The Commissioner’s Report: IM Softball

A 2,500 word Commissioner’s Report to end the softball season? That’s sickening, one might say. However, the ridiculous 2009 season truly needs this much coverage in the Maroon-News. Fellow IM Sports Commissioner Brien Puff put it best when he said that the IM Softball season was a year of firsts. Never before had a 16 seed defeated a 1 seed in the playoffs. Never before had 15 seeds in the Division I AND Division II Tournaments sprung upsets. Never before had a team come back by a 14-run deficit in the last inning. Never before had a team celebrated a championship win by stripping and jumping into Taylor Lake, which will scar my brain for life. Yes, this was a year of firsts, and it was definitely the best softball season since I’ve been here.

When I last left all of my loyal readers, D-I had eight teams left in the playoffs, while D-II was in the midst of the semifinal round. Let’s recap both divisions before the Commish gets into his year-end awards.

Division I Quarterfinals: No.15 Derrty Byrdz continued to hit softballs country miles with a 14-3 win over Phi Tau A. They outscored their first two playoff opponents 27-5 in the first two rounds after going 1-2 in the regular season. No. 16 Hebrew Nationals continued their crazy playoff run with a 14-11 win over No. 9 Blazers. The Nats had a 14-2 lead in the fourth inning and were one out away from winning via mercy rule, but the Blazers procured a three-run, two-out rally to pull within nine. In the sixth inning, senior Willie Morse hit a three-run bomb, jumpstarting a six-run Blazer rally. Morse found himself at the plate again as the tying run, but he hit a powerful can of corn to right-center field to end the game. On the opposite Whitnall Field, the No. 5 Warrior Poets played the No. 4 Norbs (hockey team) in the best game of the quarterfinals. The Warrior Poets jumped out to a five-run lead, and was holding on to a 7-3 advantage in the sixth, but the Norbs’ bats finally woke up. A three-run homer from Red Thompson buoyed a five-run rally for the Norbs, and they took the game 8-7. The last quarterfinal was also a hell of a game, with No. 11 Theta Chi B giving No. 3 Team USA (football team) a huge scare. Tach B was up 12-5, but a team can’t keep Team USA’s bats down for long. Team USA hit moon shots to the outfield, tying the game and eventually winning a five-run game by a score no one really remembers.

Division I Semifinals: The Norbs beat the Nats 19-11 in a boring game. Once that was over, I trekked over to the Derrty Byrdz/Team USA game, figuring it was going to be a bore as well since the Byrdz were hitting bombs all over Whitnall. When I got there, DB was up 9-1, and they stretched that advantage to 17-3, which motivated Team USA superstar and football team center Brian Doyle to ask the Commishes to give the Derrty Byrdz a urine test for ‘roids. Going into the bottom of seventh, it was only a matter of time before Team USA lost, right? WRONG. Singles, doubles, and errors led to Team USA getting its first runs. Then, more errors and bases-loaded extra-base hits tied up the game at 17. It was bewildering to watch, and quite frankly, the moment was surreal. But just when I thought I saw everything, I saw Brian Doyle stride up to the plate as the winning run. Knowing his speed, he would have to hit a ball to Syracuse to run around the bases for a game-ending homer.

But he did it. Doyle hit a shot that landed on Jim Boeheim’s doorstep, and he galloped around the bases for a homer. The football team later said that moment was second to only winning the Patriot League. Unbelievable. What a great ending to a ridiculous game.

Division II Quarterfinals: For the first time in Intramural history, both D-II semifinal games were decided by 14 or more runs. No. 9 Dunkin Donuts won their second mercy game of the playoffs with a 21-6 thrashing over Brothers A. Dunkin Donuts, a group of genius science majors, simply peaked at the right time in this playoff stretch, and they should be dangerous in D-I next year. In the other semifinal, the Master Batters played a brilliant game, beating a talented junior Wu Tang Clan squad, 15-1 in four innings. It was just sheer dominance on the Master Batters’ part, as the super-serious frosh team’s fundamentals were simply fantastic.

