching and he is going to take some cuts. We would love if anyone else can make it. We are flexible on dates and time. Please email me if interested and we can figure something out. If not, see you next week! Go Team!

Friday, July 18, 2008


Yes, that is KM2's center fielder, Stacie Rylance, sporting what might be the largest cast in the entire world!

Ouch! Stacie was injured playing soccer, a sport known to be rife with hooligans who are probably responsible for this injury.

I have not been able to prove that thugs from O'Brien's Market spread some cash around the hooligan underground to make this happen.

Naturally we wish Stacie a speedy recovery. And we should chip in to buy her some pink shirts to match that massive cast.

Our disabled list.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

KM2: PLAYoffs Round 2: It's not over until we say it's over!

Know Mercy 2 did something no other team in the Ada league has done, and that’s emerge from a game against the vile – and getting even more vile – O’Brien’s Market without a loss.

Of course, they didn’t emerge with a win, either. But that could come next week when league bosses figure out how to sort out the six-inning, 7-7 tie.

There’s a lot on the line, as the winner moves on to the semi-finals and loser becomes the favorite in the consolation bracket.
It was clear that these cocky hooligans thought that Know Mercy was going to be just an orange-and-white speedbump on their road to the championship.

But we served notice early, posting a run in the first then pushing over four in the second with a combination of patience leading to walks followed by clutch hitting.

O’Brien’s picked up two runs in the second, and KM2 responded with two more, led by the white-hot hitting of Jamie Norris and Rob Mirque, both of whom were two-for-two with two runs scored.

But the treacherous Marketers tacked on one in the fourth inning, two in the fifth and two more in the bottom of the sixth to tie things up as lightening flickered and umpires frankly lost control over what was going on.

While there were a couple yips in the field in that last inning, the game was close because of a number of stellar plays.

We nailed two runners at the plate. One came after an absolute laser of a throw from Casey Munger to Dan Eby to Mike Gillis, and another to end the sixth – and save the game – when Dan Eby screamed one in as the O’Brien’s captain tried some kind of bellyflop slide on Mike.

All kidding aside, there is a difference between gamesmanship and being a poor sport. And there were numerous incidents of poor sportsmanship coming from players from the other dugout.

That included a runner crashing into the first baseman attempting to dislodge the ball instead of heading to the runner’s base to the third base coach getting in Angie’s way as she attempted to field a foul.

I’m proud that KM2 didn’t respond in kind. We’re a classy group that plays hard without resorting to such things.

We battled hard, showed patience at the plate and some aggressiveness on the basepaths that paid off – most of the time.

And next week, we’ll go out there and play that last inning and hold our heads high no matter how things turn out.

Now for some highlights!

-- Dan was two-for-three including a sweet double and was his usual impressive self at shortstop.

-- Steve Kutz had a 6:15 job interview and still made it to the game in time to contribute a base hit.

-- Angie Bond-Patton had two big hits and was flawless in the field.

-- Aaron Dunham raced to the game from a far-flung assignment just in time to step to the plate – cleats still untied – to hit a double in the big rally.

-- Amy Fox made some outstanding plays at second, getting force-outs as O’Brien’s goons came thundering her way.

-- Jim Boles is practically automatic. You can pencil him in for a big hit in every game, and this one came in the first inning.

-- Cindy Saum is getting better and better behind the plate, coming close to making a spectacular play on a short pop.

-- Mound magician Mike Gillis was three-for-three at the plate. Oh, and how sweet was it to see him strike out the O’Brien pitcher in the last inning?

-- The Marketers thought about testing the Amazing Venta Norris as she patrolled right field, but game up after one shot. Clearly she intimidates!

-- The Chipper Skipper added to his team lead in walks by taking one in the big second-inning rally then Nitroed a rocket in the fourth inning. Yes, Nitro is now a verb. That bat is capable of anything.

We’ll soon find out what happens when the game is resumed. If we win, we move on the face Norman Family Dentistry, who beat Know Mercy 1. If we lose, we play our KM1 friends in the consolation bracket. Both of those sound like fun.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

KM2 playoffs round 1: Family reunion rewarded with 10-3 victory

Good things happen when the Know Mercy 2 family gets together.

The team kicked off the 2008 playoff run with a tight 10-3 beating of a friendly Forest Hills Foods, showing off some timely hitting, great pitching and solid defense.

After several weeks of rain, an unmentionable occurrence, and outside obligations, nearly the entire team was together by the end of the game. We should have taken a group photo!

