Archive for the ‘Unofficial Shadow League’ Category

Turns Out the Winners Do Write History: Late ‘Chronicle’ Comeback Stuns BookPeople, Clinches Series

Monday, August 13th, 2007

Beware the Britches: Chronicle trophy takes the piss out of BookPeople (Photo by Shelley Hiam)

Gazing intimately into the eyes of death as it gave them a come-hither look and slipped into something more comfortable late Thursday night, The Austin Chroniclers resisted its clumsy advances and demurred with the class that has emerged as their calling card.

In so doing – winning a staring contest while dodging a bullet, which poses a bit of a challenge when you actually stop and think about it (something you should do more often) – they captured a hard-fought game 12-11 and a highly charged series 2-1 against archrival BookPeople. It was a remarkable moment last week that ranked right up there among the return of Rick Ankiel to the St. Louis Cardinals and the release of the new Okkervil River album alongside word of the I’m Not There soundtrack. And while life would indeed go on for the Chroniclers as well as the world around them – please, God, let it – the People of Book were not nearly as fortunate: They were ritually beheaded according to the ancient Maya rules of competition adapted and agreed upon for this Unofficial Shadow League of Local Businesses showcase.

“Painful,” said one bare-chested and hungry-looking witness to the grisly scene at the Monroe “Lefty” Krieg Softball Fields and Athletic Complex as he gathered up plastic cups and aluminum cans to sell to a local recycling facility. “Preeeetttyy sure they’ll find enough replacement retail workers in time for their next game though.” Whether they’ll find enough morale after blowing a late 11-7 lead is anyone’s guess, as is who brought back the keg that BookPeople rented for the rubber match, since they were all … well, you know.

Yessir, a sobering bottom of the eighth for BookPeople led to celebration for the Chroniclers and their few but faithful fans. A team that had struggled to string hits together, to secure the Dudley Thunder in their Shady Ladies, and to maintain any scoreboard momentum in a see-saw battle of startling mediocrity were as surprised as everyone else when the end of their order – heretofore a black hole – plated five runs in the penultimate frame after BookPeople had brought home three in the top half to stake a four-run advantage for starting pitcher Chris Blank.

A sharp single by Michael King drove in inflammatory third-baseman Commander Cody Captain Kirk and Andrea Skola to start the scoring in the Chronicle eighth, while Christina Jupson reached on an infield hit (subsequently taunting the opposition with a somersault) that set the table for big two-out singles from pitcher Charlie Sotelo and designated photographitter Shelley Hiam. The latter laced an authoritative liner over short – its sheer force and je ne sais quoi should bode well for her future endeavors as an Austin Roller Derby diva – to tie the game for the Chroniclers; a controversial call at first on a James Renovitch groundball into the 3.5 hole gave them a lead they would not relinquish.

With two outs and the bases loaded, the gazelle-like Renovitch hit what appeared to be a ball headed for right field. But BookPeople second baseman Patrick Blank showed the range of a young Ronnie Belliard in reaching it, lunging at the last second and spearing it off of a short hop. He whirled, fired to leggy and laconic first basewoman Jen Blank, and watched helplessly as Chronicle first-base coach Matt Bumb (longtime compadre of shortstop Shawn Badgley and on loan from the American Studies program at the College of William & Mary) decisively spread his arms out wide with his palms down. The Chroniclers nosed ahead 12-11, and the field exploded into equal parts revelry and hairy-eyed cross words. Not the ones good for preventing Alzheimer’s, mind you, but rather those good for sheepish regret after the game. Here’s looking at you, “All the Boys Love” Mandy Blank.

Renovitch was clearly safe.

BookPeople was clearly in danger.

Sotelo closed the deal in the top of the ninth with help from catcher Jupson catching a routine popout behind home, first-baseman King catching a routine popout down the first-base foul line, and left-center-fielder Renovitch – a young man who couldn’t catch cold in a warmup loss against Waterloo Records & Video a week before – catching a routine popout in left-center-field. See how all of that works?

In the wake of the win, champagne sent in absentia by Editor Louis Black was uncorked, and a trophy provided in person by tile designer/outfielder/former trampoline owner Shannon Stott was presented. Much fun was had, and many pictures were taken. But there was a certain passivity in the air.

The trophy presentation itself was a lesson in concession and compromise: Captains Badgley and Jeff Rose, each a little crazy in their own way, decided that

1) the Chronicle team should keep not only the trophy designed and supplied by Stott – it’s papîer-machéd and pees on you; come by the offices to see what I mean – but also the weirdly awesome circa-1993 P.O.S. dropped by Rose and His Thorns (not just a softball team comprising booksellers anymore, but a grunge band, as well);

2) the negativity and nihilism inherent … in … the BookPeople trophy should represent the ill will and shaky resolution of the third Chronicle-BookPeople match-up; it marks the point wherein we realize things don’t always go our way, often randomly, even when they benefit folks we favor;

3) ineligible for rosters are Chinese Cresteds named Bowie and Iggy who reside in the Velvet Dogpound every time no matter what; eligible are golden-eyed emperor cats named Shmoo;

4) inscribed on the trophies will be the respective nicknames of the squads: the Filthy Animals for BookPeople and the Infantile Retards for the Chronicle; and

5) a daylong USLLB tournament thought up by (very) occasionally brilliant Chronicle co-captain Mark Fagan will resolve all, trophy and otherwise-y; stay tuned for the deets, skeeters.

