Tagged: Robots

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? 

T-Shirt Therapy for the Spring Semester

The end of the semester is a challenging and stressful time for both students, teachers, and administrators alike. It can be a very creative and productive time for most, but sometimes, it can be a frustrating as there might not be any immediate result to all that work.

Screen printing t-shirts can be a therapeutic, creative outlet where I get to work with my hands and make something tangible. Here are some shirts I’ve printed at the end of spring semester in anticipation of summer!

Kilo Bravo

With summer coming, I convinced the proprietress of Kilo Bravo that she should stock some t-shirts for their thirsty and overheated customers. The t-shirts are Gildan Soft Style, which is a blend of 65% polyester and 35% ring-spun cotton. She chose shirts in Heather Military Green, for the military theme that “Kilo Bravo” evokes (although it also stands in for her initials).

Kilo Bravo Military Summer 2016

The print is a single-color, white discharge ink that I thought would not be very bold because of the polyester fabric, but I was wrong. They really pop! In retrospect, I would have used clear discharge in hopes of getting the natural fabric color that would evoke the military color even more. Print and learn.

On sale at Kilo Bravo, 180 N. 10th St, Brooklyn, NY

Balls Deep

Easily one of the most “adult” logos I’ve ever printed, Balls Deep is a softball team founded by one of my oldest softball friends. As you can imagine, the logo has raised some eyebrows over the years, and some players have gone as far as quit the team rather than wear the shirt.

Balls Deep Softball 2016

This particular shirt is printed on American Apparel’s Fine Jersey all-cotton t-shirt in red. This t-shirt model is such a stalwart of the industry that you most certainly have one in your closet, if not wearing one at the moment. The print is nothing more than Holden’s water-based black ink.

Team Matchless

The manager of this softball team, sponsored by Bar Matchless in Brooklyn, has a favorite t-shirt. Printed for the Oregon Humane Society, she wanted to use that t-shirt for her team because it is so comfortable. She showed it to me, and I saw that it was an American Apparel Tri-Blend t-shirt in Tri-Athletic Blue. Wanting to do something different that the usual white print, she had me print the front logo and the back jersey numbers in water-based orange ink.

I even printed a couple for myself on Tultex poly-cotton shirts in a similar color.

Matchless 2016

The Tultex shirts look fine, but as I examine the shirt, I notice that the weave looks a little pixelated.

Tultex – "pixelated" weave

Nonetheless, for what both shirts lack in “pop,” they both make up in lightweight and soft-feel. It’s perfect for summer softball.


Having surrendered managing the Robots years ago, the current manager wanted to get jerseys made, instead of my usual t-shirt offerings. The jerseys haven’t materialized yet, but I made a t-shirt version of what I think he made for our team.

Gibson (Angry) Robots 2016

The t-shirt is nothing special, just a Gildan Soft Style 100% ring-spun cotton in black. But the print is discharge ink with red pigment.

Were I to do a full run, I would print on American Apparel’s sheer jersey “Summer Shirt” in black. That is, by far, the most comfortable all-cotton shirt I’ve ever worn. However, because they cost three times as much as this Gildan—and because they only ship from the Los Angeles–area mill, I would only offer it as a premium product for a sizable run.

Archived Bears

The Archive used to be a coffee shop and video store in the 2000s. Located off the Morgan Avenue L-train station and used to be considered a “far, far away,” the Archive also used to sponsor a softball team in our league: the Bears.

The Bears are still around, even if the Archive is long gone, and they wanted to print a new version of their shirt.

Archived Bears Softball 2016

This shirt is another Gildan Soft Style t-shirt in dark chocolate. The print is a water-based opaque yellow color that has a soft hand without the extra chemical process of discharge.


On a whim, I printed a couple of copies of the stalwart Librarians t-shirt. Unlike our usual shirt, I printed the shirts on an off-white shirt in black ink.

Librarians Reprint 2016

I’ll debut the shirt at our season opening double-header and, perhaps, maybe even take a few orders for a lighter alternative to our current black t-shirts.

Cycling vs. Softball

At the beginning of the spring, I promised that I wouldn’t let softball take over my life. I can’t even begin to count how many Saturdays I squandered because I had a game later in the day.

