Baseball is like a movie or a play where you know the plot perfectly well --- but you watch anyway because you want to see how it all works out in the end, and because you enjoy the quality of the acting and the delightful atmosphere of the performance.

So thus it has been for the past several weeks, as the Silver Spring - Takoma Thunderbolts play amateur wooden-bat collegiate summer ball. Since our return from travels I've been privileged to witness five Tbolt games on warm summer evenings ... and to miss one a couple of days ago as Zeus cast real thunderbolts, accompanied by a Neptunian downpour.

Ed Sharp --- Tbolt scorekeeper, official Secretary, and member of the Board of Directors --- writes excellent commentary on the games; contact him via http://www.tbolts.org/ to subscribe. Herewith some brief excerpts from a few of Ed's reports, accompanied by my idiosyncratic observations from the bleachers.

8 July: Herndon 12, Thunderbolts 0

"... a forgettable night ..."

I beg to differ! My fingertips become sore from cracking peanut shells as the game progresses ... a pair of F-15 fighter jets cruise by loudly overhead ... cellphones chime ... the Tbolt snack bar crew cheerfully cook veggie dogs for me ... young girls (in shorts or miniskirts, with long pony-tails and bare midriffs) display bulging hamster-cheeks as they suck on hard candy pops ... in the initial inning a brilliant throw from deep right catches a Tbolt runner attempting a slightly-too-aggesssive advance from first to third ... a sharp 5-4-3 double play ends the second inning ... and a seventh inning Herndon broken-bat pop fly is caught by an alert SS-T shortstop who races to back up the third baseman. A walk in the third forces home the only run that Herndon actually will need, but the visitors pile on 5 more in the fourth, leaving the inning with the bases loaded, and then double that number for good measure. Unforgettable!

9 July: Thunderbolts 3, Herndon 1

"In sharp contrast to the Thursday night game between the same teams, last night's Thunderbolts-Braves game featured a great pitcher's duel, sharp defense and some timely hitting ..."

Indeed --- particularly the powerful full-length performance in defeat by Herndon's J. J. Hollenback with 12 strikeouts and no walks. A lady in the stands behind me is working on cross-stitch before the game; she sets it aside to keep score as play begins. A foul tip skitters over the edge of the protective net to rebound from the bleachers ... in the third inning Tbolt catcher Sean Brewer throws hard to second in an attempt to catch a runner stealing --- it fails, but as the Herndon player on third breaks for home, second baseman Mickey Shupin pegs one back to Brewer who tags the runner out at the plate by inches ... a super-long foul ball by Tbolt Justin McClanahan bangs the scoreboard and breaks several lights in the "OUTS" indicator ... and the game ends with a splendid throw relayed from deep right field to catch a Herndon runner attempting to score from first ...

11 July: Thunderbolts 12, Reston 8

"For the second game in a row, the hitters dominated as the Thunderbolts defeated the Reston Hawks ..."

A hazy, humid, warm evening, with relief from breezes out of left field (or perhaps generated by the hyperactive bats on both sides?) ... Tbolt Andrew Greene steals second, then third, both with excellent slides, on his way to score ... a runner is inadvertently hit by a sharp grounder, and is thus out ... in the seventh inning two Reston runs score, the second one sliding in and raising a huge dust cloud that drifts slowly over the stands where I sit ...

15 July: Thunderbolts 11, Baltimore 7

For the first time I witness an umpire lose count and give a batter four strikes ... Baltimore center fielder Kevin Grauer literally robs the Tbolts of at least three solid hits, by outrageously successful running and diving catches in the first, second, and fifth innings --- but SS-T CFer Andrew Greene in retaliation swipes one back via a great diving catch in the seventh ... amazingly in the third, fifth, and sixth innings, with two outs and nobody on base (and me about to give up hope) the Tbolts awaken to score respectively 3, 3 and 2 runs ...

16 July: Fauquier 6, Thunderbolts 0

The visiting team's pitcher knocks down a hard-hit line drive coming right at him, scrambles to recover the ball, and throws it smartly to the shortstop who tags second base for the forced out ... a friendly fan sitting next to me introduces himself and his two daughters and son, and chats about his observations of the team over the years ... the Fauquier right fielder runs back against the fence in foul territory, leaps in an attempt to snag a long ball, and loses his glove over the wall ... in the bottom of the ninth inning with two outs and all hope gone, in parallel motion several women in the stands pull back their hair and clip it into tight knots as they prepare to leave ... after the game I observe the umpires in the semi-darkness of the parking lot, unselfconsciously stripping off their uniforms and changing into civilian clothes as they prepare to drive home ...

(see also TboltMonkeysOnMyBack (19 Jul 2002), SummerBall2002 (3 Sep 2002), KeepingScore (13 Jun 2003), MoreTboltSnapshots (12 Jul 2003), QuiescentThunderbolts (10 Jun 2004), OfficialScorekeeper (3 Jul 2004), The Grand Slam That Wasn't (14 June 2007), ... )

TopicRecreation - TopicPersonalHistory - 2004-07-24

(correlates: MothersDay, Ben Franklin on Intellectual Property, TboltSignoff2003, ...)