KM2 burst out of the box with seven of the first nine batters scoring, with big hits by Jim Boles, Jamie Norris and Anne Marie Bessette.

Forest Hills scored its first run in the third, and added two more in the next frame through a rare walk and error before KM2 took a collective deep breath and shut the door.

Insurance came in the bottom of the sixth when the suddenly very Chipper Skipper punched a double, moved to third on an Amy Fox dribbler and scored when Steve Kutz made his only at-bat count.

Then Steve and Stacie Rylance came home when Dan Eby, Angie Bond-Patton and Casey Munger came through with clutch hits.

After a quick top of the seventh, FHF moved to the consolation round and KM2 advanced to face the dreaded and undefeated O’Brien’s Market goon squad.

How about some highlights?

Angie was able to play softball after her soccer game was canceled and went three-for-three with a run scored. There is no proof that the Skipper had a hand in getting that game canceled.

Jamie took home the game ball by climbing back on the hill and performing to near perfection. Jamie also was two-for-two with a run scored.

It’s gotta be the stirrup socks and the Giants cap! Fashion plate Jim “Say Hey” Boles recalled Willie Mays with a sweet basket catch in the second.

And how nice was it to see Casey’s beautiful smile again? Casey reached first three times and scored. And her defense at third and behind the plate was flawless. Plus, she and Aaron Dunham brought their new puppies, which did not eat any kids. This week, anyway.

Dan made it all the way from Traverse City by game time, and was two-for-three and played a solid shortstop, even nicely recovering from a bobble to nail a fleet FHF batter.

Sidekick Stacie also was on the road, speeding up from Kalamazoo – don’t ask how or where she changed – and went right to the batter’s box. Stacie had a hit, a run and a fine grab in centerfield.
The Foxes – Amy and David – were solid on defense, with D-Fox showing his versatility and A-Fox making some big plays at second base.

Mound magician Mike Gillis fooled FHF batters with his array of pitches and worked out a key walk in the first.

Mike’s wife, Gayle, played for the first time in four years, and you don’t know how much that warmed the Chipper’s heart. Gayle hasn’t played since an outfield collision with the aforementioned Skipper when they played for a Grand Rapids Press coed team, where she suffered a knee injury that required surgery and long rehabilitation. She came ready to play in case we were short players again, and boldly took some hacks.

Rob Mirque was perfect at first base and at the plate, and his better half, Cindy Suam is our very dependable catcher.

Anne Marie continues to swing a hot bat, reaching base twice and scoring a run.

Special thanks to KM1 members Bo and Tina Schmitz and Steve Korb, who came to cheer us on when their team had a bye week. It's nice to know the KM1 has our back!

I'm so proud of this team. A lot of people traveled great distances and overcame obstacles including a call to the locksmith to get to yet another early start. It's apppreciated.

It was a big win, a convincing win and sets us up perfectly for the epic battle with O’Brien’s next week!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

KM 1: Game 8 -- Many Shining Stars in rain-soaked 11-9 defeat

Down 10-0 early on a miserable night in the elements (muggy, mosquitoes & the eventual downpour), KM1 showed the grit & determination of a team about to make a playoff run.

Unfortunately, the opponent's lead proved to be just too much & we fell to 2-6 overall as a result.

A rough start defensively & at the plate resulted in the large deficit we needed to overcome.

Many teams would have folded & taken the mercy killing....but not KM1!!!

Thanks to Niki "Lights Out" Weber on the mound, who came in for the now permanently retired (YES!!) Bo after the 2nd inning & down 8-0, only giving up 3 runs the rest of the way.

As good as Niki pitched, the game ball went to Steve Cairns. He was our offensive catalyst, going 4-4 & I think scoring 3 of our runs. Steve also made a tremendous running catch in a late inning to hold the opponent in check. I think Steve is going to leave the jeans at home from now on....:)

As Niki said "Take the jeans off him & he's a different guy." Don't worry Todd, she was referring entirely to his softball game....:)

Speaking of tremendous running catches, how about Jill Bracken!!! From my viewpoint behind the plate, that was one of the most impressive things I have seen all season...Jill RACING at a dead sprint into RC & snaring a sure gapper that would have scored at least 2 runs.....SWEET!!!

Another great catch by Tina "The Bear Killer" Schmitz. Chiropractic's best hitter Bear had already crushed 2 balls, plating 5 runs & with a homerun & a triple. On his third trip, he crushed another one, but Tina had it lined up all the way & squeezed it to end another rally.

