Throughout the Gay Softball World Series we will have daily updates provided by Krissy Wild, the Athletic Director of the Southern New England Softball League, and her wife, Dawn. For specific game scores, visit the NAGAAA Web site.
Saturday, Sept. 3 recap - Division champions crowned!
Today was Championship Saturday. As it has been for the last three days it was hot, in the 90’s and dry. So dry the dirt on the field flies everywhere making it hard to find the ball and sometimes hard to see exactly what is going on at second base. The dirt is everywhere. When the ball is caught a puff of dirt is forced out of your glove. When you round the bases is clouds up and finds its way into your socks and clothes. Let’s not even think about sliding, there have been a lot of different colored uniforms here this week, but by the end of the week most of them have been covered in a mustardy beige hue.
This is the first day that all divisions played in the same park. In the D division the morning started with a game where Oklahoma City “Swallows” faced a protest. The protest committee did their job and found the protest to be valid which resulted in the disqualification of the “Swallows” and moving the Austin “Ball Busters” forward to the next game. The loser of that game would take 4th place. The “Ball Busters” faced the Twin City “Titans”. Moving forward was the “Ball Busters,” they just seem to be on a roll. Next they would face the LA “Swingers”. The “Swingers” and the “Ball Busters” were closely matched. The game went back and forth, both teams scoring 6 runs in the first inning then 2 runs for one team and 4 for the other and so on until the final inning resulted in the “Ball Busters” with 16 and the “Swingers” with 20. The “Swingers” moved on to the Championship game! This game would be a rematch from the night before. The “Swingers” only loss in this part of the tournament came from Boston’s “Club Cafe Good Times” and now they will have to beat them 2 times if they want to take home the championship trophy.
In top of the first inning, “Club Cafe Good Times” scored two runs before their at bat was ended when Blair over ran third base and was caught in a run down for the third out. “Swingers” scored one run on a solo in the park home run by Ceasar. In the third inning Blair stayed out of running trouble and scored “Club Cafe Good Times” third run on a single hit by Ray. “Club Cafe Good Times” continued to hold the “Swingers” scoreless in the fourth inning and then broke open the game in the fifth inning when they scored another seven runs in an inning that sent 11 batters to the plate. In the sixth inning Blair crossed the plate a third time in the game on another hit by Ray. With a ten run lead the Good Times team needed to hold “Swingers” to no runs to end the game under the run rule. The “Swingers” first two batters in the sixth flew out bringing Cookie up to bat. He hit a single to left field. However, the “Swingers’” next batter hit into a fielders’ choice, ending the game and crowning “Club Cafe Good Times” the 2011 Champions of the D Division.
In the C division the final game saw Las Vegas “Rat Pack” come from the losers’ bracket and ready to face Boston’s “Diables”. Las Vegas would need 2 wins over the undefeated Boston team to take home the hardware. The “Rat Pack” came out swinging. They scored 6 runs in the 2nd inning, and held the “Diables” to only 2 runs in the game. With a final of 7 to 2 the 2nd “if” game was to be played. In the 2nd game the “Rat Pack” dominated again. With hit after hit they scored 17 runs to only 5 runs by the “Diables” in the 5th inning. That was enough to end the game using the run ahead rule. The “Diables” took 2nd place and the “Rat Pack” are the 2011 C division Champions.
In the B Division new association city Knoxville sent a team with desire to the World Series. The Knoxville “Cyclones” came through the losers’ bracket to face yet another Boston team, the “Alley Gators”. Maybe it was just too many games to have to win to take the big trophy, maybe Boston teams just are too good this year. The “Alley Gators” won to become the B Division Champions.
In the A Division the Atlanta “Venom” took on the challenger from San Francisco, the “Hit Men”. The 2011 Champion of the A division was the “Atlanta Venom”.
Each of the 4th through 1st place received medals and a trophy for their efforts this week. The ceremony was moved inside from the scheduled Block Party in Boystown, due to rain. Tomorrow representative from each of the championship teams will be recognized by the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field prior to their game against the Pittsburgh Pirates. We will be in the stands applauding them.
It has been a fun week playing, watching and hearing about great softball games. We made some new friends, visited with old friends and explored Chicago. But we’re ready for the trip back to Connecticut where our dog and cat will be glad to see us again. School time is here and it’s time to put away the bat a glove for awhile. We will miss gathering with our friend and when winter ends we will be ready to do it all over again.
