Tag: The Beatles

Jazz it up a little

Sure, it's empty here, but just wait until late afternoon, when it will be filled with people lying around, spikeballers, dogs chasing frisbees, bikes, and lots of asshats playing soccer

Whenever I have an umpire shift, I file a report to the league afterward. Usually this is just a pro forma task, e.g. "No problems today, all is well," like one of Constable Odo's log entries. Sometimes it's more involved, like if someone got hurt or I had to eject somebody or there was a forfeit or something, but usually it's just "all good here," and I try to add in a little bit of color to keep it from being too dull.

Last night I was feeling a bit more creative, I guess, and put the earworm in my head of the Beatle song that had been playing in my car when I drove to the park to use in writing the report. Jazz it up some. Give the people in the office a laugh, or at least a smirk. Or maybe they're all Beatle-haters, I really don't know. Anyway, I think it came out pretty well, given that I "wrote" it in my head during the shift and on the way home while replaying the original a few times to get the cadence right. I reproduce it here for the edification of anyone who wonders what it's like to umpire at the Capitol Hill field which is usually filled with people when I show up, some of whom simply don't care about permits and reserved areas.

I give you The Ballad of Cap Hill Softball (apologies to John and Yoko).



Arriving at the park at 6:40
Gear bin fully stocked thanks to Mitch
The weather is fine, people are strewn line to line
Clearing the field is going to be a bitch

Christ, you know it ain’t easy
I try to keep my tone light
But the rate this is going
It’s gonna be a long night.

The soccer guys are hostile as always
Occupying our center field
I tell ’em, “move back to play, your goal’s obstructing our way”
One throws our cones as if they’re weapons to wield

Christ, you know it ain’t easy
They always put up a fight
The rate this is going
It’s gonna be a long night.

We finally get our games underway
Twenty minutes behind our sched
A batter crushes a ball, as we are watching it fall
It nearly hits a lazing guy in the head

Christ, you know it ain’t easy
People just aren’t very bright
The rate this is going
It’s gonna be a long night.

Times like this I wish it was a rainy day
Fewer people causing havoc here
But when the catcher says “No jest,
Of all umps you’re the best”
It makes the troubles somehow less important, SWEET!

Had a call when there were two runners
Throw came in where I hadn’t planned
The infielder said, “hey she was out by a thread!”
I said, “the replay center says the call stands.”

Christ, you know it ain’t easy
Sometimes I don’t get it right
There’s just one of me out there
I don’t have Superman’s sight.

By the time the third game was ending
The good points well outweighed all the bad
Most of the players were great
They didn’t mind we ran late
All in all I think a fun time was had

Christ, you know it ain’t easy
I hope I don’t sound uptight
’Cause despite how it started
It was a pretty good night.

Despite how it started
It was a pretty good night!

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That's not what the song means


So, Thursday night I had an umpiring shift over at Cal Anderson Park on Capitol Hill. Not unusual, I generally do a couple of those a week out there. On this evening I found myself running late because of a traffic snarl on the freeway—someone had lost a barbecue grill out of the back of a pickup truck, so everyone was wisely slowing down and changing lanes so as not to collide with this tipped-over piece of outdoor cooking tech in the center lane, causing a backup of many miles—and I was hurrying to get to the field on time. Usually on a Thursday I have to park several blocks away. The league doesn't reimburse me for parking as a rule, so I troll for free spots in a very densely populated part of town. On this day, though, I lucked out—someone had just vacated a spot less than one block from the park. The opposite end of the park I needed to be at, but still. Seemed like a break and I got there in plenty of time to set up the field and start the night's games on schedule.