Shawn Badgley

‘Chronicle’ Modulates Frequency of KOOP’s Bid for Unbeaten Season, Wins Instant Classic 7-5

Monday, July 23rd, 2007

Black Sox Scandalously Awesome: Shawn Badgley keeps the overweight back and the hands ahead of the bosom to drive a double into the gap (Photo by Rebecca Sikes)

Collectively picking up a softball and delicately cupping it between their fingers and palm for the first time in weeks, The Austin Chroniclers emerged from an extended rain-soaked layoff Sunday night to take a stubbornly muddy field and their toughest test of the young season: the undefeated KOOPerators, purveyors of fundamentally sound community radio and 24-karat play on the diamond.

“They’re pretty good,” co-captain Bobby Leath had explained 48 hours before a matchup that many observers considered a mere formality. “We should get everybody there by 6:30, and I’ll give a scouting report.”

But, Bo-Bo, gasped the team. That’s an hour before the game! Little did they know they were in for an even bigger break in routine: The Chroniclers never got a chance to see and hear Leath standing in the bleachers with a megaphone and cigarette Sunday evening, as the game was unceremoniously bumped from Krieg Field No. 5 to No. 8 to accommodate a rescheduled Senior League showdown.

To quote St. Louis Cardinals radio broadcaster Mike Shannon, “Well, folks, this game began as a tiny worm and is blossoming into a large cobra.”

Alternately, to quote Mike Tyson, “One morning I woke up and found my favorite pigeon, Julius, had died. I was devastated and was gonna use his crate as my stickball bat to honor him. I left the crate on my stoop and went in to get something and I returned to see the sanitation man put the crate into the crusher. I rushed him and caught him flush on the temple with a titanic right hand. He was out cold, convulsing on the floor like an infantile retard.”

In Sunday night’s parallel scenario, the Chronicle was Tyson, Julius, and the sanitation man all at the same time.

Indeed, an already shaky and rusty team would have even less time to shake off the rust, and they wallowed in the unfairness of it all while warming up. By 7:30 – gametime – covered in mud and mold and sweat, the Chroniclers (or whatever you want to call them) had started to come apart at the seams like a softball struck by co-captain Shawn Badgley (above-right). The only consolation? KOOP didn’t get the memo and had yet to show up. Maybe this mess could be avoided altogether.

And then there they were, marching en masse along the facility’s circuitous promenade like the Venezuelan military moving in on Radio Caracas, which as you know is actually a TV station.

“They look pretty good,” co-captain and pitcher Charlie Sotelo was overheard to say. “Look at them.”

“No,” said co-captain and outfielder Nü Güy. “I can’t do it. I would, but I’m afraid I’d crap my pants. After a brief glance, however, I can admit that there is a certain magick about them.” But as he knelt down on one knee and rubbed streaks of mud on his face like war paint, the Local Business Unofficial Shadow League’s leading hitter gathered himself. “Poof! will go POOP Radio,” he whispered loudly enough for anyone within earshot.

Luckily, most of his teammates were, and they sprinted to their positions in the top of the 1st with an unlikely bounce in their steps.

And said defense looked a little something like this:

Sotelo, P
Christina Jupson, C
Mark Fagan, 1B
Andrea Skola, 2B
Shannon Stott, 3B
Badgley, SS
James Renovitch, LF
Dave Woolsey, LC
Güy, RC
Shelley Hiam, RF

And the KOOP lineup looked a little something like this:

Jay Robillard (The Lounge Show), OF
Ariel Von Quintos, P
Peter Heck, 2B
Matt Daley (Up on the Download), 1B
Nick Trevino (Tradewinds), SS
David Parnell, OF
Elizabeth Jackson (from the band Darling New Neighbors), C
Paul Feinstein (Up on the Download)
Pete Katz aka Pedro Gatos (Bringing Light Into Darkness), 3B
Andrew Dickens (President)

And, after a brief clarification of the ground rules, the game was under way a little something like this:

KOOP didn’t manage much during their first turn due in large part to sterling Chronicle play on less-than-sterling turf, and a sharp single from leadoff hitter and co-captain Stott in the bottom half set the stage for a double from the 3 spot. Who was that again? … let me check my scorecard … ah, yes, it’s that man again … Badgley, who would come all the way around on an errant throw.

“Force the defense to make plays,” he shouted to the sky as he rounded third. “If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times: Put pressure on the defense.

“No assumptions,” he continued as he stepped heavily on home, struggling to regain his breath despite having quit smoking one year and two months ago. “Only anticipations.”

(Badgley was and is almost certainly overcompensating for a newly encountered phobia involving an apparent inability to complete routine throws to first with any consistency. In other words, a .600 fielding percentage is hard to hide, my friend. You’re not fooling anyone.)