Escaped New York

But on Saturday I had a dilemma. I was committed to riding in this year’s Escape New York ride as I was more active with the cycle club than in years past so I felt like I had a stake in this annual event. Moreover, I also had a free entry since I had helped mark the route. I had done the same job for the last few years, but I hadn’t ridden because the Robots were in the playoffs. To paraphrase a line from a movie, the problem is not when your hobbies get in the way of work, but when they get in the way of each other.

Route marking for the 65-mile route of the Escape New York ride.

Route marking for the 65-mile route of the Escape New York ride.

This year, I had the same conflict. The Robots were playing a single-elimination playoff game against Matchless at 4:00 PM. As a means to not let softball take over my cycling, I compromised. Instead of riding the full 100-mile course, as I had hoped to do when I was racking up miles every week, I “settled” for the 65-mile, metric century course. That would allow me to finish by 2:30, head home to shower, and make the game in Williamsburg. The appeal of doing a supported ride, such as Escape New York, is that I aim for longer distances than my usual weekend ride. It’s a special occasion after all. And this year, my weekend rides were each about 65 miles long, so this amounted to one of those.

Escape New York 2013

Although it had been about a month since I rode my bike, I pedaled from Long Island City to the ride’s starting point at Sakura Park at Riverside Drive and 122nd St. From there, I was feeling especially strong, and managed to maintain a little better than a 14–mile-per-hour pace throughout the entire route, including the slog from Queens to upper Manhattan and the rest of the 65-mile course. I finished by 2:25 PM, five minutes before my goal. I grabbed some food and liquids at the finish line, headed home just after 3:00, showered and changed from cycling to softball clothes, and arrived by 4:15 to fill in as a pinch hitter. By that point, however, the Robots were well on their way to big 20–9 win, and advancing to the finals.

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Softball Week 2: Explosive Wednesday Game, Nothing on the Weekend

Ramblers vs. G00nies

The Ramblers are a team I played with last fall, and I even shot some photos of them during their last game. I signed up for the spring/summer team, and I won a spot in the pitching rotation. We played two games on Wednesday night at Whitey Ford field, in the north-west tip of Astoria, Queens, and won two games, each by a ten-rule mercy-rule margin.

This team has some really strong hitters. They’re not necessarily going to hit balls into the East River, but they hit hard line drives. Everyone in field is solid, and I’ve never seen such smart aggressive base running in a long time. Those skills are key to winning in New York City softball.

Robots Off

The Robots didn’t play this weekend because the league took the day off.

Ball Busters Rained Out

The Ball Busters didn’t play on Sunday either. April showers washed out my two softball games this Sunday

Softball Week 1: Bats Fell Asleep

Sleeping Umpire at Great Lawn 001

Softball season got off to a bad start. The Robots and the Ball Busters each played two games, and we each lost both games. Colloquially put, our bats fell asleep, like the umpire from the earlier game at Central Park’s Great Lawn ball fields.

Robots vs. Soft Spot and Robots vs. Balls Deep

My defending champion Robots lost a heartbreaker against a rejuvenated Soft Spot team on Saturday in McCarren Park. We dropped the first game 8-7 in eleven innings. We then lost the second game to Balls Deep by a much more embarrassing score. I pitched both games and by the middle of the second game, I must have ran out of gas because I just couldn’t get my pitches to not find the middle of the plate. We also couldn’t score.

Ball Busters vs. Jackals

On Sunday in Central Park, the Balls Busters, who finished in first place last season (but lost in the first round of the playoffs), lost the first game, 1-0, to the Jackals. We regrouped and put some runs on the scoreboard, but still fell short, 5-4, in the second game. I pitched both these games too, and I thought my arm was going to fall off, but it turns out all that cycling I did in the last few months have given me a lot more flexibility than I usually have in April. I wasn’t as sore as I would have thought. Thanks unseasonably warm April!

Three one-run losses in two days suck, but I suspect that both teams were very rusty.

Robots Have Our Cake and Eat it, Too!


After rescheduling it a few times since the end of the softball season, the Robots finally celebrated winning our first McCarren Park Softball championship with a party at our favorite bar, the Gibson. The party was pretty subdued, mostly because we had an impromptu happy hour reunion the night before. But unlike the night before, there were gifts, and there was cake.


