Some years ago, after playing a few softball games, I learned that hitting to right field is a advantageous strategy. First, in recreational leagues dominated by right-handed batters, the weaker fielders are often positioned on the right side of the field. It’s not a bad idea to take advantage of any defensive holes. Second and more importantly, hitting the ball to the right side allows baserunners to move around. For example, a runner on first base has a better chance of reaching third base than on a ball hit to the left side.
On Sunday, my friend shot a slow-motion video of one of my at-bats using his iPhone 6 Plus. It’s not an ideal swing as I dipped my right shoulder, in an attempt to delay my swing, and I also hit the ball very close to the handle. Hitting the ball in the air, rather than on a line, was also not ideal. In all, it was a pretty crappy swing.
But the right fielders misjudged the ball, and the ball fell for a base hit. Towards the end of the clip, you can see the third-base coach telling a runner to take the extra base. I can’t remember if that runner scored on that play, but I imagine that he at least reached third base.
Although I hit the ball pretty poorly, I reached base because I took advantage of an underused right fielder, and I moved a runner closer to home.
Home runs over the outfielders’ heads might be pretty, but hits to the right side do the job, too.
As a co-commissioner of the McCarren Saturday Softball League, I get a few requests a year about teams wanting to join our league. The sad truth is that we cannot add any more teams because our permits grant us four hours of access to two fields each week. I would love to have some new “blood” in the league, but that’s impossible at the moment. As a way to tell people about our league, I wrote up a primer on joining the McCarren Saturday Softball league. I’m reproducing it here because I wrote it and want it on my website, too.
First, the good news. If you found this page because you really want to play co-ed softball in McCarren Park on Saturdays or Sundays and searched the Internet, congratulations. Your search is over.
Now for the bad news. As you might have noticed, McCarren Park is on the border of Greenpoint and Williamsburg, in the borough of Brooklyn, and in the city of New York. This last tidbit is important because if you want to do something in New York City, there’s probably a thousand other people that want to do the same thing. In theory, that’s great because it allows you participate in a variety of enriching experiences with a critical mass of really interesting people. But in practice, it sucks because there are nine-hundred ninety-nine people ahead of you in line, and you probably won’t get to do as many awesome things a city like New York has to offer. So you may as well go home, crawl to your neighborhood bar, and drink away your sorrows.
You might say, “Wait, but I do plenty of awesome things here in the city…thank you, very much.” And I’m sure you do. But I would ask you, fine sir or madame, how many of those things are either over-priced, over-crowded or both ?
Our league is unique in that we don’t run it to make a profit. We don’t charge an exorbitant fee to play. We don’t pretend to donate a tiny percentage of your fees to a charitable cause. Any money we take is used to cover our costs and, maybe, buy a few beers with what little is left over. We’re also not very crowded. We only have nine teams in our league, and every team plays each other twice. Our small size makes for a great community. Through this careful planning and management, we’ve maintained a league that has avoided the all-too-common trap of being over-priced and over-crowed.
If this sounds great to you. Here’s how to sign up.
I Have a Business, Bar, or Group of Friends and Want to Form a Team
Great. Have you ever tried to find a rent-controlled apartment in Manhattan? That’s what this league is like. We have only four hours of permit time each week on two fields. The way our games work, we can schedule only four games each week. It is ideal for an eight-team league since every teams gets to play every week, and it is workable for a nine-team league since each team gets two “bye” weeks throughout the summer. But it will not work for a ten-team league because each team would then get four “bye” weeks. If we did that, we may as well not even play.
The only way we can add a new team is if an existing team drops out. The last time a team dropped out was in 2005. I’m not saying it won’t happen, but you should know that there’s already a very long waiting list.
I Want to Join an Existing Team
Finding an affordable apartment anywhere in the city is tough. At one time or another, we all resorted to moving into an awesome place with a stranger or two. Some teams are pretty well established but could use new players. But like finding a roommate, there’s some nepotism involved. If you know people who play on a McCarren team, speak to them and find out what’s up. Buy them a beer, and regale them with stories about how great a player you are.
If you don’t know anyone, you might be able to walk on a team through an open practice in late March. That would be a great opportunity to connect orphaned players with needy teams. But that depends on whether teams need players, and that’s up to each team. Sorry to be such a downer, but I’d rather be straight with you now than have you bug me later about why you aren’t getting any playing time.
I Have a Bar, Brewery, Distillery, Coffee Shop, Business and Want to Sponsor a Team or the League
Finally! I can offer some unqualified good news. If you would like to sponsor a team or the league, we’d like to meet you. Most of our teams had sponsors last year, but that can change from year-to-year. We’d love to have your business name on our shirts and even come in a knock a few back, especially if you’re close to McCarren Park. I know summers can be lonely in a hot, sticky city such as ours, but we’re not going anywhere and would love to hang out with you. Let’s talk, why not?