In 18-9 Rout, Young Hoppers send Softballs Big Knockers back to training bras

Just like your underwear after food poisoning, the Hoppers are a team of hot streaks.  When we’re on, we’re on.  When we’re off, definitely try to avoid talking to Josh for a few days.

And on this particular Wednesday, we were on.

Your hometown heroes took the field to face off against Softballs Big Knockers, a middle-of-the-pack team with an eye-roll of a name that screams for a wedgie.  Softballs Big Knockers look like they extracted eleven recent college graduates from a local Abercrombie store, not the statuesque models who make you feel bad because you have consumed bread products in the last 48 hours.  Just average-looking shoppers who enjoy overpaying for shitty clothes because they have a vaguely beachy-meets-preppy appearance.  Too lazy to be Pacific Sunwear, too faded to be Ralph Lauren.  Just a bunch of mediocre dudes with expensive gloves and pretty but unathletic girls.

The Hoppers started off the game letting up four runs to the top of the Big Knockers’ order.  But like a game of Simon, we played back that sequence in the bottom of the first inning, to tie the game at 4-4.

Simon

From then on, the Hoppers fielded damn near perfectly, including two unbelievably athletic scoops from secondbaseman Audrey “Raisin Bran” Idon’tknowherlastname.  Kovacs was off gallivanting in Iceland, so we easily replaced him with a better looking, better performing pitcher who is equally Jewish and adept at the coin-toss.  That’s right: Dave Duberstein pitched all seven innings, including a stretch of ten consecutive outs between the second and fifth.

dmd

This is an actual picture of young Duberstein.

The hit parade continued, with the Hoppers scoring another three runs through the fourth inning, leading the Big Knockers 8-5.  But the Knockers weren’t done.  They rallied back in the fifth inning to tie the game again.

But the Hoppers would not be denied.  We lit up the sky like a thunderstorm, loud and torrential.  Every Hopper who got on base and was subsequently pelted in by a homer or grand slam by Mike Muldoon (of Rock, Flag, and Eagle fame), Stu Koltov, or Around the Horn’s wholesome underage wonderboy, InternJeff.  When the crew came in to survey the carnage, the Hoppers had scored seven runs to go up 15-8.

And though the Big Knockers attempted a rally, they were ultimately shut down by InternJeff, who chased down a fly ball in centerfield, collected his luggage, and still had time to make his connecting flight to home plate.  There are few things more exciting than watching a young, virile Mets fan whip in a perfect throw against a careless, cocky baserunner.

The game ended as it should have, with a 18-9 Hoppers victory, before strolling off to The Bottom Line, where they tried to serve Alex the soup of the day and then forgot to bring his tater tots.

missing tots

The Hoppers continue our summer success streak at 2-0.  We’re off this week for Independence Day because America.  That is not an error; it is a complete sentence.  We pick up again next Wednesday to play randtastic, whose pitcher is a doughy, snot-nosed prick.

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Posted in Softball

RFE Ties Bros & Zombies 2-2 in Thriller

I circled the date on our schedule.  Monday, June 24.  Opening day.  Rock, Flag, and Eagle would begin out summer season.  Our ascent to a title match.  The first stop on our tour?  Those dastardly Bros & Hipsters United.

opening-day

On paper and the field, RFE looked healthier and better than ever.  Pauly’s back (is sweaty), Mike’s healthy, and Kevin gave me a way cool Superman arm band.  We were ready to grind.  I’m yo pusha.  Hashtag READY, BRO.

But what’s this?  Where you at Bros & Hips?  Not enough bodies?  Might RFE pick up a historic first win against our better-looking, smarter, more popular older brother — via forfeit?  It just didn’t feel right.

Time ticked onward.  Still not enough bodies.  The panic and disappointment shone brightly against their neon jerseys.  And then something happened.