Division I Final: In front of a legion of screaming fans (well, probably 20 or so), the Norbs defeated Team USA 18-8 in a heated contest. This was a revenge affair, as Team USA beat the Norbs 8-7 during the regular season. Also, for the second straight year, the Division I final finished with an 18-8 score, as Los Shrimps were the victors last year over Warrior Poets. Both teams went scoreless in the first, but the Norbs’ timely hitting came through, as they scored 18 runs over the next three innings. Team USA struggled in the field with some untimely errors, and three plays at the plate that went the Norbs’ way ultimately turned out to be the difference.

Overall, the Norbs succeeded because they played smart softball. They had solid fundamentals in the field, and they were good situational hitters that tried to hit the ball down the line and into the gaps. Also, they had some solid all-stars on their roster, as you can read about below.

Division II Final: What a great final between the Dunkin Donuts and Master Batters. The Batters jumped out to a 1-0 lead, but the Donuts stormed back with three. Not to be denied, SS Josh Glick hit a big 2-run double to give his team a 4-3 lead. The Batters two more to take a 6-3 advantage, but Donuts responded with two. An insurance run gave the Batters a 7-5 lead, but they wouldn’t need it, as the Donuts went down in the seventh with the tying run at the plate. When the last out was recorded, the Batters immediately went to their underwear and jumped into Taylor Lake, which is easily the most disgusting body of water in America. What’s more insane is that these men jumped into Taylor Lake sober, which is a first since 13 men with $13 and 13 prayers jumped into Taylor Lake sober because there was nothing better for them to do in 1819.

As always in IM softball, great fielding turned out to be the difference, with the Master Batters grabbing every outfield fly and tricky infield grounder. They outscored their opponents 51-16 in the four rounds of the playoffs, mercying two of their opponents. What’s even more interesting is that they won the championship after having a losing regular season record (1-2), which has not happened in recent memory.

Anyways, onto awards. As usual, winners receive nothing.

Garrett Ley Warrior of the Year Award: This one was a no-brainer, and it goes to That Important’s Garrett Ley. He tore his ACL, meniscus and cracked his knee, ALL DURING PRACTICE. Screw Allen Iverson; Mr. Ley showed us that true warriors go all out, all the time. In fact, Garrett’s feat was so extraordinary that I am renaming the Warrior of the Year award, effective immediately.

Game of the Year: Team USA 18, Derrty Byrdz 17. Second place: Norbs 8, Warrior Poets 7. Third place (Upset of the Year): Nats 10, Los Shrimps 4.

Play of the Year: Doyle’s home run in the IM semifinals. Second place goes to the Victorious Secret’s red-headed first baseman catching a throw from shortstop with his bare hand.

Division I MVP: Norbs SS Jason Williams. An MVP has to lead his team in the batter’s box and on and off the field. Williams had a great bat and made some great fielding plays. And by virtue of handing his team’s form in, I guess he was a great captain as well. It also helps that he’s been in every one of my SOAN classes since sophomore year.

Division I Cy Young Award: Norbs SP Ethan Cox. This one has to go to junior Ethan Cox, Norbs pitcher, who routinely walks a fine line between throwing a great looping strike and an illegal pitch. He throws a 10-foot looper, which is barely legal, for strikes every time. Well, unless I’m behind the plate, in which case I call balls because Cox complains too much. Even after getting off-season surgery, he still made some great fielding plays on the mound, ending the quarterfinal and semifinal rounds with line drive snags. Second place would go to Nats SP Michael Kodesch, who was the MVP of the huge first-round upset of No. 1 Los Shrimps.

Division I Commissioner’s Award for Indomitable Spirit. When I was young and still thought that I was good at sports, coaches used to give me trophies called “Coaches Awards”. I thought these were given to me because I was good, but they were actually given to me because I sucked. I am refurbishing this award for the player and teams whose spirit and attitude are bar none tops in the league, and who go all-out on every play. For Division I, this award goes to the captain Marty Shapiro and the Derrty Byrdz, easily one of my favorite IM teams. I had a fight with the entire team the first time I reffed, and I played them in my first-ever Intramural contest. Furthermore, they are all great Americans and class acts who played hard and took town tough frat teams from time to time. They will be missed next year, and their legacy will live on forever.

