John Danger Hirsch doesn’t give a fuck what you think… (Heroes 3, Tsunami 4 in 10 innings)

John Danger Hirsch doesn’t give a fuck what you think about him forgetting a belt. He doesn’t care that you asked him before he got in your car: “Do you have a belt? Do you have socks and cleats?” He doesn’t care that he answered in the offended affirmative without even unzipping his half-packed backpack. He doesn’t care that two years ago you drove him yourself to buy a belt at Sports Authority. Politics, weather systems and transmutable physiological inconveniences never inconvenience this singular force of nature, so stop worrying already that he’d be hindered entering the big ballet only in his leotard, no tutu. Danger just wants the baseball in his hands on a weekend afternoon, seven fielders in black jerseys standing behind him, a brimming index of five-star accessibility/one-star beauties in his Blackberry, and a few rumors of an exceedingly generous nature floating around his place of employment. So why would you want him . . . any other way?

While it wasn’t enjoyable at the time, last year’s final record provides this year’s hearty and refreshed Tsunami with one motivating gift for the 2010 application: plenty of incentive for revenge. 8-12 puts up to twelve well-marinated proteins onto this season’s grill, so let’s see the positive in it. No sense dwelling on the past. Not on often-argued-about failed attempts to steal home that closed the door on a decidedly underwhelming season. Not on reckless pre-game Bay-to-Breakers* participation (cue the music for “Number 14s” first appearance in this blog). Not on last season’s straight out WBC-themed whupping at the hands of the aggressive, fleet and consistent Heroes who last exited our shared field as dominant but humble victors, 8-3.* And hopefully not on any ill-fated, overwhelmingly humbling, disastrous pick-off attempts at second base, no matter how recently or long ago it occurred. This year’s refreshed Tsunami spirit lives only in the present and future.

Of course nobody needed to tell Danger to seize the day last weekend. He didn’t switch shifts at work, calibrate his chemical foundation deep into Friday night, wake up Saturday and spray some Right Guard on Wednesday’s boxers to disappoint his growing legion of groupies that afternoon. No, Danger had a plan on Saturday: locate the fastball, drop the hook out of the sky, wear Coach Rowe’s belt. The results: 6 innings, 8 Ks, 2 runs. Of course the Tsunami did their best to keep Danger focused, waiting till the 5th to score 2 runs when Rolling Mo from RF sparked Eddie-Mo the Elder to 2b on a single and F. Ellis-Carroll decided to show coach Everchill he was here for more than defense with a run-scoring slice to right. Abbott followed with a roller to short that brought in Rolling Mo but Larson followed with a bed-wetting backwards K.

There were Ks for almost everyone, though, thanks to a spectacular outing delivered by the Heros ace #51, Akio. Outside fastballs. Down and outside fastballs. Painting the black. Breaking stuff in surprising counts. Akio held the Tsunami to just those two runs over eight, struck out 10 and allowed only two hits. Hirsch, Brill, Vazquez and Larson all narrowly avoided the first sombrero of the season, Larson perhaps only by sacrificing successfully twice and Hirsch by running out of at-bats. Fortunately for the team in black and green, however, Akio had to leave before the 9th inning after throwing 589 pitches through eight full.

Soon Rolling Mo sparked the second rally of the day again, this time lining a fastball down the line in the bottom of the 9th for a long double that forced him to sprint at least a third of the 180 feet to second base. F. Ellis-Carroll then stepped up and made-up for a teammate’s huge defensive gaffe earlier in the inning by hitting the longest single in Tsunami history straight over the CF’s head, and one of the most clutch. So clutch. Saved a tremendous effort by Danger and a surprising appearance by Number 14 in his first outing of the year. Yes, Number 14 not only arrived in cleats and without pre-game beverages, he also tossed four innings of relief, K-ing 6 and allowing only one hit, a high double to left that surprised more than E. Mo, Sr. among the Big Fat Outfield. Catorce gave up only one run, however, and in the top of the tenth he stranded runners at the corners to set the momentum-train rolling towards a Disney-movie ending for the Tsunami.

Abbott’s power was respected to the extreme, and he was walked on four pitches to open the bottom of the 10th. Coach Everchill signaled for a steal of second, and Larson took the opening pitch as Abbott deleted his emails, emptied his wallet of receipts, and slid into second base fifteen feet under the throw into shallow center. Crafty, the old guy. Larson decided to pop only one bunt attempt foul and moved Abbott to third on Coach Everchill’s orders, setting the table for Beustad and Vazquez to swing for a walk-off game-winning RBI in the three and four holes. Unfortunately for these big bats, however, four balls came Beustad’s way and one came directly Vazquez’s way, beaning him to load the bases. More than one impartial observer noted the disappointment in both batter’s reactions after taking a base instead of swinging for the game. That’s how we want them to feel. But of course two men’s disappointment can always be one man’s threesome, and we’re not just talking about our starting pitchers and long relievers working their magic from North Beach to Portrero Hill, no sir. Of course Morton the Elder made magic at the plate with his composite bamboo shaft and a 2-1 fastball against a drawn-in infield. Of course he lined it clean into left field. Of course we bounced off and slapped him on the helmet like American Legion players. Fucking awesome to have the Hero on our side this time.

Lost in the Shuffle: Beustad and Abbott joining Larson in the roadrunner derby, Abbott’s coming at a particularly significant time (and taking no shortage of time, one talent evaluator observed), and Beustad’s bordering on catcher’s indifference . . . Vazquez connecting for freedom in the bottom of the second but meeting a totalitarian wind blowing in from center field . . . Beustad making all the plays from SS in pinch duty despite recognizing his arm felt like dried bubblegum during warm-ups . . . Morton sensing a pickoff attempt and getting into a brawl with the infield dirt four steps left of first base, losing, but seeing enough of the humor in it to climb off his back with dignity as the baseball settled in the backstop’s pud . . . Rowe flawless in yanking bat away from particularly influential Heroes hitters in key spots . . . Fluffy camping on the infield sod and not giving into the running game . . . Moreno uncorking a laser just high from deep right . . . Abbott getting fussy with a sharp liner to his right with men on base, laying out and, back-be-damned, making the catch . . . Coach Everchill vowing to learn Spanish with avowed purpose of intercepting certain centerfieldish-sent communications . . . Brill earning a week’s worth of hot tubs and knee wraps with ten-innings of inspired catching duty . . . Frankel gutting out second-base duty with a still-barking slinger wing . . . Did we mention Brill caught 10 innings! That’s right. Not bad for a man just ten years older than twenty-three. You made those little Pumas proud, Coach . . . until next week, Sunday against the Benders at Encinal H.S. in Alameda. You know Danger will be there. He won’t miss it. So please bring extra belts.

Game Ball: Coach Everchill says Morton. The view here says Danger, Catorce and the veteran LF earned equal shares. They’re have to split it or share it, and in that case I’m not sure of the pronunciation, but I believe it’s spelled something like “ménage a trios.”
Posted by (JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 04/08 at 08:31 AM

Right on Dan! This is gold!

Posted by (JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  04/08  at  10:46 AM

Dan’s in a grove folks.

Posted by (JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  04/08  at  01:02 PM
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