It was a Thriller.  Not like lowercase t, thriller, as in “exciting.”  Like Thriller, the Michael Jackson video, because out of fucking nowhere, all these humans and zombies and undead mummies came crawling out of the woodwork.  Suddenly all these strangers in hot yellow shirts materialized, put on their socks and boots, and changed the lay of the game from a 9v6 to a 9v7 to a 9vTheWorld.

zombie onslaught

RFE smartly started the game by tallying a goal, taking advantage of the numbers we had on Bros & Hips.  We controlled possession down the offensive third before squeezing the ball into the box, where Jeremy Gordon blasted a ball that ricocheted against Bros & Hipsters’ goalie, and the casually bounced into the net.  The goal wasn’t pretty, but piss off because neither are you.

The vacancies on Bros & Hipsters began to fill in like a gentrifying neighborhood (helloooooo H Street!), and with each new player on the field RFE’s ability to possess the ball diminished.  Because of the many changes in the dynamic of our opponents, it was nearly impossible to establish a rhythm to the game.  It felt like warfare, where we were the organized military fighting a bunch of rogue, decentralized cells.  Good thing this is just a simile, otherwise it would really sound like I just called our opponents terrorists.

Moments after halftime, Bros & Hipsters marched downfield and put one in the back of the net, tying the score at 1-1.  I don’t remember who or how, but it happened.  I’m not proud of it.

The good news is that RFE maintained composure and continued to play patiently, serving the ball through midfielders and working to establish a rhythm.  It was as if Rihanna started yelling at us, “Please don’t stop the music!” and we were like “OK, RiRi, ya trick skeezer, we won’t.”

With only a few minutes remaining in the game, Shaina Ross carried the ball down the sideline and pinched in at the corners, like she was forming a pie crust.  At the 12 yard-line, she saw Mike Mastrantuono shake his defender and sent him a gentle pass across the box.  Just like the time I made a gigantic pot of chili and he ate almost the whole thing, Mike put that shit away without anyone’s consent.

RFE held the lead 2-1.  To pull off our first victory against our Bros & Hips, all we’d have to do is hold those little neon lightning bugs in our jar and poke holes in the lid.

lightning bugs

No forfeits needed, right?  Just a win, the old fashioned way, right?

Ugh, if only.

Those zombies just kept coming.  They smelled fear.  They smelled blood.  They attacked brutally, with no regard for human life.  RFE’s keeper, Alex Bard, fended off about a dozen shots, securing the box in a way he’s been unable to replicate with women.  It was phenomenal to watch him.  The kid was like a mongoose.

alex

But then with thirty seconds to go, Bros & Hipsters teed off a goal kick and sprinted downfield without giving RFE any chance to set its defense.  They converged dangerously and moved in sync.  With their teeth bared, Bros & Hips pulled off the greatest choreographed sequence in the history of music videos.

With one glancing blow, they sent in the equalizer along with the message that they refused to lose (but that tying is OK).  Seconds later, the whistle blew to end the game in a 2-2 tie that felt like a loss.

The tie against Bros & Hipsters will only help RFE in our quest to the playoffs, and the feeling of disappointment is one we won’t soon forget.  It’s fuel for the fire, and we’re going for a long, slow burn.  Which I mean in the good way.  Not like herpes.

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Posted in Soccer

Biggie Shorties Win the Firefight, 5-4, Over MSI

The onset of summer means the onset of compulsory athletic activities.  For example, when someone casually asks you…

“Yo.  How do you feel about playing more soccer?”

…the end result is joining an entirely new league, new night, new team.  It’s like you’re Princess Jasmine and you’re trusting Aladdin because he’s kinda hot and has Steve from Full House’s voice.  So now, I’m in a 7v7 coed league, where it’s a whole new world.

Seven v. seven is like someone clicked on the bottom corner of a soccer game and dragged it upward, reducing the length of the field but keeping its width.  Like folding a paper hamburger style, not hot dog.  It’s squat and stocky, with smaller goals and less running.  With the reduced size and the strangely wide proportions, the strategy changes altogether.  It’s less about athleticism and brute strength and more about finesse, touch, and precision.  So, I’ll be honest.  I’m not really doing my team any favors here.  These are not my greatest competencies.

