'Chronicle' Modulates Frequency of KOOP's Bid for Unbeaten Season, Wins Instant Classic 7-5

Collectively picking up a softball and delicately cupping it between their fingers and palm for the first time in weeks, The Austin Chroniclers emerged from an extended rain-soaked layoff Sunday night to take a stubbornly muddy field and their toughest test of the young season: the undefeated KOOPerators, purveyors of fundamentally sound community radio and 24-karat play on the diamond.

"They're pretty good," co-captain Bobby Leath had explained 48 hours before a matchup that many observers considered a mere formality. "We should get everybody there by 6:30, and I'll give a scouting report."

But, Bo-Bo, gasped the team. That's an hour before the game! Little did they know they were in for an even bigger break in routine: The Chroniclers never got a chance to see and hear Leath standing in the bleachers with a megaphone and cigarette Sunday evening, as the game was unceremoniously bumped from Krieg Field No. 5 to No. 8 to accommodate a rescheduled Senior League showdown.

To quote St. Louis Cardinals radio broadcaster Mike Shannon, "Well, folks, this game began as a tiny worm and is blossoming into a large cobra."

Alternately, to quote Mike Tyson, "One morning I woke up and found my favorite pigeon, Julius, had died. I was devastated and was gonna use his crate as my stickball bat to honor him. I left the crate on my stoop and went in to get something and I returned to see the sanitation man put the crate into the crusher. I rushed him and caught him flush on the temple with a titanic right hand. He was out cold, convulsing on the floor like an infantile retard."

In Sunday night's parallel scenario, the Chronicle was Tyson, Julius, and the sanitation man all at the same time.

Indeed, an already shaky and rusty team would have even less time to shake off the rust, and they wallowed in the unfairness of it all while warming up. By 7:30 – gametime – covered in mud and mold and sweat, the Chroniclers (or whatever you want to call them) had started to come apart at the seams like a softball struck by co-captain Shawn Badgley (above-right). The only consolation? KOOP didn't get the memo and had yet to show up. Maybe this mess could be avoided altogether.

And then there they were, marching en masse along the facility's circuitous promenade like the Venezuelan military moving in on Radio Caracas, which as you know is actually a TV station.

"They look pretty good," co-captain and pitcher Charlie Sotelo was overheard to say. "Look at them."

"No," said co-captain and outfielder Nü Güy. "I can't do it. I would, but I'm afraid I'd crap my pants. After a brief glance, however, I can admit that there is a certain magick about them." But as he knelt down on one knee and rubbed streaks of mud on his face like war paint, the Local Business Unofficial Shadow League's leading hitter gathered himself. "Poof! will go POOP Radio," he whispered loudly enough for anyone within earshot.

Luckily, most of his teammates were, and they sprinted to their positions in the top of the 1st with an unlikely bounce in their steps.

And said defense looked a little something like this:

Sotelo, P
Christina Jupson, C
Mark Fagan, 1B
Andrea Skola, 2B
Shannon Stott, 3B
Badgley, SS
James Renovitch, LF
Dave Woolsey, LC
Güy, RC
Shelley Hiam, RF

And the KOOP lineup looked a little something like this:

Jay Robillard (The Lounge Show), OF
Ariel Von Quintos, P
Peter Heck, 2B
Matt Daley (Up on the Download), 1B
Nick Trevino (Tradewinds), SS
David Parnell, OF
Elizabeth Jackson (from the band Darling New Neighbors), C
Paul Feinstein (Up on the Download)
Pete Katz aka Pedro Gatos (Bringing Light Into Darkness), 3B
Billy
Ben
Andrew Dickens (President)

And, after a brief clarification of the ground rules, the game was under way a little something like this:

KOOP didn't manage much during their first turn due in large part to sterling Chronicle play on less-than-sterling turf, and a sharp single from leadoff hitter and co-captain Stott in the bottom half set the stage for a double from the 3 spot. Who was that again? ... let me check my scorecard ... ah, yes, it's that man again ... Badgley, who would come all the way around on an errant throw.

"Force the defense to make plays," he shouted to the sky as he rounded third. "If I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times: Put pressure on the defense.

"No assumptions," he continued as he stepped heavily on home, struggling to regain his breath despite having quit smoking one year and two months ago. "Only anticipations."

(Badgley was and is almost certainly overcompensating for a newly encountered phobia involving an apparent inability to complete routine throws to first with any consistency. In other words, a .600 fielding percentage is hard to hide, my friend. You're not fooling anyone.)

Alas, the 2-0 lead was short-lived, as KOOP kept their adversary's advice in mind while scratching three runs across in the top of the 3rd. They would force one play too many, though, in testing the arm of the calm, cool, and collected left-fielder and co-captain Renovitch, who gained an assist when co-captain Skola made an acrobatic catch of a relay at second (via another would-be wild throw from the shortstop) to whirl and tag out an overly aggressive KOOP baserunner.

The duo would collaborate again two innings later: Skola singled, broke up a double play to allow Renovitch to reach on a fielder's choice, and watched in triumph from the dugout as co-captain Woolsey lined a nice piece down the right-field line to tie the score at 3.

With half the game gone, the Chroniclers found themselves locked up with the best team in the LBUSL. Renewed, they would not trail again, surging to a 6-3 lead in the 6th.

Hits by rookie co-captain Austin Powell, who replaced the irreplaceable Woolsey in left-center, and Leath bookended tough outs from co-captain Jupson and Stott, themselves foiled by stellar defense from KOOP shortstop Trevino and the wiles and wits of courageous hurler Von Quintos, as lovely and talented as her name suggests. Seriously, she's pretty good and pretty cute.

Still, her cuteness, goodness, talent, loveliness, courage, wits, and wiliness were no match for Badgley, who promptly gapped another double before scoring on a Güy basehit.

All that remained was airtight fielding from co-captain/third baseman "Commander" Cody Kirk and a controversial play at the keystone. Following an insurance run courtesy of a Fagan (co-captain)-and-Woolsey combo in the 7th, Skola endured retribution amid a two-run KOOP rally in the 8th. With the score 7-5, another overly aggressive baserunner clumsily went knees-first into second base on a potential forceout, taking Skola out at hers. She would limp off a pitch or two later, injured. (The KOOPerator apologized profusely, but was nonetheless dragged into the woods surrounding Krieg by an angry mob of Chronicle softball hooligans and never heard from again.)

Be it resolved, the Chroniclers seemed to say to themselves and to the world, there is no way we lose this game. Lo and behold!: An otherwise uneventful 9th was highlighted by solid play from second-base replacement and co-captain Hiam as the alt-stars cruised to victory. Gatos né Katz & Co. – stunned as they were – were gracious in defeat and reportedly await a rematch.

Meanwhile, the Chroniclers play BookPeople on Thursday night at 8pm on No. 5 in a tilt that will for all intents and purposes decide the outcome of the LBUSL, only because they're not really sure who else they're going to play, besides maybe Waterloo Records and Video or Opal Divine's or some dirtbag Red River bartenders. On Thursday, the team and their fans will also say goodbye to "Score"r extraordinaire and co-captain Jeremy Martin – a real good one going on to real good things – during a K&Q (keg-and-barbecue) party that night.

Be there or be an infantile retard.

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