There’s nothing quite like the first time you put on that old blue jersey and punch your glove in its guts. Welcome back, Hoppers. It’s opening day.
Your beloved Young Hoppers opened the season against FRB, a squad of presentable young dandies who lacked the polish of presentable team uniforms. Though I’m usually the last to comment on fashion choices (and tend to appreciate the ragtag Sandlot kids, most especially Benny “The Jet” Rodriguez), I did feel as though the gentleman playing pitcher was at a severe disadvantage on account of his short sleeves in blustery March weather. But that’s neither here nor there.
As is customary, our fearless leader, Kovacs (who actually fears many things, including sexual inadequacy and spelling tests) won the coin toss, assuring that the Hoppers took the field first. FRB was no match for Kovacs’s tricky spin pitches or the solid Hoppers fielding. A liner to second and two pop flys sent FRB into retirement like they were waiting on a union pension.
Lead-off batter Jeremy “Flash” Gordon singled in his first at-bat and advanced on a fielder’s choice, scoring on an extra base hit by Josh Bard. FRB was able to sedate the Hoppers, but not before Bard scored and put the Hoppers up 2-0.
The second inning was the only sign of hope for FRB, who fought back with a string of singles and extra bases only to trail 2-1. But after that, it was like listening to the theme from Batman: dunna dunna dunna dunna dunna dunna dunna.
The Hoppers showed no mercy in the field, catching almost every pop fly (cough, Ricky) and line drive, and echoing the valiant cries of Gandalf, “You shall not pass!” on every ball that dropped into the gaps between center and left field. It was like Angels in the Outfield, with substantially less arm flapping and fewer broken families.
After two scoreless and disappointing innings, the Hoppers’ bats woke up from their hangover and started pounding mimosas and bloody Marys. After Josh “Bardo” Bard caaaa-RUSHED a ball into the parking lot and Dave “Vacation” Duberstein drilled a triple, the Hoppers connected more singles than Match.com, running up the score to 10-1 after four innings.
FRB was poised to begin their comeback in the fifth inning, with one out and runners in scoring position. But when Brian “Cleveland Steamer” Weiss caught a fly ball and hurled it home to Bekah “UppahBekah” Jones, she (kind of) put a tag on the runner. The last embers of hope were snuffed out for FRB.
The Hoppers kept cruising until the score of 16-1, which would hold until the final out in the top of the seventh inning. The Hoppers could save last licks for a trip to Fro-Zen-Yo.
For the Young Hoppers, opening day showed terrific promise and a team with chemistry, guts, and zero fatties. As returning champs, The Hoppers are certainly a team to watch, maybe the team to watch in this year’s softball league, so long as they can keep their mental errors, pop flys, post-game celebration conflicts about Black Finn vs. Bottom Line, hamstring injuries (cough, I must be coming down with a case of the Rickies), and wacky face picture injuries to a minimum.
INJURY REPORT: Jeremy “Sweatie Eddie” Ferrara didn’t run into anyone today, though he did take a stone hard grounder to the ankle. Doctors report that Jeremy will be fine if he ices the bruise and brings a dry change of clothes.
– Kovacs collected his first strikeout of the season when dude in short sleeves went down looking. Come on, bro. Kovacs also touched all bases on a shouldabeen sac fly that some skinny biddie in the outfield couldn’t handle. Listen, a home run is a home run.
– The game marked the return of two supposed former infatuation Hoppers – Bekah Jones and David Duberstein and the legal premiere of Melissa “Coop” Cooper. These little dreamboats prove that if you swing your bat hard enough, you still have to run to first base.
– Alex Bard and Dan Scialpi played solid defense at shortstop, ensuring that even when Stu isn’t playing, we have a shortstop controversy.
– Your humble scribe and narrator went 3-3 on dead pull singles, one of which was a fielder’s choice. The other two, which came off the Vince Howard bat, were in the Bermuda triangle between shortstop, third base and left field.
– Stu was somewhere else, so we came in low on poop jokes.