Bear certainly had my number on the mound, but my wife is way out of his league.

The bright spots didn't stop about:

Steve Korb's blast down the LF line late in the game & brilliant basecoaching.

Viggy's mammoth drive for his 3rd inside the park 3-run homer of the season.

John beating out 2 sure outs with great speed down the line.

JJ steady once again @ the 2nd sack & also a great hit down the LF line.

Jen's crushing hit to LC & solid defense all over the field.

Jo's mammoth blast....oh wait, I mean the shortest hit in history...I think the ball went 2 inches....but seriously, Jo was her usual stellar self at the Hot Corner.

Bo finding his calling heckling the other team behind the plate....he's more annoying than the chick from Old Man's Team...I can't wait for Niki to pitch again!

Bo & Tina will be on vacation next week, but I think our other 5 girls will be there & Bill & Todd should be back.....Go KM1!!!

6PM against O'Brien's Market....Jo has the can beat them!!!

playoff run....Playoff Run....PLAYOFF RUN!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

KM1: Game 7 -- Old Man's Team gets revenge

Bill and Nikki perform under the watchful eye of the umpire.

That one dreadful inning got us again.

In a very competitive game, Old Man's Team came back late & took down KM1 11-8. The game started tight & finished almost the same, but we just didn't have enough....enough hits at key times....enough solid defensive plays....enough good pitches....just not enough.

But we still had fun and here were a few highlights (& lowlights):

-- How about Tina's sweet running catch early in the game & nearly an even better one late....I have full confidence next time she'll make that play!

-- How about Jill's sharp liner down the 3rd base line for a hit? Very impressive!

-- How about Viggy's second inside-the-park homer in as many games to get us on the board in the first?

-- How about Niki and Steve Korb's hook-up to pick-off a runner at second?

-- How about Bill walking the lead-off hitter? In many years, I can't remember this ever happening.

-- How about me lobbing in several picture perfect pitches only to have them be crushed into oblivion by the team in red?

-- How about Old Man Frank & the world's most annoying catcher strking out two hitters who have never struck out before? They shall remain nameless. :(

So we stand at 2-5. Next week, we get a chance for our own revenge at 6 pm against Chiropractic Unlimited, who beat us 12-10.

To my knowledge, Todd & Bill will be out. Anybody else? If everyone else can make it, that will give us 6 guys & 6 girls.

Looking ahead, on July 2nd, we play O’Brien's Market at 6pm. Tina and I will be in Petoskey on vacation. Anyone else? Just curious, with only 2 days before the holiday.

Looking even further ahead....Dave & I will be putting out the info for the Labor Day Weekend tournament. It's only $120 per team, so I am sure we can put together at least 1 team, if not two.

As Viggy ordered, I will be practicing my pitches all week so I can admirably replace Bill. See everyone next week!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

KM2: Game 7 -- Showing CTL-ALT-DEL some mercy

I’m not sure CTL-ALT-DEL even saw it coming.

An inspired Know Mercy 2 bounced back from its worst defeat by unloading on a friendly but overmatched team from the third division, flexing its offensive muscle and flashing some nice leather in an 18-5 pounding.

It really wasn’t even that close, with CAD scoring all five of its runs with two outs in the next-to-last inning of the mercy win.

Know Mercy staked out a four-run lead in the first, then blew the game open in the second with six runs.

After tacking on two more in the third, the team essentially announced the game was over when Aaron “Bombardier” Dunham launched an over-the-fence grand slam, part of another six-run frame.

Just about everybody had a moment of glory worthy of hanging on the fridge for all to enjoy.

Let’s start with Amy Fox, who hit the ball hard all last week -- but right at someone. That wasn’t a problem in Game 7, with Amy lashing four hits in five at-bats. Amy also was stellar playing third base. And she had some neat slides, too.

Casey Munger was under the weather, which meant she was only spectacular – four runs scored in five at-bats. Imagine if she was feeling better? Thank you, Casey, for toughing it out when you were feeling low.
Rob Ferguson designs buildings for a living, but he was a one-man demolition crew, with three hits in three at-bats, and came around to score each time.

Our other Rob, Mr. Mirque, was just as good, with three hits in his three trips to the plate. His lovely bride, Cindy, got on base and scored a run, too.

