Archive for April, 2024

Sandlot Baseball Game Logs – 04.2024 – Part II

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2024

What is Sandlot?

Doubleheader this past Saturday.
G1 – 4.20.2024 – South Austin Parakeets vs. Austin Drag @ Govalle – 11am
G2 – 4.20.2024 – East Austin Ramblers vs. Arsenal Abejas (San Antonio) @ Pittman-Sullivan (SA) – 3pm

Game 1

Instagram post.

It was a day of contrasts.
First up was the Keets vs. Drag. The Keets were missing a few impact players. Easton is unfortunately hurt (labrum– bummer) and a few of their top pitchers and hitters weren’t able to attend. They’re on the tail-end of a consecutive baseball weekend streak. That can make it a little difficult for some teams to continue fielding a full roster for three or four weekends straight.

That said, the Keets are a deep organization that have plenty of talent to go around and the dozen or so that showed up played hard and played well.

Drag Captain Keith reported that the 9-inning game flew by in less than 2.5 hours. That’s a testament to how sharp the pitching and defense was for both sides. After checking out the box score, one can tell just how few walks and errors occurred. That’s refreshing considering most Sandlot games end with one of these sentiments:

  • “It wasn’t pretty, but we somehow got the W”
  • “If we just avoided a sloppy inning or two, we get that W”

The game concluded with both teams completing a top-to-bottom solid ballgame that was pretty darn close the whole way through.
Keith started on the bump and went six strong innings only giving up 3 runs. If he walked anybody, I don’t remember it happening. The outfield made some good plays with Ash snagging a high flyball in right, Marc making a sliding grab in left, and Steven tracking down a shot in center. Mike Limongelli, Braden, and Rickner completed a 5-4-3 double play.

In the 3rd inning, The Drag put up a good crooked number on the board. That was our most significant rally where we hit up-and-down the order with pretty much everyone contributing.

After Keith’s six innings on the hill, Steven came back for his first outing following a minor knee operation. He threw two quality innings allowing one run and one successful pickoff that froze the runner cold.

I followed that up with a potential save opportunity. I threw strikes and the Keets found some barrels to get something cooking for them. A strikeout and two groundouts later though secured the game and that was that.

There was a postgame hang that I couldn’t make because I had to book it to San Antonio for Game 2.
Heard the 4/20 hang out was a gas though.

Final score ≈
South Austin Parakeets – 6(ish)
Austin Drag – 10(ish)

Great time. We’ll have our rubber match in the fall. Looking forward to it.

Game 2

Instagram post.

Following Game 1, I hustled home, threw some food in me, changed, and headed down to San Antonio for the 3pm game. I did this while fully expecting to receive a team update notifying me of a cancellation due to rain. I figured, “Hey, if it rains, I’ll have some grub with the team and then stop by my cousin’s to chew the fat.”

I drove through scattered showers in South Austin, Buda, Kyle, San Marcos, New Braunfels, but the weather improbably cleared up the closer I got to SA. The Baseball Gods seemed to really want us to play baseball. Problem is, none of the players in attendance seemed to share that sentiment.

These things happen. Be it team sports, work functions, hell– sometimes even a live music experience or an entire bar (staff and patrons included) all sometimes seem to have a low energy and an overall lethargic and unmotivated tenor.
I’m guessing these were some of the factors that led to this outcome–

  • I think everyone expected a rainout. Nobody on that field resonated a “what a great day to play baseball?!” mentality. It was overcast with steady winds coming and going. Our game was part of a trio hosted to, in some form or fashion, celebrate San Antonio’s Fiesta. I was told that the first game (12pm) felt like one helluva party. We all got to see how big of a party the third game (7pm) was, and, unfortunately for us, this middle game (3pm) felt more like a begrudging scrimmage that was thrust on us.
  • Here’s yet another way this cliche about Sandlot being “Adult Little League” rings true.
    Though rare, these kinds of games do happen at the youth level. Sometimes even when people have the best intentions, those intentions can’t overcome the collective will.
  • I arrived at the end of the 2nd inning and, all the way from the parking lot, the game just felt strange. The team hosting the Ramblers had a total of six players. Six. Three players from the earlier 12 o’clock game (San Antonio Los Monos vs. Alamo City Warhawks) thankfully agreed to double up their baseball for the day to make our game happen. So there’s that.
  • For our part, we had 14 Ramblers in attendance, and because most of the team’s post-game Saturday night plans hinged on whether or not the rain was going to fall, nobody really cut loose during the game (understandably so).

I could get into the gameplay, but it… was tough going.
Nobody’s fault, that’s just sometimes how things go.

