September 30 - the 2023 M Street Softball season was scheduled to get underway on Monday, May 1st but it would be four straight nights of rainouts before we would see the first pitch thrown. It was an early sign of things to come.
The rainouts that week caused a couple of issues (pitching rules and equipment dispersal) - one would take awhile to play out while the other was handled pretty quickly.
All twenty-eight teams were scheduled to play that first week and the commissioner was going to be on hand to meet with each team, hand out equipment (game balls), answer any questions, and closely monitor the pitchers.
For those of you not familiar with the last few seasons at M Street, the league dissolved the "A/sling" league after the 2022 season. A handful of those "A" pitchers were going to try to pitch "B/straight modified" style and their delivery needed to be closely watched. The weather changed that plan and the season began without the commissioner seeing any of these pitchers throw.
The league welcomed seven new teams for the 2023 season: Dirty Fungos, Seapoint Slammers, Stew Jays, MarineMax Boston, Fauci's Frozen Ropes, DRT, and The Spot Clothing. The Stew Jays found instant success as they finished with a 10-4-1 record while scoring the most runs in the entire league - 244!
Frozen Ropes also enjoyed a decent inaugural season as they qualified for the playoffs with a 7-8 record. The Seapoint Slammers were holding their own at 4-4 and had some exciting wins but then it all fell apart for them as they lost their last seven games to finish 4-11.
MarineMax were not competitive for their first seven games which took it's toll on team moral. By their eighth game, coach Mathew Brouillette couldn't get nine players to the field and had to drop out of the league. It was a very frustrating experience for the otherwise jovial young man.
Although we had that rainy first week, the schedule ran smoothly for the next two months. During that time, the Pat Simpson Club was on top in the Sam Moran Division with the Shamrock Pub, Stew Jays, and Lincoln Tavern trailing closely behind. Meanwhile, STATS, Publico, and the Pirates were all undefeated in a tight race in the Feeney division.
During this time, the league received a couple of complaints from team coaches about sling pitching. One of the pitchers that was named in the complaint just happened to be pitching in a tournament that weekend. The commissioner watched (on Face Book) as the pitcher in questioned competed without being called illegal. This was reported back to the teams who had complained and for a moment, it was no longer an issue.
Through May and June, The Spot had lost their first nine games but then suddenly, Danny Lynch and his teammates figured it out. They won three out of their remaining six games and were competitive in every one of them. They were just about to catch flight but were running out of runway.
Around this time, Lincoln Tavern squad was struggling for players and was on the verge of forfeiting out of the league. Coach Sean Gorman was doing his best to keep the team afloat but several of the regulars were not showing up and/or out injured. The league sent the Tavern two free agent players to help keep them going. It worked!
July rolled around and it was one rainout after another. Although the league was shuffling the schedule and rescheduling the games, the races at the top were getting tighter than ever. The cream had risen to the top as the Simpson Club was looking like they were the team to beat. They proved their worth when they traveled to Canaan, Vermont in early August and won their annual and very competitive softball tournament.
As the end of the regular season played out, the league got a couple of more complaints from coaches in regards to the pitching. It seemed that nobody was enforcing the "strict B pitching rules" so the pitchers were getting further and further away from what the league was wanting. The rules didn't help explain things either because there was confusion over what is a legal delivery; lots of gray area, and our umpires were not instructed on how to call it. There was an underlining problem here that was slowly burning all season long and was about to blow up.
With only a couple of weeks left in the season, the Pat Simpson Club flexed their muscles and put a hurting on Lincoln Tavern, 14-3. That same night, STATS dispatched Publico, 12-3 and many were thinking that the finals were setting up to be a battle between the two remaining undefeated teams, STATS and the Simpson Club. STATS further cemented their claim a week later when they knocked off the Simpson Club and Lincoln in the same week. They finished with the best record 14-1 with their only loss coming to the hands of Telegraph Hill, who had suddenly found their stride. The league had ten championship contenders at the time.
The final few playoff positions came down to the very last night of the season and although SLS won their last three games, they were edged out by the Frozen Ropes (7-8). The Silkworms (7-7-1), Braves (8-6-1), La Familia (10-5), Pirates (10-5), Publico (12-2-1), and STATS were the other qualifiers in the Feeney division.
The Broadway Brew Crew dropped their last two games of the season, which eliminated them from contention. Claiming the eight playoff positions in the Moran division were: PowTown (7-8), Shamrock Pub (8-7), Playwright (8-6-1), L Street Tavern (8-6-1), Ballers (9-6), Lincoln Tavern (10-5), Stew Jays (11-4), and the Simpson Club (14-1).
