Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Honourable in Tension - Dazzlers @ Meteors 3, 27 April 2010

The Dazzlers’ first league fixture of the season took place at Finsbury Park on Tuesday evening, an ‘away’ fixture to Meteors 3. The team welcomed back Paul “McLongGone” McLoughlin in a new position of 2nd base. Strong team spirit manifest itself as several squad members who weren’t playing turned out to support the team, and the faithful were not to be disappointed as another exciting game unfolded before their very eyes.

Tension was high as the game began in fair conditions with the sun setting over left centre field. However the Dazzlers soon settled down, scoring 7 runs in the first innings as 11 players made it to the plate, and after a simlar second innings the score was 12-0 to the Dazzlers. It was a strong team performance at bat, with everyone getting hits and runs. Crazy running was kept to a merciful minimum and a well-balanced line-up meant no easy outs for the Meteors. There was even some great tactical hitting: in one act of pure unselfishness Steph Biden placed a superb two RBI sacrifice ground out to short stop. Not to be outdone, in an act of pure self-denial spiritual leader Jen Bradley took the two-outs post-manwalk walk (you know what I mean). Veteran ballers Maggie and Simon “SiJo” Joseph even got taught a lesson in unusual ways to get out (“123..4567..8910 Strike1!”), and there were two home runs from “Big” Ed Taylor plus one from captain Chicken Tony.

The middle innings saw a change in the game as the traditional Dazzler fatigue set in. Counts went full, catches went down and throws went wild as the tension built. The diamond became a pressure cooker as the Meteors loaded the bases and some tense plays at home ensued. However we rode out the storm, continuing to score in each innings and after the fifth, the score was 19-13, as some fierce infielding resulted in more than one excellent out at first base.

At this point the Meteors’ pitcher was relieved and the game moved into its final, not to mention most incredibly tense, stages. The change was too much for the Dazzlers who failed to score in the top of the sixth. Meteors responded with two runs and in their final visit to the plate, the Dazzlers could manage only one more run to bring their score to 20. The Meteors had 15 and were last to bat, with some big hitters in the pipeline. At this point the umpire’s tense-ometer started beeping, indicating that tension levels needed to be reduced forthwith or someone would probably get overexcitied. The Meteors paid no heed to this warning and proceeded to get two runners in. An out went down but there were runners on 1st and 2nd, and one of the big hitters came up to bat.

AWOOGA! AWOOGA! No, it wasn’t a pitch invasion by John Fashanu, it was the ground’s own tension alarm sounding out. The outfielders stepped back: if they were cleared there would be three runners in and the scores would be tied with two outs to play. Simon pitched. The batter swung... and contact! He got it. Both dug-outs went wild. The ball cleared the infield high and started dropping in for the hole between second base and right centre field, to be fielded but not before the two runners made it home. But wait! What’s this approaching from right centre? A trail of dust starting from the baseball cage... could it be the park collapsing in a tension-induced earthquake? No, aided by his shiny new Nicole-approved Dazzlerboots it was Jack “My Friend” Grover sprinting in from about 35 yards back, eyes to the skies. The gathered players, spectators, umpires and onlookers held their collective breath and the tension seriously threatened to claim a life. One last stretch and the ball came down... in the glove! In the glove, a catch! The runners had to tag up and rapturous scenes burst out at the Dazzlers dug-out. The fight was over, the tension broken; the Dazzlers made a formality of the final out and headed to the pub victorious.

MVP for the night was Ed, who had an outstanding batting game: 4-4 with two home runs and 6 RBIs.

Final score
Dazzlers 20 (7 5 1 5 1 x 1)
Meteors 18 (x x 7 x 6 2 3)

Monday, April 19, 2010

Dazzlers @ Tecumsehs, 19 April 2010

Monday night saw the Finsbury Dazzlers travel to Clissold Park where they took on old friends and rivals the Tecumsehs in a pre-season friendly. The Dazzlers recovered from the disappointing cancellation of their planned excursion to Amsterdam over the weekend to turn out in force for Monday night’s game and were duly rewarded in a light-hearted but competitive encounter.

Both teams started slowly with runners left stranded on base as rusty batters struck out in the early innings, including new Dazzlers captain Tony ‘Chicken’ Campos who did so with bases loaded. Enter former Tecumseh Ed ‘Judas’ Taylor who started repaying the 30 pieces of silver investment with the opening score, a trademark rocket over rightfield for a home run. Simon ‘Big Si’ Joseph opened the pitching for the Dazzlers and kept it tight although his perfect game was ruined in the third innings. The lone Dazzler who did make it to Amsterdam, Tim ‘Magenta Muffins’ Jaffier livened things up with a grand slam as the Dazzlers opened up a comfortable lead heading into the middle innings. (I say comfortable, but those who were at the equivalent fixture last year would have remembered the Dazzlers giving up a 30-run lead...)

With the away team changing their line-up at the halfway point the Tecumsehs took advantage of some less sharp infielding to begin a recovery as the Dazzlers failed to close out some simple plays. However whereas in times gone by this might have precipitated a Dazzlers capitulation, Sicilian citrus-fruit pusher Rob ‘Don’ Tona applied his calming influence from the mound to hold the team together. He was assisted in this by what was comfortably the play of the game: Erin ‘Sony’ Ericson’s incredible bootlace catch, taken at a low stretch just millimetres from the ground as she steamed in from centrefield at full tilt. That is going to take some beating this season.

Ultimately the Dazzlers’ failure to gain a late insurance run did not cost them as the Tecumsehs left it too late, and in the fading light the game finished with the score Dazzlers 11 @ Tecumsehs 7.

Saturday, April 17, 2010