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Posted July 14, 2005
"M" Street Softball
By Mark Senna

     Semi-professional baseball players have found their way onto rosters and onto the field, last years doormat teams have greatly improved, and most every team has a talented pitcher or two. Easy wins are becoming a thing of the past as the line between the top and bottom teams is growing thin. Where the league was once a one or two team sprint in the standings is now a seven to eight team marathon with only the fittest surviving come September.

     League games are played on weeknights, Monday through Friday, at the M Street Softball field starting at 6:15pm. Admission is still free and wives, girlfriends, families, kids, and neighbors are encouraged to attend.

     League expansion has forced the commissioner into creating two divisions of play – the Bucky Feeney Division and the Sam Moran Division. The Feeney division has the elite and past champions while the Moran division features all of the hard working up and coming teams. This format is expected to match teams that are equal to their talent level for the majority of their regular season games.

     As expected, the 6-2 Playwright is at the top of the standings in the Feeney division and will be very tough to knock off this season. The defending champions have returned with another talented roster and they may even be stronger than they were last year. They have added stud shortstop Juan Sanchez to secure and strengthen the infield behind pitcher, Jerry Thomes and have also added another lethal pitcher in Domenic Lemarra.

     Thomes, who is 23-2 with a 1.64 ERA since joining the M Street League last year, has dominated opponents single handily and will look to continue his masterful pitching in 2005.

     A New entry, Boston Hawks at 5-1, could be the team that gives the Playwright a run for their money as they arguably have the most talented group of players in the league. For them to succeed, it will be a matter of adjusting to the new surroundings and getting the most out of their star players. So far they have done quite nicely as they have already collected wins against the Playwright and Shannon’s Tavern.

     Hawks players, Sandy Garcia (Yankees) and Juan Polanco (A’s) have some professional experience under their belts and will be very tough outs for M Street pitchers. Garcia demonstrated his power in a game last week when he launched a homerun to deep left that cleared First Street and landed in the old coal yard. We have seen this done before but this time the flight of the ball was extremely high. It makes one wonder just how far Sandy or Polanco will hit one this year. Stay tuned.

     Last year, Shannon’s Tavern (3-3) was swept in four games by the Playwright in the finals. Well, last Thursday they got a bit of redemption when they knocked off Thomes and the Playwright by a 9-7 score. The game was played with plenty of passion folks and is expected to carry right over to when they meet again on July 21st starting at 7:30.

     The Shannon club has added some talent to their roster but their success will ultimately be laid on pitcher, John Gregorio’s shoulders. Gregorio, who is pitching in his twentieth (1985-2005) M Street season, is very capable of shouldering the load as he has in the past. John is always amongst the leaders in victories, strikeouts, ERA, and is a proven winner (on 5 championship teams). Veteran M Street pitcher, Jay Malley backs Gregorio and has come up with some brilliant pitching performances of his own.

     The Sidewalk Café (3-4-1) rounds out the Feeney division and is a team that has come to a crossroad. They will need to make some moves quickly while deciding on a best path to success or this could be a long frustrating year for the boys in green. They have the pitching (2003 MVP - George Pratt) to compete but need to tighten up their defense while adding a bat or two to the lineup. Having won four championships (2000-2003) in the past we wouldn’t want to count them out of the running just yet.

     At the top of the Moran division with a 5-1 record is the third year Spartan club. With a few minor roster moves Coach Peter Brennan has his team looking and playing like winners. John Macone and Andrew Shirkoff give the Spartans some depth while pitcher Jimmy McNiff continues to lead them from the mound with guts and determination. Like fine wine, McNiff seems to be getting better with age. Look for the Spartans to finish at or near the top of the Moran division then make some noise in the playoffs.

     Another new entry to the league, the Green Team is 5-2 at press time. Coaches Rich Engvaldsen and Dave Boutin transformed their Sunday morning team into a team to contend with during the weeknights at M Street. Knowing that they were entering a league where pitching was key the two went out and found a pretty good one in Nicholas French. At press time, French was 3-0 with a 3.15 ERA and carried .500 batting average with a team leading 9 RBI. Quite a find!

     Keeping with the pace is the first year Murphy’s Law softball team at 4-2. This team is the real deal as Sidewalk Café found out last week when Murphy’s handed them an 11-8 loss. Ryan Cox is the coach of this very talented and athletic group of players. Cox has opened some eyes with his determination to field a competitive and successful team in the first year of existence. Ryan followed the lead of the Green Team by placing an advertisement for a pitcher in a classified web service. Eric Malerba and Rocky Pesa quickly answered his ad and both pitched very effectively in their first few starts in the league. This team can play and should be a fun team to watch in the immediate future.

     At 4-2, the Boston Beer Garden softball team has proved that they have the offensive firepower (.570 team batting average) and gloves to compete against any team in the league. Peter Drummey, Chris, and Mark Landolfi currently lead the way offensively for the Beer Garden, as this team is deep in talent. Base runners should also take note that outfielder, Mark Hindman, has a very strong and accurate arm in right. The Beer Garden will compete with the top teams in the league but are still a player away from being considered a true contender.

     The Sharks currently sit in fifth place with a 4-2-1 record but could easily rise to the top of the standings with the level of talent they have. Coach Jeremy Beauchemin just landed a power pitcher in Steven Passatempo who should help make the Sharks true division contenders. Rookies Joe Sullivan, Jeremy Bridges, and Todd Caschera have given the Sharks depth and talent in every position. The team can hit (.487 team batting average) with the best of them too so don’t be surprised to see the Sharks competing at the top of the Moran division all season long.

     At 5-5, the Brewers are a much-improved team from last year’s version. Derrick Smith has taken over calling the shots and has added some proven winners to the mix. Mike Hourihan (.519 14 hits 17 RBI) and Tom Lind (.591) are the pace setters for the second year Brew crew. If they are to contend for the division title, then they will need to improve in the outfield and on the mound.

     Although it’s early, the Il Giardino Café (3-4) should be concerned with their lack luster start. Their rivals have improved their rosters and appear to be playing with more confidence. Giardino still has lots of offensive (Pat Gallagher .529 12 RBI) and defensive stars (Mike Kenny) and a good young pitcher in Nick Kleimola but will need to step up their play this year to contend for the division. 

     Another new entry is the (3-4) Seapoint Restaurant. Coach Jordan Berns is very enthusiastic about the league and has done a great job in fielding a first year team that has fun while staying competitive. Matt Lang (.556) and Brendan Trainor (.600) lead the way for Seapoint.

     At 0-7, the Dorset Club may not have success measured by victories yet but they can still brag about leading the league in fan support. Dorset's very loyal bunch can be seen at every game cheering them on as if it's their first game. However, the losing is growing old on coach/outfielder Mike Sweeney, who is a competitor and is pushing for more out of his current group of players.

     The winless L Street Tavern (0-8) has found that competing in the M Street Softball league can be a tough assignment for most first year teams. Coach Joe Pillar loves to play and will use this first season as a learning process to build a winner in the future.

     Lastly, since this writer has been associated with the M Street Softball League (1987) one man has been a regular attendee at league games. His name is AL Newcombe. If you see Al, then please tell him that our league is doing well but misses its greatest fan. We hope to see you and Al at the park!

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