Shortz bought us a cake that had a first birthday candle on it, presumably to note that this was our first league championship. One of the nicer gifts was that Jen bought Shortz, Petemo, and I a set of robot ice cube trays. The Chillbots are awesome because they consist of a robot ice cube and a windup key for the back. The packaging exclaims, “It’s time to unwind.” What a delicious pun!

The team management has assured us that this party was but a prelude to a holiday celebration, and there will be capes at this affair. Oh my….

Robots Win the McCarren Cup


The Gibson Robots won the McCarren Cup, the trophy for the Saturday softball league I’ve been playing on since 2005. We beat the defending champion Papacito’s All Stars in the best-of-three series, winning both games. We won the first game, 12-10, and the second game, which was suspended in the fifth inning due to rain and darkness, 11-8.

This was a total team win. I have never seen a team so focused on one goal, and everyone on the team had subscribed to team-first philosophy. There were no egos and heroes, and that is why we worked well together to bring home the cup.


The Patrick Henry McCarren Cup, named for the state senator for whom the park is named, is residing at the Gibson in Williamsburg, at 108 Bedford Avenue in Brooklyn, where we celebrated for many hours.

Robots drop season series to Papacitos, 13-4

The Robots lost for the third time this year, losing to Papacito’s All Stars, 13-4. The game was pretty forgettable from our point of view. We didn’t get the hits when we needed them, and we didn’t play very well in the field. The Papacito’s hitters smacked the ball around in the middle of the game and led by as much as 9-0 before we scored our first run on a throwing error from the outfield.

Although most of us had multiple-hit games, we didn’t get key hits when we needed them.

Three games remain before the end of the regular season. We face off against the Levee Cheeseballs, Archive(d) Bears, and the K&M Swingers in the remaining weeks.

Game 4: Robots vs. Papacito’s

The third day of my long softball weekend was a pretty dour day for the Gibson Robots, as we lost to Papacito’s, 13-4. My feeling on the game was that I didn’t pitch too poorly, and that I needed to use my change up more to get those outs! I held many of their hitters to one or two hits each, but too many of their hits went for extra bases and that did a lot more damage than our scattered hits.

Although I was a bit more chipper about the loss than some of my teammates, knowing that it was just one regular-season game, the loss was a bit deflating. But what can you do? We move on, and work on winning the next game. It’s really all we can do.

It’s still not fun to lose.

Weekend of Softball

Sarah left today for a weekend trip to see her family in Kentucky and also to go to a bridal shower for a high school friend. Since I’m poor for the next few weeks, as I usually am during this stage of the summer, I thought I would have a quiet, productive weekend while Sarah is gone, spending time at home, cooking for myself, and maybe even doing some writing.

I still plan to do all that, but it also happens to be a very busy softball weekend. On the docket so far are no fewer than six games over the next four days:

  1. It begins with a double header on Friday morning with the Librarians taking on Juicy Lucy in a fierce battle on the artificial turf of East River Park.
  2. On Saturday, the Robots take on the always bothersome Papacito’s All Stars in McCarren Park. We want to beat them so bad, and I know they’re looking for a competitive game. I’m looking forward to this game.
  3. Sunday is going to be a grueling day. The Ball Busters begin the first round of the Lower Manhattan Softball League playoff tournament on the Great Lawn in Central Park. It’s a best-of-three series against the enigmatically named Awkward Times. We enter the tournament with the number-one seed so we want to carry our winning ways from the regular season to the postseason.
  4. Finally, on Monday, things will be a bit more relaxed with the weekly Wilson Softball game on Central Park’s North Meadow. On most Mondays, I can barely walk after most weekends of softball. But I imagine playing this game is akin to a recovery ride after putting a lot of miles on my bike, like a century’s worth of miles.

And earlier today, as if he sensed that I didn’t have enough softball this weekend, my friend Crazy Eddie asked me to sub on his team tonight. I was planning on seeing M.O.T.O. this evening at Saint Vitus in Greenpoint, as I just found out about the show this morning.

But I’m ready to play. Summer is going to end in three weeks, and I won’t have this opportunity again.