Now, let me introduce you to your new favorite team, the Biggie Shorties.  While most 7v7 squads consist of 5 dudes and two ladies, we’re flipping the script.  We’ve got only two biggies and five shorties.

Biggie-Shorty

And lots of boob jokes.

For those of you unfamiliar with Louis C.K.’s 2001 sleeper film Pootie Tang (featuring J.B. Smoove before you knew who that was and Chris Rock when you sure as shit did), Biggie Shorty is the unsung hero in the film.  She’s the woman who knows best.  Biggie Shorty, played by Wanda Sykes, is the only woman who isn’t so thrown by Pootie Tang that she loses her goddamn mind, like this poor countrygirl.

Our squad is filled with equally level-headed biddies.  We don’t really know each other all that well, but if Thursday night’s premiere game is any indication, we’ve got some pretty stellar chemistry.  Things just kind of clicked.  Some might even call it women’s intuition.

biggie shorty1

The Biggie Shorties stepped on the field to face MSI on one of those glorious days when the sunlight just won’t quit.

Within the first ten minutes, Marissa McBride made her presence known, commanding the offensive side.  MSI’s defense was unable to track her, leaving her at midfield to receive a pass from team captain Zach Straus with enough time to turn and drop the ball into a slot, like a coin in a jukebox.  None of this TouchTunes spending a dollar to cut the line to play your track next.  Biggie Shorties took an early 1-0 lead.

Only four minutes later, Marissa was at it again, this time ripping a shot from point blank range.  One of MSI’s rogue players took on a “by any means necessary” approach to defense, leaping into the air and slapping it with his hands.  Where I come from, this is called a n00b hand ball.  The bonehead play resulted in a free kick, directly in front of the net.  The entire goal was lined with grey jerseys, as MSI made their stand.  But if you’ve ever seen Marissa play, you know this isn’t even a thing.  As if they weren’t even there, she drilled the ball low, letting it ping off their legs like they were stacked milk bottles on a boardwalk.  Naturally, she knocked it down, winning a dumb stuffed duck, and putting the Biggie Shorties up 2-0.

milk bottles

But MSI was not to be defeated so easily.  Just before the close of the first half, their striker put one on net, just out of reach of goalkeeper Hannah Farda, putting the game at 2-1.

After a quick regroup for halftime, both offenses started to light up.  The Biggie Shorties started the half with finesse, as Tamira Guevara weaved through MSI’s defense, leaving the ball to Cara Mauldin, who sent an RPG into the back of the net for a 3-1 lead with twenty minutes to play in the game.

MSI then changed its strategy, switching goalies and spending the next seven minutes on a brutal assault.  Hannah deflected a series of shots and made two crucial saves.  But after a shelling like that, MSI brough back two goals, knotting the game at 3s.

Never one to panic, Biggie Shorties defender Alex Bustamante created some daylight, switching the field and threading a pass to John Whitfield who took a poised and confident hammer into the far post, to secure a 4-3 lead going into the final minutes of the game.

Still, the pesky MSI squad fought back and sent the ball for a ride, tying the game at 4-4.

But something didn’t quite make sense.  All game, Talia Dweck had been checking to space and putting shots on net.  She’d been making calculated runs, but it still didn’t add up.  Before anyone had the time to dwell on this mystery, Talia set the record straight.  On a crisp, leading cross sent toward the box by John, Talia fired a shot that ended the game once and for all.

The Biggie Shorties take on the Urban Achievers, this Thursday at 9pm.  But don’t worry, soccer fans!  Because Rock, Flag, and Eagle have their first match tonight (Monday).  Opening day.  It doesn’t get better than this.

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Posted in Soccer

GET READY. The Summer of Tomboyer

If I’m indoors for more than three consecutive hours in the summer, I’m either staring wistfully out the window at work, sleeping to repair my muscles, or straight deadsies.

If I’m faithful to you (and I’m going to try, but I kind of fear commitment so let’s keep this casual if you don’t mind… NO REGRETS!), you will hear quite a bit from me in coming weeks.  So much so that I might accidentally reuse some clever sporty metaphors, thinking they’re fresh when they’re not.  I have the same problem with sports bras.

sports bras

Does it matter if one of these sports bras smells a little? Prob not, right?

