Every year, at the beginning of the season, I think about what needs to go right for us to win a title. Some years, we just needed to stay healthy. Others we’ve needed some breaks. Ideally, most of what needs to happen is within in our control. I don’t think a season without a championship is a lost season or that we can’t have a successful year without winning a title. There are too many variables, both within the game and outside of it. Vacations, injuries, lack of commitment, players moving, players with tragedies in their families – marriages, kids, and aging. I think we’ve had a great run since 2014, despite falling short of winning a third title.
However, I do think a season where we have no chance of winning most of our games, or even competing in those games, is a lost season. When the list of things we need to go right to win a title becomes a ridiculous wish list of hypotheticals, and the odds dip to say, single digit probabilities, it’s tough. Then we become a slow pitch softball team that is just in it for the social aspect and the post game beers, which is fine if that’s all you want out of your summer league team. But I don’t have many years left, and I want to win. I know most of us do.
The way to eliminate most of the variables is to have three or four solid starting pitchers who are committed and reliable. Really you just need strike throwers and an ace. It helps to have one guy who can shut teams down and win a game when your best players are on vacation or taking their kids to camp or whatever. Cranberry has that this season, the Grizzlies had that last season, the Oilers did, the Devils, and Bandidos in the last few championships. D2 also has the arms, and they have made two consecutive finals appearances. So that’s how we try to construct our roster.
Before this season, we lost six pitchers: three starters, and three relievers. To replace them we had dozens of leads on guys who told someone on our team at some point they’d come pitch. We figured if two of them panned out, we’d be ok. So far none of them have panned out. This includes a few guys we brought on, or had in house, who we thought would pitch and can’t or won’t.
What we have now is one solid starter who basically has to throw seven innings a game, and a good bullpen that is being forced into pitching more innings than they should have to pitch. We don’t even have a rotation. Most of these issues have been out of our control. Everyone has done all they can to find people who can give us innings. We can’t make people show up. We can’t make people be more upfront about their commitment level, desire to play, or willingness to pitch.
It’s important to have a clear, honest assessment of the team. As we are currently constructed, we need everything to go right to win games Randy doesn’t start, and we need the other team to make mistakes. When he does start, we need most of our starters there to play good defense so we don’t waste his innings.
We have played two solid games this year and won them. But in the other games, we’ve run out of pitchers, or had luck go against us in the form of umpires, bad hops etc. The bad hops even out over the course of a season, but when we get bounces in games we’re losing by 7 runs anyway, it doesn’t really help.
It’s way too early to lose hope. That shit is contagious. We don’t do well so people don’t show up, and people don’t show up so we don’t do well. It can spiral quick. We have commitments from three, good pitchers not on our roster to play for us this season, and one guy who I vouch for as committed but has only been available in games that have been rained out. So our hope is to get these guys on board and playoff eligible. If we can do that, we’ll have a solid rotation in place for the stretch run and the playoffs. But until they’re paid and registered, it’s up in the air. We have until the roster deadline to figure something out. I’m hopeful we will, and that we don’t have to write this season off.
South Oakland plays next on Sunday, 9:30 am vs D2. We have a Sunday lineup, but maybe we’ll get the breaks and we can sneak one.