Ramblers get to get back on the good foot at home vs. the Town Lake Nightcrawlers next Saturday (4/27).

Sandlot Baseball Game Logs – 04.2024 – Part I

Monday, April 15th, 2024

What is Sandlot?

Pseudo-doubleheader this past Saturday.
G1 – 4.13.2024 – East Austin Ramblers vs. South Austin Lovejoys @ Govalle – 11am
G2 – 4.13.2024 – Austin Drag vs. Austin Drag (not a typo) @ Govalle – 3pm

What a day?
We had rain earlier in the week (more on that later), but this day provided clear skies, 80-degree temps, anniversaries, birthdays, and baseball.

Game 1
Instagram post.

I arrived with my string trimmer and began knocking down the weeds on the left-side of the infield from shin-height to ankle-height. Fortunately, Austin Parks + Rec arrived just before game time to give the infield a proper mowing and throw some chalk down the foul lines.

After weed-whacking the fence line, I got word that I’d be on the bump to open the game.
I cleated up, stretched, and took the hill. The Lovejoys can put the bat on the ball. Their lefty leadoff hitter, Grady Fishplate, opened with an opposite-field bloop down the leftfield line. He managed to work his way around the bases for the LJs’ lone 1st inning run. The Ramblers answered with two of their own in the bottom half.

The top of the second provided a few balls that found some holes and a big mistake by the pitcher (ahem, this author)– with two outs, runners on 2nd and 3rd, and a full count on the hitter, I offered a changeup. Their hitter was a little in front of it, but he put a decent charge into a two-hopper to our shortstop’s right. The well-hit ball made its way into left center and plated two runs.

My arm felt a little tight and my injured knee still isn’t able to do much of anything that requires athleticism. Pitching pushes it, but baseball is better than not baseball– and I’m friggin’ dying not being able to legitimately play the field and run the bases (plus my swing feels like dogshit).


Sometimes even I forget that “There’s no crying in baseball.”
Moving on.

Once my pitching is done for the day, there’s a fair chance that tops will be popped.
Since I rarely start games on the hill, I got goin on the oat sodas a lil earlier than usual. Hope relieved me and she pitched really well. The Ramblers defense did make some pretty good plays, we turned three (THREE!) sharp-looking doubleplays, but also had some untimely errors that fueled the LJ rallies.

Ramblers rallied for runs and rallied for beers, but couldn’t overcome the deficit.

The final tally ended up being≈
Ramblers – one dozen ‘Ra-Ra’s
Lovejoys – two dozen champagne toasts

Game 2

To reprise my fictitious, scripted schtick– the following is how I imagine Drag Captain Keith coordinating with the Temple Freighthoppers:

Temple Freighthoppers Captain:
Hiya Keith, I’ve got some bad news.

Drag Captain Keith:
What’s that?

Well Sir, we got some rain. A lot of rain. Gonna have to cancel Saturday’s game.

Bummer. Well, we didn’t get near as much rain as yall did. We also happen to have some field space reserved for Saturday. Any chance you Freighthoppers might be able to ride them rails down south and play some ball?

Oh yeah? In Austin you say? Where exactly might that be?

Whether by rail, automobile, or as the crow flies, Austin’s Govalle Park is a mere 70 miles south of Temple’s Baker Field.

Huh? Well, how about that? You don’t say. But, ummmm, the thing with that there is, that, uhhh, we have another issue…

Shoot. I’m all ears.

Well, you see, I’m just not sure we can make that happen.

Playing baseball? The thing both teams already have scheduled to do at that time on that day?

Yeppers. You see, I am not entirely sure my team feels like playing baseball on an 80-degree, blue-skied, beautiful Central Texas day.

You lost me.

I mean, I’m down. I simply can’t get enough baseball. You say the word and I’m there. I am friggin there man…

Cool. C’mon out. Bring some friends. If yall can’t, as a group, make the game happen, we’ll go ahead and try to get the most out of the weather and field space. Please join us. Bring some friends and teammates. We’ll have ourselves a time.

Yeah, well, the issue there is– no. I just kinda, sorta, just uhh, don’t really feel like doing it, ya know?

Huh? Well, how about that?
Welp, seeya later.

For sure. Hit us up next time. We’ll be down.

For sure.
Without hesitation or rumination.


What a total fucking misnomer.

I’ll put down the snark.
I’m sure there was a perfectly good explanation for why they were geared up to play up at Temple, but couldn’t find a way to make a game happen in Austin.
Even if an explanation wasn’t thrown our way, we still had a helluva time celebrating one of the founders of this organization’s 40th birthday.

