A Writer's Diamond Diary by Joel Priest - "Walking With the Wankees" - Part One
By Softball West
Hi. My name is Joel, and I write for Softball West Magazine.
I'm also a Wankee.
I've heard the jokes, many involving a range of awful, phony English accents. But if you were in Wankees' togs like me, you'd rather explain that you're one of "Wanger's Yankees."
And the clowning ceases. Temporarily.
Then the next wave of digs rolls in:
"You playing with Wanger?" "Wanger's still playing?"
We've all been there. There's usually that one guy on each team that all the other teams in town know and love to rag on for kicks. And some time long before I joined, Michael Wanger--our longest-tenured Wankee--helped give rise (and probably lent his name as well) to what has evolved, de-volved, and re-volved into this current Durango (CO) Men's Rec 1 band of softball brothers. He's still there, usually manning second base as vocally as ever, and keeping me stationed behind home plate as the catcher. Many of the Wankees that preceded me are still around, so though I've played with the team a few seasons, my age of 26 keeps me young. Comparatively speaking of course, because my skills are still growing while others' have most definitely reached maturity.
Take one writer, one Wanger, a blue duffel bag of well-worn jerseys, much hooting and hollering, and fifteen or sixteen men-turned-boys not wanting to grow up for one more summer, looking to improve on a second-place finish in 2004. Blend well, serve with much dirt, and down with a post-game cold one, and you have a recipe for the Wankees.
Or your team! There's a little bit of Wankee-ness in every softball-er after all....
I'm proud to present my first ‘Diamond Diary' installment of "Walking With the Wankees."
This is a summer as I knew it, loved it, and recorded it.
May 11, 2005--GAME ON!
Well I don't think that we could have pulled out a more Wankee-like way to win our season opener. It wasn't pretty, but luckily we didn't get embroiled in a slugfest. It was small ball for all, we were missing a couple guys from last year, and we didn't even hit double figures on the scoreboard. Yet...
Facing the Prime Source Dish Dawgs in our league's season-opening contest, we somehow pulled out an 8-7 win. Our do-everything slugger Randy Egner--I can remember him playing third, left, and probably short in my days as a Wankee--went the distance for his first win of the season, and held the Dawgs on a short leash most of the game. Playing catcher, it amazes me how easily he can drop strikes in sometimes. We played solidly in the field for the most part, and I recorded my first putouts of the season, catching one pop in front of the dish and tagging out a would-be run. Our leftfielder Gil Geauthreaux gave me a perfect chuck and made my job easy.
Spirits high, we fired up our appetites afterwards for a team cookout. Our rightfielder Ted Avila provided the grill (and a ton of edibles), and our third baseman Scott DeBolt's family who brought most of the food. The atmosphere was incredible; the last time I saw team morale like this was in last season's league tourney, when we advanced to the "if" game of the finals before losing. We're feeling good and looking to make a re-run to and through those end-of-season brackets.
Oh yes, I went 0-3, reaching only on a fielder's choice to beat a double play! That's got to improve....
May 18, 2005--HEAVY ORDNANCE AGAINST THE ‘BULLETS
OK, who are we and what did we do with ourselves from last week? I've got to rationalize this somehow, because I'm up on Cloud Ten! Maybe everyone on our 2005 roster showed up [which happened]. Maybe everyone hit with confidence and ran the bases aggressively [which happened]. Maybe Randy E. pitched well [as usual]! Well, whatever cosmic elements aligned overhead, it produced a 22-6 win against Coors Light!
Most of all, I'd like to think we were motivated just to show and prove against a team only two seasons removed from Men's Comp. (The highest league in town that, to my knowledge, the Wankees have never ascended)! We walloped the Silver Bullets' pitching and ended the game via 12-run rule after five innings. Randy E. improved to 2-0, often retiring the enemy in order, supported by a stingy defense determined to spend more time in the dugout selecting bats than short-hopping throws. Add in the fact we were all confident after warm-ups, and we found the precise, often-elusive combination we need every game. I was really feeling in rhythm with my swing, and covered last week's donut with three fresh sprinkles in five plate appearances this week. "Sprinkles" might be a very accurate description of how my three doubles fell in; my legs made up for the lack of distance I drove the ball. Hitting low in the order, I also scored three times after reaching. No ribbies though, leading off an inning three times limits your chances to bag some ducks off the pond.
May 25, 2005--TRAVELING THE ‘BYE'-WAYS
BYE WEEK. Well, I'm hoping at this point that our team is enjoying the week off. Personally, the suspense is killing me! But thankfully this is the only open date on our nine-week slate (since the city of Durango pays Fort Lewis College to use their fields each summer, softball season is short and ends before fall athletics begin!). And we'll find out exactly what kind of team we are next game against Durango Liquor, a team that can really beat you with their power.