Friday, Sept. 2 recap
Elimination Friday found Southern New England’s “Hangovers” on the wrong end of a 15-10 game with Tampa “Inferno/Trouble.” Tampa scored 7 runs in the first inning and Dave W. hit two long balls in the third and fourth innings for home runs and 5 RBI’s. In the fourth inning the top of the “Hangovers” order put together hits for six runs. Daniel C hit his first home run in the series, but the “Hangovers” ran short of time and short on runs. So, with that our participation in the 2011 World Series was complete and so was the 2011 softball season.
There is more than one way to be eliminated from the tournament. Each team submits ratings of their players and the total of the top 10 player is what is used to rate the team into 1 of the 4 divisions. During the games there is a complicated and expensive process that is used to challenge individual and team ratings. If a player or team is found to be under rated and therefore too good for the division they are playing in that team or player is disqualified. I have heard of a few challenges in the D division and even considered pursuing a challenge. However, I have not heard of any that were upheld. In the C division the NY “Eagle” lost a protest resulting in an untimely end to their tournament. The rumors continue to fly around to what happened or may happen but the remaining teams continue to play hoping that their integrity is not challenged.
At the end of Friday’s play 5 teams remain in the hunt for the D division title. Boston’s Good Times is the only team left standing in the winner’s bracket and awaits the survivor from the loser’s bracket which includes LA Swingers and Austin Ball Busters.
Today many of the 2,000 players found some time in their schedules to squeeze in a few moments as tourists in Chicago or fans in the stands. We stopped at the Field Museum (across from Soldiers’ Field) this morning. We were able to check out a T-Rex named Sue, the largest skeletal remains of a T-Rex found in South Dakota. Contrary to the name the gender of this dinosaur is unknown. Some of Boston’s players checked out the glass floor at the Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower).
Saturday all games will be held in one location so we’ll get to see all 5 divisions play their final games at Olympic Park in Schaumberg, IL before heading to the closing ceremonies and street fair in Boystown.
Thursday, Sept. 1 recap
Thursday saw the beginning of the double elimination round of the 35th Gay World Series. After pool play and the seatings, the Hangovers found themselves seated 20 out of the 48 teams in the D division. Most teams played until they had a loss today. Hangovers started the day with a 6 inning game and win over first year team, Crescent City Crawlers from New Orleans.
The Hangovers then entered their second game against the Chicago Mi Terra Crush, while the Hangovers jumped out to a 6 run lead in the bottom of the first inning with all 10 in the batting order entering the batter’s box, the game ended after two innings utilizing the international tie breaker (where the last batted out in the previous inning begins as a runner from second base). In the top of the eighth inning, shortstop Jeff H. caught a runner between second and third in a run down for out 2 of the inning. Alertly Jeff noticed the other runner trying to advance to second from first, a double pickle! The Hangovers completed the defensive half of the inning with a third out tagging that runner as he tried to return to first. This ended the Crush’s scoring threat. The Hangovers then went on to load the bases in the bottom of the eighth setting the stage for Doug with one-out to hit a sacrifice to right field to score the winning run. However, in the third game for the Hangovers, the Atlanta Pink Cadets broke out to an eight run lead in the bottom of the first inning. While the Hangovers put together hits in the second through fourth innings to score six runs the first inning was too much to overcome and the game was ended in the bottom of the fifth inning when the Cadets scored their 16th run of the game invoking the run-rule. The Hangovers await the result of tomorrow’s early games to begin their march to Saturday’s finals from the Loser’s bracket.
Boston’s Club Café Good Times, Atlanta’s Pink Cadets and Ft Lauderdale’s Rosie’s Renegades look like they could stay in the winner’s bracket through Friday. Approximately 150 teams will continue to play on Friday. No one has yet been eliminated from the chance to play on Championship Saturday. Tomorrow we will see who can pull off the upsets and who will meet their expectations and move forward with a chance to win this year’s title.
In an update, Wednesday evening’s annual NAGAAA talent show raised more than $12,000 for area charities. The beneficiaries of the talent show are the Howard Brown Broadway Youth Center, Illinois Safe School Alliance and Families’ and Childrens’ AIDS Network. Since the inception of the talent show, the Gay Softball World Series has raised more than $225,000 for local charities.
