Tagged: McCarren Softball

That Time All Three Summer Softball Teams Went to the Finals…and Two Won!

It only felt like it took us 108 years to win.

It only felt like it took us 108 years to win.

What a difference a year makes!?!

Two years ago, I was ready to give up on softball. I had become more enamored with cycling, and the postgame conviviality—hanging out with teammates and rivals for hours on end—helped contribute to the end of a long-term relationship because Sarah was not part of that world.

One year ago, there were a few health issues that made playing difficult. First, after crashing my bike on East Third Street in March 2015 and banging up my knee, I was unable to sprint for about six months, meaning I was unable to play well for the entire summer softball season. Second, that nagging ingrown toenail surfaced again, causing great discomfort for a few weeks. Ironically, cycling didn’t aggravate these issues. I often joked that although I could cycle for 100 miles, I couldn’t run to first base.

But this year, I found a renewed excitement for playing. My injuries were gone, and I was able to contribute more than in the past. It also helped that all three of my summer softball teams went to their respective league finals.1

Ball Busters… Champs!


This year’s Ball Busters was an entirely new team, and I found myself playing a greatly reduced role throughout the year. I didn’t complain because we amassed an impressive record and made it to the finals. My biggest role on the team was pitching the third and deciding game of the finals, after not having pitched at all for that team all year. We won that game, 3-1, and won the league title for the first time since our “franchise” did so in 2012 and 2013.

Gibson Robots… Not Champs

I’ve been on this McCarren Park team since 2004, and it’s been a very successful team in terms of making it to the finals. We have done so eight times. Winning, on the other hand, has not been easy. We’ve only won once in 2011.

This year, we struggled throughout the season, barely amassing a .500 record. However, we played well enough to get a sixth seed, and when the playoffs started, we upset the #3 seed and the #2 seed in the first two rounds, allowing us to advance to the league finals. However, we got off to a rough start, giving up five runs in the first inning, and then not producing at the plate. Although I settled down during the game to keep them off the board, I went down in the fifth inning with a strained calf. I could barely stand up on two legs, much less play. I came out of the game and watched helplessly as my team lost 11-5 (or something like that).

Librarians… Champs!

This is the most unique teams I’ve ever played with. Our games are in the middle of the week, during the day, and over the years, since I took over the team, I’ve stocked it with a lot of players from Williamsburg.

I’ve been with this team since 2007, about the time I started dating Sarah. At first, she thought it was cute that I played softball in the middle of the week, during the day, but by the end, she was less enamored with the idea: “you loser! Why are you still playing softball in the middle of the day!?!”

But running this team is very challenging because the games are in the middle of the day, and I have to find people that either have flexible schedules or can take a day off work to play. Also complicating matters is that we need three women to play. And in addition to those challenges, the competition is very good. One of our players once noted that this league must be very hard because the players we have are really outstanding but the team can’t win a championship.

Of the teams I’ve been with, this is the one I’ve been with the longest without winning a league title.

That changed on Friday, after we beat the defending champions, The Wolf Pack, in four games in the best-of-five series.

We started the series last Friday. We lost the first game, 7-4, but won the next two, 4-3 and 5-4, coming back late in the game, despite trailing the entire time. We played the fourth game a couple of days ago, on Friday, and won that game decisively, 12-1.

It was a true team win. We all played splendidly in the field, and although we struggled at the plate in the early games, we battled to remain competitive and win each game. It was heartening to watch the team play the entire game and not give up until it was over.

And now, in early November, summer softball is finally over!

  1. I did sub on a few teams, but those don’t count, right? 

May It Suck Less

Yes, I am aware that this site went all of April neglected like a dissertation chapter and a pile of ungraded, poorly written undergraduate. I didn’t get to update it much because I’ve been preoccupied with a few things:

  1. Yes, I did get that MacBook Pro with Retina display. As you know, I decided the newly updated 13-inch model was the best computer for me…as long as we define “a computer” as a Mac portable. That turned out to be a curse because the computer and I have been inseparable since then. As is common at this time of the year, there’s a lot of work to do. A lot!

  2. I made two, two, two trips to California in April for a couple of weddings. Despite being very sour on flying recently, I kind of enjoyed getting back in the air. If one can be in “mid-season” form going to an airport and boarding a plane, I was in it. Personally, I hate taking taxis to an airport, especially by myself, because of the disproportionate cost in traveling five miles to, say LaGuardia, compared to flying 2,500 miles to Los Angeles. And the chances of crashing are much higher in an Uber on the BQE than sitting in a Boeing six miles above the ground. Thus, I prefer to save some bucks and go multi-modal, using the subway and bus. That results in some just-in-time arrivals, which I don’t mind because it spares me from the gate lice. My friend Mark, a multimillion-miler on American Airlines, concurs with this approach.

    Of course, the trips themselves were fun, too. I saw a lot of people, including lots of friends and family. I ate King Crab on a pier in Santa Barbara and fried scallops in the warehouse district southeast of DTLA. I even got to go on a bike ride.

    And the weddings were great, too. I realized that, despite my earlier reservations, I like going to weddings. It helps that I don’t have to hear Sarah’s friends criticize every aspect of their own friend’s wedding, such as “can you believe this food?” and “this has to be the worst one yet!” Also, since there’s no immiment threat of staging my own wedding, I don’t feel that sense of failed dread I had when I was a teenager riding in my friends’ cars before I had even had my learner’s permit.

  3. The weather is finally nice enough to enjoy cycling. Aside from crashing my bike on East Third Street in late March, I have really enjoyed being out on a bike. That crash, which happened on my way from Brooklyn to NYU, was bad enough that since then I’ve been unable to fully bend my knee. I can extend it just fine so I can ride a bike as far as ninety miles with almost no pain, but tying my shoes has been an entirely different matter. March was an especially miserable month for bicycling, and we had to two rides shortened because of icy road conditions. However, in the last few weeks, we’ve stepped things up and have been riding 80-90 miles on a single weekend day.

  4. It’s softball season. Softball really is like the mob. No matter how hard I try to get out, I can’t not play. The only possible ways I can see “getting out” is to relocate to a far-off, remote place where no one knows I ever played softball… or to die. I wound up on four teams again, although I have missed a lot of games to that nagging cycling injury and because of my other commitments. However, it’s nice being out there again doing something I’m relatively good doing.

Now that I’m becoming accustomed to this new pace, to carrying around a heavy backpack and a light sweater, I’m genuinely excited about breathing and such. No, seriously. Not only has it been a hard eight months, but over the winter, it literally hurt to breathe that bitter, icy air. I’ll settle for the occasional allergy attack.

How to Join the McCarren Saturday Softball League


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.

Welcome to the McCarren Saturday Softball league. I have some good news and bad news for you.

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?