Off In The Woods
Oh what could have been.
It was the last go-round for many of these seniors; what started so long ago as a ill-fated masturbation pun has evolved into the culmination of four years of hard work, grit and determination—the strenuous training of lifting beer to mouth and back to table every Tuesday over the last 208 weeks—laid on the line for one last opportunity at the glory of a free, over-sized, gray T-shirt emblazoned with the immortal words of “Intramural Champions.”
Of course there were the proverbial overachievers, the future stars of the KPMG company softball team and the future ringers at Chili’s kept around, not because of their adeptness as short-order cooks, but because they feast on the T.G.I. Friday’s pitching staff in the Metropolitan New York American Cuisine and Casual Dining Softball League. For them this is not an end, but an illustrious start to the years of middle-agedom, the twilight of our lives, when it is acceptable—no, encouraged—for our future fat selves to joyfully exhaust our future out-of-shape thighs running out a slow grounder tapped back to the mound. For the rest of us, the slobs and the slovenly, armed only with our ever-expanding waistlines and a wad of chewing tobacco slowly mixing with our saliva, we came to the plate a final time. Unsure of what the future holds, we banded together in solidarity of a common cause, the grandeur of victory, and raged, raged against the dying of the light.
Led into battle by our Glorious Leader, Robert “Robby G” Giannattasio, the minions of lore took to the synthetic field of Jack Coffey Stadium. Around the diamond Kevin Kehrli held down the hot corner while Gaffney, Donahue and Downey-Zayas made up the finest double-play combination to see the light of day since Tinkers to Evers to Chance. Patrolling the far off ranges of the outer field, I consider myself blessed to have been joined on either side by the Gold Glove caliber Chris Mangone and the slightly under-rated, but never watered down, fielding prowess of one Mike Orlando. And of course the battery mate combination of Matthew Lynch to Sal Badala was, if not unhittable, as close as us mere mortals would ever come to having Cy Young taking the hill.
In a stoned stupor, we stepped into the box. The high arc of an incoming lob, the meager attempt of a cowardly foe to keep our murderer’s row at bay, spiraling towards its destination with a slim glimmer of hope, only to be rejected by our patient, powerful lineup and turned loose upon the grand expanse of the Coffey outfield.
Our hearts were there. Our minds, the effort–accounted for and present. Yet the winds of chance were not with our rag-tag crew and on a cold, heartless Sunday a week back the dream came to an end.
There was no joy in Mudville. The opposition had beat Off In The Woods.