In the Feeney division playoffs, we saw all kinds of issues play out. La Familia and the Pirates were evenly matched and the series was expected to be closely contested. The Pirates won the first game 8-5, but La Familia protested that they used an ineligible player (not enough AT BATS) and the game had to be replayed. Of course that led to all kinds of noise off the field and when the two teams met to replay the game, it spilled onto the field. In the end, La Familia won the redo 4-0, and the Pirates decided to forfeit their second game and end their season.
Along with the ineligible player ruling going against them, the league had also put rules in place (PITCHING RULES UPDATE) to limit the height of the back swing their star pitcher was using. Understandably, this was the final straw for the Pirates and it was a tough time for everyone.
While the drama of the above series was playing out, we also had drama between the Braves and Telegraph Hill. Both coaches felt that the opposing pitcher wasn't following the league rules. Telegraph won the first game, 6-5 in extra innings but the Braves bounced back in game two and won 4-3. For the final game of the series, the league put a second umpire in place to watch for and call illegal pitching deliveries. Well, if you're going to force the league into calling "foul" on one team, then you better be sure your pitcher is closely following the rules. Both were not which resulted in more complaining than playing - when all was said and done, the Braves had outlasted Telegraph Hill, 11-8, thus winning the series.
In the other series:
* STATS swept the Frozen Ropes
* Publico swept the Silkworms
While the above series were playing out, the Moran playoffs were also taking place usually on the same night but on a different diamond. Playwright put Lincoln's season on the deathbed when they pounded them 20-9 in the game one. However, Lincoln bounced back and flipped the script in game two, 22-2. The series all came down to game three where Lincoln outpaced Playwright, 18-5.
The L Street Tavern and Ballers were matched evenly and would need three games to settle the score. Game one saw L Street double up on the Ballers 24-12, but the Ballers stayed alive in game two where they escaped with a 10-8 victory. It all came down to game three and the Ballers kept their winning ways in tact as the clipped L Street, 10-8.
The other two series were sweeps although PowTown gave the Simpson Club a good run in their first game of the series (losing 9-7) before bowing out. The Stew Jays scored a ton of runs and swept the Shamrock Pub.
By mid August we were down to our final eight teams - the Feeney division had STATS taking on the Braves and La Familia facing Publico. In the Moran division, the Simpson Club faced the Ballers while Lincoln Tavern took on the Stew Jays.
As we moved through the playoff rounds and teams are eliminated, one would think the series would get tighter as the field began to narrow down. That didn't happen here in the division semi-finals as three of the four ended in two game sweeps.
In the Feeney division, STATS had no trouble dispatching the Braves as they looked poised to make a title run. Publico destroyed La Familia in game one (11-1) but then were shutdown in game two by pitcher, Juan Santana. This set up a final game and it was more of the same, Publico couldn't square up the stalky right-handed pitcher as La Familia prevailed 4-1 and advanced to the division finals.
In the Moran division, the Ballers gave the Simpson Club everything they had and were in both games but ultimately fell, 9-4 and 11-9. Meanwhile, Lincoln had come off the matt and had found their groove as they outscored the Stew Jays, 10-5, and 25-13. It was a remarkable turnaround for a team that was twice on life support.
In the Feeney division finals, it was La Familia trying to take down the loaded STATS squad. Prior to the series, there were lots of questions about La Familiar's pitcher being playoff eligible. The STATS brass questioned the score sheets and pushed hard for La Familia's star pitcher to be deemed ineligible. The league disagreed and the best of five series began.
STATS took the first game 12-7 behind the pitching of Erik Mercedes. La Familia bounced back and won game two, 9-8 on an infield throwing error in the bottom of the seventh. Tom Kazanowski then pitched the STATS squad to victory in game three, 11-7, which set up for a thrilling game four. Once again, La Familia fell behind early but rallied late. Trailing 4-1 in the bottom of the sixth, Ruben Baez completed the rally with a game tying RBI single. The game went into extra innings where Ariel Matos ended it for La Familia with a game winning single to right center and we were headed to game five.
Game five was supposed to be played on Friday night but the two coaches opted to play it on Monday, which meant the winner of the series would have to play a doubleheader (game one of the finals was scheduled for Monday). Nonetheless, they took to the field and gave everyone a great show.