I hope you’ll forgive me like I’ve learned to forgive myself.

And if you don’t hear from me, don’t panic.  I’m sure I’m just outside playing any sport, except golf because that requires zero hustle and is for unshapely white dudes who make jokes about investment portfolios.  I’m patently disinterested in any sport that makes you wear khakis, where eating a hot dog is basically expected, and where you’re almost certain to run into someone just like this guy.

golfers

So get ready for a summer of Tomboyer.  This will be my first time chronicling the greatest season, and you’re in for a treat.  Enjoy as I provide details on the following exciting topics:

  • My inability to decline offers to play soccer, and the evolution of smelly cleats;
  • Scrapes and raspberries from sliding into second, and the torturous shower that follows;
  • Being surprisingly good at volleyball despite being 5’4″ and never having formal instruction beyond being Phys Ed Student of the Year in 1998 and 2001;
  • Purchasing high tops and taping my ankle so I can make my long-awaited return to basketball, shooting deep threes because my percentage from 22-feet is substantially better than from 17-feet (or 12, for that matter);
  • Running a six-hour ultrarace in the dead heat of July: a special on dehydration, chafing, and why carb loading feels terrible; and
  • Proving that sunblock is total bullshit, and is basically just putting expensive, useless chemicals on your skin.

Get ready, nerds.  Just like everything in the summer, it’s going to be awesome.

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An Off-Sides Moratorium: RFE and Thunder in a Bottle Tie 1-1

Until last night, Rock, Flag, and Eagle held on to our dreams of making the playoffs by the flugelbinder of our shoelaces.  But now, the chances are higher that you understood that Cocktail reference than that Rock, Flag, and Eagle sees the postseason.

flugelbinder

After a bye week, RFE took to the field against Thunder in a Bottle, the lesser of two red teams in our league.  On paper and on the field, RFE appeared to have a clear advantage, but at the end of the match, the score was a disappointing 1-1.  Gross.

— We interrupt this broadcast because there’s an oddly matched couple sitting behind me, silently staring into each others’s eyes and weeping at a Caribou Coffee.  I NO LONGER WANT TO BE HERE. THISISSOAWKWARDMAKEITSTOP.  It’s getting hard to concentrate, but I’m going to power through.  Just wanted our viewers to know that our reporters are committed to covering the most hard-hitting issues.  We now return you to your regularly scheduled broadcast. —

The first half proved slow to start, probably because the game began at 9:30pm and umm-HELLO we all work for a living.  By the end of the first half, RFE had a nice rhythm and a few coordinated attacks, but failed to convert.

angelina

Not ten minutes into the second half, RFE found themselves in the offensive third, pressing the ball to the flag on a breakaway.  Marissa McBride cut the ball back to lose her defender and crossed it to a waiting Mike Muldoon at the top of the 18.  With the poise and grace of a male figure skater, Muldoon hit the ball low and steady to sail past the keeper, putting RFE up 1-0.

RFE had fewer subs than Thunder in a Bottle but still maintained possession, though the pace of the game slowed substantially.  RFE held onto the ball and made a few offensive breaks but ultimately came up empty.

With less than five minutes to play, Thunder in a Bottle won possession after a goal kick, and then sent the ball on a leading mission.  Its striker received the ball without any defenders to beat and tucked it in the back of the net to tie the game at 1-1.

While RFE’s defense remains steadfast that the receiving striker was off-sides, we should have known better.  At 9:30pm, you’re just not getting that call.  Matter of fact, you’re just not getting that call.  In a move that will make my dad proud,* I’m calling a moratorium on off-sides.  Trapping is not a winning strategy.  Winning is a winning strategy.

With this tie, RFE falls to 2-4-2 with one game remaining in the season.  Unfortunately, while this is a perfect bell curve, it also means that unless RFE wins 1000-0 and everyone on Sporting Social (maybe the worst team name I’ve ever heard) contracts typhoid, we’re not making the playoffs.

