“I almost got court-martialed for wearing frayed cutoff shorts like that,” I said to Ed Hollander in the early going of the recent Artists-Writers Softball Game.
“I almost got divorced for wearing them,” said the down-to-earth landscape architect, who arguably deserved the Artists’ M.V.P. award for killing a Writers’ rally in the top of the seventh inning. With two outs, and with the runners who’d been on first and second streaking around the bases, he fumbled a grounder hit wide of first by Richard Wiese, and then, after finding the handle and stumbling about in the dust, fell head-first in a heap at the edge of the bag, at first reaching out with his empty glove and then with the ball in hand, just before Wiese arrived. It was a classic Artists-Writers moment, ridiculous and sublime. Had the Writers scored, they would have pared the Artists’ lead to 11-10.
The Writers, of course, raised a huge fuss, but the balls-and-strikes umpire, New York State Supreme Court Justice Richard B. Lowe III, after weighing their objections, dismissed them. The rest was history, i.e., yet another Artists’ win, giving them a 17-14-1 lead in the modern era that dates to 1988, a fact that leads one to wonder if the former patsies haven’t undergone a sea change into something new and strange, and if the Writers, who used to be red in tooth and claw, and who can still point to an overwhelming lead in games played since 1948, have, gasp, mellowed.
Both teams having had their days in the sun, it seems fitting then to suggest that The Game, which has in recent years been surprisingly well played — the Artists turned three double plays this year, for goodness sakes — return to its origins . . . to pure madcap fun.