STATS fell behind early and trailed all game, that is, until the bottom of the sixth. Jake Smith singled home two runs to give STATS a 5-4 lead and then Erik Mercedes sealed the victory with a clean seventh - STATS was on to the finals. La Familia was gracious in defeat and knew they had left it all on the field in a very closely contested series.
The Moran division finals saw a super match up; on one side you had the hottest team going in the Pat Simpson Club. They were enjoying a championship summer and were expected to play deep into the fall here at M Street. On the other side, you had Lincoln Tavern (2020 & 2021 champs) trying to get healthy and find their lost magic.
Looking back, the series may have been decided in game one when the Simpson Club fell behind early and then couldn't mount any attack against pitcher, Jason Calnan. Instead, they pressed late and it wasn't enough - Lincoln and Calnan prevailed, 7-5.
Mike Garland and Simpson answered the call in game two (6-0) and for a moment, the series was squared. Game three was an offensive slugfest as both teams pounded out hit after hit. In the end, it was Lincoln Tavern earning the 17-16 victory and was a win away from the finals.
Game four saw Garland and Gerry Sarro lock horns in a great pitching duel. After Sarro shut PSC down in the fourth, Lincoln extended their lead to 4-1 when Jared Kelly hit a two-run home run. The momentum was in Lincoln's favor and they were pushing hard to close out the series.
However, PSC had other ideas and flipped the script in the top of the fifth. Stiben Sanchez singled and Mike Lush doubled to put runners on second and third with one out. Brad Morrill then hit a hard grounder to second that wasn't handled and the lead was cut in half, 4-2. Matt Savage followed with an identical result - E4 and another PSC run, 4-3. Chris Flaherty then made Lincoln's defense pay for the errors as he belted a two-run double that put Simpson Club on top to stay, 5-4. Later, Brian Goodman singled home Flaherty making it, 6-4 and we were heading to a series finale - game five.
In game five, the Lincoln bats came out swinging and built an early 6-0 lead behind clutch hits by Conor Gleason and Dave Corcoran. Later, Taylor Ferguson went deep which gave Lincoln a comfortable 11-3 lead in the top of the fourth. However, PSC didn't quit and kept chipping away at the lead - Brett Carriker and Mike Lush helped trim the lead to 11-8.
However, Gleason and Lincoln countered with two more runs in the top of the sixth on Gleason's double, 13-8. PSC took advantage of a few miscues and responded with three runs of their own in the bottom of the inning, 13-11.
In the seventh, Garland retired the side with ease and it we moved to the last call - bottom of the seventh down by two runs with the middle of the order due up. Calnan struggled with control as he walked the leadoff batter, Miguel Dupree, on four pitches. Stress was now all over the faces of the Lincoln infielders. However, Calnan battled back and produced a fly out to Dolbeare but then walked Brett Carriker on a nine pitch at bat. Two runners on with one out and power hitting Ryan Jones stepping into the box. Jones had doubled in the fourth and line out hard to center in the fifth. One had to think that PSC saw victory while Lincoln was sensing they were about to suffer a crushing defeat.
Not so fast, Calnan got the powerful righty to line out to left center and PSC was down to their last out - Stiben Sanchez. Calnan got ahead in the count 0-1 and then Sanchez lined a single to center that scored Dupree, 13-12! With runners on first and second and two outs, it all came down to the 2019 playoff MVP, Mike Lush. The lanky righty had homered in the third, singled in the fourth, and walked and scored in the sixth. Calnan quickly spun a pitch in that was called a strike - another followed and Lush was quickly behind 0-2. Another spinner from Calnan came his way, too close to take so he turned on it to foul it off but it kept carrying and stayed in the air - it was down the left field line, carrying, and carrying right into the glove of the Lincoln outfielder - the thrilling series was over. Lincoln was moving on to the finals.
As great as the two semi-final series were, the league championship was a complete dud. STATS, had given everything they had to knock off La Familia, were suddenly playing shorthanded. A couple of rainouts had caused the series to be delayed which meant several of their starting players would miss the games later in the week. They also lost their starting pitcher, Erik Mercedes, to surgery.
With everything going against them, they didn't stand a chance against Lincoln and the series was over without ever really starting. 18-4, 11-3, and 14-6 were the scores of the three games but none of them were competitive. Lincoln Tavern, the team that was a game away from being eliminated in the first round, were league champions once again. Conor Gleason and Gerry Sarro were named co MVP's.