The Norrises also proved to be a dynamic duo. Jamie took a break from pitching to patrol the outfield, making some nice plays. He also boasted two hits an a run scored. The Amazing Venta used her fabulous wheels to get on base three times, crossing home once.

Stacie Rylance passed on a soccer game for a game where she could use her hands, too! Robbed in the first inning, Stacie later smashed a sweet hit.

Our secret weapon was Mike Gillis, a Grand Rapids Press co-worker who heard about how much fun we were having and wanted to join in. Mike opened his bag of tricks on the mound – despite injuring his shoulder earlier in the week, preventing him from throwing over hand.

Steve Kutz hit the ball hard in two at-bats, but was denied when CAD fielders defended well.

The Chipper Skipper leads the team in one category – getting thrown out at the plate. Alas, he might also lead the team in walks and stretched a hit into a double.

The pounding put Know Mercy 2 at 4 wins and three tough losses, and looks to add to the win column against JHL Lawncare, another new team, in a 6 p.m. contest next week.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Alumni news: Running, biking and swimming with Brian Cunningham

Brian Cunningham

I know a lot of people are wondering why Brian Cunningham isn’t patrolling leftfield for Know Mercy this year, and why Heiki hasn’t been spotted in the stands cheering us on.

They’ve been training hard for Ironman events, and didn’t believe Bo and Dave when they suggested that coed softball was by far the best training for such things. Instead, he’s logged more than 2,000 miles on his bike, roughy the distance of four Aaron Dunham homers.

Here are some action shots from a half-Ironman even in Florida in May. That's not to be confused with a full-Ironman, which you can watch in the movies without sweating.

Heiki Cunningham

KM1: Game 6 -- Total team effort downs Norman Family Dentistry

With a key theme of having fun, KM1 played a spirited game tonight, getting contributions from everybody for a come from behind 7-6 win in 8 innings over Norman Family Dentistry!

We started off strong in the top of the 1st....with two outs & Bill & I on base, Viggy launched a drive over the RF's head for 3-run inside the park homer & a 3-0 lead.

Bill gave up a single run in the bottom of the 1st, but then shut them down for the next 2 innings. We managed a single run in the 2nd & 3rd, but couldn't plate any in the going into the bottom of the 4th we held a 5-1 advantage.

Norman's got some key hits & plated 4 runs to tie it, then took the lead in the bottom of the 5th 6-5. We could have been defeated, but NO....that's when everyone dug down, stayed positive & came off the ropes fighting. Again, everyone contributed & here's how:

Bill - got on base & of course stellar pitching as usual

Jen - sweet catch of a pop-up to squash an early rally

Eric - game-tying RBI & a key assist at 2nd base in the last inning to nab a speedy runner

Jo - Good work with the bat & an absolute vintage GEM at 3rd...snaring a hot shot & firing to.....

Niki - Who made a great stretch to nab another speedy runner (also great hustle on the basepaths)

Viggy - The big home run to get us started, but also some nice work with the glove

Steve Cairns - legging out 3 infield hits to keep innings alive & solid outfield play

Tina - some good hustle on the basepaths & a key catch of a deep fly ball to stop a rally

Steve Korb - great play all around with the bat, the glove & agressive base-coaching late

JJ - great work with the stick & STELLAR communication in the outfield

John - also great hustle down the line to beat out throws & another highlight yet to come....

So down 1 going into the top of the 7th....Steve Cairns gets on base AGAIN & with great hustle scores to tie it at 6 after a base hit by Eric (I think). The defense then shut them down in the bottom to force the extra frame.

Top of the 8th, with 1 out, Steve Korb gets us going with a solid double to LC. Then with 2 outs & my heart in my throat (I can admit that now), I hit a seeing-eye single down the RF line, plating Steve to take the lead....then of course was my vintage yet not-so-graceful pickle play for the final out going into the bottom of the 8th.

Needing 3 outs, Eric & Bill (I think) made quick work of the first 2. They then got the tying runner the winning run steps to the plate & drives a high, deep fly ball to RC.....John Hall had it tracked all the way & made the play for the final out!!!

Once again, solid pitching, great effort by everyone hustling out ground balls, hitting the cutoff quickly, great communication & awesome baserunning (except for my pickle). We did all the little things necessary to win a close game.

Our record now stands at week we get Old Man's Team at 6pm on Ada 1...the team we "mercied" in Week they are going to want revenge!! We will be up to the task & have some more fun just like tonight.