All 18 Dragsters + pals split into three squads of six (two teams responsible for fielding, one group of six got to hit). To keep the birthday scrimmage moving, every AB started with a 1-1 count. Depending on the scenario, some walks reset the count (others didn’t).

Hotdogs was grilled. Birthday gifts were gifted. Drinks were shared. It couldn’t have been a better day as we all got to enjoy this game, this team, all while giving Braden his much-deserved day.

Final Score
Drag (Keith’s team) –
Drag (Braden’s team)-
Drag (Jeff’s team)- cares.

Sidenote: Braden Williams invited me out to Sandlot in 2018. I am forever grateful that he reached out and built this group. Happy birthday bud! It’s been an incredible six years.

Sandlot Baseball Game Logs – 03.2024 – Part III

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2024

What is Sandlot?

03.28.2024 – Spencer Thibodeaux Birthday Pick-Up Game @ Govalle – 7pm

Link to instagram post.

What a group? What a community?
What an outstanding celebration?
The pickup gameplay was solid. Everyone had themselves a time.
Just a ton of people who love being at the ballpark.
Happy birthday Thibs!

03.29.2024 – East Austin Ramblers vs. Austin Yardbirds @ Govalle – 7pm

Link to instagram post.

I wrote about these fellas to close out last season. Those Yardbirds can all swing the lumber. Barrels, long balls, wallbangers… name it. Prior to the first pitch, I let the Rambly know that we were going to see a lineup that consistently drives the ball. That’s exactly what they did. We got our outs where we could and plated runs whenever we could, but few Sandlot teams can keep those Ybird bats quiet.
Defensively, I hobbled around first base and got to see what it’s like on that side of the diamond.

All in all, a pretty great night full of high-fives, liners, chatter, cheddar, and goodtimes.

The final tally ended up being:
Ramblers – 8 possum balls
Yardbirds – 18 gopher balls

03.30.2024 – Austin Drag vs. South Austin Lovejoys @ Govalle – 7pm

Link to instagram post.

With our lefty Pitcher/OF Steven Carrizales out (knee scope in late Feb/early March), our starting Shortstop/Relief Pitcher Nick Stillman out (broken thumb in mid-March), and myself (3B/Relief Pitcher) all on the IL or “very hobbled” list, Keith’s already heavy pitching workload has resembled our organization’s very first season (from a lot of innings to nearly all innings).

With that in mind, Jeff Waterman got the start on the bump and did a pretty damn good job throwing strikes. The LJs (and pals) hit the ball fairly well, but thanks to some great plays in the field– Harrison Davis made the only Sandlot grab against the outfield wall I’ve seen and Rhodes knocked down a well-hit ball at second and was able to get the force out, The Drag were able to keep it close.

With The Drag on top 6-4 after four innings, our bullpen got a little wild and our defense let a few balls get by. What has been a recurring theme this spring, happened again– a rough inning takes place (no 5-run cap this time), then both teams settle into cruise control and everyone kind of gets their reps in until it’s time to leave the ballpark.

The LJs + pals had a great crew. They ended the game with a pitcher throwing some legit knucklers (I hadn’t seen those in awhile). Even though Keith has been trying to give his wing some rest, he eventually had to get on the hill and pitch a few innings (of course he did).

Due to a work conflict, Bullpen Catcher RJ Kirk, was unable to make the game, but he’d be damned if he was gonna miss out on the post-game hang at Kinda Tropical.
We took the L, but we had a great damn evening and we’re hopeful to put a few wins together once a few of our pitchers heal up and are able to give Keith’s rubber arm some relief.

Final Score
Drag – 8
Lovejoys – ∞
(or thereabouts)

Good game. Great hang.

Sandlot Baseball Game Logs – 03.2024 – Part II

Monday, April 1st, 2024

What is Sandlot?

03.08.2024 – Austin Drag vs. South Austin Parakeets @ Govalle – 7pm

Link to Instagram post.

The Keets are friggin’ good. In the previous post, I wrote that nobody “wins them all,” and of course that’s exactly what the Keets did last season. Or they came very close. I’ve heard their 2023 season record was 20-0, 19-1, 20-2…
…who’s to say? If there’s not a silly write up about it, an instagram post to document it, and a group of folks rehashing it while drinking beers in a caliche parking lot, did it even really happen?

Jokes aside, in The Drag’s earlier years, I remember trading wins and losses with these guys, but it feels like all we’ve gotten post-Covid is rainouts and losses. But, you know, they aren’t ill-tempered losses. The Keets just played well and we’ve historically ran into one dreadful inning that sealed our fate.