Gleason led the team in batting during the playoffs with a .627 average, led the team in RBI's with 26, scored the most runs (22), and had the most hits, 27. Sarro, was 8-1 on the mound with a 6.28 ERA. He cemented his MVP nod when he came in relief during game three and shutout STATS over the final five innings to earn the victory.
2023 M Street Softball Champions - Lincoln Tavern
Front row (left to right): Max Vigliotti, Gerry Sarro (MVP), Sean Gorman, Jared Kelly, Will Brennan, Conor Gleason (MVP), and Dave Corcoran
Back row (left to right): Jason Calnan, Mark Howell, Drew Blake, Taylor Ferguson, Chris Boyd, Ryan O'Rourke, and Mike Kent
Missing from the photo: Jeff White, JC Espanal, John Razzino, Amsler, Mike Goncalves, and Felix del Vecchio.
2023 M Street Softball MVP's - Gerry Sarro & Conor Gleason
All in all, it was a pretty good season of competitive softball at M Street. There were some growing pains in regards to what the league wants to see as a "legal delivery." We feel moving forward, the league will be better off in the long run - no sling and/or pitching arm up above the head.
Speaking of sling, there is a pretty good chance that a slimmed down version of the "A" league returns for the 2024 season. Talks have already been initiated so this could be exciting news for a couple of our pitchers who were deemed illegal or had to adjust their delivery. It was never personal - the goal was and always will be to create a level playing field for all of our teams and players. Stand by for more news on this front.
Thank you to all of you who submitted "311 Reports" to the city - they finally gave our field some needed attention. Now, we should pull our resources together and get the Parks Department to put the M Street diamonds on the field renovation list. We are way overdue in needing field turf. This would eliminate the cancelled games due to standing water and all the other issues that go along with trying to maintain grass out fields and clay infields.
Before we close the books on the season, a special thank you goes out to all of our coaches and sponsors. Your continued dedication is what keeps the league going and getting stronger and stronger every year.
Also, thank you to our scorekeepers and league assistants - Jack Atton, Michele Gage, Kyle Cheever, Keith Savage, Stephen Michienzi, Ryan Alexander, Ricky Benoit, and Harry Minucci.
Lastly, a special thank you to our umpires: Chuck Allen (crew chief), Mike Lydon, Chuck Feltch, Tom, Jack Atton, and Bobby Diggins.
Stay healthy everyone and we'll be seeing you in the spring of 2024!
Players and teams looking to join the league -> contact Mark Senna (email@example.com)
Important reminders from your commissioner:
Parking - guys please leave your cars at home as the available parking spaces around the field is VERY, VERY limited. Most spaces are Resident only so unless you are a South Boston resident then you will most likely get a $40 ticket that the league cannot cover. If possible, car pool, take the MBTA/City Point bus, or bike/walk to the park and save yourself the frustration.
Umpire/Scorekeeper fee - please pay the umpire $32 and pay $8 to the official scorekeeper BEFORE the game begins.
Forfeits - forfeits are not acceptable in the M Street Softball League as they cost the league money and waste everyone's time. With that said, if you know there is a scheduled game that is going to be a problem then let me know ASAP and I will work with you in finding additional players and/or cancelling the game all together.
Inclement weather/rain outs - the league will usually make a decision by 5pm on whether or not the game is on or off. Once the decision is made then the league will reach out to the coaches - we will not leave you without word. The league website (sbsports.com) will also be updated within minutes of a cancellation.
Bats - just a reminder that composite bats are illegal...however, bats that have a composite handle and metal barrel are OK. DeMarini Steel is a very popular bat in our league.
Equipment - the league will provide bases on a nightly basis.
Pitching rules - the Feeney/Moran("B") division is using the strict modified pitching style - no sling, no windmill, and no arc. It's pretty much straight back with the arm, a forward step to the plate, and deliver the ball. A great source on the "Classic Style" with videos can be found here 10manmodified.com/pitching-rules/videos-of-modified-styles/.
Playoff eligibility - although the rosters are open there is minimum number of plate appearances (30), innings pitched (35), or games played (10) that a player must meet to qualify for the playoffs.
Stats, news, etc... - please check the league website for all the latest news, standings, stats, and more.
Schedule - we tried to evenly spread out the amount of start times for each team...it's not an easy or exact science. The regular season will run from May through the end of July. The playoff will start in August and run through September.
Wishing you and your players a great season of softball at M Street.
M Street Softball League