Division I All-Stars: Norbs 3B Red Thompson, Team USA Middle Infielder Eric Tupta, Norbs Middle Infielder Jason Williams, Norbs 1B David McIntyre, Norbs SP Ethan Cox, Nats OF Mike Ketcham, Shrimps OF David Jaffee, Poets OF Matt Barton, Shrimps OF Matt Donovan, Sigma A C Mike Naughton

Division II MVP: Master Batters LF Niko “Captain America” Furnald. Four home runs in the playoffs will get you consideration in the MVP race. Getting a home run off me, the ace of League F, gets you the MVP award automatically. Furnald hit one homer in the first round, two in the quarters, and one in the semifinals. Although his bat was quiet in the finals, he caught some towering fly balls in the outfield to end rallies in a close D-II contest. Second place goes to Chris Dell’Amore for his exemplary leadership and clutch play in leading Brothers A to the semifinals. Third place goes to Steve Urban, the big bat of the Master Batters.

Quote from the Unselfish Niko Furnald on his MVP honor: “Well the important thing is the championship. Also, defense is much more fun to play and more important, and Steve Urban and I had a 5-6 connection.”

Quote from Furnald on His team’s turnaround: “Basically instead of going for hitting balls as hard as we could, we started hitting singles and doubles, which you can do if you slow down the bat speed and swing solidly. Also, we played a lot of pitchers who pitched over the plate, and we had a calmer attitude and swung the bat a lot softer.”

Division II Cy Young Award: Master Batters SP Mitch “Sandy” Waxman. To use the term ace in IM Softball would be ludicrous, right? Not when describing Waxman. In four playoff outings, Waxman allowed only 12 runs, for an average of three runs per game. That’s obscene. He helps his own cause frequently with great snags off the pitching mound, as he did in the Division I Final. Second place goes to myself despite my horrific ERA, simply because I brought the knuckle-curve to the forefront of IM Softball.

Quote from Waxman on His Great Fielding: “Well for that, I have to say in the game against Cowpernickle in the quarterfinals, Andrew Schlenger did not let me hear the end of it when I made a bad play and he made fun of me all week. So I worked on my fielding. A couple of them were lucky, but when the game is on the line, I put on my best. What can I say.”

Quote from Waxman on Team Spirit and Pre-Playoff Run: “We had the worst team camaraderie. If you didn’t get on base, you would just yell at your teammates. Also, we weren’t as good as we thought we are, but thinking we were really bad helped us work harder. Understanding that we weren’t so good at softball, and also going into division 2 helped us.”

Division II Commissioner’s Award for Indomitable Spirit: Master Batters SS Josh Glick. Under the intense and incredible leadership of Josh Glick, the Master Batters were able to rebound and take the Division II Championship. His guarantee on WRCU that the Master Batters would win was seen as cocky and too confident by the media, but what can I say, the team backed him up.

Quote From Glick on the Team’s Man Love: “We all love each other so much, and this is our last thing for our group of friends, but it wasn’t just softball for us. We would go to Frank and talk about the game…It felt like a high school team; it was awesome.”

Quote From Glick on Team’s Celebration and His “All-Out” Celebration: “If we lost, I would have just [jumped in Taylor Lake], but we won and everyone jumped in, so they might as well see the show and see the full Josh Glick. I love me some me, as the great Terrell Owens would say.”

Quote From Glick on the Team’s Turnaround: “Mitch organized hitting practice after we scored 3 runs against Phi Delt, and we were unbelievably good at hitting afterwards. A kid that we had didn’t even know rules, but he [started playing better]. Schlenger went from striking out swinging to going 7-10 in the last few games. Thunder Cat let out the thunder, man, and having our bad players become good, we became good.”

Division II All-Star Team: SS Eric Toribio, 2B Steve Urban, 1B Chris Dell’Amore, OF Gordie Brummer, C Tom Balonek, P Mitch Waxman, OF Niko Furnald, 3B Dave Kusnetz

Friends, I can’t think of two more outfielders to put on this time. My memory is going out on me. If you would like to nominate some outfielders, write something in the Comments section.

Commissioner of the Year: Brien Puff. Sir, it was an honor to work with you for three years. Thank you for being a great Commissioner and an even better American.

Next year, you all are still stuck with me as the IM Sports Commish for one more year. See you in September!