Wednesday, Aug. 31 recap
Every team had two more games today. For the “Hangovers” it was a win against Austin’s “Hot Mess”. We came out strong with our bats in the first inning getting everyone to the plate. “Hot Mess’” #55 hit a 4 run in the park homerun to get their offense started in the 3rd inning. They made a valiant effort but could not counter the hits that kept coming for our “Hangovers”. The final score was 13 to 10. The second game was exciting. “Son of Pitches” from Huston were ready to play. They hit the ball hard and found some gaps in our defense to take an early lead, but the “Hangovers” bats still had some life. We battle to within 4 runs with nine minutes remaining in the game. We scored enough runs to tie the game but just couldn’t get the go ahead run in. “Sons of Pitches” got a leadoff double. The next ball was a spectacular catch by the second baseman but the runner was moved to third, 1 out. The next hit was to the shortstop who threw home to stop that runner from scoring, 2 out. The last out was a pop fly to left field, 3 outs. Time had expired and the “Hangovers” got there last at bat, but we just didn’t have and hits left and the game ended in a 7-7 tie.
The evening was about raising money for local charities in Chicago. In 1990 the Pittsburgh World Series organizers started a tradition of hosting a talent show. 100% of the funds raised are given to local organizations that help the in the fight against AIDS. This year the beneficiaries include: Broadway Youth Center, a Program of Howard Brown Health Center, Illinois Safe School Alliance, and The Families’ & Children’s AIDS Network. The talent included Drag, singers, and comedy. This Wednesday evening tradition is a time of fun and fraternizing.
While everyone enjoys the party the tournament coordinators are hard at work putting together all the win/loss records from the round robin play. The final result is the seeding for the double elimination round. These brackets hit the walls around 11:15 pm. This is the first time teams know when they will play the next day. For the “Hangovers” it was a #20 (out of 48) seed and an 8:55am game. Time to get some rest before we face our first opponent, #45 seed New Orleans Crescent City Craw.
Tuesday, Aug. 30 recap
Last night saw opening ceremonies as Navy Pier. Most of the 2000 athletes competing in this weeks softball games have descended on the Chicago area despite Irene’s best efforts this weekend. The fields were beautiful this morning as Southern New England engaged in its first of two games today.
After being down four runs after two innings, the New London “Hangovers” team climbed its way back to a walk-off win after veteran Eddie V hit a game winning RBI to score Daniel C against Seattle “Buzz.” Game two was a back and forth battle against first year competitor St Louis “Arch.” The pitching of Aaron K. was key; he impressed the plate umpire who commented after the game on how well he placed his pitches. Unfortunately time expired on the “Hangovers” as their second game ended in a one run lost.
In other games The Club Café’s “Goodtimes” team representing Boston played well winning their first game with a 10 run differential but losing their second game after the combined run total of 33, not easy to do in a 55 minute time limit. This team may be a team to watch along with some others stand outs. The “Hot Mess” Team out of Austin played with enthusiasm, winning their first game but loosing the second. The Atlanta “Pink Cadets” held their opponents to a combined 2 runs while scoring a total of 25 runs on the day. That total was out done by Dallas’ “Boom” who found a way to bring in 49 runners in just 2 games.
In all the day went well. Wednesday the teams will hit the fields again. Competition is getting fierce and teams are enjoying the experience.
Monday, August 29 recap
Today is the start of the 2011 North American Gay Armature Athletic Alliance’s (NAGAAA) annual Softball World Series. This is the 35th year that teams from across the US and Canada have gathered for competition and comradery. It is the largest gay sporting event in the world. We are here to play softball, to compete for the title of champion and when all is said and done to make friends.
In today's managers meeting Roy Melani, Commissioner of the NAGAAA board, summed it up best. As he faced some serious health issues this past year he said he thought about what NAGAAA has meant to him and what kind of a legacy he could leave when his time comes to a close. He talked about enjoying the games, being proud of what we were doing and making lasting friendships. His words were taken to heart by those in the room. On and off the field we all have a duty to ourselves, our home leagues and the host city to play hard, honestly and with courage.
There is much excitement about the four new cities that are represented in this year’s games. Knoxville, TN, New Orleans, LA, St Louis, MO, and Tulsa, OK are here and ready to play. Everyone will be watching these new teams to see what they bring to the field. Mostly we are all ready to welcome the players into this tradition of fun.
So the games will begin Tuesday morning. My Southern New England team plays its first of four round robin games at 8:50am. Our second game will follow shortly after that. Then we’ll spend some time in this fun city and do it again on Wednesday. We are ready. Bring on the competition!