KM2: Game 6 -- Spanked by O'Brien's Market

As soon as I saw our Game 6 opponents, I knew KM2 was in trouble. New sponsor, same Lena Lou and their collection of bruisers. It's never easy to be on the wrong side of a spanking like that.

But enough wallowing, I say! You don't get to be the Chipper Skipper by staying down in the dumps for too long. Shake it off, my friends!

We shall now look at the bright side, lifting high our glasses that are happily half-full!

--- On the bright side, no one got hurt!

--- On the bright side, their rather large and dorky first and third baseman wore a t-shirt with sleeves. He usually wears a tank top that exposes ALL KINDS of nasty back and underarm hair and holds the bat waaaaay over his head. Not only does the catcher get grossed out by the middle of the game, people all the way in the UP start getting a little testy.

--- On the bright side, Aaron didn't break anyone's car in the parking lot with a mammoth blast. He made some sweet catches in left.

--- On the bright side, The Amazing Venta got on base AGAIN by using her wheels and scored one of our runs.

--- On the bright side, Rob and Cindy were back! Yea! And Rob had a sweet double in the last inning.

--- On the bright side, Casey legged out a hit and scored in the first inning, and made some sweet catches, all after a draining 17-marathon performance by her Rams, leading them deep into the playoffs. Congrats, Casey!

--- On the bright side, Jim Boles returned and did what he does best - ripping line drives.

--- On the bright side, Anne Marie continues to hit, taking a big base in the first inning.

--- On the bright side, Steve added a nice poke and scored. On his last at-bat, the other team thought he was Aaron and told all their outfielders to stand back at the fence.

--- One the bright side, A-Fox hit the ball really hard.

--- On the bright side, we're still not a losing ball club even after dropping two games in a row.

--- On the bright side, D-Fox scored a run and made an all-out effort at short, leaving his blood on the field. At least we think it was his blood.

--- On the bright side, Mary Kovac came out to play and did NOT take a throw off the noggin. Again.

--- On the bright side, Dan and Rob F. and Stacie are due to return next week! Yes!

--- On the bright side, new friend Jill Marsh came out the play and made a nice catch of a fly ball. We might see her again.

--- On the bright side, Jamie filled the stand with some fans and had some nice strikeouts.

--- On the bright side, we're looking at a special batch of slump-busting cookies next week.

--- On the bright side, Chipper Skipper actually hit the ball out the infield -- finally -- and worked out a walk.

--- On the bright side, next week we're playing a team called CTL-ALT-DEL. That's not even a name! Horrible.

--- On the bright side, there might be TWO secret weapons unveiled next week.

--- On the bright side, next week's game is at 7 p.m.!

--- On the bright side, we can shake off this beating and go back to kicking butt, taking names and getting back our winning record. I feel bad for the other team. But not that bad.

KM2: Game 5 -- Old Man's Team ends winning streak

After winning three close games in a row, it was inevitable Know Mercy 2 would eventually end up on the other side in a tough battle, falling 11-10 to the Old Man's Team.

Tough game, especially since we played most of it short-handed -- and had the umpires been sticklers, we would have been forfeit victims.

The aspects of our game that sparkled so brilliantly last week against Know Mercy 1 were not quite as sparkly this time around, and we squandered an 8-3 lead to fall in a time-shortened contest.

Which is not to say there were not some outstanding achievements, and we'll get to those in a second.

But first, how about the absolutely shocking, shocking incident where the Old Man's Team captain accused us of cheating? Of all the low-down, under-handed, shameful accusations! I'm insulted.

If I were going to cheat and use a player from Know Mercy 1, do they really think I would start yelling "Amy! Amy!" from the moment she pulled into the parking lot? Would I be so brazen? So stupid?

Of course not. I'd quietly send someone out to the outfield, call her "Player X" and act like nothing was out of place.

Speaking of which, next week we have an even earlier game, at 6 p.m. instead of 6:15 p.m. I discovered that Jill, one of our newsroom desk aides, is a softball player in search of a team and keeps her gear in her trunk -- just in case. "Just in case" is next week, because we can't be in such a situation again. She's very nice, and I'm sure you'll like her.

Now, on to the highlights!

Dan had a monster game, going three-for-three and scoring three runs and also flashed some sweet leather at short.

Aaron also went three-for-three and launched a bomb that cleared multiple cars in the parking lot. Next game, I'm parking in Thornapple Kellogg and taking a cab because no car is safe!