Alas, the 2-0 lead was short-lived, as KOOP kept their adversary’s advice in mind while scratching three runs across in the top of the 3rd. They would force one play too many, though, in testing the arm of the calm, cool, and collected left-fielder and co-captain Renovitch, who gained an assist when co-captain Skola made an acrobatic catch of a relay at second (via another would-be wild throw from the shortstop) to whirl and tag out an overly aggressive KOOP baserunner.

The duo would collaborate again two innings later: Skola singled, broke up a double play to allow Renovitch to reach on a fielder’s choice, and watched in triumph from the dugout as co-captain Woolsey lined a nice piece down the right-field line to tie the score at 3.

With half the game gone, the Chroniclers found themselves locked up with the best team in the LBUSL. Renewed, they would not trail again, surging to a 6-3 lead in the 6th.

Hits by rookie co-captain Austin Powell, who replaced the irreplaceable Woolsey in left-center, and Leath bookended tough outs from co-captain Jupson and Stott, themselves foiled by stellar defense from KOOP shortstop Trevino and the wiles and wits of courageous hurler Von Quintos, as lovely and talented as her name suggests. Seriously, she’s pretty good and pretty cute.

Still, her cuteness, goodness, talent, loveliness, courage, wits, and wiliness were no match for Badgley, who promptly gapped another double before scoring on a Güy basehit.

All that remained was airtight fielding from co-captain/third baseman “Commander” Cody Kirk and a controversial play at the keystone. Following an insurance run courtesy of a Fagan (co-captain)-and-Woolsey combo in the 7th, Skola endured retribution amid a two-run KOOP rally in the 8th. With the score 7-5, another overly aggressive baserunner clumsily went knees-first into second base on a potential forceout, taking Skola out at hers. She would limp off a pitch or two later, injured. (The KOOPerator apologized profusely, but was nonetheless dragged into the woods surrounding Krieg by an angry mob of Chronicle softball hooligans and never heard from again.)

Be it resolved, the Chroniclers seemed to say to themselves and to the world, there is no way we lose this game. Lo and behold!: An otherwise uneventful 9th was highlighted by solid play from second-base replacement and co-captain Hiam as the alt-stars cruised to victory. Gatos né Katz & Co. – stunned as they were – were gracious in defeat and reportedly await a rematch.

Meanwhile, the Chroniclers play BookPeople on Thursday night at 8pm on No. 5 in a tilt that will for all intents and purposes decide the outcome of the LBUSL, only because they’re not really sure who else they’re going to play, besides maybe Waterloo Records and Video or Opal Divine’s or some dirtbag Red River bartenders. On Thursday, the team and their fans will also say goodbye to “Score”r extraordinaire and co-captain Jeremy Martin – a real good one going on to real good things – during a K&Q (keg-and-barbecue) party that night.

Be there or be an infantile retard.

Shawn Badgley

‘Chronicle’ Upsets BookPeople at Krieg, Sets Sights on Other Sixth & Lamar Businesses

Wednesday, June 13th, 2007

The last thing I expected last night, when I showed up fashionably late to coach first base at the Chronicle‘s gripping softball match against the Fightin’ Nerds from BookPeople, was a real ballgame. But that happened immediately, as soon as we fell down 4-0 before ever coming to bat. It didn’t improve a whole lot in the bottom half of the frame, when I sent a runner to second as the ball was already on its way back into the infield. Cassie totally would have been safe if she slid. Swear.

Luckily, our unique blend of offense and opportunism scored six times one inning later, and the ragtag team from Hancock Center never trailed again. That’s right: Until the rematch in two weeks, BookPeople is officially the Chronicle‘s bitch. Scoreboard!

Members of the 'Chronicle' team who stuck around to drink

Books/Screens Editor Shawn Badgley, Art Director Taylor Holland, Classified bangers Bobby Leath and Andrea Skola, Advertising Assistant Christina Jupson, and Publisher Nick Barbaro all had productive evenings at the plate, but not as much as the dude on the lineup card known only as “Nü Güy” – supposedly his given name is Michael Bartnett – who was not retired the whole game, scoring all five times he reached base. Believe me, no one has ever scored that much at the Chronicle, ever.

We won this game National League-style, with pitching and defense. Charlie Sotelo, our rubber-armed ringer on loan from South by Southwest and public-access TV, hurled a complete game, counting the three or four innings of “stoppage time” we kept playing just for fun. Holland and Score! Editor Mark Fagan picked it all night as a solid first-base platoon, and shortstop manager Badgley got all Ozzie Smith with a SportsCenter-worthy diving stab behind third and subsequent frozen rope to Fagan to double off the runner. Proofreader James Renovitch also killed a couple of rallies with some slick glove-work in left field.

As for BookPeople, even the dude who played with his shirt off in full plumbers’ crack regalia and a cheering section that absolutely embarrassed the Chronicle‘s weren’t enough to turn the tide. Final score, 14-9, Chronicle. Both teams’ sportsmanship was admirable all evening – apparently unlike BookPeople’s previous game against Waterloo Records – so here’s one final, most unliterary, rejoinder for our vanquished bookworm foes: Suck it!

Now it’s on to the rest of that intersection. What’s up, Whole Foods?

Christopher Gray