Friday, January 23, 2009

Dogs Chasing Cars

In the Summer blockbuster The Dark Knight, the late Heath Ledger brilliantly played Batman's arch rival the Joker to perfection

One of my favorite lines in the movie is when the Joker says
"...I am like a dog chasing cars, I wouldn't know what to do if I ever catch one".

This line reminds NYC most hardcore softball enthusiast "Los Locos" (The Crazies).
Los Locos play Pickup softball every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from March through November in NYC (primarily Central Park).
Pickup softball is not league affiliated.
It's basically a bunch of guys getting together to play just to play.
No Trophies.
No League.
No Dinner.
No Website.
No Money.
They play just to play.

The Live for Softball.
They are crazy for Softball.
They chase softball.

2003 Picture of Los Locos

It's only January 24th and the season is many weeks away. I know it's crazy to even think about playing softball yet, but if I had to bet who would be the first people playing ball in 2009, my money would go on "Los Locos" (The Crazies).

What's good and bad about Los Locos is that you don't know whether to bring a bat, cleats, glove, cop, psychologist, or tank to a game. As it can be fun, boring, frustrating, dangerous, annoying, and humbling to play pickup.
Just like life in NYC.

Much like dogs chasing cars, most of these players don't need a plan.
They just need a game.
An outlet to release whatever is burning inside of them.
You see pickup softball represents the melting pot that is NY.
You have people in it from all walks of life.

Blacks, Whites, Latins, all races
Joey - great guy.
Runs like a deer and has a great attitude.

Pickup Legends Marty and Joel. Marty is a big man with a big heart, Joel is a line drive machine famous for arguing with umpires.

Power Hitting Boricua Ralph Serrano
takes his cuts.

When focuses Ralph is a very dangerous player. I call him Pitbull.

Sensible Business professionals
Steve M.- good honest hard working guy who could catch ground balls blindfolded. What stands out about Steve is that he is just so normal.

Jews, Catholics, and people of all religious/political beliefs
Angry Jack and Big Tony celebrate Obama's victory at the expense of Hardcore Republican Joel

Puerto Rican Posse - Frankie, Boog-A-Lou, and Ralph relax and bond

Angry Jack gets ready to get Angry. No one knows why Angry Jack gets Angry and no one cares or pays too much mind. He's just Angry

intellectuals, morons, bad players, good players, dogs, etc all get together to play a game.

Olympic Athlete and Scholar Rawle and Vince share a moment of reflection during a game

Dream Team of Castillo, Jimmy Bitros and Willie plan strategy

Master Jedi Softball Hitter and Gigolo Nellie with his lovable pooch Max.
Max goes to every game and rarely barks. Nellie is the one player in all of pick up that no one ever gets mad at despite his mental lapses. Don't get me wrong, Nelie was a stud player and is still a good player. He's just well he's just Nellie. But this guy could roll out of bed in January and hit line drives. Amazing.

I am one of the Los Locos.
As evidenced by my close your eyes, swing as hard you can, and pray you hit it approach
(that explains why I suck now we have picture proof!!!!!)

No one is "normal" in pickup. I'm sure not. How could you be?
Your playing softball all day everyday.

Pickup regulars come in many different forms and I could Top Ten about each and everyone of them.

One of the most legendary is Vladimir (pictured below hitting in his skin tight Ironman shirt)

Vlad is one strong dude who pitches, fixes the field, and basically goes berserk during games.

He's a PRO Wrestling junkie who a lot of people says looks like Will Smith in Hancock

Vlad is a pickup Lifer.
I think I'll stop talking about him now, if I write anything further he could kill me.

One cool thing about pickup is that it gives good older players a chance to play.

For example, Inwood Legend Willie "El Loco" Ferrer ( seen hitting below ) has found a home

The leader of this Motley crew is possibly one of the most beloved people in Central Park.
Jimmy Bitros

He coined the phrase "Batting Practice 1st", only true pickup players understand the importance/significance of this saying

Jimmy organizes the games, calls everyone, gets the permits, plays in all the games, and then takes batting practices after the games.

A true pickup legend.

All these games have an umpire and that would be Charlie ( on the right below)

Charlie sucks as an umpire.
Everyone knows that.
That's not important.
What is important is that he serves as a Human bulls-eye

Charlie is a Target.
Being an umpire is difficult.
Being an umpire in pick up is IMPOSSIBLE!!!!!!
Charlie takes the slings and arrows of abuse from Los Locos for a modest fee.
Someone has to do it, hey it lets Charlie earn and believe me he earns his money,
Rumor has it he wakes up in the middle of night b/c he has nightmares about Joel.

Pickup can be twisted and brilliant, but if you are a true softball whore you are irresistibly drawn to it, like dogs chasing cars.

The Softballinsider would like to thank Jimmy Bitros and Juan "Blonde" Moreiras for all the pictures on display in this blog.

Also, as an aside I would like to say that in the hundreds of blogs I have written the last two years I usually know which direction a blog is taking me.

Some are angry, some are funny, some are wacky, when I first started writing this blog I thought it would be funny/sarcastic but it turned into something else, I guess it made me appreciate being a Loco more.

Being a pickup regular is like the Land of Misfit toys in the Christmas classic Rudolph the Red Nose reindeer.
It's home.
Even a softball misfit deserves a chance to play.
Too bad sometimes in pickup it could get you killed.


  1. Top blog of all time.

    Angry Jack. Funny.

    i'd like to have on Bitros, commander of the Gator Pond:

    PGP pickup games played
    PGW pickup games won
    EI Extra innings added after 7th
    EH total EH's added after 1st inning
    GE/O gator arm errors/outs
    BP total batting practice first
    FF food on face
    CB cookie breaks
    OD orange drinks consumed
    BS amount of time dealing with the bull sh$#t