RFE takes on last place Les Bon Temps, who are 0-8 on the season.  If we lose this game, The Adventures of Tomboyer will be suspended indefinitely because I will have run away in shame and plan never to return, like Simba when he thinks he killed Mufasa.

run away and never return

In injury news, RFE hit a hard patch of luck when our illustrious goldenhaired midfielder, Meghan Ogilvie, decided she wanted a career change and promptly became Robocop.  After a casual Instagramming-while-biking accident, Meghan shattered her elbow.  But that wasn’t enough for the overachiever.  She also tore some ligaments for good measure.

robocop

“I mean, if you’re going to projectile off your bike you might as well go for it,” Ogilvie said when asked for comment. “Don’t just walk away with wimpy scratch.”

We could all learn a lot from Meghan.  First of all, she’s a trooper.  I mean, what a great attitude.  But more importantly, bikes are dangerous.

(*Like many American males who grew up in the fifties and sixties, my dad dislikes soccer because he believes it moves too slowly.  Rather than take the time to understand the purpose of off-sides or how soccer is the beautiful game, rather than a high-scoring hysterical game, he simply champions “fast break soccer” just like he champions “fast break golf.”  At least dude is a creative problem-solver.)

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Posted in Soccer

Hoppers Squeak Out a 9-8 Win, Koltov: “I Love Being Happy”

Wednesday, April 24

Washington, DC – Brian Weiss drilled a walk-off double, vaulting the Young Hoppers to an exciting 9-8 victory over The Scrubs. It was an important vindication for Weiss, whose fielding included the two most devastating drops since Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Too soon?

This win was David Lee Roth ugly.  Demonic smile, bleaching its hair, and wearing tight pants that show the outline of a creepy wiener you never wanted to see.  But look, a win is a win, no matter how ugly.

DLR

With the exception of a positively gross fifth inning, fielding was fine.  Not great.  I won’t waste your time with cheeky metaphors because there really was nothing spectacular.  They only put up eight runs in seven innings.  What more do you want from us?

But wait, we only put up nine.  What happened?  Great question, reader.  Our strongest hitters grounded to short or got thrown out at second.  Our medium hitters couldn’t clear the infield or beat the throw.  And our weakest hitters don’t exist because they’d get cut.  This is the three-time championship Young Hoppers.  You think this is just a game?

The sixth inning became dire.  We stranded two runners on base and went into the last inning down two runs, 8-6.  Here’s where most teams get frustrated, point fingers, and get down on themselves.  But not us.  We’re a plucky young bunch.  We held the Scrubs  scoreless and stepped to bat with guts you haven’t seen since you last played Operation.

operation_game

We dug our spikes into the batters box and started grooving them.  One after another, the Hoppers got on base.  Down only one run, with no outs and thick eyebrows, Weiss stepped to bat and cranked a double, driving in two runs to win the game.

“We’re so happy!” said Stu Koltov, the Hoppers’ star centerfielder.  “I love being happy!”

And don’t we all?  With this win, the Hoppers improve to 4-2 on the season and prove that when the chips are down, we pick up the pretzels and keep snacking.  You like what I did there with that idiomatic metaphor?

The Hoppers face The Bottom Line tonight at 6pm in front of the White House Ellipse.  We may also face The Bottom Line, the grimy bar on I and 17th Street NW immediately following the game.

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Posted in Softball

Those Dastardly Bros and Hipsters United.

Monday, April 21

Washington, DC – So, guys.  There’s this soccer team called Bros & Hipsters United.  We play them every freaking season.  We’ve never beat them.  We’ve never even tied.  I wish I could turn this post right on its head and hammer you with an exhilarating “until now!” but I cannot.  So if you’re a frontrunner who only likes a winner, get off my property.  If you’re willing to go along for the ride with the little engine that tries, then allow me to scan your ticket with this onomatopoeia.  Booooooooooooop!

little-engine-that-could

Allow me to paint the differences.