But the amazing Venta proved that you don't have to hit the ball into the next area code to get on base. She worked out a walk, then twice used her wheels to drop the ball sort and leg out the hit. Very impressive.

Dave Fox also made a spectacular return from his West Coast adventures, scoring two runs.

There's no way Anne Marie could top her incredible game last week. But she still showed how to swing the bat, with two hits and two runs. Keep it going!

Steve nailed a liner to get on base and made a fine catch in the outfield.

Casey had two hits, scored a run and was her usual Casey-self at two infield positions.

Rob is money in the bank! Three hits in three at-bats.

Jamie again had to contend with an umpire's moving strike zone. And it was most glorious to see him getting a called strike three on the Old Man's Team coach after his ill-fated accusations! Take that!

Stacie showed great restraint in not slugging Dave, who was dancing around the parking lot as she counseled a diabetic on her cell phone.

Et tu, Nitro? The Chipper Skipper was lost at the plate, but made a very nice scoop in the dirt while playing first.

And a special thanks to Nikki Ferguson, who, despite her condition, was moments away from stepping into the batter's box so we could avoid a forfeit.

And let me say: I LOVE THIS TEAM. You guys are wonderful to play with and be with and I feel blessed that I got to meet some new friends and got to know others better. Win or lose, I'm having a ball and I hope you are, too.

KM2: Game 4 -- Hanging on to top friendly rivals

My only regret is that I have but one game ball to give to my team. Because there were so many special performances in last night's 6-5, six-inning defeat of Know Mercy 1.

It appeared something magic was happening when we held KM1 to just one run in the first inning -- a time when we usually dig a deep hole.

But the shovels were cast aside, as we added two runs in the second and four in the third, then kept the powerful Know Mercy line-up to tack on just one run in the its third and fourth frames and two in the top of the fifth.

The defense was simply amazing -- crisp and clean.

Then the umpire announced the game was to end in the sixth inning -- a surprising call considering the next teams scheduled to play were nowhere near ready. And KM2 responded by shutting the door, preserving its third straight win -- all of them nail-biters.

Anne Marie Bessette earned the game ball with the performance of her life: Two doubles, two runs scored, a base hit and an outstanding snag of a rocket grounder fired by Brian Vigna.

A second game ball would go to Jamie Norris, who matched Bill Bush -- among the best hurlers in the league -- pitch for pitch, showing command through the entire game. His clutch double in the second inning brought
home a run.

Then a share of that ball also goes to Dan Eby. Dan shot a certain double down the line in his first at-bat, only to see it erased by a diving stab by Todd that can only be described as thievery of the highest order. Dan returned the favor by climbing an invisible ladder -- the only possible explanation for the height he achieved -- to snare a
line drive.

Dan and Angie Bond-Patton, playing third, simply locked down the left half of the infield, forcing KM 1's bashers to try and spray the ball in other directions.

The dymanic duo of Casey Munger and Aaron Dunham do so well so often that we take their magic for granted. Aaron had a double and a triple and Casey had three hits and a run scored. Simply stellar!

The same goes for amazingly consistent Jim Boles, who again had two hits in two at-bats and scored a run.

Then you have Rob Mirque playing with a sore back and still smacking two hits, starting the big four-run rally that pushed us over the top.

Steve Kutz did not plow over wayward fielders this week -- but legged out a hit and came around to score.

Chipper Skipper Dave Murray can juggle softballs. He showed off this talent when he was supposed to be playing left field. Maybe he should take the Nitro with him when he heads out to the green spaces.

Venta Norris and Cindy Saum were flawless in right field and behind the plate.

And a round of applause for our friends at Know Mercy 1. That game was so well-played that it could have gone in either direction. We tip our caps to our very worthy opponents.

KM2: Game 3 -- Walk-off win drills dentists

If Know Mercy 2 has a strategy, it would appear to be lulling opponents into complacency by spotting them 10 or so runs in the first two innings, then quietly chipping away at the lead and crushing their hopes and dreams in the final frame.

For the second straight week, the team rallied from a deep deficit. This time Norman Family Dentistry felt the sting, with a four-run, seventh-inning charge capped by a walk-off home run by Angie Bond-Patton.

The game marked the debut of the new team bat, "Nitro," plucked like Excalibur from the sale rack at Dunhams. Painted shiny blue with menacing flames, the lethal thunderstick no doubt struck fear into the opposing pitcher.