The games were good, mostly with teams I'd not encountered before, though I knew one of the groups from the first game of the evening. Good guys and gals, although some of them kept on nagging me about the conditions; the lights at the park are broken, only about 1/3 of them come on and it's pretty dark when you need to track a fly ball, but what good nagging me about it does is a mystery. For the most part the newbies were good folks too, I was even complimented by one of the guys who was impressed with my "fun differential" (which is a literal inside-baseball joke referring to last year's Seattle Mariners) while another offered to help me collect the outfield cones and another one was effusive about my getting out to call plays on the bases and making sure everyone knew what was what (I figure his prior rec softball experience might be in the city league I sometimes play in, which has some of the gawd-awfulest umpiring I've been around with guys that just stand rooted in place and quietly go "hup" when calling a strike that might well be over a batter's head).

Anyway, when the games were completed at 11:00 and I had packed up the gear, I had some pep in my step and walked the length of the park back toward my car, already plotting out the rest of my night. I have to stop by the league office on the way home to get a gear bag for Sunday's shift, then I'm going to pick up a couple of quick groceries from the one 24-hour Safeway I can think of, then go home, feed the cats, put up my feet, and watch the Mariner game recorded from this afternoon while I eat leftovers from Karen's cooking the prior night. I was humming to the earworm in my head of a Billy Joel song from his 52nd Street album, even though I hadn't been listening to that earlier, and was feeling pretty good.

Then I arrived at my allegedly lucky parking spot to find some other car parked there.


Had I parked illegally? Did someone tow my car? No signs for towing companies anywhere. The posted parking restrictions all expired at 6:00pm and I didn't arrive until a bit before 7:00. But it is Cap Hill, people are zealous about parking. I was kind of freaking out, but also kind of methodical.

I called a friend who has more experience than I do with navigating the parking of Cap Hill, but he had no answers. I called the towing company used by the city police when they tow illegally parked cars. Do you have my car? Nope, sorry. So, the police it is. Called 911—which I was surprised you are supposed to do in a case like this, but you are—and reported my missing vehicle and they dispatched a police unit to talk to me. Took a while for them to get there, a missing car can't be high on the priority list, but they showed around midnight.

Officer Chu was fantastic. Good-humored guy, looked over the site and confirmed, yes, a legal spot, no reason you'd have been towed, 99% likely stolen as it's an older car with no anti-theft stuff. Plus the electronic locks don't work reliably anymore, I have to remember to manually lock the doors, and honestly can't remember if I checked them all since I was hurrying to the field. Chu let me know that the recovery rate for stolen cars is actually pretty high in these parts (around 70%), unlike in other cities and other parts of the country where it can be puny, so I may well get it back before too long. He and his partner, whose name I did not get, gave me a positive experience with the Seattle police, which was reassuring but also made me wonder if certain of my friends would have gotten the same treatment given their ethnic backgrounds. I'm choosing to believe Officer Chu would be just as cool with them because, hey, he seemed like a good dude. His mustachioed partner, who knows, he didn't say much.

After finishing with the cops I made my way to the Cap Hill train station and barely caught the last train of the night that would take me as far as the Northgate station, after which I begged a favor of my only friend in the north end with wheels that I knew wasn't a freakish morning person (looking at you, Failor) and that didn't have to punch a clock in the morning.

Ultimately I got home. Way later than planned. But I still watched the M's game (good one, too). And scrolled through autotrader.com to see what I'm looking at as a monetary hit if I need to buy a new-to-me used car; looks like maybe $5-8k. Really bad timing on that, given my giant HOA assessment hit this month.

Ironically, there was a particular CD in the car stereo. On my drive down I had been listening to The Beatles' Rubber Soul. Beatle fen will know what the first track on that album is. And, yes, I might be a star when it comes to the cast of rec league softball umps, but no, car thief, I will not, in fact, love you. Bastard.



UPDATE: Shortly after I posted this, the police phoned me to say they had recovered my car near Harborview Medical Center, not that far from where it was stolen. Apparently it had not had its plates removed and was "in driveable condition," though no word on whether or not it is damaged. It's being towed to an impound lot now and I can call the towing company tomorrow to arrange to reclaim it. Hopefully there's not a big fee attached to that.