Players

Bros & Hips are staffed by people who smell like sunshine, mowed grass, and sweaty shin guards.  Their legs are like pa-POW and they do all the right things like call a field ‘the pitch,’ wake up early to watch English Premier League, and wear tapered Adidas pants.  All they do is play soccer.  Soccer in the morning, soccer in the evening, soccer at suppertime.  When soccer’s on a bagel, you can play soccer anytime (or so I’ve been told).  Bros & Hips includes the league commissioners, referees, and friends of referees.  To be fair, they keep it professional and don’t seem too biased.  But let’s be real: they put the question mark in, “Hey, is this a conflict of interest?”

Here at Rock, Flag, and Eagle, we require much less formal soccer training.  We draft good athletes who happen to have Monday nights available.  We’ve got some aces, don’t get me wrong.  I’d argue we have the most talented female players in the league (and I promise you, I don’t count myself among them.  I am comfortably the worst female on our team… In fact, I think I’m an evil genius for having engineered it that way.), but our approach to soccer is much more democratic and inclusive.  We’re serious about winning, but we also have boring jobs that pay off our student loans or finance our yuppie Whole Foods lifestyles.  I think we’re pretty clear on the trade-offs.

Unis

Your pals on Rock, Flag, and Eagle carry a most unfortunate curse.  Our jerseys are the same color as a problematic poop.  Maroon.  Look, if Kelly Kapowski can’t even make it look good, what hope do we have?

kelly kapowskiMeanwhile, Bros & Hips wear jerseys of neon yellow.  They are literally the hottest color on the block, which seems an already unfair advantage.  That’s like being Mr. Crayola and being like “Listen, herbs.  You get to be everyone’s least favorite shade of red.  Me?  I’m taking cerulean,” while stroking a hairless cat with your spindly fingertips.  Is there no mercy?  Is there no justice?

Scoring Acumen

One of the challenges that RFE faces on any given Monday is our ability to finish.  To convert.  To put the ball in the back of the net, giving congratulatory fivers and buttslaps on the way back to midfield.  It’s not for lack of hustle or effort.  We’ve hit the post so many times you’d think we were expecting mail.

Bros & Hips, on the other hand, have their choice of entrees.  And they’re not just choosing between chicken, fish, or vegetarian options.  They’ve got someone passing hors d’oeuvres.  They’re going up for seconds and packing doggie bags.  And yes, they’ll have dessert, thank you for asking.  As a defender, I’m constantly on my toes.  But can I be honest?  I like that.  I like being tested.  I like trial by fire and paying for my mistakes.  It keeps me honest and humble.  It just doesn’t always look so great in the wins column.

So, are you ever going to get to this week’s game?  This is starting to get a little laborious.

Yes, yes.  I’m sorry.  I just want you to know that this is like the Yankees against the Mets.  It’s a Subway Series, and we all get psyched because we know one of these days it’s going to happen.  At the same time, we know the odds and the payroll.  So when we lose 4-2, which we did – sorry for the anticlimax, we can look at that score and see progress.  We can see two goals earned.  We can see that despite my hilariously bad passing (in front of the goal – what am I, an idiot?) and some mental mistakes, we held off a pretty impressive offense.  We were in the game.  The whole game.

I don’t think it was just the bourgeoisie Cara cara orange slices at halftime.  I think it’s because our midfield is no joke.  I think it’s because when someone leaves a ball off at the 12 yard-line, someone else is there to drill it home.  I think it’s because we’re Hungry Hungry Hippos, and there are still a lot of marbles.

hungry-hungry-hippos

It’s coming RFE.  Slow but unstoppable, like a freight train.  Chug-a-chug-a, chug-a-chug-a, chug-a-chug-a.  And when it comes, it’ll be because we earned it.

Rock, Flag, and Eagle move to 1-3 in the division, with lots of room to move on up.  We face the Latin Leprechauns on Monday, which reminds me (with a wink and a nod to my lab partner/prom date/high school whatever whatever Chris Flores)… What ever happened to John Leguizamo?

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Posted in Soccer