If you follow MLB, you’re aware of Rally Squirrels, Rally Cats, Rally Monkeys, and Bad Luck Cats.
Animals are often regarded as omens in this game of ours. Hyperbole aside, it’s more of a wonder if a cat, squirrel, or racoon makes its way onto a major league diamond. At the parks we play– it’s basically par for the course. But still, with as many Cubs fans as there are on The Drag… let’s just say damn-near everything could be interpreted as an “omen.”

To their point though, the game was clean. Error free for three innings.
And then, in between innings, a very athletic and playful dog ran onto the field. Your humble narrator tried corralling the pooch, to no avail.

And just like in many of the hyperlinked examples, that’s all that was needed for those Keets to start barelling balls and The Drag to start making errors. On one such barreled ball down the third baseline, the third baseman (the guy writing this thing) maneuvered to his right and felt his surgically-repaired knee lockup. Damn.
Playing is more fun than watching.
Baseball is better than not baseball.
I tried to game it, but the knee had no game left.

Our defense did what we could to keep those Keets off the board, but they found ways to put up runs after the 3rd and utilized a deep and talented pitching staff that collectively threw lights out until we managed a much too little and much too late rally.

Final Score
Drag – 7
Keets – ∞
(or thereabouts)

03.09.2024 – East Austin Ramblers vs. Cap City Cobras @ Govalle – 3pm

Link to Instagram post.

I hobbled to this game using a fungo as a walking cane. I felt old. Real old.
But that doesn’t matter because The Ramblers got a 3pm start time against the Cobras, the weather couldn’t have been better, and all involved knew it was going to be an outstanding time.

To keep this short and sweet–
The Cobras controlled both sides of the the game, but both teams kept it a party.
Memorable highlights included The Ramblers’ birthday gal, Katie Coyne, completing an impressive double play at shortstop and The Cobras’ Tucker hitting a no-doubter long ball to right center.

The final tally ended up being:
Ramblers – 37 Original Coors
Cobras – 52 hot dogs

03.23.2024 – Austin Drag vs. ATX Roadrunners @ Govalle – 11am

Link to Instagram post.

This matchup has been dominated by rainfall + rainouts. On this particular Saturday however, we actually got to get this game in.
Now I’m not included in these pre-game, high-level negotiations, but it’s my belief that the first two-thirds (six innings) of a sandlot game should be capped with a 5-run limit.
This is for a few reasons– pitchers’ arms, catchers’ knees, whatever spectators’ entertainment, and our collective sanity.

Is this how “real” hardball is played?
No, but “real” or “consequential” baseball passed most of us long ago. The five-run cap keeps the game moving and preserves the potential of an actual close game in the later innings. Who gets excited about an 18-6 ballgame?

It was reported that The Drag brought up utilizing a cap (that was declined), then The Drag had themselves a substantial rally in the bottom of the first. Before that though, the top of the first provided just about the oddest play at the plate I’ve ever seen. And the poor umpire must’ve seen… something entirely different than what occurred on the field.
The runner didn’t do anything in poor form (they were just playing the game), but there was some significant contact with Catcher Simon “Big Cat” Hilsman before the runner arrived at the plate, and part of the contact was Big Cat’s glove with possession of the ball and… there really wasn’t a quality ruling or explanation of what The Man in Blue saw. Runner was “safe” and the game moved on.

Oh well. So it goes. We, more or less, laughed it off (everyone except Keith).

The bottom of the first provided our biggest rally… since… ever? We often play with a cap, so it’s not often that rallies seem to stretch out before a team like the first day of a sixth grader’s summer break.

After the big first inning, both teams sort of settled into cruise control and just allowed the innings to melt away. The entire Drag lineup hit for the whole game. The defense turned two nifty doubleplays. The pitching was steady.

The Keets and Cobras had the 3pm Govalle timeslot. They wisely decided to host a crawfish boil during their game. At some point during Drag vs. Roadrunners, I began thinking more about mudbugs and less about baseball. For this injured player, crawfish was far more tangible than using a healthy knee for rewarding activities. Crawfish and beer it is.

The Drag and Roadrunners game cruised to the conclusion most had following the first inning.
The Keets and Cobras provided an exceptional Sandlot experience of quality ball and outstanding times.

The final tally ended up being:
Roadrunners – 9 bags of seeds
Drag – 19 pounds of crawfish

Post-game notes: Didn’t we have ourselves a day? A solid Drag contingent celebrated the incredible day by taking in libations at the bleachers while enjoying Austin Sandlot at its finest, The Keets + Cobras, as our anticipation for crawfish mounted.
RJ was holding court. One Georgia Peach got her Saturday afternoon goin… we were all cuttin’ up. It was great. No other way to spend a perfect Govalle Saturday.

***I shot three rolls of 35mm film that I’m excited to post as soon as they’re available.***