Alas, it didn't appear that way at first., with the dentists drilling Know Mercy for nice runs in the first two innings, eventually working their tally to 12 by the last inning.

With a chill in the air and raindrops gathering momentum, Know Mercy accepted their final opportunity needing three runs to tie the game. And there was little reason for optimism after Dan was upended at second base and fine play from the shortstop deprived Casey from her customary place on-base.

But Jim Boles launched one of his patented drives, and Stacie worked her way on base. That left the Chipper Skipper at the plate in a clutch situation for the second week in a row. Brandishing the dangerous Nitro, Dave poked a double into right-center, scoring Jim.

But Angie knows no pressure. She drove a bomb through the rain over the right-fielder's head. In came Stacie, in came Dave with the tying run -- and in came Angie, ahead of the throw and presenting a glorious walk-off victory.

A team can't roar back from such a deficit without great contributions from everyone. Individual highlights include:

Rob Ferguson had two big hits and scored twice.

Fox Family: "A-Fox " sparkled at third base, snaring a vicious line drive, sidekick "D-Fox" had two hits.

Jamie Norris again showed outstanding command on the bump and remained composed after some defensive lapses forced him to work deeper and deeper.

Jim Boles had two hits and scored two runs, which is so predicable that I was tempted to write it in the scorebook before the game even started.

Anne-Marie Bessette and Venta Norris traded off catching duties in fine fashion, with Venta even providing a vocal fan section and Anne-Marie working her way on base.

Casey Munger had two big hits, and sidekick Aaron Dunham drove a triple so deep that people parked beyond left field no doubt contemplated moving their cars before his next at-bat.

Steve Kutz didn't need a Nitro to frighten, Woe to the infielder who wanders into his path, as one battered shortstop learned.

An outstanding effort all the way around!

KM2: Game 2 -- The best game ever!

Now, the day after, it can be told that there were people in Know Mercy 2 senior management who were not completely optimistic about the team's chances for Wednesday's game.

After all, we had only two women players, and four men.

Luckily, the injured Rob Mirque offered to gut it out so we'd have five guys. Super Sub Mary Kovac offered her services. Then, a shadowy, mysterious female known only as "Player X" slinked into the picture to give us just enough players to take on a decent St. Matthew's Monsters team.

So, with a patchwork roster and soggy field, the KM2 stepped up to the plate and quickly smacked out three runs. But the Monsters responded by finding the open spaces in the outfield and taking advantage of some mud-soaked infield hits over the next two innings, seemingly stacking up run after run.

Many teams would have thrown in the towel, accepted the inevitable mercy defeat and wallowed in self-pity. But visiting KM-1 coach Bo Schmitz put an end to that, shouting "You're only down 8-3. You can win this!"

A rallying cry was born. The defense shut down the Monsters, with the middle infield combo of Dave Fox and Mary Kovac scooping and tossing. Pitcher Jamie Norris showed great control and nabbed runners -- allowing the Monsters to tack on just one more run for the rest of the game.

Then the offense kicked in. Dave Fox and Jim Boles launched line drives, Venta Norris and Cindy Saum worked out key walks. Rob, despite a promise to just stand at the plate and hope for a walk to avoid further injury, hacked out a hit. "Player X" was doing all kinds of things that we shouldn't talk about, lest we draw attention to her. Look away.

Amy Fox, fresh from covering the Obama rally, arrived mid-game and promptly got on base. Mary Kovac forced a big error and even took a ball to the head, raising a welt that rivaled the pitchers mound.

With the game tied and bases loaded, up stepped coach Dave Murray. Know Mercy veterans know what happens when Dave is up in a clutch situation. People keeping score start writing "infield pop-up" in the book even before the pitch is thrown.

Maybe it was Bo's new bat. Maybe it was the cookies. Maybe it was the shame of the usually glass-half-full Chipper Skipper being unoptimistic before the game.

We might never find out why, but we do know that Dave launched a triple over the head of the centerfielder, clearing the bases. And then got thrown out at the plate. But we won't talk about that part.

Now up 12-9 in the last inning, the newly energized KM-2 went into shut-down mode, denying any further runs and chalking up the team's first win of the year. Yes!

Special thanks to Mary, who came out, played well, played hard and took a shot off the noggin.

Special thanks to Rob, playing through pain when he shouldn't have.

Special thanks to Bo for coaching, keeping score, bringing the bats and keeping us focused.

And special thanks to the mysterious "Player X," without whom there would not have been.