We are fortunate men. We play a kid’s game at our ripe old age. We have spouses and significant others who recognize what this game and its camaraderie does for our collective mental health. We are fortunate, men.
This game makes us better people. This game makes us better, people.
When I look back at my 52.9 years on this third rock from the sun, most of those years include baseball. They include playing with and against old friends, with and against new friends, and with and against friends yet to be made. It’s a great game. It is great to be able to continue to play this great game.
I’m fortunate to be a member of 2 championship teams in the MABL of Southern Wisconsin this year, and don’t think for a second that I take these things for granted. I may be a creative writer, but I am also a reflective thinker. I appreciate the efforts that all have put in to get themselves to this week of October baseball in Southern Wisconsin. And on that note, here is your review of the 45+ division championship in the MABL of So Wis.
It was an absolutely glorious day for baseball in Southern Wisconsin at EMLL Senior Field. October 2 was the date, which if you are scoring at home, has historically included days of 22 degree snow flurries and 87 degree scorchers, depending on the year. Also, if you are scoring at home, good for you. You’re obviously doing something right. Or left. You know who you are. Today’s 71 degree high was welcome.
The 10-3 Crawfords faced off against the 11-1-1 Sand Crabs in the championship round of the 45+ division of the MABL of So Wis. The Sand Crabs were looking to retain the championship trophy for their 6th straight year. The weather was beautiful, as was the game. Sit back, relax, and take this all in…
On the mound for the visiting Craws was right-hander Jeff Adas. In his previous outing vs the Sand Crabs, he had imposed his will and handed the Crabs their first and only loss of the season, baffling the bats of the clawed crusaders. He would be battling against Mike Wallace, a prior SPOG of the highest caliber in this season-ender.
Both teams went quietly in the first and second, and the Crawfords struck first in the top of the 3rd. SS Andy Winn reached on a scorcher off SS Mike Schoonveld’s glove/knee. He advanced to second when 2B Shad Fanta was hit by a pitch, and a single by CF Rob Grether loaded the bases. A liner to center resulted in Fanta being doubled off second but a double steal allowed Winn to race home for the first run, but that was it for their half of the third. The Crabs hit back for 3 in the bottom of 3, after Ward “Havoc” Paxton was struck by an errant pitch. He advanced to second on a single to left by CF Steve Hill, and advanced to third on a single by C Chris McGill. Bases juiced. Crabs SS Mike Schoonveld walked for a ribeye to score Paxton, then 3B Jake Kas stroked a single that scored Hill and McGill. 3-1 Crustaceans.
In the 4th, the Crawfords tied things up in this see-saw battle. 3B Mike Starshak led things off by reaching on an error, but was gunned down by McGill when he attempted thievery of second. Crawfords RF Keith Richley singled, then scored on an Adas home run bomb to the left center gap.
The bottom of the 4th would see the Sand Crabs pinch another one off to go up by one. 2B Troy Galson singled, stole second, and scored on a single by 3B Tim “Mackles” McInernay. 4-3 Crabs.
In the 5th and 6th, Wallace shut down the intrepid Crawford lineup with 1-2-3 innings, whilst the Sandies got one more on a double to right by outfielder Barry Davis, who scored momentarily on a seeing-eye single by Hill that barely evaded the reach of the fleet-of-foot shortstop Winn. Hill tried to get greedy on the throw to the plate but was thrown out trying to advance to second by Crawfords catcher Paul Meyer. 5-3 Sand Crabs.
In the top of the 7th, the Crawfords struck back for 2 to tie things at 5, on singles by Adas and LF Steve Kilberg, along with a fielder’s choice by Winn and a single by Fanta that scored Kilberg. Meyer then flew out to left with Winn scoring from third on the sac fly. The bottom of the 7th saw the Crabs get back two. Galston singled and stole second, then scored on a double by Wallace. Jason Himebauch then reached on an error. OF/2B Randy Olivares singled to knock in Wallace, and an errant throw to the plate sent Himebauch plateward, where he was intercepted by a Jeter-like hustle play by Craws first baseman Sean Michael Dargan who fielded a throw and tagged Himebauch out. 7-5 Crabs.
In the 8th, Crabs reliever Schoonveld started out with a rather rough inning. Starshak walked. Richley doubled to deep right to score Starshak. Dargan was hit by a pitch, as was Adas who followed. Kilberg K’d for the first out, then Winn hit into a fielders choice that got Richley at the plate, and Fanta grounded to the pitcher to end the threat. 7-6 Crabs. Schoonveld’s sigh of relief could be heard above the noise of planes landing at MSN.
The Sand Crabs were held scoreless in the bottom of the 8th by reliever Grether, and Schoonveld shut the door in the top of 9 by striking out Grether, then displaying some cat-like quickness while fielding a line drive off the bat of DH Dan Ketter, then doubling up Meyer who had walked.
Game over. 7-6 Crabs final. What a game. Both teams quenched their respective thirsts at Slices, and there is no doubt they are out of Schlitz. Fun times were had discussing the game and an upcoming joint effort in two weeks when the MABL of Southern Wisconsin sends a team of its finest to Phoenix to participate in the 50+ World Series.
I like our chances.
See you next season!!